BURNING MAN – Black Rock City, NV

What is Burning Man?

Burning Man From Above-XL

“Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather together to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever. While it’s true that Burning Man is not for the faint of heart, with some research, preparation, and planning, an experience — and opportunity — beyond your wildest dreams awaits you. In Black Rock City, you’re guaranteed not to be the weirdest kid in the classroom. And you’ll become a part of the growing community of Burners who are active year-round, around the world, ensuring that the fire of Burning Man culture never goes out.”

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Location Summary

Continent North America
Country United States
State Nevada
City Black Rock City: temporary city specifically created for Burning Man
Event duration Last Monday of August to the first Monday of September (eg. 8/27-9/7/15)
US Holidays Labor Day Weekend
Population Black Rock City, 2014: 66,000

United States: 317 Million

Currency $ US dollar

Ticket price: $390-$800 (2015)

Safety Local and State Law Enforcement

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Black Rock City (BRC) Rangers

Volunteer Medical, Fire, and Mental Health Professionals

Type of Culture A unique and distinctive culture with a shared philosophy based on the 10 Principals permeates every aspect of Burning Man culture.
Special Customs Dress Code: No feathers

See: 10 Principles

Steampunk Burn-X3



8/23: Day One

            Meet campmates

            Pre-parties, fundraisers

Thrift shopping, assembling costumes

8/23: Day Two

            Arrive in long line of cars waiting for entry

Arrive at Greeters Station

Reconnect with campmates, help set up camp

Howl at setting sun

8/24-8/28: Day Three-Seven

            AM: Watch sunrise

            Attend classes: naked yoga, BDSM, polyamory

            Tutu Tuesday

Red Dress Run (8/27)

Visit Temple

Visit Deep Playa

Art project participation

Food distribution participation

Kissing booth

Body painting


Human carcass wash



Bumper cars

Sneak into Camp One


White Party (8/26)

Sound camps: Robot Heart, Slut Garden, Camp Charlie


Art Car hopping

Picking up MOOP

8/29: Day Eight

            Man Burn

 8/29: Day Nine

            Temple Burn

8/31: Day Ten

            Pack up, clean up, Leave No Trace



Arrive in long line of cars waiting for entry: They say the Burn begins when you leave home and start heading toward Black Rock City. When you arrive in the guaranteed long line at the gate, Burners are encouraged to make the most of their wait, and get out of their vehicles to spend time with their community.

Greeters Station: At the gate, all are welcomed with open arms. Newcomers are asked to exit their vehicle, lie on the ground, and make a dust angel.

Howl at setting sun: Every sunset, the Burners howl at the sky to welcome the night.

Red Dress Run: On Thursday, a large group meets at the base of the man, all wearing red dresses, and runs together through the playa.

The Man: The Man is located in the center of the Playa. He is considered to be the focal point that brings the community together. He is burned on the last Saturday of the event, after which the Burners join in massive celebration.

The Temple: The temple is near the Man, but fosters a quieter energy. Burners visit the Temple all week long to write messages, leave photos and letters, and connect with their emotions. The Temple is burned on the last Sunday of the event, and leaves the Burners feeling cleansed of the memories they want to let go.

Playa: The affectionate term for Black Rock City.

Deep Playa: The quieter, more sparse desert area with many large art installations.

Art project participation: Many art installations require audience participation to fully experience the artist’s message. Whether that be climbing inside a giant mirrored box to “time travel,” navigating through a maze and whispering your deepest fears into a tape recorder, or getting tied up and spun around in front of a cheering audience… The possibilities are endless, depending on what installations are brought this year.

Food distribution participation: Many camps like to hand out food and drink to passersby. In the desert sun, a snow cone or refreshing signature mimosa can really hit the spot.

Human carcass wash: A few camps welcome weary travelers to strip down in a big group and help wash each other. Personal boundaries can be made clear and will be honored.

Lamplighters: This camp welcomes Burners to help light the city. The volunteers arrive in the afternoon, receive roles and instructions, and don traditional robes. The volunteers split into three groups and walk the paths to the man, putting up lanterns that will help lost Burners get home in the dark.

MOOP (Matter Out Of Place): This phrase is used to describe any waste. Burners are encouraged to carry a MOOP bag with them at all times to pick up any garbage they come across on their travels.

White Party: The White Party takes place on the Wednesday of the event. Attendees are encouraged to wear white while they party all night.

