During the planning stages of the fourth ModCon event I received a call from our patron, Shannon Larratt of BMEZINE, asking what I was thinking about for an event tshirt. By that point most of us had a closet full of black t-shirts from other events so I suggested we think about using navy blue to lighten things up a little bit but still keep it dark enough that we retained our gothy street cred. With that agreed on, and with it being the fourth Modcon, I also asked if we could politely borrow the iconic Fantastic Four logo from Marvel and mash it up with the iconic split penis that had been on all of the other Modcon tees.
In less than a day Shannon whipped something up that made us both laugh and remains one of my favorite event shirts.
Earlier today my old friend Janice posted this photo of her MC4 shirt on Instagram; I love seeing it cracked and worn down but still obviously very much loved.
The first time I met Dennis Avner- Stalking Cat- in person was at Pierson International Airport in Toronto the night before ModCon3. We picked him up in the huge passenger van that was rented for the weekend, offered him dinner which he politely refused and brought him to his hotel, which caused quite a stir with the reception staff who’d never seen a human tiger before.
He proved to be quite a character. In the years that I knew him I never saw his back and chest tattoos in person, so these photos were quite a find. Facial tattoos by Larry Hanks, 1985.
Dennis Avner August 27, 1958 – November 5, 2012.
Top photo features tattoo legend Bob Shaw, scanned from 4×6 print. 1980s photos scanned from 3×5 prints. ModCon photo of Philip Barbosa, Erik Sprague and Dennis Avner ©2001 Bme/ModCon.
Received some great news out of Canada today from my friend Philip, which makes this post perfectly timed. This photo originally ran in the early 2000s on the spcOnline website and features body piercer Dustin, photographer Philip (center) and modification artist Blair and was taken shortly after Philip’s large gauge tongue scalpelling by Blair. The jewelry, Phil tells me, was nylon and apparently was very prone to being stained by just about anything he ate.
“Dennis who used to make Jewellery at Stainless Studios (maybe he worked at newtribe too…) made it for me. At the time Denis was mostly making prince wands out of his loft under DMT or design machine technologies. Since it was only meant to last long enough for the initial healing it was made from nylon. At the time many many body modification practitioners where playing around with nylon jewellery and implants. The implants back then where not the fancy sculpted anatomy changing things you see today. Often it was some nylon rods inserted with needles and a push bar. You would see them if you pinched the skin. Teflon came along as a more common material for things like this a year after I had mine done.” – Philip
Philip was the photographer for all of the ModCon events as well as the first Scarwars. He’s wearing the event t-shirt from the second Modcon.
Congrats, Philip and Alie!
I can’t remember the situation that led Shannon Larratt and I to have to cancel the first iteration of the 4th ModCon event in 2003; I’ve looked at old emails and IAM entries and haven’t been able to jog my memory.
What I can recall is that an event was planned to coincide with a BMEFest/Toronto Suscon weekend but for whatever reason we cancelled with very little notice, leaving folks who had secured travel/hotels in a bit of a bind. 1
Then Maryland based Body Piercer Sean Philips and I quickly organized a partial event for attendees who had already booked travel; and with very little turnaround time we were able to do a truncated hotel event, calling it ModCon 3.5.
The list of procedures was considerable smaller than other events- A tongue splitting, some transdermal implants, a transcrotal and a glans splitting if I recall correctly- but we still had a good time.
Unlike previous ModCons- the tshirt went out to attendees a few weeks later, and featured the ModCon logo over the Borneo Rosette that I had been using for spcOnline image tags. The back of the shirt read “ModCon 3.5- Not a drop spilled” as a little barb to some of our cross contamination issues at MC3.
This sample was emailed to me for approval before the shirts were printed.
I went on to host a full fledged ModCon 4 in 2004.
- Other 3.5 attendees have reminded me that with the BMEfest event moving to Tweed Ontario, it shook things up and facilitated the need to cancel the event. ↩
Before the first ModCon book, which covered the first and second events, there was a limited run ModCon 1999 Event CD available on CD-Rom. It was basic HTML formatted with three size gallery options for the photographs that included printable resolution images of Toronto’s Philip Barbosa amazing black and white portraits.
Other ModCon media includes two books, a vcd and a dvd of procedural footage.
In 2001, Patrick Bartholomew wrote the back cover blurb for Shannon Larratt and Philip Barbosa’s long out of print ‘ModCon- the secret world of extreme body modification’. When Shannon circulated a .pdf version of the book, the back cover was curiously missing, so I’ve included it here along with Patrick’s contact information for those of you who would like to send him a little love.
Patrick was far too humble to include his own name in the pantheon of Body Mod heroes- a mistake that I’ll proudly correct.
Patrick’s paypal address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
ModCon- the secret world of underground body modification back cover text:
As the new millennium gets underway we are seeing the maturity of the second renaissance in the world of body modification and it’s offshoots.
The first renaissance started with the coming together of Doug Malloy and the first group of interested parties including Jim Ward, Viking Navarro, Sailor Sid Diller, Fakir Musafar, Jim A. and later Mr. Sebastian and Jack Yount and several others. It was the wealth of Doug Malloy that allowed the founding of this movement to get off the ground, and for the coming of the first professional body modification studio- Gauntlet– to start under Jim Ward. Fakir introduced the term ‘Modern Primitive’, and this was in turn given impetus by the publishing of the book with this title by Juno & Vale in the 1980s.
