Life Travel Why semi-clothed celebrities are flocking to this stretch of desert
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Why semi-clothed celebrities are flocking to this stretch of desert

burning man
From three friends on a beach, Burning Man has grown to house 70,000 revellers. Photo: Getty
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Would you pay thousands of dollars to stay in a remote stretch of American desert without electricity or proper clothing?

That’s been the growing trend for celebrities who jet to the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, Nevada – once a haven of hippiedom but increasingly a stage for Paris Hilton to show off her latest leotard on Instagram.

Started as a utopian temporary community in 1986, the festival has become increasingly divided into those who maintain its original ethos of self-autonomy, peace and love, and those who would prefer to shell out $50,000 for a luxury ‘glamping’ package.

This year’s list of celebrities stomping around in the dust enjoying art installations and musical performances included Katy Perry, Kyle Sandilands, Paris Hilton, Heidi Klum and, surprisingly, Wendi Deng.

And for those who don’t plan on making the 13,000-kilometre trip – it’s lucky you can relive it all through the inevitable flurry of social media posts.

Celebs strip off

Officially the highest-earning singer in the world, Katy Perry took some well-deserved time off to debut a number of incredible outfits on the desert plains.

👼🏻 luminary fairy 👼🏻

A photo posted by KATY PERRY (@katyperry) on

🔥AlivE🔥

A photo posted by KATY PERRY (@katyperry) on

Reality star-turned-celebrity DJ Paris Hilton was there with her younger brother Barron Hilton, showing off a number of colourful outfits, including this gold-and-black leather number as she perched on a car reminiscent of Mad Max.

Ready to ride thru the Playa.🔥 #BurningMan

A photo posted by Paris Hilton (@parishilton) on

Leading the Australian charge was model and “creative” Imogen Anthony, otherwise known as girlfriend of radio star Kyle Sandilands, who was also in attendance.

Anthony showed off various skimpy outfits including a Mardi Gras-esque piece, captured on video as one of Burning Man’s signature moving art pieces passes by in the background.

Model friends Karlie Kloss and Cara Delevingne also made appearances, posting this loved-up image from the dancefloor.

Ran into this burner in the desert 😘 @caradelevingne

A photo posted by Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss) on

Wendi Deng, former wife of Rupert Murdoch and now rumoured girlfriend of Vladimir Putin, also uploaded a number of pictures, showcasing the festival’s giant installations – many of which are burned to the ground at its conclusion.

#burningman2016

A photo posted by Wendi Murdoch (@wendimurdoch) on

History

Burning Man was dreamt up in 1986 by a group of friends in San Francisco, who would burn an effigy of a wooden man to celebrate the summer solstice each year.

The annual ritual quickly gained momentum and the group eventually began constructing a temporary community on a dry lake in Nevada – hundreds of miles from civilisation.

By 1997, the Burning Man community had grown to 10,000 people who partied and lived without currency for the first week of September.

burning man
Burning Man 1999: before Paris Hilton was an attendee. Photo: Getty

In 2015, that number had grown to 70,000.

Of course, many argue that the festival’s original intentions have been muddied as celebrities and Silicon Valley tech moguls flock to the desert – creating a market for expensive and exclusive marquees with private chefs and, blasphemously, electricity.

‘Burners’ turn on exclusive camp

Proving that you can’t escape class warfare even in the desert, this year’s utopia was interrupted by a group of disillusioned ‘Burners’ attacking an expensive camp known as White Ocean.

burning man
A stuntman lights himself on fire in front of the annual effigy in 2000. Photo: Getty

Started by veteran DJ Paul Oakenfold and a Russian billionaire, the closed camp offered comfortable marquees and pumping techno music for those willing to pay through the nose.

But according to a White Ocean Facebook post, organisers were blindsided when a group of “hooligans” cut power lines, flooded the camp with 200 gallons of water and glued trailer doors shut.

“A very unfortunate and saddening event happened last night at White Ocean, something we thought would never be possible in our Burning Man utopia,” read the Facebook post.

“We actually had someone from the Burning Man organisation tell us ‘It makes sense that you have been sabotaged as you are a closed camp and not welcoming’.”

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