Sound camps (Robot Heart, Slut Garden, Camp Charlie): These camps give back to the community by bringing top of the line audio/visual equipment, blasting tunes all day and night.

Thunderdome: This camp constructs a huge metal dome for Burners to fight each other.

Art Cars: Some camps transform regular vehicles into giant parties on wheels. Burners can jump on and off art cars as they pass by, but they usually can’t decide where the art cars go. They can be as small as a golf cart made to look like a dragonfly that shoots fire, or as large as a 50-person yacht.

Gifts: Gifting is encouraged and appreciated. Many Burners handcraft personalized gifts- like bracelets and necklaces- whereas many Burners offer useful gifts- like chapstick or homemade salves for dry, desert-worn skin. Participation is also considered to be a gift.


Culture: The 10 Principles

Radical Inclusion: “Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.” All are welcome.

Gifting: “Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.” Instead of cash, participants at the Burning Man are encouraged to participate in a gift economy.

Decommodification: “In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.” No brands or advertisements are displayed. Cash can be used for a select few charity, fuel, and sanitation vendors.

Radical Self-Reliance: “Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.” Participants are expected to be responsible for their own basic needs.

Radical Self-Expression: “Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.” Participants are encouraged to express themselves in a number of ways, through various art forms and projects. The event is clothing-optional.

Communal Effort: “Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.” Participants are encouraged to work with and help fellow participants.

Civic Responsibility: “We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.”

Leave No Trace: “Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and aim to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.”

Participation: “Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.” People are encouraged to take part in activities, and participation is considered to be a great gift.

Immediacy: “Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.”

Tunderdome - Blood on the Sand-XL


Event History

1986 to 1989: One of the roots of the annual event now known as Burning Man began as a bonfire ritual on the summer solstice in 1986. Larry Harvey, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach in San Francisco and burned a 9-foot (2.7-meter) wooden man as well as a smaller wooden dog. In 1987, the effigy grew to almost 15 feet (4.6 meters) tall, and by 1988, it had grown to around 40 feet (12 meters). Burning Man attendees informally called it “The Man,” and this name was given to each successive effigy, every year since Burning Man began.

Pulpo Burno-XL

1990 to 1996: In 1990 a separate event was planned by Kevin Evans and John Law on the remote and largely unknown dry lake known as Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It was announced as Zone Trip #4, A Bad Day at Black Rock. Meanwhile, the Baker Beach burn was interrupted by the park police for not having a permit. After striking a deal to raise the Man but not to burn it, event organizers disassembled the effigy and returned it to the vacant lot where it had been built. The effigy was reconstructed, led by Dan Miller, Harvey’s then-housemate of many years, just in time to take it to Zone Trip #4.

Michael Mikel realized that a group unfamiliar with the environment of the dry lake would be helped by knowledgeable persons to ensure they did not get lost in the deep dry lake and risk dehydration and death. He took the name Danger Ranger and created the Black Rock Rangers. Thus the seed of Black Rock City was germinated, as a fellowship, organized by Law and Mikel, based on Evans’ idea, along with Harvey and James’ symbolic man.

In its first years, the community grew by word of mouth alone and all were considered participants by virtue of surviving in the desolate surreal trackless plain of the Black Rock Desert. There were no paid or scheduled performers or artists, no separation between art-space and living-space, no rules other than “Don’t interfere with anyone else’s immediate experience” and “no guns in central camp.”

1997 to present: 1997 marked another major pivotal year for the event. By 1996, the event had grown to 8,000 attendees and unrestricted driving on the open playa was becoming a major safety hazard. To implement a ban on driving and re-create the event as a pedestrian/bicycle/art-car-only event, it was decided to move to private gated property. Fly Ranch, with the adjoining Hualapai mini dry lake-bed, just East of the Black Rock desert, was chosen. To comply with new requirements and to manage the increased liability load, the organizers formed Black Rock City, LLC. Will Roger Peterson and Flynn Mauthe created the Department of Public Works (DPW) to build the “city” grid layout designed by Rod Garrett, an architect.

With the success of the driving ban, having no vehicular incidents, 1998 saw a return to the Black Rock desert, along with a temporary perimeter fence. The event has remained there since.

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Burning-Man-Day-7 (321 of 3000)-XL


CARNAVAL – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

What is Carnaval?

“From the beautiful and sexy beaches of Rio de Janeiro to Rio Carnaval and the Rio Nightlife, the type of energy that the city of Rio emulates is just simply electrifying. The deliciously bronzed samba dancers, the pulsating music, the energy and applause of the spectators, Rio Carnaval attracts visitors from all corners the globe. Samba music can be heard coming from neighborhoods throughout the city and crowds gather to dance and play all day, night and straight into the next morning.”



