Trouble in Pee Paradise
Here's a sad tale of what happens when your bladder-functions theme camp takes a detour from the straight and narrow.
In utero, we all start out as girls. Unless there’s a pesky little Y chromosome waiting to kick in: Then bang! after two months’ floating in inner space, girls turn into boYs and develop that urinarily superior pissing device that allows them to stand in sticky, filthy, drenched nite-o-the Burn potties and micturate without fear of ass-proximity to what’s lurking below. To balance the scales, Pee Funnel Camp has gifted more than 30,000 plastic pee cups with silicon-sealed tubing to women on the Playa since 2001, through dispensers and its theme camp, open 24/7 to males and females alike. Hey, we all start out as girls, why discriminate?
Screw you, trickle-down theories. Wipe out that squat and dribble routine. Stand and deliver, with accuracy.
Pee in a bottle or jug, even, if you don’t want to trudge to the portos. Just don’t let your campmates think it’s apple juice. Zoe, a 15-consecutive-year Burner who has helmed the operation for 13 years, spends every summer weekend and all of August organizing the 10- to 20-member camp. She personally caulked each of 7,500 cups she’s bringing this year, though she has some helpers for prep. That’s a heck of a hand job, but she doesn’t want anyone leaking during the week. A business owner in the Default World, she sinks a ton of $ into Pee Funnels as her gift.
Where are you, Pee Funnel Camp?
PFC pissed off the Burning Man organization this year and lost many of its tickets and placement. In an “act of curiosity and mild civil disobedience,” Zoe listed a ticket for $500 over face value. She did it, she says, because she wanted to catch a rat.
She got her rat, but in the process her name became mud with the Bmorg.
“My name is being tossed around by ticketing, placement, and art with a lot of hate attached. I’ve been blacklisted,” Zoe wrote the Beacon. “If there’s a Burning Man jail, I’d be in it.”
Two new Pee Funnel campers from Ohio asked Zoe to use eBay for a secure ticket exchange. Zoe posted two of her distributed tickets, the ones destined only for theme camp members, for $1,000. (That’s @$390 +10 S&H + $100 camp fee.)
Bmorg specified that these tickets go to “people integral to the success of your project.”
Further, it would void and refund any tickets it found sold over face value. She was still within reason, here.
Another buyer swooped in and hit the Buy It Now button. Zoe canceled the sale and relisted so her Ohio peeps could get tickets. And then she grew suspicious.
Loss of Face Over Face Value
Someone tried to hit that Buy It Now button fast.
Zoe learned of “rats” on eBay trolling for scalpers, even offering extra money to people who have listed tickets for face value and then turning them in when they went for the lure.
Burning Man attempts to find and refund the original buyer cost of a voided ticket, but a scalper is not going to tell that to the sucker who bought it.
Zoe imagined legions of people showing up at the Gate only to discover they can’t get in.
She was horrified.
“That was the point I started to make stupid choices, considering what I risked and lost,” she said. “I wasn’t acting rationally. I was outraged and I wanted to see what happened.”
She advertised one of her two presale tickets for $250 (less than face value), with a Buy It Now price of $750, saying she had more. Someone offered $650 per ticket with a request for photos of backside ticket numbers. She sent pics of five of her campmates’ direct distributed ticket numbers along with a rant against Bmorg.
The trap snapped shut; the “buyer” reported her and the Bmorg shut her down. She thought there would be more dialog. She hadn’t actually accepted the bid.
She wrote back to "the buyer" immediately, “Ah ha! So that’s how it’s done!”
Too late for Zoe. She told the buyer who she was and her story and he said, “Oh my God! My wife loves Pee Funnel Camp and so do I.” He did not, however, appreciate being called a rat.
Still, she seems to have been ratted out. The Bmorg press office said by email it did not pay anybody to search out scalpers nor did the staff troll the web. "Folks voluntarily have discovered scalpers and reported them to our ticketing team. When we receive a report, our Ticketing Department conducts a thorough investigation."
Zoe sent numerous appeals, including screenshots to prove her story and her intention not to actually sell tickets above face value. She offered to step down as organizer, feeling “fucking AWFUL about what I put my camp through.” She begged, unsuccessfully, to cancel her presale tickets but not her campmates’ direct distributed tix.
“It was clear to me they were going on his [the “rat’s”] word alone and there would be no investigation.”
Ticketing didn’t respond to Beacon’s request for comment. Placement, however, wrote: “We have reviewed the explanations and appeals put forth by the camp lead. They do not hold up — our ticket office does not cancel tickets unless they have substantial proof of wrongdoing and identity.”
Bmorg said Pee Funnel Camp “can still arrive, set up, and pamphlet the event as a non-registered camp once our Gates open to the public.”
The Beacon Scratches Its Scalp
Zoe bought her camp new tickets, so they can still come. Curiously for the Beacon, she got her new tickets from scalpers who are Burners, no less, in defiance of organizations like Scalpers Against Burners, and the fiasco has cost her thousands of dollars.
But she's steaming.
It was never about the money for her, she said.
“I wouldn’t scalp a ticket, myself, but I don’t really hold it against someone who does, because the system has that built into it and there could be policies that prevent that. Expecting people to act against human nature is short sighted.”
Zoe has been increasingly frustrated with the Bmorg. “There’s no way for us to passionately participate or have any input into their policy," she said. "I grew up with Burning Man, it’s part of my identity, and I take it personally."
More than 60 theme camps have contacted Zoe about that lack of dialog and a coalition is setting up a survey at http://12trashfence.org, hoping, she said, “they can give the org simple actionable feedback.”
Without early arrival or placement, “We’ll be late to the game,” Zoe conceded. “But nothing can stop Pee Funnel Camp.”
Doublecheck Those Ticket Numbers
The Beacon does not condone scalping and notes that anyone wishing to check the validity of third-party tickets can Google their ticket number against the Bmorg’s list of voided tickets at http://tickets2.burningman.com/info.php?i=3815