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The Henna Page Journal
Ozzfest Diary
Catherine Cartwright Jones
Page 2 of 20

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We drive in our gear and set up the booth . Nice position! Under big trees, on grass ... we wander around and see what the other booths have: naughty t-shirts, pipes, amateur bondage gear, rude stickers, fun stuff. The smell of marijuana floats by on every ripple of breeze; the vendors are bracing for a day's work.

We're squarely in front of the amphitheater, and between it and the second stage. They test the sound system, and we scramble for Shanon's cache of earplugs. Madonna's "Frozen" is amplified so loud that it loosens my back fillings. Auspicious, I think, though in a deafening sort of way. Shanon's been a bouncer at heavy metal concerts so she's got all the best survival gear. With her orange 30 decibel earplugs crammed in my ears, the sound is merely painful, rather than eye- watering. My horoscope said to find a place of silence and solitude today .... the earplugs provide a micro-environment of stillness within sound level of an accelerating jet engine..

At 10 am, opening time, we're nicely settled. I do some tourbabes for free, an offering to the henna deities. I glance over my shoulder towards the entrance, there's a WALL of headbangers advancing down the path like the barbarian horde, but in a slacker sort of way. The cast of Scoobie Doo came alive, cloned a thousand fold, and walked out of their spawning beds pissed.

Gwyn mans the front table and the slinging begins! In 10 minutes there's a line of people waiting for henna ... and 2 girls are already on their stomachs on our mats with Celtic patterns hennaed hip to hip below the waist. Shanon and I scramble to sling henna as fast as we can. By noon, I've hennaed three dozen girls hip to hip and they're arrayed on our mats, drying their henna, a butt gallery which draws more and more clients! They also draw a herd of guys staring at girls with jeans pulled down to buttcrack level so I can henna them to the point of no return. . They stare at me kneeling over the girls doing what seems to them to be some sort of tattooing, bewildered that there's no buzzing or blood wiping. About every 15 minutes one gets pushy and tries to impress me that body art without pain and blood is deeply inferior. I growl, "It's not fake anything, it's REAL HENNA."

We keep slinging, raising up to shout "next!" every few minutes. Gwyn's losing her voice trying to shout over the bands on second stage to tell people what henna is, what it is not, handing the price lists, pattern books, and sorting out which slinger's line to go stand in. Gwyn defines her job as "idiot sieve" and is doing it wonderfully! By mid afternoon, we're hungry, and start sending one person at a time out for restroom and lunch breaks ... the lines for henna get longer. My thighs are shredded from kneeling over girls doing the hip to hip pieces. I get squared over them to line up patterns straight with their backbones, but I can't sit on them for hurting their knees. So, I kneel over them in a position like riding a horse without actually sitting on the saddle.. and some of these Cleveland girls are right little warhorses. I henna their biceps while they lie on their sides so they hold still, and I can sling with gravity pulling the henna strand down and even.

I've cut the carrot bag tip wider open than usual, to hyperdrive the henna. The paste is mixed stringy and fluid, to sling fast, draping the lines. I usually work with the cone tip just barely skimming the skin, but to speedsling, the top farther is above and I balance the speed of my hand with the viscosity and flow of the henna, so the lines pull out long and smooth. Control is a BITCH. Focus, focus, focus! Shanon works in the booth in chairs, slinging butterflies fast and furious. The mildly theatrical array of bodies laid out on mats brings in more onlookers, and I speed-sling fast and large. Celtic after Celtic after Celtic! I sketch the knot in Stabilo pencil first, then henna fast. Every 5 minutes, I shout "next", every 5 minutes, another $20.

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