39 year old Connie with her face painted. She says she was sexually assaulted by adults as a child and has been living in Slab City, a squatters' camp about 190 miles southeast of Los Angeles, for almost two decades.
'I could never cry. When I got my dog, I got in touch with my emotions and my memory back from childhood. I don't have any children so everything is different to me. I view things sadder, yet, everything is more beautiful with her. Life has become bitter-sweet.'
Slab City, known as The Slabs, is named for its areas of concrete where for many years, since the military based closed, people have parked their RVs as they travel south for the winter. There is also a permanent community of 'Slabbers', around 200 people, who have established themselves living free in the Sonoran Desert where temperatures can reach 48 Celsius in the summer and, while there is no rent, there is also no water, electricity or services. Slabbers are an eclectic bunch often escaping poverty but also holding in common the desire to escape the rules and order of society in what they like to call 'the last free place on earth'.