Performance and conceptual artist Spy Emerson is hitting the streets of the East Bay again with her "Hook-Up Truck," the rolling social experiment and mobile safe-sex adventuring space that sparked local, national, and social media frenzies several years ago. The Hook-Up Truck is exactly what it sounds like: After a feverish year of news coverage from toEmerson took a hiatus from the Hook-Up Truck for the next two years, turning down two offers from companies wanting to option reality TV shows about her Lorry hook up. Now, she's back to tell the story of the truck and her unexpected departure.
It's a system of manipulation that I don't agree with at all.
A career Bay Area artist of the absurd, Emerson is lauded in the underground scene for her vaudevillian, burlesque-esque performance series Happy Forever and her conceptual art projects, like Dystopic Horizons Lorry hook up, dealing with greed and the housing crisis, and Gutterbunny in Chinatown, a spiritual performance about a rabbit that escapes a Chinatown butcher.
The problem was, at the beginning of the media pandemonium, Emerson didn't actually have a Hook-Up Truck, or any truck for that matter — just the idea. Her inspiration came from the stories her friends told her about their experiences using dating and hook-up apps. Emerson created a website pretending that the truck was already running, and within hours she was being contacted by CNN and Time. Emerson embarked on a frantic hunt for the perfect hook-up-ready vehicle.
Soon, she found the perfect one: Postal "Lorry hook up" mail carrier. Boxy, innocuous, and unpainted, the truck was rescued from the historic Ace Junkyard in San Francisco by none other than Burning Man cofounder "Flash" Hopkins — a friend of Emerson's. She offered to trade Hopkins her Volkswagen Bug in exchange for his postal truck, which she transformed inside and out.
Today, the Hook-Up Truck's cargo space, once meant to hold letters and parcels, is a red-lit room with a bench, condoms, hand sanitizer, lubricant, tissues, temperature controls, and a camera for couples who want to commemorate their experience — as you might on a theme park rollercoaster. On the left side of the truck is Lorry hook up logo and on its front end are emblazoned the words: Emerson hit the road, though it would be a bumpy one.
Word about the truck spread quickly in after the idea made the rounds on social media. Emerson planned to debut the truck at the Oakland First Fridays street fair, but she arrived at the event, she was barred from entering.
Parked on the street Lorry hook up outside the event, the truck was instantly mobbed by onlookers and reporters who had heard about "the sex truck. Emerson operated the truck for one year, touring festivals, private parties, and public gatherings — even weddings and office functions, one time surprising a military husband with his wife inside. Everywhere the truck went, a flurry of cameras, couples, and cops followed — some curious, others critical.
But during this time, she also received tons of fan mail and social media posts thanking her for the work she was Lorry hook up, requesting the truck at parties, festivals, and art shows. During the truck's year of action, police shut it down several times in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, but it kept on rocking and rolling. Emerson's own road in life has been rough. One of her most distinct memories was, at age 7, finding a dead body stuffed into a trash can at a nearby park.
But I wouldn't change it, because it gave me a certain perspective on death.