Location Summary

Continent South America
Country Brazil
Capital City Brasilia
Event duration Every year, the Friday before Lent and ending on Ash Wednesday. (2/13/15-2/18/15)
Population Rio de Janeiro: 6.32 million

Brazil: 200.4 million

Religion Catholicism (51%)

Protestant (23%)

No belief (14%)

Spiritist (6%)

PPP $1 = 2.69 Reals

1 Real = $0.37

One of the most expensive cities for expatriates in South America

Safety 91/162 – 2014 Global Peace Index
Type of Culture Known as the Marvelous City. Vibrant, modern with heritage. Huge focus on tourism; most-visited city in the Southern Hemisphere. Federal Presidential Republic. Language: Portuguese.
Special Customs Relaxed and informal, not always punctual. Communication style is direct, close talking/touching. Well dressed/manicured. Late lunch and dinner after 2pm and 9pm. As a rule, Brazilians do not eat “on the go, they find it rude to eat in places that are not meant for dining.




2/12: Day One

            Meet host family, get to know them

            Learn about the history of the festival

            Check out favorite local spot, or cook with them

            Hit the sack early, get ready for festival!

2/13: Day Two

            Afternoon: Street bands along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches

            7 pm: Opening Ceremony, the Carnival King is crowned

            9 pm: Preliminary Samba Parades

            11 pm: Black Beads Party in Rio Scala

2/14: Day Three

            9:30 am:  Street Band Cordão do Bola Preta (Downtown)

            4 pm: Banda de Ipanema meets at Praça General Osório, Ipanema

            8 pm: Street Band Competition in Av. Rio Branco, Centro (Downtown)

            9 pm: Second day of the Preliminary Samba Parades

            11 pm: The Magic Ball at Copacabana Palace Hotel

            11 pm: Samba School Mangueira Ball in Rio Scala

2/15: Day Four

            Afternoon: Street bands along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches

            9 pm: Parade of the Samba Schools in the First League (the Special Group)

            11 pm: The Marvelous City Ball in Rio Scala

2/16: Day Five

            Afternoon: Street bands along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches

            9 pm: Parade of the Samba Schools in the First League (the Special Group)

            11 pm: Long Live the Beer Ball in Rio Scala

2/17: Day Six

            4 pm: Banda de Ipanema marches for the last time

            9 pm: Parade of the Children`s Samba Schools

            11 pm: Gay Ball in Rio Scala

2/18: Day Seven and beyond…

            Explore Rio!




Samba Parade: The highlight of Rio Carnaval. Preparation for the Samba Parade starts months in advance. The Rio Samba Parade is a fierce competition between the Rio samba schools. The judges and spectators watch the principal parades in the Sambodromo, which was built for Carnival.

Suggested dress code: If you are not marching in the Parade, you can wear whatever you want. People do not wear costumes just to watch the Parade, but many Rio people wear colorful outfits and shorts.

Samba City: Want to go behind the scenes? Opened in 2005, this is a recent project of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Every samba school has its own block within the compound to produce the Parade floats and many of the Samba Parade costumes. Visitors can tour the city to see how Rio Carnival is created.

Carnival Balls: Can be traced back to the famous masked balls of the world’s other carnival capital- Venice, Italy. Soon it became custom to conduct similar events in Rio during the Carnaval season. A true Carnaval ball features live music, and samba rules the dance floor.

Copacabana Palace Hotel: The epicenter of the Rio Carnaval world with its luxury Magic Ball. Luxury costume or black tie/evening dress is required, and a number of international and local VIPs are always among the guests.

Rio Scala nightclub: The main organizer with its thematic Rio Carnaval balls during the festival. Wearing a costume is not mandatory, but they are always welcome. The most popular Scala balls are the Gay Gala, the Black Beads Party, and the Long Live the Beer fest.

Samba School Nights: All Rio samba schools have a dance hall with live samba music played by drummers. Here you dance and learn the samba lyrics that will be sung during that school´s Parade. Mangueira is the biggest, safest and most famous school, with many tourists and lots of security.

Samba Land: Features dozens of food and drink stands and a variety live concerts.

Merry Making in Lapa: This free event takes place every night of Carnaval from about 8 pm to dawn around the Arches of Lapa. It features concerts ranging from traditional Brazilian music to the latest trends. Lots of alcohol and cheap food.

