For six months this year, I thought of nothing else except The Temple Of The Inner Bitch . . . The early days I did drawings and designed, built cardboard mock-ups, learned CAD software and got really good at sourcing strange, exotic materials. I even dreamed about the Temple in my sleep. Then came the hard, hot physical work in the dead of New Orleans summer – puttying, hand-sanding, primering, painting . . . designing a throne, and of course, no big deal just creating a goddess lit from within . . and so many days and days of making those razor blade cubes.
And of course, I knew that The Temple Of The Inner Bitch would be short-lived. I went to work every day in the studio for two months and pored over every teensy detail that I knew would just inevitably get lost to the corrosive dust of Burning Man. And I reminded myself every day that soon all this work that was pouring out of me was going to get blown up and set on fire very, very soon.
But I’d carried this idea for a decade. I had the time to dedicate to it. So I did. My friend Chelsea suggested I make an artist statement. I did. I created a mythology for The Temple Of The Inner Bitch – because I wanted it to stick to people’s minds. I wanted them to get it. I wanted it to matter.
We had a great crew of four – Matt and Sloan who could strong-arm and make stuff happen. Fanny Titball (yeah, I have a friend named Fanny Titball – isn’t that the best thing ever?) who gets shit done and drove us all around the desert city. (We had a driving pass, it was a big deal and we made all the use of it we could.)
Matt and I got married at The Temple Of The Inner Bitch on Tuesday. I visited her every day to make sure her face hadn’t fallen off yet and that the wind hadn’t snatched away her pink wig. (I kind of can’t believe her face didn’t fall off. It was real touch and go there for awhile.) Sometimes I dusted her off, but then a new massive dust tornado would roll through hours, or even minutes later.
Six notebooks with little rope leashes lined the back of the Temple. And several times a day, I had to go untangle the mess of spaghetti that the little ropes securing the notebooks to the Temple had always turned into. People wrote many things in those books – from insightful to moving to crass and non-sensical. I’ll share them in an upcoming post.
And, at the end of the week, we uninstalled the toxic stuff of course, like the razor blade cubes. The Bitch Cobra and the Truck Nuts were spared as were the six notebooks. Then the site was closed so the pyro team could prep. Our job was done. She’d burn the next day.
On Burn Night, seventy thousand people surrounded the Man plaza. All twenty shrines around the Man, including The Temple Of The Inner Bitch, exploded simultaneously and caught fire. After just a couple minutes, her face finally fell off for good – boom! I cheered! It burned, it seemed somehow, in tandem with the Man . . . as the Main Temple of the Man’s roof fell, so did The Temple Of The Inner Bitch’s roof fall. And as the last vestiges of the main two-story temple fell, so did the very last support beam of The Temple Of The Inner Bitch. It was beautiful and oddly synchronous. Or maybe I’m just biased.
I had a lot of emotion that day, the day she burned. And some sort of numbness nagging in my brain. But in the days afterward, new feelings grew – pride, satisfaction, confidence, capability. Instead of frustration, life’s big and little road blocks now seem like fun creative problems to solve. I’m no longer shy with power tools. I love my wratchet gun. And I’m gonna keep using it.
That’s The Temple Of The Inner Bitch in the Man Plaza at Burning Man 2017 on opening night, while she was still clean and nothing had been lost or broken. Big shout-out to the photo by Duncan Rawlinson – Duncan.co – @thelastminute.