Film and TV

Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is an ecological disaster, a man-made mistake that was supposed to become a resort to rival Palm Springs. Instead the sea has turned into a replacement wetlands refuge for sea birds whose habitats were consumed by such densely populated Southern California cities as San Diego and Los Angeles; a site for the ancient Christian Leonard to build a mountain of paint and adobe, proclaiming his faith to all who cast eyes upon it; a place where Naked Don advocates the nudist lifestyle to tourists and passersby; and an investment for the land man Manny Diaz, who's bought up a plethora of property in hopes of revitalizing the area.

Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea is a whimsical, charming documentary by Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer that chronicles the history of the area and catalogues the weird and wild people who call it their home. Narrated by John Waters, the film jumps from place to place while telling its story, from Salton City to Bombay Beach to Niland to the Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge and the Salton Sea State Park. It screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 13, at Starz FilmCenter in the Tivoli, and at 7 p.m. Friday, September 14, in the ATLAS building on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus; visit for information.