Street parties and bands: Free, open-air dances take place throughout the city. On Samba Parade nights, thousands of people gather on the streets before, during, and after the Parade, turning the whole Downtown area into a giant and lively open-air bar. Approximately 300 bands are expected for 2015 Carnaval.

Cariocas: The people of Rio.

Carnaval King (King Momo): Momo is the name of the god of mockery in Greek mythology, and according to Carnaval tradition, King Momo (the Carnaval King) should be jolly and as big as a house. Legend suggests that he was expelled from the Olympus to come and settle down in Rio, the City of Carnaval. The Rio Carnaval officially opens with the delivery of the key of the city to King Momo. When King Momo sambas, everything and everyone should samba with him. He opens all major Carnaval events including the Samba Parades.

Rio Cuisine: Rio offers a few signature dishes that you should try during your visit, including Feijoada, a spicy bean-and-pork stew usually served with sides including sliced oranges, stir-fried eggs and manioc flour, thinly sliced kale and white rice. The seafood is also amazing, of course. On the sidewalks near the beach, kiosks offer coconut water, corn on the cob, grilled shrimp, baked cheese rolls and other snacks. Or visit one of the many churrascarias, all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurants, for seasoned, hot-off-the-grill meats. Ready to imbibe? Try a Caipirinha – a traditional cocktail made with Brazilian sugarcane rum, lemon and sugar.

Christ the Redeemer statue: This Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ was erected in 1931 at the peak of Corcovado mountain. The statue weighs 635 metric tons and is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone. It is 98 ft. tall, not including its 26-ft. pedestal, and its arms stretch 92 ft. wide. It was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

Sugarloaf Mountain
: Rising 1,299 ft. above the Atlantic Ocean, this site offers unparalleled panoramic views of Rio. Sugarloaf Mountain has received over 37 million visitors since opening in 1912.
Background three


History of Carnaval

Although Carnaval is celebrated in towns and villages throughout Brazil and other Catholic countries, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the carnival capital of the world. Foreign visitors alone number around 500,000 every year.

This wild 5-day celebration starts on Friday and finishes on Fat Tuesday with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, after which one is supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures. Carnaval, with all its excesses, is essentially an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh. It is usually in February, the hottest month in the Southern Hemisphere, when summer is at its peak.

The roots of Carnaval trace back to the ancient Romans and Greeks who celebrated the rites of spring. Across Europe, including France, Spain and Portugal, people annually gave thanks by throwing parties, wearing masks and dancing in the streets. Such traditions were carried over to the New World.

The Portuguese first brought the concept of Carnaval to Rio around 1850. The practice of holding balls and masquerade parties was imported by the city’s bourgeoisie from Paris. Groups of people would parade through the streets playing music and dancing, and aristocrats would dress up as commoners, men would cross-dress as women and the poor dress up as princes and princesses.

As Carnaval evolved in Rio, the tradition acquired unique elements deriving from African and Amerindian cultures. The black slaves became actively involved in the celebrations and were set free for three days. Nowadays the area’s black communities are still some of the most involved groups in the Carnaval preparations.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, Carnival in Rio was musically a very European-centric affair – Polkas, Waltzes, and Mazurkas. Meanwhile, the emergent working class (made up mainly of Afro Brazilians, along with some gypsies, Russian Jews, Poles etc.) developed its own music and rhythm. These people were mostly based in the central part of Rio, an area which came to be known as ‘Little Africa’ that is recognized as the cradle of samba. Now, almost all the music played during Rio Carnaval is samba.

By the end of the 18th century the festivities were enriched by competitions. People would not just dress up in costumes but also perform a parade accompanied by an orchestra of strings, drums and other instruments. These competitions became the main attraction of the Carnaval in Rio.

The primary music of Carnaval, the word samba comes from the Angolan world semba referring to a type of ritual music. The word had a variety of meanings to the African slaves brought to Brazil during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It meant to pray or invoke the spirits of the ancestors and the gods of the African Pantheon. As a noun, it could mean a complaint, a cry, or something like “the blues.”

Images from Rio De Janeiro's crazy Carnival060322_brazil_carnival_hmed5p.grid-6x2

HADAKA MATSURI – Okayama, Japan

What is Hadaka Matsuri?

