Silver Man

Playa Name

A person who goes to Burning Man is known as a "burner." Every burner should have a playa name. A playa name is a nickname that might only be used at Burning Man, or it might be a major part of your identity. A playa name should be something distinctive about you. You don't just give yourself a playa name, it needs to develop organically. Mine is "Silver Man," because that's what people yell when they see me. That's because I'm naked, a man, and completely silver.


I didn't always make myself silver. I did it the first time in 2001. I didn't always shave my head, but upon returning from the playa in 1999 I decided to get rid of the fake hair and be completely bald. The new look had some advantages. Shortly after going hairless, my co-workers wanted to attend an Oscar party. It was decided that we'd dress up. Obviously the bald guy would be the Oscar statue. It was going to be at the Parkway Theater in Oakland, so I couldn't be naked. My co-worker's boyfriend had a gold colored body leotard that would provide modesty even if it wasn't real gold. I bought some metallic gold makeup for exposed body parts. The costume was complete when I made a sword out of cardboard and painted it gold. Then I would stand straight, hold the sword in front of me like the Oscar statue, and become Oscar.

Oscar was a hit. Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with the Oscar statue. It's fun to be the center of attention. The effect is impressive because of the makeup. The metallic makeup provides a very even coat without streaking. And looks like real metal, because it is real metal. The "silver" makeup is aluminium powder, and the "gold" is copper powder. Being Oscar was great, but I was more intrigued by the concept of being a real living statue. A human made of metal, like the Metal Men comics I read when I was a kid. To me the only way to realize that concept would be to be completely naked and completely metallic.

Before being silver at Burning Man 2001 I tried being gold all over at Noman, a spontaneous gathering in the Black Rock Desert that use to happen around the fourth of July. It was a good trial run, but decided that silver was better than gold. That's because the gold is copper powder, and it turns green as it oxidizes. Not a good look. Even worse, it turns green more where you sweat, so you soon have green armpits and crotch. Yuck.


Does it breathe? Yes, it is water based and quite comfortable.

Aren't you going to die like that woman in Goldfinger. No that is a silly myth.The makeup doesn't clog pores or harm you in anyway... I hope. I've often wondered if it will conduct electricity. Needless to say I will not get to close to Dr. Megavolt! If he returns to Burning Man.

Does it wash off easily? Yes, with water. In fact I avoid being sprayed by misters and such when silver. It also rubs off on everything. My sleeping bag, bike seat, handlebars, as well as most of the inside of my car turns silver. You can rub it off onto other people. I use to give hand prints to friends before they rode in Critical Tits.

Do you need sunscreen? No! It is great sunscreen. After all, it reflects the sun very well. Unfortunately it does wear off after a while. On sequential days I will lightly rinse off the playa dust with a little water, and put on a new silvery coating. I've been doing it every Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Sunday of Burning Man for 13 years.

Silver Fun

I'm not the only person who becomes silver. There was a guy who was The Silver Surfer, he even had a motorized surfboard to ride the playa. I tried to contact him on Tribe (a social networking site) to challenge him to a fight in the Thunderdome, but never got a response. In 1997 a couple camped next to us became silver for the night of the burn. They had a hard time with their hair, but still looked great.

The amazing thing about being silver is the response I get from people. For a few days a year I'm showered with compliments and attention. What's not to like? Complements like "hot" and "beautiful" make you feel good. It is good motivation to stay in shape. I've also been groped and fondled by more than a few women. That doesn't happen in my everyday life either. What I don't like though is when someone whacks me on the butt unexpectedly. That hurts!