Above: Duane Flatmo says goodbye to El Pulpo Mecanico

(AUDIO) Duane Flatmo is Holding Up

Sending your child off into the scary world when they reach the age of maturity brings with it mixed emotions. Oh, they grow up so fast, don’t they? Sure, you’re excited for them to go out and test their independent selves but it’s natural to worry, even when your offspring is a giant, flaming metal octopus. Did I raise them well enough to burn the world down out there without me?

“El Pulpo” at Burning Man

Such were the feelings experienced recently by Humboldt’s most famous artist Duane Flatmo. After a decade blazing his way into the hearts of fans of his El Pulpo Mecanico art car — a period that included many trips to Burning Man and various festivals — Duane inked a lucrative deal that a few weeks back sent his most-celebrated creation from its birthplace in Eureka to its new permanent home in Austin, Texas where it will flame on under new management.

“It’s very bittersweet watching this go because it’s pretty much the pinnacle of what I’ve ever built in my life as an artist,” Flatmo told the Outpost as he loaded the machine on a pair of flatbed trucks for the last time. “I got paid well which for it which allows me now to carry on and make something else.” 

On this week’s edition of Humboldt Holding Up — LoCO’s Zoom-aided, lo-fi pandemic-era podcast attempt — Flatmo opens up about saying adios to his fiery eight-armed baby and discusses how its success changed his life. Topics on this week’s podcast include:

  • The life and times of El Pulpo Mecanico 
  • Duane’s beginnings as a Humboldt County sign painter
  • Finding success as a muralist and kinetic sculpture racer
  • Celebrities Duane has managed to brush up against
  • How his guitar “style” has landed him on national television on multiple occasions
  • More!

Click the audio player above (or subscribe on Apple Podcasts here) to listen to Flatmo’s chat with the Outpost‘s Andrew Goff and Stephanie McGeary and/or scroll through past Humboldt Holding Up guests farther down on this page.

But first! A quick photo gallery of Duane with some of the rightful owners of the famous names dropped in this week’s podcast.

Duane and Micki Flatmo with Jay Leno

Duane, Micki, Adam Sandler and Allen Covert

With Carlos Santana

With Regis Philbin

With David Hasselhoff

With Susan Sarandon and their respective entourages at Burning Man

That time his Tin Pan Dragon Sculpture was displayed in the Smithsonian

The “Maleguana” Bit: Appearances with David Letterman, Jay Leno and Tom Green, on America’s Got Talent, and with Infected Mushroom


El Pulpo Mecanico in action at Burning Man