Last Updated on June 10, 2023
On Tuesday, Circus and adult entertainment company Spiegelworld announced they purchased Nipton, California, a semi-abandoned town which they plan to revive as an artist residency and their base of operations. The desert town has however already undergone a series of peculiar transformations in recent years.
In 2017, Nipton had been purchased by American Green, a cannabis technology company, with the intention of turning it into a marijuana-themed resort.
American Green struggled to raise the funds needed for the project and eventually sold the town to Delta International Oil & Gas for $7.7 million.
Earlier in 2022, Nipton has been purchased once again, this time by entertainment company Spiegelworld. Known for producing several hit adult-themed shows on the Las Vegas Strip, including “Absinthe,” “Atomic Saloon,” and “Opium,” Spiegelworld has just announced big plans for the tiny desert town.
Describing what they envision as “the world’s first ‘Circus Town’“, the company intends to use Nipton as a retreat for its artists and performers to dream, create, and undertake unfettered artistic experimentation that will feed into the creation of its shows.
A Former Desert Ghost Town
Nipton is a small town located in San Bernardino County, California, near the border with Nevada. It was founded in the early 1900s as a gold and silver mining town and was a thriving community served by stagecoach and rail lines, but when the mines were depleted, the town’s population dwindled and it became a ghost town.
In the 1950s, the town was rediscovered by a geologist named Gerald Freeman, who bought it with his wife, Roxanne Lang, in 1985. Freeman spent the next 30 years restoring the town’s Old West-style hotel, trading post, and houses, making it a popular destination for tourists.
The Cannabis Dream Who Went Up In Smoke
In 2017, Nipton was purchased by cannabis technology company American Green Inc. for $5 million. The company unveiled ambitious plans to remodel the town’s hotel into a “buds and breakfast” inn and to bottle and sell cannabis-infused beverages drawn from Nipton’s desert aquifer.
There were also plans to attract cultivators and marijuana-themed boutique owners, as well as bring back Nipton’s post office and bank and expand its solar farm.
However, these plans never fully materialized. American Green struggled to raise the money needed to bring its vision to life and eventually sold Nipton to Delta International Oil & Gas for $7.7 million. The sale included a provision for American Green to continue with its project, but it is unclear how much progress has been made. By 2021, Nipton was once again put on the market for sale.
Enter the Circus
In April 2022, entertainment company Spiegelworld purchased Nipton for $2.75 million. Spiegelworld revealed their plans on Tuesday when they released a video titled “WTF – We Bought a Town!” on youtube, officially rebranding Nipton as a “Circus Town” where their operations will be based off.
According to the company, Nipton will be a “living town” where its artists and performers can “retreat to dream, create, and undertake unfettered artistic experimentation” that will eventually become part of its Las Vegas shows.
The town will also offer visitors an “experience unlike anything else” and will feature an “art-directed, luxury accommodation and restaurant experience for a limited number of visitors”.
Spiegelworld also plans to continue the town’s existing large-scale sculpture commissions through an artist-in-residence program.
But perhaps the most exciting potential for Nipton, according to Spiegelworld, is providing a “spiritual home” for the company where its artists and performers can create and develop new work.
In February 2023, Spiegelworld will be housing a creative team in Nipton to develop ideas for a show inspired by the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, set to take place in November 2023.
A Permanent Burning Man
There have even been suggestions that Nipton could become a “permanent Burning Man”, a reference to the annual desert festival held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The festival, known for its radical self-expression and self-reliance, could provide a unique inspiration for Spiegelworld’s artists and performers.
Only time will tell what the future holds for Nipton and its newest owners.
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