I was going to save this post for the actual 20th anniversary of Erik’s tongue splitting, but seeing as how today is his birthday…
I had imagined, fantasized, and dreamed about split tongues since childhood. I would often sketch faces or characters with forked tongues. I was drawn to idea both aesthetically and for the potential sensual aspects it implied. However, I thought it to be simply an idle fantasy and not something that would eventually be so easily achievable. By rumor and second references I began to hear about people splitting their tongues through methods like cutting between multiple piercings and similar efforts but I could find no hard evidence or first hand accounts. I discovered BME in late 1996 and saw similar information and reports to the ones I had already encountered. But then there was an update in BME Extreme that included notes from an Italian gentleman who was splitting his tongue via cutting and cauterization. There were no pictures at first but this was a great motivator. I began to consider how I would split my tongue and beyond simply researching anatomy I realized that consulting an oral surgeon would probably be the best route – if I could find one that would talk to me about such an esoteric topic. I was in luck, I first began by searching for oral surgeon that performed voluntary adult frenectomies (sometimes call tongue lengthening) and figured that I would first discuss getting this procedure and then bridge into the subject of tongue splitting. The first place I called was the office of Dr. Busino and after a positive conversation with the office secretary I broached the subject of doing something ‘more unusual’ and was soon talking with the doctor himself. Dr. Busino was very open-minded and interested in my ideas and so I set up an appointment to consult with him at his offices. 1
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Erik ‘The Lizardman’ Sprague’s tongue splitting. While his wasn’t the first documented forked tongue, Erik’s surgical bifurcation, performed by a Maxillofacial surgeon, is certainly one of the most significant nodal points in the popularization of the procedure.
My first in person meeting with BME founder Shannon Larratt came three years after we connected via email over a post I made in the rec.arts.bodyart Usenet group announcing a memorial event we were holding to celebrate the life of my friend and mentor Jack Yount. Shannon was in Detroit to purchase a Kit Car 1 and I was there to meet him. Having chatted into the wee hours of the morning almost daily for the previous few years and getting to know him as well as could be expected from our digital communication, I found him to be as socially awkward in person as anticipated, but also very inquisitive and dryly funny.
We took a few rolls of film of each other’s modifications, had a mediocre hotel dinner (Shannon was afraid to leave the hotel) and like our online chats, ended up staying up all night riffing on anything that came into our heads; body modification, cinema, and instances of same sex masturbation amongst hockey players as an act of male bonding.
These photos (and the video below) were taken in 1998.
Video of the non-modification portions of our 1998 chat has been archived, but since it’s just 3am ramblings between a few friends hasn’t been shared publicly.
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 Larratt1
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.
This photo was originally submitted to my spcOnline site in 1998 and features BME’s Shannon Larratt and Tim Cridland (aka Zamora the Torture King) showing off their split tongues. In 1998 tongue had yet to achieve the popularity it’s currently enjoying:
At the first Modcon in 1999 my split tongue was a novelty and, as I recall, the only one present other than Shannon’s. Between hosting many of the splits at my house and Shannon’s network of people and practitioners via BME we could say that at that time we probably knew personally or could at least name most of the split tongues in the world. This would soon change.- Erik Sprague 1
By the last ModCon event, tongue splitting had reached a level where it was no longer on the qualifications list for entry.
There’s something about watching a tongue splitting procedure that always gets me. The squinty eyes, the drool, the client’s eventual “mo, I’m thine. It dothent thurt ath bad ath i sthought” when the practitioner is finally done and everything is rinsed out.
This procedure, on scarification luminary Ron Garza, dates back to the mid/late 1990s and originally ran on the spcOnline site.
It’s been a fun 2014 for Sacred Debris. I’m in the process of writing the “What happens next” 2015 post and while I don’t know which direction I’m taking the blog (options include offline, infrequently updated or required tips for videos) I want to thank everyone who’s taken the time to comment, email questions, reblog our articles and dropped a few dolllars in the donation box. You folks made me keep updating for the silent majority and I truly appreciate your passion for the project.