Jim Sens is one of the genuinely sweetest guys you’ll ever meet. Like almost too sweet. Suspiciously sweet. Like, “Who the fuck is this guy? Why is he so nice? Who told him he could be so nice?” Jim has been a notable figure on the scene for quite some time now, being a big proponent of the early surface bar movement, and also for his breakneck speed with a needle. Jim has essentially taken the High Priestess Campus location to one of the most high volume shops in the country with his personality and skills. We recently sat down to talk about the midwest, the surface bar, and picking glue out of his penis.Ari- Ok bud, so give ahead, give it a whirl, do the introduction.
Jim Sens- Hi, I’m Jim, I’ve been piercing for a bit over 18 years, and I’ve been working at High Priestess for the last 10. I’ve worked at a variety of big name studios before that. I started out piercing at a studio in St Cloud, Minnesota, called Cloud 9 Tattoo. Before that I worked counter at a studio that isn’t around anymore called The Dark Side in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Gregg, in my opinion, has always been a piercer worth watching – and not just in a creepy, webcam sort of way, but in the way that an eighteen year titan with a metric fuckton of creativity can’t help but captivate anyone actually interested in piercing. Even if they can’t pronounce his last name, piercers across the board universally appreciate his ingenuity, which in my opinion has not only influenced modern piercers but also modern jewelry. Amidst a sea of black arms and olive debates, people who can stand out on a technical and innovative level, and continue to push the momentum of this industry are always worth paying attention to. So I called Gregg to talk about his industrial work, working with other piercers, and why we’re all fucked once we get older.
“Alan Oversby, better known by his professional alias of Mr Sebastian (chosen, naturally, after the famously pierced Saint…) was born in Liverpool in 1933 and became enamoured with body piercing in the 1950s whilst working on a sugar plantation in British Guiana. He had seen nipple piercings on some field hands, and persuaded one of them, over a few glasses of rum, to pierce him. Returning to Britain, he trained as an art teacher in the Midlands, and became increasingly enamoured with modifying his own body, first by re-piercing his own nipples, then (imitating an illustration of an African man he had seen in an anthropology book) inserting a ring into his foreskin. Eventually, he got tattooed. Indeed, he first shows up in the press in the mid-1970s, as a customer of long-standing London tattoo artist George Bone, cited precisely to demonstrate the practices middle class credentials. ‘He is a teacher’, the article tells us, ‘ and as such one of the professional minority who frequents tattoo shops:
‘I thought about it all very carefully before I began. If you don’t you end up looking a mess.’ Alan is tattooed solidly from the tops of his arms down the front of his body to his legs with the designs placed in such a way that he can wear a short-sleeved, open-necked shirt without any of them being visible. This is not to avoid incurring opposition in the school where he teaches, but ‘to make sure my mother doesn’t find out. She would be terribly upset if she knew about it’ Continue reading
On September 1st 2015 I recorded a free-form oral history with retired tattoo artist and T.R.A.S.H. editor JD. Recorded during lunch, JD and I shared a pizza and discussed the last days of Sailor Sid Diller, gay erotic artist REX (famous for his MINESHAFT logo design), TRASH magazine and the gentrification of NYC. He was a very charming gentleman, like myself a bit of a rascal and a wonderful connection to days gone by.
The full story of my meeting with JD can be found in Issue #2 of Best Intentions Magazine and you can find archival footage of JD tattooing here: http://sacreddebris.com/ovxsd-j-d-at-sailor-sids-silver-anchor/
In March of 2001 I visited erotic artist Bud Larsen in Phoenix Arizona to talk about his work with PFIQ and Drummer magazine; his art helped define the early aesthetic of both periodicals- crisp black lines like a pornographic Al Hirschfeld featuring ultra masculine pinups, dangerous femme fatals and mindbending scifi and fantasy creatures with exaggeratedly large genitals which were more often than not pierced or otherwise decorated.
