Vanity Fair writer Alex Shoumatoff got himself arrested for crashing Bohemian Grove, a private men’s club in northern California for the upper echelon of the rich and powerful. He was there to spy on the three-week camp they hold every July, where said rich and powerful relax while living in tents in their private woods. (Nixon was a member, but called it “most faggy goddamn thing that you would ever imagine.”) The backstory on the weird club, plus the reason for the trespassing and arrest?
Bohemian Grove has been arguing amongst themselves for the last few years about a plan to cut down and harvest some of the trees in their forest, ostensibly to prevent forest fires. Member John Hooper resigned in 2004 because of the plan (even though he owns his own forest, which also harvests trees.) Hooper asked Vanity Fair‘s Shoumatoff (they are former Harvard classmates) to write about the tree-cutting for Vanity Fair, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The connection between Hooper and Shoumatoff pissed off the pro-harvesting club members. They sent a letter to VF editor-in-chief Graydon Carter, but Shoumatoff didn’t quit the story. In fact, he told the club’s PR flacks to talk and quit hiding information. (Spy magazine infiltrated Bohemian Grove in 1989, when Carter was editor there.) An excerpt from that article, written by Philip Weiss:
“At this point some hamadryads (tree spirits) and another priest or two appeared at the base of the main owl shrine, a 40-foot-tall, moss-covered statue of stone and steel at the south end of the lake, and sang songs about Care. They told of how a man’s heart is divided between “reality” and “fantasy,” how it is necessary to escape to another world of fellowship among men. Vaguely homosexual undertones suffused this spectacle, as they do much of ritualized life in the Grove. The main priest wore a pink-and-green satin costume, while a hamadryad appeared before a redwood in a gold spangled bodysuit dripping with rhinestones. They spoke of “fairy unguents” that would free men to pursue warm fellowship, and I was reminded of something Herman Wouk wrote about the Grove: ‘Men can decently love each other; they always have, bur women never quite understand.'”
Anyway, Shoumatoff was captured in the woods by a plumber moonlighting as a security guard on the night of July 13th. Update! We hear that he got into the club briefly before being thrown out, contrary to the SF Chroncle reports that he was caught while sneaking in.