It is somewhat cliché to say that Burning Man is about community, about starting new friendships and about maintaining them long after the last motes of golden dust have been laundered from frilly tutus and mismatched socks. But it’s true. Add to this mix the words of a poem permanently inked on bodies around the world and you get an irresistible blend of love and joy and, at times, horripilated skin.
Take, for example, Jessi Fehrenbach’s tattoo. It showed up in one of the last issues of The Jackrabbit Speaks before Burning Man 2014 and then again almost immediately after the 2014 Burn. So our Kentucky Sunshine (Jessi is also known as Kentucky Sunshine, an entirely appropriate name for her both on and off the playa) became somewhat of a celebrity. Unsurprisingly, it was she who encountered Wheeze at the Temple of Promise in Black Rock City 2015 (no accident there …Kentucky Sunshine was on the build crew for the Temple of Promise).
We learned about Wheeze and her Love Letter To the World tattoo at the Cotillion, now an annual dance party hosted by Kentucky Friend Camp. Though Kentucky Sunshine did not wear a hoop skirt this year, she danced through the center of us all and was showered with hugs. And we took the “official” photograph of her tattoo on the playa. While visiting, she delivered news of a number of LLTW tattoos spotted in Black Rock City. She told us about Wheeze’s “unlearn fear and hate.”
The day after the Cotillion, we headed out in search of Wheeze. All we knew was her playa name and her camp. She was not in her camp and so we left her an oversized note, asking her to find us at KFC. “Come for fried bologna sandwiches and bourbon in the morning,” we implored. She did. Hers is by far the most delicately sized LLTW tattoo we’ve seen. It is stunning. After a few minutes of chatting, Wheeze told us she has considered getting an entire stanza of “Love Letta to de Worl’” tattooed on her body. We hugged like long-lost friends and then visited some more. There were stories and laughter (and maybe a tear or two) along the way. The golden dust traced laugh lines on our faces.
P.S. Jessi’s and Wheeze’s tattoos will become part of a video artwork. Here is the 1-min preview.