Welcome to Hicksville

Down a narrow, bumpy road in an unlisted location in Joshua Tree, there exists a punk rock utopia — only instead of mohawked unicorns there are glowing mannequins and the possibility of communicating with aliens.

Welcome to Hicksville Trailer Palace.

Imagine the Madonna Inn and its variety of thematic hotel rooms. Layer on top of that an eco-conscious commune. Add a recording studio for bands and an editing bay for filmmakers. Now picture a fleet of mobile homes, and you can start to envision Morgan Higby Night’s latest masterpiece: a trailer park motel and artist retreat.

Hicksville, which opened April 24, has six vintage-themed trailers on offer. The Lux pays homage to the Cramps, and its founding member Lux Interior, with punk and tiki design elements and a mini jukebox that plays Cramps songs. The ’70s-style Airstream called the Sweet has orange walls, turquoise pillows on a built-in couch, shag carpeting and the ever-important electric fireplace. Then there’s the Pioneer, which looks like nearby Pioneertown. And there’s Night’s favorite: the Fifi. Designed by Ryan and Marci Hessling of Fifi Mahoney’s wig shop in New Orleans, the trailer is decked out in purple and gold and has a vanity, full bar and a mini wig store that displays hairdos on mannequin heads that light up in different colors.

Perhaps the most amusing trailer, though, is the Integratrailor, a re-imagination of the “rejuvenating compound” known as the Integratron, which paranormal researcher George Van Tassel began constructing during the late ’50s according to plans he believed were given to him by aliens. Night says his trailer version looks like a spaceship, sleeps two, and has an alien-communication system.

But the trailer deresistance has to be the New World, a 40-foot vehicle from the ’50s that has bunk beds that convert into an editing suite, plus a full kitchen, private bathroom, flat-screen TV, DVD player and DirecTV. (The house on the property also has a green screen and a recording studio.) Film buffs will of course note the reference to legendary B-film director and producer Roger Corman and his studio New World Pictures.

When Night, a filmmaker also known for his Devil’s Night Drive-In movie screenings in downtown L.A., started collecting vintage trailers at his Joshua Tree home, he hadn’t intended for it to become Hicksville. “I built the place originally as a place for me and my artistic friends to get away and create. [But then] it felt kind of selfish to keep it for myself,” he explains. “That was half of it. The other half: It used all of my life savings and I was broke.” So he built it out, adding all of the elements he loved most about summer camp: Ping-Pong, archery, horseshoes, BB gun range, darts and a fire pit.

One part that’s not vintage: the solar heated saltwater pool. In fact, the entire place is eco-friendly, from solar panels to charging stations for electric vehicles.

As for who stays at Hicksville, it’s still too early to tell. “We’re geared toward artists,” says Night. “But anyone is welcome.” At least for now. Night is thinking about instituting an age limit — 25 and up — since presumably that’s when people learn how to hold their liquor.

The Pioneer, Integratrailor, Fifi and Lux are $100 per night or $500 for a full week. The Sweet is $125 per night or $625 for a full week. The New World is $200 per night or $1,000 per week. With film equipment, the New World is $250 per night or $1,250 for the full week.

Rooms can be booked at www.hicksville.com.
Full website will launch June 1.

Published in Brand X on May 20, 2010. Learn more about my work at Brand X.