“Mad Max fan events have been occurring in Australia and Japan since the movies were first released, beginning in the late ’70s,” says Jim Howard of Wasteland Weekend, the apocalypse-themed festival he’s helping to organize. Originally known as Roadwar USA, the Burning Man–style gatherings began in the U.S. in 2004, celebrating the three post-apocalyptic Mel Gibson movies Mad Max, Road Warrior, and Beyond Thunderdome.
For the 2010 Wasteland Weekend, planned for October 22 through 24 at Soggy Dry Lake near Lucerne Valley, event founder Karol Bartoszynski tapped local promoter Howard, known for the recurring goth/industrial club event Dominion (currently held quarterly at the Satin Lounge in the College Area) and for his activism with the local Gothic Volunteer Alliance.
“Attendees can expect a continuous flow of post-apocalyptic-themed entertainment and activities. DJs will spin everything from rock to punk, industrial, tribal, and dance. We’ll also have exhibitions of movie replica cars and bikes, gyrocopter flyovers, and stunt performances based on the films. There will also be two large movie screens, vendors, fire dancers, and contests involving vehicles, costumes, and physical activities like boomerang throws, archery, and the dreaded gas-can carry.”
Among the locals recruited by Howard for the event, “Chris Cybian Kneeland has signed on to be one of our DJs. He’s well known in San Diego for spinning at Club Sabbat, Club Therapy, Fallout, and Dominion. John and Elizabeth Kuhn of local Pixeljell Productions will be involved in marketing, design, and on-site support. And Trevor Henthorn, a longtime musician, percussionist, and computer science genius out of UCSD, will be mounting one of his off-center musical and performance art projects.”
So why the fascination with Mad Max? “The original films changed my idea of cool. The ethics were complex, where the dark hero Max goes from good cop to bad cop, yet remains a hero [Mad Max], and from the shell of a man to regaining his place in humanity [Road Warrior], to the ‘Raggedy Man’ of Beyond Thunderdome who surrenders all because of his ethics and leads his tribe to a new home, yet has no place there as the classic tragic hero.”
Others interested in taking part in the post-apocalyptic festivities can contact Howard at myspace.com/wastelandweekend. “Anyone want to build us a Thunderdome to compete in?”