Unicorns are not an illusive myth at Burning Man, this one is real and if you look out into the distance and see the magical Charlie horn blowing fire you will find it. You just have to believe the fugu is real. My last (but definitely not least) interviews are with our fearless leader of our camp, DivaDanielle and Sarah S. a long time unicorn and co-organizer (also with Travis Payne) of Wes Smith’s Thursday event, Noodlecorns.
Tell me a little about Camp Charlie and the fabulous unicorn art car:
Danielle: This is Charlie’s 5th trek to the playa. We pride ourselves on having top-notch music with a silly vibe. We like house and breaks – always with a funky twist. Charlie was originally built in 2011 and we’ve made some major upgrades this year including a Danley sound system (provided by ChinoSound), all new fabrics, a ton of structural upgrades and a brand spankin’ new fire system.
Sarah: I was a HUGE fan of the cartoon already. When two of my best friends and roommates Adam & Niles (of Fleetwood Smack) told me that someone was bringing a Charlie the Unicorn Art Car to the playa, I just went nuts! I knew I HAD to be involved.
What is a Noodlecorn?
Sarah: Our good friends Tasty Noodles have a really fun event out in the Mojave desert a couple of times each year. So many of the Camp Charlie Unicorns go or have gone, that the lines between Unicorn and Noodler have become quite blurred. We’ve started referring to ourselves as NoodleCorns if we identify with both groups. Additionally, quite a few Noodlers have joined Camp Charlie, and vice versa. Both camps are now part of the Sunset Trip village on playa, so we’re all quite close, literally and figuratively.
Tell me about the Noodlecorn event:
Who is your team for Thursday Night?
Sarah: Travis (Payne) and I go back about 17 years. We both worked for Buzz in Washington, D.C., I was heading up promotion for Buzz, Fever, and Ultraworld, and Travis was doing design work for Buzz. I lived in Baltimore but came down to Buzz every Friday to run my promotion team and handle anything else that needed doing. Working for such an amazing club with a multi-decade run and working for Scott Henry, one of the best promoters and DJs I know, was an incredible learning experience. Travis and I both threw solo events off the heels of Buzz, and Travis was becoming a pretty amazing DJ. Travis moved to LA 5 years ago, went to burning man, and joined Camp Charlie. Travis and I co-hosted the March 2015 Camp Charlie fundraiser at King King with Adam Rowe of Fleetwood Smack. Travis and I have similar tastes in music, so doing a night on the car together was a natural progression. We’re really excited to bring this lineup together on playa. It’s just the right amount of funky and driving beats, we think this night is going to be pretty special.
How did Wes Smith became involved in Camp Charlie?
Sarah: Wes and I go way back from the DC/Baltimore days. At some point I realized he moved to San Diego and messaged him. I’m pretty sure I asked him if he had been to burning man, and he hadn’t yet. At that point I think as-per-usual I wouldn’t shut up about it and he got really excited. Wes ended up going with us last year and his Tuesday night set on Charlie was for lack of a better word, EPIC. There were people holding their heads in confusion, they couldn’t figure out how those breaks just kept coming. Wes proved himself as a valuable member of our work team as well, so we were thrilled he was coming back for 2015.
What led you to Camp Charlie?
Danielle: Wellllllll, I had this obsession with unicorns. Before Charlie was built, the original creator, Ken Feldman (who is now building the 747) ran a Kickstarter campaign. In one day, about 5 people posted it to my Facebook page. So I emailed him the following:
Hello my name is Diva. I think we need to meet.
1) I love unicorns
2) I am a DJ with loads of shameless self promotion skills.
I think I can help you.
Sarah: The Charlie the Unicorn Art Car of course! Haha, but also the amazing DJ talent we bring each year, and the amazing work ethic of the talented camp organizers and campers. Our camp is built and our Unicorn is improved mostly through the ingenuity and sweat of the amazing people in our camp. We don’t do Sparkle Ponies (they’re pretty but useless) but we DO sparkle!
What keeps you coming back year after year?
Danielle: I keep telling myself I am gonna take a year off but then something comes up and I just am saying to go. Once I got a unicorn to ride around on, I pretty much gave up on taking a year off. I feel like it’s not very common that you get complete freedom to do whatever you want on a creative endeavor. I came from a career as a video editor, constantly working with clients. Burning Man and this crazy unicorn, gave me a creative outlet and then the courage and confidence to change my life and my career (now I’m making music and touring as a DJ full-time).
Sarah: The fun, the work, the sense of community. Being part of something greater than yourself and seeing your hard work come to life. This amazing and talented group of people. Being a part of an Art Car, and especially Charlie is just an incredible feeling. Everyone LOVES Charlie. People see him and come running. It just brings a huge smile to my face.
Thank you, Ladies. I look forward to joining you both at Camp Charlie and experiencing all of this first hand. Where can the rest of Burning Man find Charlie?
Camp Charlie is located in the Sunset Trip Village with Tasty Noodles and Dirty Beetles at 8:30 and Ersatz. Nights, Charlie can be found out and about on the open playa, so if you see a really bright unicorn with his head sticking out of Candy Mountain with flames shooting from his horn and some pretty incredible beats being played, you know you’re in the right place.