The entire affair was a disaster of exposed film, lost video/audio tapes and only memories and a few signed PFIQs as a souvenir of the trip. For fourteen years I’ve thought the tapes lost. SD recently received funding to restore 8mm video cassettes and during the sorting/cataloguing I discovered that a video backup of the interview wasn’t lost, just misfiled. This backup was intended to be a safety-net in case something happened to the mini-cassette recorder that we used for the interview was lost, which prophetically did happen, and was never intended to be a “on camera” interview. The handycam was set up to catch the audio and is just haphazardly pointed at Bud and I, and without a lapel mic the audio at times is difficult to hear, but given how woefully under-documented Bud’s career is, it was an amazing find.
This short clip features Bud and I discussing his process for creating a drawing. The audio is muddy, and I still need to scan the PFIQ issue the images we’re discussing come from- there’s a lot more work to do on this tape (hopefully a transcript and better audio) but for now- enjoy a chat with Bud (and my epic bad haircut) and make sure to say thanks to the patrons who sponsored the import/archival of the 8mm collection of the SPC.
(Val Martin wearing Drummer Shirt via The Leather Archives and Museum. Video title art c. Bud Larsen from PFIQ #13)
Original Source: 8mm Video Tape.
Conversion Source: 8mm Video Tape.
Location: Detroit, Michigan.
Subject: Shannon Larratt (bme)
Interviewer: Shawn Porter (spcOnline, Sacred Debris).
I’m not sure if I can give a good reason as to the real reasons behind why I wanted it done. The general concept had already been interesting to me, but whether it was something that I needed on some level is highly debatable… Back then I did a lot of experimenting with my body, so maybe it was as simple as curiosity..- Shannon Larratt 1
This video was shot in a Detroit, Michigan hotel room in 1998 and features BME founder Shannon Larratt and I discussing the process of having his tongue surgically split by Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon Dr. Lawrence Busino as well as a brief history of it’s contemporary origins. 2
This was the first time Shannon and I had met in person after years of online communication and comes from a larger conversation most of which isn’t body modification related.
“Hey, Rube!” is a slang phrase most commonly used in the United States by circus and traveling carnival workers (“carnies”), with origins in the middle 19th century. It is a rallying call, or a cry for help, used by carnies in a fight with outsiders. It is also sometimes used to refer to such a fight: “The clown got a black eye in a Hey, Rube.” -Wikipedia
My social networking streams are all polluted by discussion of the latest episode of Ink Master; instead of rotting my brain with “the worst thing to happen to tattooing since Hepatitis C” I’ve queued up this fun little short film starring Canada’s sweethearts Burnaby Q. Orbax and Sweet Pepper Klopek- the Monsters of Schlock.
The day they filmed my segment I was nursing a 103* fever, so I don’t remember a lot of it. I was also 70lbs heavier than I am these days so seeing chubby, medicated me ramble on is kind of weird, but ultimately better than Ink Master.
This video has been moved to the supporter’s section.
While he was more famous for GRS procedures and the controversy that came from his medical ethics and techniques, Dr. Ronald Brown 1 was also a well-known figure in the body modification world, thanks to his connection with Jack Yount.
Having tracked him down after hearing about the procedure he performed on Fakir Musafar (ligament cutting) Jack became a patron to Brown, arranging discrete meetups throughout the United States with willing clientele interested in getting the atypical surgical modifications that the Doctor was offering.
One of the more aesthetically shocking modifications that Brown was known for was silicone enhancement; usually of the penis and scrotum. While some patients wanted a ‘slightly bigger than average’ increase, others chose to go further, radically reshaping their genitals to the extreme- hyperbole made flesh.
The client in this video briefly explains what it’s like to have silicone in his penis.
There have been a lot of articles written on Doctor Brown; even a documentary filmed calling him the world’s worst surgeon. It’s not my intention to defend or vilify him or his technique; just to present examples of the surgeries he performed in the context of preserving that period of body modification history. There are severe health risks associated with the procedure and in 1992 The Food and Drug Administration banned direct injections of silicone.
