First heard of Black Rock desert from some guys over 20 years ago who were interested in the Emigrant trail. Some history up there. The area is remote. Even remoter when it's not burn season. There is camping south around Pyramid lake, with a cheap easy to get permit, or you can go north to High Rock Lake, and you haven't been nowhere, until you've been to High Rock Lake. It's nowhere. High Rock Canyon and Little High Rock Canyon Wilderness are north of Black Rock, with hiking and camping and historic sights from the wagon trains back to chipped rocks used to make arrow points. The north shore of Pyramid lake is somewhat remote, the lakes there, wild land formations, but lots of cow patties. You might need a high clearence vehicle for some of this. You will need a dependable vehicle, solid, with spare everything, and the permit.
Ususally on Bureau of Land Management land you don't need a permit to camp. For public use, BLM has the least restrictions, compared with parks and the like. Camping in the foothill surrounding the playa can be much more comfortable, yet just minutes away from the flats. People go out on the playa at night and drive around, small aircraft might land. That might be dangerous if you were to camp out on the playa in a tent without the protection of BRC. I admit, I've driven around out there with my headlights off at night. On the empty playa, what looks like a house in the distance turns out to be just a small rock, and a small shimmering movement far away turns out to be a half dozen racing sand yachts. Space perception gets thrown way off. And it's easy to get lost on the playa if you don't take note of the distant profile of the surrounding hills back where you entered.
As for interhuman contact, never met anyone out here giving me the bad vibes, other than at the burn. Most of the out back types are proud of their character, looking to be helpful, they aren't looking to fulfil some B-movie depiction. Now, as a skinny naked black dude, you might experience a different reaction than me. But with the right clothes (no feathers) that should be fine. Look at the crime stats and you'll see that going to the desert is safer than staying where ever we are.
If you're thinking about it, go up there and do some camping. Use the info here, and google more. Don't think permits are needed for most of that area, other than Pyramid Lake. Get that permit, it's a huge lake. There are sign-in sheets at trailheads and places where you can indicate when you were there and plan to return. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. There is an folk art drive on the left/west side of 447 just before the Black Rock Desert turn off. And if it's wet on the playa and you drive down there.....ha....