Mutant Vehicle: Purple People Eater

Art Concept | Service | Transformation | Legend | Ops & Safety

Art Concept

The Purple People Eater character came from the 1946 Sheb Woosley song of the "one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater" with a creature from outer space who played music out of his horn. (Also noted as liking "short shorts".)

The original base is a street-legal 1986 ambulance which, given our concept of serving the community and setting up a mobile chill space, we thought this would work perfect for our "playa rescue missions". The ambulance has been painted metallic purple and we custom made a heavy-duty roof rack out of Unistrut to which we safely secure many of our pieces. This includes a frame that is completely covered in purple shag fur from top to bottom for the sides and rear. Legs and feet constructed from wire framing and covered in purple shag fur and yellow claws extend over the wheel wells to diminish the van appearance and also provide safety keeping people away from moving parts. All purple fur is hand-flecked with highly UV reactive paint.

Black lights project on the sides and rear of the vehicle to create an eerie, interesting dimension at night. A giant horn made of wire framing and wrapped in green fabric, and a single eyeball with a spotlight coming out of the iris sit atop the driver area and can be seen from all sides of the vehicle. It will appear as though the driver is within the Purple People Eater's mouth with a row of large jagged teeth above the windshield, and another row extending upward from the grill (teeth are done in UV reactive paint). The hood is covered with a large red tongue that extends over the hood and through the bottom teeth. Wings are mounted to the top of the ambulance to create a dramatic presence with UV reactive blue mesh fabric lined in blue and purple LEDs.

The windows are exposed for the added effect of having internal black lights visible to passerbys so even the creature's "insides" are purple. The interior is covered in purple, orange and lime green UV reactive fur, fabric and doo-dads from floor to ceiling. The undercarriage is lit my various LEDs to create a floating affect, lighting the playa as the Purple People Eater glides over it. The combination of numerous black lights, highly UV reactive paint, spots and LEDs create a radically but eerily illuminated mutant vehicle that is fun and eye-catching.


Once a day the Purple People Eater mutant vehicle will drive to a different spot on the playa and set up a chill space with the goal of providing comfort and good company at Burning Man. Typically, the vehicle is only driving for approximately 15-20 minutes each time before we park and set up the chill space. Once we're there, we provide visitors with big smiles, pillows, blankets, portable furniture and music for lounging and snuggling. We don't have a huge sound system but just enough to enhance the experience and create a loungey feel. We will serve things such as chai tea, purple hooter shooters and homemade lemonade. We're meant to be an oasis of comfort and good vibes amidst the chaos of the playa.


Watch our progress by visiting Timorri's Purple People Eater Flickr set. See the transformation first-hand!

The Legend of the Purple People Eater

In the ancient days before Playstation and Donkey Kong, mighty gods walked the islands of Japan and created the Purple People Eater to guard the Three Sacred Treasures of the land.

The Purple People Eater was a mighty, tenacious guardian that once fought off a thousand ninjas while losing only an eye. Later, it defeated a thousand samurai, but only after the samurai leader cut off one of its horns. In return for this faithful service, the imperial gods and goddesses granted the Purple People Eater the gift of flight.

But as time went on, gods and goddesses walked the land less, retiring to their celestial palaces and leaving the One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple People Eater to do as it may, dining on occasional snacks of peasants, samurai, ninjas, pirates, and otaku. Eventually, an ice age descended upon the world, and the Purple People Eater disappeared into antiquity, frozen deep in a glacier.

Recently, an enterprising band of mad scientists, retiring deep into their underground lair to escape a giant robot attack, discovered the mythical beast underneath Mt. Fuji. Using simple household goods commonly found in underground lairs, such as wave motion guns, protoculture furnaces, radioactive laser beams, and randomly bubbling vats of glowing liquid, the scientists thawed the Purple People Eater and nursed it back to health.

During the Purple People Eater’s thawing process, something in it evolved…

The ferocious monster took on a sudden penchant for groovy, phat beats. Its gleaming, baleful eye became interested only in flashing, blinking, furry, or fuzzy things. Its slavering, ravenous maw experienced uncontrollable urges only for modest snacks and munchies, only occasionally devouring an unsuspecting, red-shirted lab tech.

Armed with highly sophisticated Fun Meters, the scientists took careful measurements of the time/space curvature around the Purple People Eater and determined that it was an exceptionally concentrated source of extremely mutating Fun Particles. Clearly such a concentration of Fun Particles would be devastating to the general populace, they concluded. So, under great secrecy, the Purple People Eater was transported to a remote desert, where its hazardous concentrations of Fun would be less dangerous to unevolved, conservative folk. Once there, the Purple People Eater could be used in foul, diabolical experiments on unsuspecting victims.

Swearing allegiance to this task, the scientists formed a secret cult dedicated to the research of the Purple People Eater. Naming themselves the “Extremely Awesome Yet Secretive Fun Warriors of the Nudibranch” (a tenacious and intelligent sea-going slug which they favored), the scientists were chagrined to discover that the closest Engrish translation for their cultish name was, “Naked Ninjas”. Unbowed, they continued with their sinister plan of inflicting Fun on experimental subjects.

So if you see a One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple People Eater on the Playa, beware. It is tended by a team of Mutation Station scientists bent on an evil plan… Over-exposure to the creature’s Fun Particles has been known to cause mutation, accelerated evolution, uncontrollable grooviness, auditory hallucinations involving awesome beats, and dangerously good vibrations at the quantum subatomic level.

Operations and Safety

See Purple People Eater Operations Manual (DOC)


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