Barbecue Nations

Have you heard the one about the brown-skinned kid who showed up at the Nazi rally wearing a "WHITE POWER" tee shirt?

This was no joke at Aryanfest 2004, an "international" gathering of Nazi skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members and other white supremacists that took place inside McDowell Regional Mountain Park just north of Fountain Hills a couple of weekends ago.

Aryanfest's gates opened at noon, and about an hour later, the gathering assemblage gradually hushed as all eyes turned upon the young man who had just paid his entrance fee and was casually perusing the hate-rock compact discs, swastika flags and white power watch caps at Panzerfaust Records' merchandise booth.

He was in his late teens or early 20s, had a shaved head and sported Nazi and white power tattoos on both arms, in addition to wearing the white tee shirt with bold, black script.

He would have fit in just fine, except for one thing: He wasn't white. Not even close. There was at least half a cup of Kahlúa in his cream.

Seemingly oblivious to the increasingly hostile stares and menacing murmurs generated by his mere presence, this poor fellow, who seemed on the verge of getting lynched from the nearest sturdy saguaro cactus, was accompanied by three white kids who looked as if their primary aspiration in life was to load amplifiers for Marilyn Manson. They were outfitted in gothic black. Two had long, dirty blond hair, the other an unruly dark brown mop that danced wildly in the cold wind.

About five minutes after arriving, the group of four was approached by a cadre of skinhead security guards. These storm troopers were painfully polite as they informed the brown kid he wasn't welcome. "We're sorry, but we've been asked by the managers of this event to tell you that you have to leave. We're going to escort you out," said one.

"Why?" asked the kid.

The skinheads looked at him incredulously, and not without a degree of sympathy. It was obvious that he actually thought he belonged there, amongst white power kinfolk. "Well, you haven't broken any of the festival's rules," began another skinhead, employing the sort of "I hate to break it to you" tone of voice of a father explaining to his 5-year-old son why a bed sheet tied around his neck doesn't mean he can fly. "The thing is, you're not white."

Crestfallen, the kid stood silent for a few beats, then responded, "Okay, okay. I understand. I respect that. I just hope you know I didn't mean any disrespect by being here. I just wanted to come out and show my respect for the white race and support the cause."

"We respect that, and we appreciate your attitude, you not giving us any trouble," said a skinhead, gently guiding him toward the exit. "It's just we don't allow any non-whites here, and, you know, a judgment call was made and that call was that you're not white. We'll be happy to refund your money. Your friends can stay if they like, and if not, we'll give them their money back as well. "

The four interlopers each retrieved their $30 cover charge, then made hastily for their car. Watching them go, celebrity racist Tom Metzger cackled and said, loudly but to no one in particular, "Well, what in the hell do you suppose that spic was thinking?"

Metzger -- dressed in black jeans, bomber jacket, cowboy boots, cowboy hat (with silver band) and tee shirt bearing the message "Some People Are Alive Simply Because It's Illegal to Kill Them" -- was one of several special guest speakers at this two-day Nazipalooza. But politics alone wouldn't draw many participants, so besides the political speeches, Aryanfest included a lineup of leading white power bands such as Max Resist and the Hooligans, Valhalla's Patriots, and Youngland, whose tune "Thank God I'm a White Boy" is a particular favorite of Metzger's. Though organizers were promising that 1,000 people would attend the event and only maybe 350 showed up, law enforcement sources still say it was the biggest white power event ever in Arizona.

Aryanfest's organizers kept its location, a group campground area inside the state park, a closely guarded secret until the day it began. A Web site directed attendees to a security checkpoint at a scenic overlook just outside Fountain Hills, where Nazi skinheads queried strangers, trying to sniff out law enforcement officers and other "race traitors," and then offered a printed sheet of directions to anyone who passed inspection. The directions led to the mountain park. Aryanfest attendees were instructed to tell the rangers at the gate they were there for the "Taylor-Martin wedding."

The atmosphere inside Aryanfest was that of a Renaissance Fair gone over to the dark side, with "Heils" in place of "Huzzahs." Costumed attendees wore Iron Cross medallions and black bomber jackets emblazoned with swastika patches instead of studded leather armor and princess dresses. A Nazi memorabilia dealer hawked SS patches and framed photographs of Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Rudolph Hess in the parking lot. Next to the stage was a picnic pagoda, serving as the Aryanfest day-care center, where little white children in skinhead clothes colored in white power coloring books. Directly next door to the pagoda was a tattoo booth, where the incessant high-pitched buzz of a tattoo gun sounded from behind a blue tarp curtain. Beside the Panzerfaust merchandise stand was the Women for Aryan Unity booth, which sold child-rearing guides and White Nationalist Baby magazines, including one containing a simplified biography of Hitler suitable for bedtime stories: "He was a lifelong lover of animals and children . . . He is invincible and victory shall one day be his."

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Susy Buchanan and David Holthouse