Flawed as the book Modern Primitives may have been, it was an electrifying start to the world of body modification for many, myself included. There were attempts to ban it around the world, many successful, which to a larger extent helped to publicize it, and consequently, the body modification movement. (I remember re-binding copies of the book in the covers of children’s books and shipping them successfully to friend behind the ‘moral curtain’ in some of the countries that banned them.)
The first great leap forward of the ‘mods’ we take for granted began back in the 60s and continued through the 80s. It was in the realms of the gay leather and SM secene that the true work began. There were other individuals with their own agenda who had also contributed but no doubt we will never know about, but those who did become known went into the folklore of this fast growing group who were lumped under this ‘Modern Primitive’ umbrella.
Next came the ‘scientists’ of the mod scene. We experimented and tried new methods and materials, and gained the experience that laid the groundwork for the next new renaissance.
This blossomed with the coming of the Internet. Early web site brought to people’s private worlds and the reality of what was going on out there, and helped them come to terms with their own ‘scary desires’. The general media publicity generated by Jean Paul Gualtier’s amazing clothing collection with it’s pierced navel models, the piercings of film stars and pop icons also went hand in hand to give the mainstream a push into the daring world of body modification.
But if was the coming of Body Modification Ezine (BME) that really established what we have today. Shannon Larratt- by his own admission- was the right person at the right place at the right time. He has engineered to bring the truth of body modification to all of us. It has cost him dearly over the years that he has been bringing us the images, the stories, the facts, the contacts and the ‘big picture’ as we have it now. This labor of love has at last begun to pay off, and with the publication of this new book he has certainly set himself amongst the great heroes of body modification history. I do not believe that any one person has done more than Shannon to popularize our scene. None of it could have been done though without the massive contributions of the BME readers with their input of experiences and photographs.
Like Doug Malloy before him, Shannon, through the amazing ModCons, has brought together the greats of the bodymod world. And from these meetings has emerged this book that I believe will rightfully take over where Juno & Vale’s left off. This book is not an end in its self, it rather marks the end of our beginning.
-Patrick Bartholomew London August 2001
Patrick passed away on 12th January 2015.
He will be missed.
It is with great sadness that I pass this on; legendary UK Body Modification artist Patrick Bartholomew contacted me earlier tonight to let me know that the cancer he’s been battling has spread to his brain and that his time left with us is being measured in days/weeks. Patrick has been fighting this fight with an inspiring positivity and there were times where I felt that despite the prognosis he’d outlive us all just to prove that he could.
I have renal cancer that has spread from my kidney to both lungs. I was diagnosed as being terminal in January 2010. I was not expected to live for more than 6 and definitely no more than 12 months. I had my ‘baggage packed’ ready to go. I had no problems getting my head around it, I have had a good life, and at 64 was quite accepting of the situation. However I have had amazing results from my Sunitinib targeted cancer therapy drugs, and the tumours have shrunk significantly, and I am feeling better now than I did 18 months ago. That is not to say I am feeling well, just that I am in no pain, and I can make plans for periods of more than a few weeks ahead. I feel incredibly lucky, and compared to many other terminal sufferers I truly am! 😉
Life sometimes has other plans.
Patrick stepped away from the Professional Body Modification scene in 2005 when his health began to worsen and without a heavy online presence (and having been based in the UK) is often an overlooked figure in the community despite being an early innovator of “extreme” piercing techniques- including transscrotals, deep chest piercings and possibly the first known uvula piercing. 1 At times Patrick’s techniques were considered shocking- he believed in ‘the right tool for the job’ and was known as an early adopter of freehand technique as well as using sterilized leather punches for septum and guiche piercings which occasionally put him at odds with more conservative members of the piercing industry.
To me a Master Piercer is one who can do any piercing! And I do mean any piercing. I was accused some years ago of riding on Alan’s reputation. I put out a challenge that I would do any piercing named by any other piercer in public, provided that they would do the same. I went further and promised that whatever they claimed was their best piercing I could do as well, and probably better. Needless to say I received no takers. When I see super work from the likes of Jon Cobb, I know a master when I see one. I don’t think I would like to have to compete with him… (laughing) but I would if I had to.– BME Interview with Shannon Larratt.
While he remains under-appreciated here in the US, he was a fixture in the development of the UK Piercing Scene, the logical heir to his mentor Mr. Sebastian’s legacy and a regular contributor to Pauline Clarke’s PIERCING WORLD MAGAZINE. In the two and a half decades that I’ve known Pat I’ve always playfully called him Uncle Patrick; whether it was watching him perform modifications at a ModCon event or sitting around in our hotel room while he smoked his pipe and shared stories from the old days he was always a total charmer. A gruff old curmudgeon with a heart of gold who’s commitment to our community was always apparent.
In 1988 I was asked by a Gay Magazine where piercing would take me by the turn of the century, and my flippant reply was “God knows, I am more interested in where I will take Piercing!” That has been my philosophy throughout, and I only hope that it has been along a true and righteous path. I always believed that I would have an influence, and now that I look back I feel proud of what I have done and achieved, and Like Mr Sebastian before me:
I hope I will be remembered not mainly for my piercings – my art, but for my ethics, for my refusal to compromise on my standards and beliefs, for my methods and my concern, and for my sincere empathy for my clients.
– Patrick Bartholomew
- This claim is hard to substantiate; Jon Cobb is commonly thought to be the originator of the Uvula piercing, first performing it on himself in 1994 and documenting it on video. Patrick is reported to have attempted it on a client named Crudelia several years prior, but removed the jewelry when her gag reflex wouldn’t calm down. He considered the procedure a failure. As far as I’m aware there is no documentation of the attempt. ↩