Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Silver Guy

When I meet people who read me, I am often asked about THE SILVER GUY. One of the first things I tell them is that he is as shiny on the inside as he is on the outside. This SILVER GUY deliberately radiates joy and love on a daily basis, not just when he's at Burning Man.

I first met THE SILVER GUY in 2007. All I knew about him was that his name was Jesse and that he lived in Portland. Jesse was in constant motion. He had a rock star aura without the ego. By the end of the week, I was convinced I wasn't cool enough for Jesse. The best I could hope for was that he tolerated me.

What most people don't realize about Burning Man, is that it is intensely therapeutic. Imagine taking the BIGGEST party on the planet and mixing it with soul drudging, psychoanalysis. That first year as camp mates, we were both working on our inner demons, and that work took us in different directions. All that changed the following year.

From that year on, I felt a deep connection to Jesse. It didn't matter if I didn't see him, or hear from him, his essence stayed with me. This is exactly the way I feel about my son - just because he isn't here, doesn't mean he's gone.

What I crave most out of my time here, is people connections - true, genuine, heart connections. I'll show you mine and you show me yours. That is the ONE common denominator all of my camp mates share. That is the main reason I go to Burning Man. 

Because there is a need to know, todays post is an interview with Jesse Fowler - an in-depth look into this wildly charismatic SILVER GUY.

An interview with Jesse Fowler

So Jesse, why do you paint yourself silver? 

The first time I painted myself silver, it was mostly for sunblock. The reaction was so good, that I kept doing it. It felt right the first time, and I was very glad that people enjoyed it. Now it is a tradition in an otherwise very nontraditional life. Every day that black Rock city has existed for the past 7 years, I have been completely silver. I do it for the way people see me, shiny, and out loud. The latest way that I explain it, and sum it up is this "I paint myself silver to reflect the love that I get from those around." The attention that I get, and the status that has been given to me, puts me in a place that allows me to spread the principles of our fair city to newcomers, and through world wide media.

What kind of paint is that anyway?

The paint is mineral based, and is Aluminum powder. I know that it is bad for me, but is worth it. I get people each year warning me about it. Actually, I don't use Aluminum based antiperspirant, because of its effects, and I can feel the effects of the Aluminum paint when I sweat a lot. However, I am an athlete, and take good care of my body otherwise.

How long have you been going to Burning Man?

This year will be my 8th year, I think; maybe 9th. I purposely let it be a montage in my memory. I prefer to not separate the experiences into linear blocks.

What is your profession and do you like what you do?

My profession currently is selling high end vintage clothing online, and freelance acrobatic performance. I have great respect for quality, especially functional goods.Along with being silver, I like to evoke feeling with the way I look in the default world. People get a good feeling when they see others dressed well, and, like being silver, it opens conversations that lead to otherwise hard to reach places.
As an acrobat, I love using my body as extremely as I can, while staying healthy. It was given to me to use, and I explore that every day!

 (Jesse, spun fire while walking on these stilts at the base of the Man on burn night)

When you're not at Burning Man what do you do for fun?

When I'm not [home], I stay entertained by exploring my immediate world, which is full of different people. Along with seeing what this body can do, I really like seeing what this mind can do, by comparing it to other people's experiences.

(NO, that pole is not inserted or attached)

Why do you go to Burning Man?

I go to Burning Man, because it feels like the home that I was born without. They say that you can never go home, but I do, for very brief times, each year. I was robbed of a childhood, and I obviously can't have one now, with loving, nurturing parents, and no cares. Burning Man is the closest thing that I would have ever imagined, all of the years of asking myself how I can replace that. It is full of loving 
nurturing people, and I am care free when I am there.

(French maids and the Butler, head out to dust the playa)

Do you think Burning Man is going to SUCK this year? (this is one of those weird, burning man statements we make every year - declaring that it will suck, as if SUCK translates into all things magnificent). 

Burning man is going to suck better than ever before! There will be assholes, and saints. There will be pain, and ecstasy. I could find plenty of things to be constantly unhappy with, but am pretty sure I will find, and attract beauty. This year is special, as it should be. There will be uncertainty, again. There will be drive, and strife again. There will be magic, and any cool kid will tell you that magic sucks.

(Jesse receives a violation for having silver skin)

And finally, what would you like people to know about you?

I would like people to know that I am a burning man. I have seen the depths of misery. I have endured physical, and emotion pain that no one should ever know. I have thought to myself more times than I could possibly remember that this moment may truly be my last. I never knew the love of a Mother, or father and many times thought I couldn't live without it. Yet, I am happy now. I still consider my life, with all of it's suffering, an unfathomable gift. Sometimes, I wouldn't change a minute, because it put me exactly where I am now. I know the great peaks from the depths of the valleys. I know the warmth, because of bitter cold. I know the strength of my stem, from the struggle of my roots, to the triumph of my flower.

(a rare, non-silver moment. Jesse, sportin' his merkin)

 For FABULOUS vintage clothing, check out FABGAB on Etsy.
"Men's and women's vintage clothing, vintage dresses, vintage suits, vintage hats and shoes - deco, rockabilly and more - feed your passion for vintage style! "

(with shop owner, Julie)

xo, MOnkeyME

Here is a quick little video about the love and silliness that unfolds...


  1. A truly unique individual! Hi yo, Silver! (Or does he get that a lot?)

    1. Haaaaaa... you know, I never thought of that. I'll ask him! :)

  2. Maybe I'll meet you at Burning Man 2013! (My son's getting married around then this year and then I'm going to camp.) This was lovely.

    Debra, lol!

    1. Em... I've been saying "I'm not going next year" for about 7 years now. YES.... that would be the ultimate dream come true! I'm going to add a video I just did to create some instant JOY. you will be an excellent addition to our camp!

  3. This year is definitely going to suck. I am certain.



    1. it better SUCK, or I'm going to ask for my money back!!!!

  4. That's a serious red merkin he's sporting there... why isn't the merkin silver?

    I like the 'Happy Happy Joy Joy' song...


    1. the merkin matches his heart. I made merkins for all of us last year. this year.... pasties! red furry ones to match the merkins.


    1. I'm glad you liked it! A grumpy maintenance worker who manages buildings next to my condo has been printing out pages from my blog -where I show my post mastectomy progress and distributing them to various workers. According to him, its pornography and I'm soliciting sex. He also uses the fact that I go to Burning Man as testament to my insanity. I wonder if he'll try and print out the video? I have no idea who that was in the leopard dress with the "jesus earmuffs" (we nicknamed that hunky camp mate Jesus), but I'm guessing if she got cancer and had to have her breast and nipples and areola removed, she'd be awfully glad she showed them off while she still had them!

    2. Since the grumpy maintenance man obviously reads your blog, he needs to mind his own business.

      Based on some 'sane' people I have known, I embrace my insanity.



  6. Great interview! And the video was a fun bonus!

    1. Oh I forgot to tell you... every time you CLICK on the video, youre charge $11.95.

  7. I love hearing your burning man stories. Because in all honestly, I just don't think I need so much personal enlightenment to actually go in person. But your stories and your pictures take me there....

    1. and then there are the intense dust storms! or some odd reason, I love them!

  8. What a lovely interview and post. The video is precious.

    Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy to you Shannon.

  9. Aloha GM and SG :)

    What a super fun guest post and Burning Man sounds like somewhere I need to put on my Bucket List:)

    Take care - both of you :)


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison