Pioneertown

When we arrived in Joshua Tree it was a Sat-dy night and after spending a couple of hours in Palm Springs we were very keen to wet our whistle. The man in charge at the Joshua Inn, Skud, who was a shirtless man with long dreadlocks who lived in room one, told us that Pappy & Harriets was the place to be; “Yeaaah, there is a band playing, and its all going off at Pappy’s tonight, yeaahhh Pappy’s is the place to be.” He went on to tell us that Pappy & Harriets was in Pioneertown, a town about 15 mins up the road.

Pioneertown was built in the 1940s by a group of Hollywood investors, including Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. They had the hope of turning it into a live-in movie set, where stars could live their lives in 1870’s outlaw styling, but then have the facade of their town used for Hollywood Westerns. Lots of movies and TV shows were filmed in Pioneertown through he 40s and 50s. In the early 70s Pappy & Harriets (not yet known as Pappy & Harriet’s) was opened as “The Cantina.” It morphed into a really rough outlaw biker burrito bar, and saw a lot of rough & tough.

We were pretty keen to check out what this was all about. Marissa very seriously warned me “don’t accept any drink from anyone” and off we drove, down what seemed like really, really, dark, long dirt road, thinking we were about to walk into some kind bikey rape den.
When we got there, we were very much mistaken. There were families everywhere, and it seemed to be a tourst hotspot, packed with equally as confused punters. They served an array of tex-mex cuisine and margaritas in jars. It wasn’t too rough at all. Until we saw the band.

It was a Southern Rock girl band (although the drummer had injured herself (probably) in some kind of bar brawl, and there was a male stand in, and it took the entire 2 sets for me to realise that one of the guitarists was in fact a woman.) The singer sung about “the needle and the spoon” as she necked her flaggin’ of whiskey with such an incredible backbend, I thought that she would most certainly end up on the floor. The base player was made entirely of plastic and kept the same expression on the whole time. But I’m pretty sure she was ‘rocking out’ pretty hard. They covered Sweet Home Alabama and the crowd went absolutely wild.

We realised that we had to come back to Pioneertown the next day to check out the truth in the natural light. The next day was a really hot Sunday afternoon, and we had just returned from the very zen experience of Joshua Tree National Park. But down that long dirt road we drove, into the bizaar outlaw town. When we got there we were met with some of the characters of Pioneertown, who work, live and breath the wild west. John told us about the spirt of the eagle, and then we met the crew from Guns fighters for Hire. They were putting on a real life gunshow at 2pm in period costumes and the lot. Awesome.
The crew comprised of some retired government officials, businessmen and women, from all over the country, all coming together to bring comedy and gun safety lessons to the masses.

Waiting around for the show, it seemed very clear we had walked into a bit of a circus. The show ran late, and all the cast of geriatrics kept walking out in their full costumes, chatting on set and being rather casual on ‘the stage’ with all the audience watching. When the show started, we all had to stand up to the US flag and sing “God Bless America,” and when it the gun fighting started the mics kept cutting out, so we had no idea what they were saying. They did various comedy skits, but looking in, the whole thing was a pretty big comedy act. It was pretty amazing actually. Where the hell are we??

The combo of the early morning, the heat and the entertainment, actually made me pretty sleepy and a had a snooze behind my glasses while the show was on.

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