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By Jacqueline Monahan
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United Church of Bacon BBQ at Penn Jillette’s (Former) Slammer: Sizzle and Pop, But No Prayer


Holy Cow!  Wait, make that Holey Pig!

Magician Penn Jillette’s former estate, which he christened The Slammer because it was intentionally built to mimic a prison, is in the process of being sold and converted into a community center housing the United Church of Bacon (UCB) a skeptic/atheist organization that also worships Krispy Kreme donuts (they put the hole in holey, along with Swiss cheese, also in abundance at the event).

United Church of Bacon DSC0003Lots of Strips in this Vegas-based Church
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

The Slammer
Aerial view
Photo courtesy of the United Church of Bacon

The Slammer 1
Aerial view
Photo courtesy of the United Church of Bacon


The eccentric house of many colors, including a purple silo-like structure, sits on 10-acres of land on west Wigwam Ave. and was constructed in three phases, each resulting in a different but attached building.  There’s a Koi pond, a paved path through a landscaped garden, a lap-pool, and lotsa land no matter in which direction you might shift your gaze.

Penn did a podcast full of political opinions, which was broadcast outside on multiple screens for the munching congregation.  Massive troughs of bacon highlighted the BBQ feast which featured fabulous fare by Whole Foods and Pot Liquor (Contemporary American Smokehouse).  Believe it or not, there were vegetarian and vegan versions of bacon and chicken, along with kale, pasta, and broccoli salads, mac and cheese, and meatless pizza for those who did not want animal products on their plate or palate.

The United Church of Bacon welcomes abstainers.

Everyone else tore at the pulled pork, creamy chicken salad, turkey slices, barbecued chicken and mega-pounds of bacon stacked like cord wood inside large, deep aluminum trays.  You could say that the UCB celebrates the mass in massive coronary, but what a way to go.  Commandment Five is a mandate to “Have Fun” after all.  Commandment Eight is the exclamatory “Praise Bacon!” the same message on t-shirts that were thrown to the crowd by bikini-clad women from one of several upper-level walkways.

 

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Back of the Slammer, BBQ Headquarters
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


There were even one or two folks dressed like rashers – that’s what you call strips of bacon – while a man in an elf hat helped himself to copious amounts of pork products and a voluptuous drag queen that could have doubled for Divine took your humble correspondent on an abbreviated tour of the house itself.  It is quirkily built, maze-like, and more vertical than horizontal.  Bookcases move to reveal secret rooms, including Penn’s mint-green art studio.  An eyeball in a top-hat leans against a shelf; a giant pink, multi-armed, praying-mantis-panther-goddess hangs from the ceiling.

 

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Possible Hindu Goddess Kali if she were Pink, with a Praying Mantis Head
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Walkways surround the second floor exterior and there are stairs to aid in that massive coronary in case you escaped the bacon nosh.  Nearly every room looks out and down on another piece of the property, like various watchtowers.  Guaranteed: no one would be able to ambush this place, or even sneak up on it undetected, especially its own worshippers who are more likely than not to have multiple X’s on their clothing tags.

There ARE thin atheists, too.  But they’re probably not having as much fun as their bacon-and-Krispy Kreme loving brethren.  And having fun IS a commandment, after all.  Others include “Be Good”, “Respect Boundaries”, and “Be Skeptical.”  Something for everyone, all punctuated with pork fat and sugar.  Hallelujah!

 

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Vegetarians WERE Welcome
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


 Why worship bacon?  Because bacon is real, say its proponents, who founded the church during a meeting at the Slammer in 2010.  Krispy Kreme has a bacon covered hot dog donut, so they qualify as both worshipper and worshipped.  The holey treat was offered on the other side of a wall separating the pig-fest because, hey, offering them in the same proximity would just be too decadent.  It’s a church, you know.

You could experience other sensations beside those that came with gastric gluttony at the UCB Slammer BBQ.  Aside from Penn’s podcast there was a UCB sermon (takeaway, Have Fun!) the Matt & Mattingly Improv Show that featured a song about the travails of a Wal-Mart worker, a song entitled There are no Saints, written by and performed by Penn himself (he’s very svelte these days) and music provided by The Negative Nancys, DJ Lenny Alfonso, and Sunday Assembly Band.

 

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The Man Himself:  Penn Jillette with a Message
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

 The whole Sunday service was a fundraiser with donations gladly accepted, cash or credit.  With a t-shirt sale (Nevatican, anyone?) and an IndieGoGo campaign, the UCB hopes to raise $500,000 to purchase The Slammer and give the UCB a permanent home.  A $100 donation will get you a Get Out of Hell Free card.

That, along with bacon and donuts, is someone’s idea of heaven.

 

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