Burning Boof

For Burning Man 2005, Mabel and I built a photobooth onto the back of my Cushman meter maid buggy. What an experience, and you can see the pics it took here: Burning Man 2005, and now Burning Man 2006.

Here's Herman, my daily driver in San Francisco for 5 years, in either better or worse times, depending on your perspective:


Here he is the day we bought him into Dave's shop to chop him down to build a better boof. This is nine days before the start of Burning Man, yikes:


Dave had some old theater sets with strong but light welded frames, gargantuan thanks to Dave:


Mabel tests the new platform, which Dave had lying around his shop and happened to fit perfectly:


Hallelujia, it's starting to look like a boof. We were going to leave that back panel on so people could stand on it and make drunken speeches, but we figured the seesaw effect might be trouble.


Time to go get some sleep.


Mabel making one of our many many lists of things to do.


Here you can see where the boof seat will be. A plank goes over that frame forming the seat, and underneat are two golf cart batteries to power things. We mounted a 75 watt solar panel on the roof, which in the Burning Man sun does wonders.


Here's the interface, it's an old peep show booth panel I found in a dumpster. It always gives me a kick when someone says "hey, I recognize that from somewhere, where have I seen those before?" and then a little bit of embarassment creeps over his face as he remembers...


Mabel and I take a break for a pose.


I'm holding our latest to-do list. Each little entry on this list is some huge task, like "fix engine", "install electrical system", etc.


We were going to rent a U-Haul trailer, but it would cost $300 for the week, so we bought this one for $250 outright. It's not a looker, and the title says it's from 1953, but in it's previous life it was a dedicated dune buggy hauler so how can you go wrong.


Driving the boof onto the trailer for our move to the next work space, where we'll do the painting and finishing.


Promptly after arriving Nicole had to spray paint the sides:


Here she is, caught in the act. She never finished the thought, so the left side of the trailer still says "I heart". Thanks Nicole.


The interface is in place, with the flat panel monitor mounted behind the screen. A great thing about this interface is it has really strong hinges, so it opens outwards to let me work on the innards. And that hole next to the defunct bill acceptor is the camera.


Prime it up. Man that stuff is stinky.


Angela being burned alive by some strange artifact on the film.


Paint! Or at least primer...


Jackie checking out the tools.


Grinding things down.


Mabel with our pallette tests.


Bring it outside for the final coat.


I love the red, the perfect shade.


Fixing the headlights. Don't tell Sam, but I stole the headlights from his parts car to fix the boof's and blamed it on a crackhead...


Nicole redeeming herself for painting my poor trailer.


Looking good:


And suddenly, it's a photobooth.


I love this picture:


Ok, it's loaded onto the janky trailer, towed behind Lester, my janky van:


Off to Burning Man.


Mabel and Nicole rode in Vanna White, Mabel's van.


Needless to say, the trailer was completely loaded down. And who knew overloaded single axle trailers swerve all over the road when you go above 50mph? It was a slow drive.


Sunrise, we made the turnoff from the highway to Burning Man, still a good 2 hours away. Note Lester's rear wheels sagging.




We got to the gate at Burning Man at like 10am, they asked to see our art car permit, I was dead tired after driving all night, I told them I didn't have a permit, and they impounded the boof. Argh! But this is a kinder gentler beaurocracy and after describing it to the powers that be at the "Department of Mutant Vehicles", they let in the Boof, and all that hard work was worth it:


Sunrise after the first night driving around:


Megan posing in front:


They require lots of lighting to get a night driving permit. The top it's ringed by flourescent bulbs (each only 4 watts but very bright), and that blue light is a strip of LEDs. We'd run it all night long, which means a laptop, printer, camera, booming stereo, all the lights, and printing at least 100 pics a night, and I never once got low on power. God bless solar panels, even if George Bush won't.


Me in my dice jacket.


These pictures don't need words:


In this picture you can see the monitor. After it takes each picture it shows the picture full screen on the 17" flat panel monitor, after the 4th picture it shows a grid of all 4, which is what you see here:


Once people figured out it printed, they'd absolutely swarm the Boof. Eventually the hard part was driving away, since there was always one dejected person asking if they could please have just one picture.


Absurdly satisfying:


Megan, the all-star Boof Barker.


Aisenfeld is always looking for an excuse to get nekid:


People looking up the printer chute, an all too common sight. Playa dust is not kind to inkjet printers, and it took awhile before I figured out that swabbing the rollers with something moist like sun tan lotion keeps the printing working smoothly.


Paul and I.


I like this shot.


Burning Man prides itself on having a barter culture, so every morning the front of the Boof would be covered with gifted necklaces, bracelets, hand-minted coins, stickers, books, LED gizmos, you name it. A really fun part of Boofing around Burning Man.


Another sunrise.


And another crowd of boofuses.


The night of the burn. Luckily we built the whole thing really sturdy, we'd commonly have like 5 people riding on the roof. Careful of that solar panel!


Note all the strips stapled onto the wall:


Megan keeping cool in the thrum:


Yet another sunrise:


One of my favorite pictures:


The only other photobooth at the event, not exactly stiff competition:


Another one of my favorite pics:


Our camp's group pose:


Nicole and Sauce working it:


Another front shot, with the array of gifts fastened here and there:


Cant.... stop.... posting... pictures....


All things must come to an end, and we tried staying beyond the official end of Burning Man but the place completely cleared out, so we packed up. Here we are at Pyramid Lake for a much needed swim in the bath warm water.


The Roof of the Boof, and you can just barely see Lester's twin solar panel. For anyone with a camper van, get a solar panel immediately, I'd recommend 60 - 75 watts:


Paul and Erika feeling refreshed.


Oh crap, a flat! No biggie, and we made it home in one piece.


And The Boof has been a hoot. I've been renting it out for parties and events since Burning Man, the holiday season was non stop. Here he is with his tuxedo on, and you can see many more pics at


And these are the stickers I had printed up:


And The Boof lived happily ever after.

The Boof would like to thank: of course Mabel, but thanks doesn't quite say it; Dave for letting us use his shop, his expertise, his tools, for letting us make a mess that 5 months later I still havn't completely cleaned up (sorry about that), and for basically building the whole foundation. If it weren't for him I'd have bullt it from bolted together plywood and it would have long since gone to the landfill; Angela for all the painting help; Justin for more painting help and for reaching the exhaustion point but still painting the lettering onto the sides; Cyrus for letting us use his warehouse and being so generous with everything; Megan for handling the crowds so well; that guy at the Department of Mutant Vehicles who took one look at the picture on my camera and said with conviction "I'm going to let this vehicle out of the impound lot", Jackie for his usual generosity of time, spirit and knowledge; Jerry for hooking us up with that trailer; Peef and Simon for, as usual, fixing a bunch of stuff; and everyone at Burning Man for being so unambiguously supportive. It's nice to work hard for a bunch of people who notice.


Update: As of my typing this The Boof just got back from Burning Man 2006. Much better pictures this year, and another travelogue.




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