Steve Outtrim Interview – “Silicon Valley’s Secret Weapon: The Shadow History of Burners Part 4: Occult Rituals of the Cult” – #253

Episode 253: Steve Outtrim returns for his fourth time to continue our discussion into his recent research into Silicon Valley and Burning Man, titled: “Silicon Valley's Secret Weapon: The Shadow History of Burners Part 4: Occult Rituals of the Cult”

Steve Outtrim is a technology entrepreneur from New Zealand, who now lives in San Francisco. He created the HotDog Web Editor, which was named as the 3rd most downloaded software on the Internet by WIRED in 1997. He IPO'd his company Sausage Software in Australia in 1996, making him at age 23 the youngest CEO of a public company - a record held by Rupert Murdoch for more than 40 years. He has invested in more than 50 early-stage technology companies and founded 4 that he exited via IPO or trade sale.

Steve is a Shadow Historian, and for the last 3 years has been writing a book series looking behind the scenes of the tech world. Steve created the blog Burners.Me in 2012 to discuss Burning Man and Burner culture. It is the largest independent Burner site, with more than 200,000 followers. He has been to 12 burns since 1998.

Steve brings a first-hand, unique perspective to Silicon Valley and its ties to the military and Burning Man.

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  9 comments for “Steve Outtrim Interview – “Silicon Valley’s Secret Weapon: The Shadow History of Burners Part 4: Occult Rituals of the Cult” – #253

  1. Phillip Rose
    August 17, 2016 at 12:14 am

    I knew something about only one topic mentioned by Steve: the word tontine, thanks to my superior knowledge of Simpsoniana. Grampa Simpson and Monty Burns were the last 2 parties left in a WW2 era tontine.

    These episodes with Steve are great, with each one being more interesting than the last, if that’s possible. Thank you!

  2. John Cokos
    August 26, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Steve: Check out the Illuminati MC out of CA. Motorcycle Club Meets the Occult. I used to run into. the Club when I was a member of a 1% MC back in the day.

  3. Pamela Seley
    August 26, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Thanks, Jan and thank you, Steve, for this is excellent presentation on the history of Burning Man. I didn’t know of its existence until part 1. This is education can’t get anywhere else. A long time ago I was employed by Satanists (didn’t know it at the time), so I recognize they mean business, it’s not a joke.

    You probably know the Church of Satan moved from San Francisco to Newtown, CT. Coincidence?

  4. Scott Kerr
    August 26, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Jan your research and talent is truly fantastic, thank you for all you do! The guest realty has to do better research in regards to origins or pre burning man events if this is his specialty, in my opinion. The researcher mentioned SRL as in Survival Research Laboratory in connection to Burning Man. For some time I have been meaning to post that Burning man creators took the idea directly from Stuart Swezey and possibly SRL. SRL was a very well know performance art crew in the emerging post punk electronic industrial scene in San Fransisco. Mark Pauline the head person has well documented the performances with many videos. In 1984 this performance took place [March 1, 1984 – entitled – Bomb, fire, multi-barrel shotgun, and desert junk performance in Mojave Desert ] also the band Einstürzende Neubauten (a pioneering band in industrial music) was there if Im correct, audience members were given vague flyers/invites of the event and were driven out to the desert in a blacked out window bus. If I recall correctly this info is in the REserch publications book (RE/SEARCH #6/7: Industrial Culture Handbook). Einstruzende Neubauten were very into pagan like ritual use of elements in there performances especially fire and. And there is an article concerning the promoter Stuart Swezey with excellent photos in vice mags website(note some pics may be from another performance a year later) . Quote from Vice Article, “If the desert performance art, the explosives, the music, and the drugs sound familiar, it’s because Mojave Auszug was the spark, or at least some kindling, that helped start another desert-dwelling festival: Burning Man. John Law, co-founder of Burning Man, told me Swezey’s work had a big influence on him and many of the early festival collaborators. He explained that those early SRL performances were a huge inspiration for the desert festival—specifically the fire and machine art.” SRL is also were the whole Battle Bots idea was stolen from. Mark Pauline if I am correct from my listening or reading interviews, is not at all interested in Burning man or Battle bots, he seems to scoff at it, I can see why. Much of the late 70s early 80s post punk subculture, like the fanzine art music tape-cassette culture in the USA and Europe seemed too multifaceted and independent to take overall control of, that did not get subdued until the late 80s early 90s and what a disaster that was. In retrospect there were some people and publications that were not very artistic or entertaining that got way too much attention from small and larger media for being nihilistic and decadent bohemians.

    • King Zos
      August 28, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      “He explained that those early SRL performances were a huge inspiration for the desert festival—specifically the fire and machine art.”

      We haven’t got to the desert festival yet. We have not looked into the groups that fed into Burning Man, just mentioned them in passing.

      We are doing WHEN, WHERE, WHAT, WHO. We have covered WHEN and WHERE of the Presidio in the 80’s; the next episode we will look at the WHERE of the desert for the first time. SRL does not appear in this story before the desert, except for the 2 SRL guys at Timothy O’Neill’s shows, and a mysterious link from the Order of the Trapezoid web site. This is research that nobody else has presented in 30 years.

      I have no evidence of SRL being at the Baker Beach early Burning Man events, if anyone does please share. SRL did have a machine at the Helco events in the city, but I don’t see this as any more significant than other groups like The Seemen and Pepe Ozan.

      The big unanswered question is “who was paying” for Burning Man 1996, and its elaborate costumes, makeup, and large performances. I have no information that this was SRL, but can’t rule that out either.

      Besides Survival Research Labs, of particular importance to desert Burning Man are Desert SiteWorks, Anon Salon, and the ravers. The Cacophony Society, Suicide Club, the Farm (coming out of Communiversity and the Diggers) are important influences, as are Discordianism and the Situationists. There is also Stewart Brand’s Merry Pranksters legacy to explore.

      Thanks for the lead that Burning Man was invented by Stuart Swezey in the Mojave Desert in 1984. Haven’t heard that anywhere else, I’ll look into it. John Law’s involvement in SRL is on his web site:

      Please hold off on complaints about the inadequacy of my research until I’ve actually presented it. If, after I have laid out my case, there are key details lacking, then I will be the first to say what a terrible job I’ve done.

      – Steve

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