Preservation is why this site exists.
Taking aging media- photographs, negatives, slides, documents and videos- and making sure that they’re preserved for posterity has been more than just rewarding- it’s been fun. Seeing old faces, hearing the voices of people long since gone from my life and being able to share them with people who care about them has been worth all of the time spent on SD over the course of the last month. With the recent addition of increased storage space I’ve been able to start actively capturing new content for archival/sharing.
It’s been disheartening to see the condition that some of this stuff is in. Magnetic VHS tapes have a life expectancy of 8-12 years in optimum conditions and some of these have been passed around from owner to owner for years, being played in machines that aren’t running at 100% and generally being considered as a transitory item not a piece of Bodymod history. This update’s video comes from a 23yo VHS tape. Next week’s video update is from a 30 year old tape. I’m torn between editing the videos to remove the damaged segments and leaving them intact with the understanding there will be parts of the video that are going to not play very well. In the case of today’s update there was no way to remove the damage without editing out Jack’s introduction; this will sort of set the tone for future updates. It’s better to have poor quality material than lose out on what makes these videos special.
This video was from one of Jack Yount’s 1991 visits to the Mexico clinic of Dr. John Ronald Brown. Dr. Brown was known in some circles as The Modification Doctor, and in others as The World’s Worst Sex Change Surgeon. Despite a horrible reputation, Brown had a large and devoted clientele from the US and Europe who would make the trip to his clinic for GRS and modification work, which often came with complications but still found clients returning for more work or to fix existing projects. While the quality of his surgical was questionable, Brown believed in what he was doing and truly felt that it was a divine mission to help affirm physically how his clients felt inside.
Jack would often bring small groups of surgical devotees with him on his trips to Mexico as well as arranging with the Doctor to make house calls in his Zephyrhills, Florida home. This trip saw a eunuch having his scrotum removed, a castration, a 1lb stainless steel ball being inserted into Jack’s scrotum and finishes up with Jack having the top of his glans surgically split. The stainless steel ball implant- the third in Jack’s scrotum- ultimately caused serious complications that resulted in the amputation of his scrotum. While nothing was ever confirmed the theory was the teflon coating covering the balls cracked, causing abrasions inside of his scrotum which led to infection and ultimately gangrene. I’ve captured the entire tape for archival but I’m not sure what level of graphic content is appropriate for this blog nor the level of interest readers have in that sort of thing. Use the comments section and let me know what you think.
Since the 1990s, Todd Bertrang has been one of the most controversial figures in the Body Modification community.
An innovator with initial large gauge piercing, an advocate of herbal aftercare and unarguably the main practitioner responsible for the upswing of consensual female genital modification/nullification in the 2000s, Todd has been praised, vilified and even imprisoned for his highly sexualized body modification practices.
Luna Duran sat down with Todd on 04.27.2013 in Philadelphia to discuss his techniques, career and ideologies. In this clip he talks about homeopathic aftercare and being at odds with more traditional piercing techniques. Todd’s sexual proclivities have often overshadowed his contributions to modern piercing; but his techniques and aftercare have been successfully used by scores of piercers in the two decades since he developed them and regardless of the controversy he often causes still remains an enigmatic figure that’s always sure to inspire debate.
For more information on Todd, Shannon Larratt’s 2008 interview with him is an excellent primer:
Luz de Luna Duran is a Professional Body Artist currently living in Richmond, Virginia. She is known as an established practitioner licensed in Body Piercing and Permanent Cosmetics Tattooing. Her reputation and standards have allowed her many opportunities to travel and work in reputable shops. Fueled by a passion for self expression, she is tireless in her quest for the safest practices and highest standards. She seeks to enrich her experience in the field while recognizing the importance of knowing where these practices originated; thereby learning their greater significance in human experience and history.