Okayama’s “Naked Man Festival”, officially called Saidaiji Eyo, is held on the third Saturday in February at Saidai-ji. This festival, having a tradition of approximately 500 years, is one of the three rarest festivals in Japan. During the coldest month of the year, men wearing only fundoshi, traditional Japanese loincloths, fight to obtain one of two lucky sticks thrown by the temple priests. The men who catch the sticks will have an entire year of good fortune, and also receive a cash reward from the festival’s sponsors. All lights in the temple are temporarily blacked out and other “less-lucky” sticks are also thrown down into the crowd of participants to create even more confusion. Spectators can pay for seating, or fight the crowds.

Background 2

Location Summary

Continent Asia
Country Japan
Capital City Tokyo
Event duration Third Saturday in February (e.g. 2/21/15)
Population Okayama: 1.9 million

Japan : 127 million

Religion Shinto (83.9%, most believe in both Shinto and Buddhism)

Buddhism (71.4%)

Christianity (2.0%)

Other (7.8%)

Currency 118.90 JPY (Japanese Yen)  = 1 USD

1 JPY = 0.0085 USD

Safety 8th safest country out of 162 on the Global Peace Index.  Very safe and it is very common to leave purses unguarded in public places.
Type of Culture Largely thought to be a homogeneous place, Japan is growing in diversity.  Most Japanese people know their blood type, and many women select a prospective husband based on his blood type.

Saidaiji Temple Naked Festival



2/19: Day One

            Arrive in Okayama, picked up by couchsurfing host family

Go to your host’s favorite spot to eat

Spend the night talking with your host family about the festival and Japan

2/20: Day Two

            Visit Koraku-en Garden

Learn more about Hadaka Matsuri and the Shingi

2/21: Day Three

Have a manly breakfast and prepare yourself for a crazy bro day

Take a bus to the Saidai-ji decked out in your white loincloth

Enjoy the fun and catch a shingi!

2/24: Day Four

            Head to the Maki-do Caves

2/25: Day Five

            Paraglide before flying home

Man with baby

Men in the water


Koraku-en Garden: Okayama’s main attraction. One of Japan’s three best landscape gardens. Korakuen is a spacious garden that incorporates the typical features of a Japanese landscape garden, including a large pond, streams, walking paths and a hill that serves as a lookout point. Also found in the garden are groves of plum, cherry and maple trees, tea and rice fields, an archery range and a crane aviary.

Shingi, sacred sticks: Considered sticks of the Gods. Get blessed with a yearlong of happiness by catching a shingi stick!

Maki-do Caves: One of three limestone caves located in Niimi, Okayama Prefecture, Japan. Named Dream Palace, the cave is 450 metres long, with a small, underground lake at the furthest end.

Peach:  Enjoy a locally grown white peach for breakfast! (shiro momo).  Okayama is known to be the original setting of a fairytale which involved a “peach boy” who was literally found inside of a peach floating down the river by a childless couple.

Paragliding:  Head to the Okayama Prefecture for paragliding!

All day bike ride:  Bike around ancient Pagodas and shrines at the Kibi Plains.
Saidaiji Temple Naked Festival Takes Place

Event History

The festival originated in the 16th century when people would request special talismans thrown out by priests.  As word spread that the talismans were bringing good luck to those who possessed them, more and more people came to get them.  Fights broke out and the talismans were damaged.  Later this all evolved into a midnight festival with only male participants dressed in loincloths.  Today, the festival continues to evolve, with the “midnight” highlight of the festival recently moved forward 2 hours to finish at 10PM.

All 10,000 of which are competing for 2 shingi thrown from a balcony into the crowd

of men. If you manage to acquire a shingi, you are then required to shove your way through the crowd toward a wooden measuring box full of rice, known as a masu. The man who drives the shingi upright into the masu is proclaimed one year of happiness and is “the lucky man.”

There are dozens of Hadaka Matsuri all over Japan. Another tradition follows the shinto belief that the naked man absorbs all bad luck and evil deeds from those who touch him. It is said that the ritual used to commemorate the end of a plague. The Naked man takes on the ills of his community and is then exiled.

A selection ceremony is held to determine the Shin-otokoa (god man) and sometimes there is more than one. It is a great honor to be chosen as the naked man. Once chosen he must undergo a purification process. He is kept alone for three days in a small shrine and fed nothing but rice-gruel and water. All body hair is shaved off as part of the purification process, as well.

During the festival he sets off through the streets, besieged by over 9000 men, all desperate to touch him for good luck. He is pummelled, chased, pulled over; he faints, is bruised and must spend an entire day in the thick of a heaving mass of loinclothed bodies while completely naked. Some Shin-otokoa are trampled to death.

