My 75-year-old wife Carolyn returned from her fourth Burning Man. Shocked? Here’s the full picture.

Carolyn—Playa name DramaQueen—loves the festival, which draws 60,000–70,000 people to the desert three hours north of Reno. She first went in 2018. She’d known about Burning Man since its early days at San Francisco’s Baker Beach. “Also, I’d been a Campfire Girl as a kid in Texas. It always seemed like a great outdoor adventure.” DramaQueen returned to Black Rock City—the virtual city that goes up and comes down each year—in 2019, then in post-Covid 2022.

Her brother Michael—Playa name Big Dog—long had tried to convince her to go. He drives a 40-foot luxury motor home from Central Texas. Following his advice, Carolyn found Mobility Camp. Instantly she felt, “These are my people. I love the community and teamwork.” The first two years, she rented an RV in Las Vegas, the third she rented in the Bay Area.

Situated at center camp, Mobility Camp helps anyone with a disability see the spectacular—and weatherproof—art pieces on the vast, mountain-ringed Playa. They provide no-cost wheelchairs, crutches, knee scooters, walkers, rollators and canes. They also host an obstacle course. The able-bodied experience the challenges faced by people in wheelchairs and on crutches.

Mobility Camp takes people out several times daily on a Shiny Tour. It features a tractor-pulled covered trailer with ramp. When someone asks, “What’s that shiny thing over there?” the vehicle heads for it. DramaQueen has served as a spotter, explaining the rules and looking out for obstacles. Also, once-daily Artery Tours featuring art cars—vehicles turned into art—leave from Mobility Camp. A docent explains some of the Playa’s art pieces.

As to your image of Burning Man, the event draws many different kinds of people. Drugs, alcohol and orgies? Plentiful. But that’s not DramaQueen’s world.

This year, DramaQueen arrived early for Build Week. Heavy rain inundated the Playa’s clay surface. Plastic bags over shoes or bare feet helped people get to porta-potties.

During Burn Week, filled with regular attendees, more rain fell, though not as much. The Burning Man organization directed everyone to stay in place. Some panicked. The media showed up to report on those leaving early, many getting stuck in the mud, as vehicles trudged towards the single paved access road. The comic Chris Rock walked out.  

Experienced Burners hunkered down with plenty of food, water and toilet paper. They shared with those who ran low or out. DramaQueen was staying in an RV owned by Mobility Camp’s leader, Rat Lady. She busied herself straightening up, reading and socializing with her group, including Speeder Bill, Hot Rod, Morgan, Book Fairy Katy and Maria.

On Wednesday, Sept. 6, Paul (no Playa name) drove her to Reno. They and other camp members stopped for breakfast at Bruno’s in Gerlach before heading to the dump. (Remove everything.) I drove up, and we celebrated our 54th anniversary (Sept. 4) with two nights at the Reno Renaissance Hotel overlooking the Truckee River.

DramaQueen would like to go back next year depending on arrangements. “I can see my limits,” she says. The physical work is taxing. 

“It was an epic experience,” emphasizes DramaQueen, again Carolyn. That without sex, drugs or even rock and roll.

To everyone celebrating Rosh Hashanah, may the New Year, 5784, bring health and satisfaction. If you’re not, may you also enjoy the same.

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  1. Julie Lekach House on September 15, 2023 at 11:49 am

    I love this story and DramaQueen, er, Carolyn, and you for sharing her adventure with a beautiful twist! A great start for a sweet new year. Shana Tovah umetuka!!

    • David Perlstein on September 15, 2023 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks, Julie. May this be a sweet New Year for you and your family.

  2. Joan Sutton on September 16, 2023 at 8:25 am

    Great article about DramaQueen/Carolyn! I really enjoyed it.

    • David Perlstein on September 16, 2023 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks, Joan!

  3. DramaQueen Carolyn on September 16, 2023 at 11:36 am

    There were many wonderful moments at Burning Man this year. Friends and family came by to say hi: Eric and Jen, Tamar and Ken and Carly Ozard. At MetalMorpheous I hammered a round copper necklace–much harder than you think. I chose a handmade aqua glass bead at Bead Camp. Maria and I got a lovely hand wash at Mary Ellen’s Lavender Hand Wash. At Mobility Camp, Droid made a scrumptious gruyere & brie grilled cheese sandwich.

