By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
During the off-season, there isn't anything happening at the Grove, but a lot of members hang out at the City Club. They can get keys and go up to the camp, but if they bring female guests, they have to be off the grounds by 9 or 10 p.m. I ended up working at the Grove that summer. I rented a place nearby because they do not provide housing for female employees, except managers and interns. Guerneville is a gay resort town. Everybody was really friendly there. I made a ton of money because I was working really long days. I'd show up at 7 a.m. and work until 8 at night. I worked in the Dining Circle. There was tons of produce and all the liquor in the world, lots of wine. If someone said, "Hey, we're out of Maker's Mark," we'd send over another bottle, or 10.
Experts say the Bohemian Grove is a secret society where world leaders plot global domination. How exciting was it to be around global plot-hatchers all summer?
It was just a bunch of rich guys hanging out and partying. You have all these different camps inside with different names like a fraternity system. They have a camp for the guys who do the lighting for the Cremation of Care, one for the entertainers, one for guys from Stanford. The Cremation of Care is the kickoff ceremony and has the same basic script every year. Care is a great big monster and the guys try to burn Care so they can party for three weeks. And Care says, "You can't kill me; I'll be back in three weeks!" and at the end of three weeks they have to go back to their jobs and Care returns.
Other than that, they all just spend weeks getting drunk and playing music, drinking at the bar. It's not as important as everyone makes it sound. You're working for a bunch of old guys, and occasionally you recognize one from television or whatever. Some famous musician might be playing at one of the camps, and they'd listen for a while and then fall down drunk and pass out. There are always guys walking around pissing on trees. They have these plays where the men dress up like women and entertain the other men.
Some of this stuff sounds pretty homoerotic. Does the club allow gays to join?
Sure, of course. It's an artistic club, so that'd be hard to avoid. There are members who are less accepting of this than others. But in general, it's like any club where you are asked to pay high dues. You're going to have more old white guys than anyone else, but there are all kinds of other races represented too. It has about 2,700 members. You can't get wait-listed to join until you're 21 years old, but there's a 15- to 20-year waiting list. There's a newsletter sent out on who wants to join, and if three people don't want you, you have to reapply.
The reason people are so suspicious about the Bohemian Grove is they don't know anything about it and the members are really secretive. Journalists can't join the club. And they don't respond to any of the rumors because they don't want the attention. There are always these protesters outside chanting "Racist, sexist and anti-gay," and that's just ridiculous. As far as the club not allowing women to join, I don't have a problem with that either. If you threw 3,000 women into the forest with all these guys pissing on trees for three weeks, it'd be chaos.