By Mario Anzuoni, Reuters
Being a product of the seventies, my first post-apocalyptic vision of earth was the 1979 film “Mad Max”. So I was intrigued about attending Wasteland Weekend, a festival inspired by that dystopian vision.
The event is in California’s Mojave Desert a few hours from Los Angeles. After the final stretch of the journey on a dirt road, I pull up to what appears to be a compound in the middle of nowhere, home to Wasteland City.
The more I look around the more it feels real rather than surreal. Guards stand post at the main gate, while a rusty modified limousine, with what looks to be a 50-caliber mounted on it, welcomes me.
Although it’s midday and blisteringly hot, I want to see more. Wasteland City comes across as a genuine post-apocalyptic desert post, complete with shops, a casino – and bounty hunters. Most importantly, it has all the Mad Max characters you would expect.
They have recycled, reused and repurposed outfits so they look like they’re straight out of a movie. If this wasn’t enough to make it credible, customised vehicles will put a seal on it, transformed into driving, weaponised machines. The results are both impressive and extravagant.
“Oh, what a day… what a lovely day!” as the character Nux, from this year’s “Mad Max: Fury Road”, would say.
As sun sets Wasteland City is buzzing, ready for the evening’s activities. You can catch a burlesque fire show, watch gladiators at the Battlecage and of course fights at the Thunderdome. When you tire of live entertainment, you can stop by the open bar or hit the casino (where your currency is beer bottle caps).
There are a few memorable photos. But one of the first I shot is my favourite of the day: as I turn into an alley in Wasteland City, it gets real quiet. There is only one man in front of me, the faces of baby dolls on his back, while he walks a marionette baby doll. That was the first and last time I set eyes on him.
Copyright Reuters 2015
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