    Best of all is being part of Mobility Camp’s team, building camp from a flagged perimeter, running camp during burn week and finally breaking camp. Watching the city grow up from nothing into a thriving community of thousands and then to see it come back down at the end is a thing of beauty. The satisfaction of working together to create something in such a close and warm community is wonderful.

    Rat Lady leads our camp and is a Ranger as well. Speeder Bill is camp build and tear-down lead. He also drives anyone who needs medical care to our main first-aid station, Rampart. Morgan keeps Shiny Tours running on time, Hot Rod repairs everything—I mean everything, Make Do and Astrodite are the MOOP (matter out of place or garbage) king and queen, Cooky and Sugar Bear created a delicious meal plan, Heavy Henry ran Obstacle Course and signed campers into camp with aplomb, Book Fairy Katy handles all of Front Desk sign ups and equipment loan outs, Radio Guy set up our two way radios.

    And I haven’t even talked about art on the Playa, the Man Building or the Temple. But watch for photos on Facebook and you’ll get a visual idea

    • David Perlstein on September 16, 2023 at 12:58 pm

      Carolyn, uh DramaQueen, everyone’s glad to have more of the story than my 550 words permitted.

  4. SpeederBill on September 16, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    Good story about life on the playa – Everything went well – a great bunch of people to camp with – The rain made life really interesting –

    • David Perlstein on September 16, 2023 at 4:07 pm

      You helped make it work big time, SpeederBill. Thanks.

  5. spider on September 16, 2023 at 3:15 pm

    David, your wife Drama Queen is MEGA COOL! I’m Spider. I have been to many burns since 1992 but because I am now in a wheelchair, this was my first stay at Mobility Camp. Even tho I got stranded in a tent for 4 days, I too had a great time thanks in large part to the wonderful team at Mobility Camp. Drama Queen, Cooky & Sugar Bear, Eric, Rat Lady, Vicky, Morgan & Hot Rod are first rate CLASS ACTS. Not only did they feed me and make sure I was safe and sound, they smiled a lot. Given the situation I was in, the secure setting of MC and their crew made my burn. Ty! I hope everyone got home OK. L’ Shannah Tova

    • David Perlstein on September 16, 2023 at 4:06 pm

      Good to hear MobilityCamp made such a difference in a challenging situation, Spider. Shana Tova!

  6. Zoe Harris on September 16, 2023 at 3:55 pm

    I love hearing about Burning Man from both David & Carolyn. It continues to amaze me that Carolyn has the energy to do this for the last few years. You go girl!
    Love, Zoe

    • David Perlstein on September 16, 2023 at 4:05 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post and Carolyn’s reply, Zoe. Quite the adventure.

  7. Cooky on September 16, 2023 at 6:02 pm

    It was great spending more time with (you) DQ & everyone else at camp this year. We look forward to coming back and cooking again.

    • David Perlstein on September 16, 2023 at 8:27 pm

      DQ appreciated your cooking! Thanks, Cooky.

  8. Katy Tahja on September 16, 2023 at 6:27 pm

    Life in Mobility Camp would not be the same without the Drama Queen…we love her…BookFairy Katy

    • David Perlstein on September 16, 2023 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks, BFK.

  9. Glenda I Mchenry on September 17, 2023 at 11:39 am

    Keep on trucking!! Gee

    • David Perlstein on September 17, 2023 at 11:43 am

      Will do, Glenda.

  10. Maria on September 17, 2023 at 5:36 pm

    I only think of Drama Queen as the most non-dramatic drama queen EVER 🤣🤣♥️👍👍🙏
    Sensible, reliable and silly ,,,, she rocks the Playa !!
    A great friend and cohort,,,, The Playa brings out the best and worst in each of us,,,,,, I saw her sailing by in a blue-rain poncho, taped plastic bags on her delicate feet and an enormous smile ,,,,, enroute to “ Porto “
    I admire and adore her immensely
    Always , Maria 😘😘😘

    • David Perlstein on September 17, 2023 at 8:11 pm

      Thanks, Maria. DramaQueen does rock.

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