When he finally arrives at his destination (usually a shrine or alter of some kind), he pays his respects to the Shinto deity of the shrine and is symbolically banished from the town.

Okayama Castle

How I came up with the idea for Culture Shock TV

Step One: The love for culture and travel is born

During my Senior year of college I realized quickly that I wasn’t ready to settle into a career just yet.  I did know that I was in love with learning, traveling and having adventures.  So I decided to move to London for graduate school while I tried to figure out what to do next with my life.

While I was there I traveled every chance I had.  I went to as many festivals as I could possibly afford and I fell in love with immersing myself into other cultures.  I tried new foods and met tons of new people.  I learned what it was to run with the bulls and clink steins in a beer hall at Oktoberfest.  I discovered that if you attempt and fail to blow up a government building in the UK, they will make a holiday just for you where they have thousands of fireworks to light up the night sky.  It was an experience of a lifetime and one I shall never forget.

As part of my graduate program, I moved to Thailand for the final semester.  It was a real eye-opening culture shock that made me fall in love with travelling all over again.  I spent the next two years working and traveling around Southeast Asia and Australia.

Step Two: the vision

Still unsure of my life direction I head back to the US to help my father with his company.  As I unravel my epic voyages to my friends and family, I can’t help but notice how their eyes widen and their mouths drop open.  I feel like they think I’m crazy, but they also long to have adventures like mine.  They don’t understand how I am able to afford all of it and I have to explain that I did what I could to make my dreams come true and it’s not as hard as one might think.

While home in the US I continued to search for a career that would make me happy and while deeply immersed in thought I realized that I wanted to travel and learn for the rest of my life!  But how could I continue to travel and learn? The answer seemed so obvious, make a TV Show about traveling and learning about cultures!  The entertainment business had always drawn me in through the thousands of movies I’ve watched over the years and the hundreds of plays my family attended together.  I even wrote my dissertation on the Thai film industry!  My vision was clear that in order to do what I love I would have to marry the idea of traveling and learning about culture with the entertainment industry.

Step Three: the show

In late 2010 the original idea for the show came about and it was called “Gap year”. I spent the next 12 months recruiting a team of friends to help me develop the idea further. I continued to refine the next year and in 2012 the show was pitched in LA to five major production companies. It unfortunately did not do as well as I had hoped because I didn’t know enough about the industry to make the show successful.

Over the past 3 years I moved to LA and worked as a producer at NATPE as well as at a branded entertainment company so that I could gain valuable experience to help launch the show.  I made connections with all the movers and shakers and am again ready to pitch the show with bigger ideas and better direction.

Step Four: the pitch

The time is now…  We have put together a Sizzle Reel that we are in the process of finalizing before we will again hit the road and try and get it picked up and produced.

– Max Heavenrich-Vassilos

Welcome to the new Culture Shock TV website!

Hi everyone! Welcome!

We are just starting out on this new adventure and we can’t wait to share more about this project.

The Idea

The premise of the show would be to travel to the world’s most unique festivals ranging from the well known, like “Running of the Bulls” in Spain, to the more obscure, like “Songkran” in Thailand.

jon filming

We would arrive at each location a few weeks before the festivities start; and we would stay with the locals, get immersed in their culture, and make new friends for the upcoming celebration.

Given our history together and all the antics we have gotten into, like taking an 8 foot Banana on a cross-country road trip, we believe we would be entertaining enough to captivate audiences and show travel for what it truly is — an unpredictable adventure.

Opportunity Knocks

opportunity knocks We have worked on this idea for approximately 2 years and finally believe we’re at a place where success may be just around the corner. Plus this is our dream, so WE’RE GOING FOR IT! And we have big news to announce.

We finished shooting our Sizzle Reel a few weeks ago, which is basically a commercial for producers to look at to determine if our concept is good or not, and it is in post production (Editing, Sound, etc.).

We think our Sizzle is going to be funny, intriguing, and make a big impact on people (Kind of like Jess’ gap toothed smile) and we will send a rough cut to you all shortly. In the mean time, enjoy some of the photos from the shoot!

The Time Is Meowtime is meow

We love all of you and hope you will support us in chasing our dream. Please go to Facebook and like our page, provide us with feedback and if you know of anyone who can assist in getting our idea to the right people kindly let us know.


Max, Jess, and Jon

~ Traveling is like flirting with life ~