Patrick is ringing in his 42nd year with a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy–themed event. (The elaborate video Evite shows a girl's Golgafrinch- am-tattooed ass being spanked.) He's dressed as the egocentric two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox. Sandwich-maker Gabrielle says she bonded with Patrick and his crew over their mutual zeal for costuming. In accordance with sci-fi standards, women wear almost nothing, while the men remain completely clothed. More thought went into the costumes than the refreshments, prompting a trip to the store. "Don't panic," I'm told, there will be Pabst to wash down the chocolate cake.

These intergalactic freaks specialize in the impromptu and the fantastic. They execute the sex and glamour of space culture with a DIY aesthetic: gleaming, metallic spray-painted boots fashioned from bubble wrap; battery-operated light-up hairpieces; and sumptuous, Rit-dyed skin in blues and greens finished with a layer of glitter. One partyer, whom I assumed was only in street clothes, brought a towel to assist with the vomit-inducing pressures of space travel, as per Douglas Adams's prescription.

The winning costume is Joanna's. She's a robot, complete with hinged conical breasts that reveal flowers when lifted. I learn later that she had broken her foot the day before—excuses be damned, this crowd is dedicated! In the backyard, partyers watch sci-fi classic Barbarella projected on the side of a large shed. Near the movie, there are fire dancers. I talk to one named Paul; the tips of his Vulcan ears are charred. I ask him what it's like swinging fire so close to his face. He says it sounds like "a dragon breathing." recommended

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