I met Melita Curphy, aka Miss Monster, in September 2017 at the Wasteland Weekend post-apocalyptic festival, with photographer Myles Pritchard.
Trying to interview a Robo Rabbit is tricky, as it turns out. Imagine a sexier Darth Vader, but with worse enunciation. “Vibbrrbr rrsss,” comes the deep sound from the mask, through a built-in vocoder. A what, you say? “A vibbrarrbr rraass,”
Eventually, the mask is lifted. “A vibrator race. We’re having a vibrator race at the Hog Camp, at 7.30.” Ah. Obviously.
This is Melita Curphy, also known as Miss Monster. We’ve been chasing her ever since we saw another Wasteland resident with an incredible crocodile hat. Miss Monster makes these masks, as well as illustrations and action figures, mostly of retrofuturistic monsters. She’s created characters for Dreamworks, and done private commissions for the movie director director Guillermo Del Toro – and she’s a big hit at Wasteland Weekend, the post-apocalyptic festival in the Californian desert.
“This is my third year here, and every year it gets bigger and better,” says Melita, who’s also a regular at events like Designercon and Monsterpalooza. “There’s so much creativity out here, so it’s a real challenge to create cool stuff.” Last year, she came as a Robo Dog, and she’s also got a raptor mask back at camp, to match her raptor tattoos.
But, like a lot of the people with the best costumes, she’s got a crowd of fans, asking lots of questions about her work and her mask. And there’s the vibrator race soon, so we let her go…
An hour or so later, it’s dark, and the vibrator races have begun at the Hog Camp, on the outskirts of the Wasteland. We arrive for the buildup to one race, in which the six competing vibrators include Herpes goes Wild, Vladimir Put It In, the One-Eyed Monster and – everyone boo now – Adolph Clitler.
The six competing vibrators include Herpes goes Wild, Vladimir Put It In, the One-Eyed Monster and – everyone boo now – Adolph Clitler.
An Irish guy in a voodoo king-type mask is doing a very amusing job as the emcee for this famed event, which happens every night of the festival, with a winner-goes-through format and the results displayed on a large blackboard. There are bookmakers offering odds, and a guy and a girl managing the “race track”, which is a gently inclining piece of corrugated iron. In truth, Miss Monster’s job is fairly simple: stand on the stage and look cool.
After an extended build-up, the race itself is less of an anti-climax than one might imagine. Once switched on, and let loose, the vibrators make a slow, worm-like journey down the corrugated iron, which lasts over a minute. It’s a bit like those horse racing games at amusement parks – one vibrator takes the lead, then stalls, as another wobbles past. The commentary is at a fever pitch worthy of the final straight of the Grand National, and – as with most things at Wasteland Weekend – the crowd of a hundred or so get properly stuck in.
Finally, having been caught two-thirds of the way down, the black vibrator edges out in front… and wins. It’s Adolph Clitler. The crowd boo loudly. Miss Monster looks on impassively.
See Miss Monster’s work here.