This weekend marked the ninth anniversary of the third and final Scarwars event. I was going to wait for the tenth before putting a post up, but sentimentality got the best of me and I grabbed a backup drive and pulled over a few of the thousands of photos taken that weekend to share with you folks here on SD.
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/
(Crossposted from Occult Vibrations)
Issue #2 of BEST INTENTIONS magazine is now available. I have an article in it, so any review would be biased; but if you like the stuff we post here on OV you’ll dig it.
120 pages full colour tattoo magazine including interviews from –
Claudia De Sabe (Seven doors, London)
Dave Fox (Studio One, Philadelphia)
Curt Baer (Iron Mountain, California)
Patrick Kitzel (Tribal tattoo magazine)
Articles by –
Rosie Vans tattoo travels journal
Mr Gordo Instax view of Seven Doors
Shawn Porter’s Occult Vibrations
Artwork and tattoos by –
Cover by Claudia De Sabe. Includes logo sticker designed by Joseph Aloi JK5.
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.
I really meant to write a long, wordy treatise on the legacy of the SPC website during what would have been it’s 20th anniversary; but as always I’m getting to it a little late. Time has erased when our original launch date was but if my admittedly flawed memory is correct I think it was somewhere in September of 1995 that I first started sharing my archives via the members.aol.com space that came free with my AOL account. The original photos that went online were aggregates from several sources; photos I had taken, photos I had inherited from my mentor Jack Yount and images I had traded with other members of the offline body modification community who didn’t have access to a scanner or outlet to post them so I put them under a blanket name to simplify things- from Shawn Porter’s Collection. It seemed the best way to tie everything up in the days before promotion and branding were necessary- in 1995 there was BME and tattoos.com so if you were looking for body modification content it was easy enough to find. Worried that it would seem too much like a monument to ego, I shortened it to SPC Online (which went through different iterations; spc, spcOnline, spcO) and kept the name until we finally went offline in 2005.
Despite the boundary pushing nature of our content, AOL never had a problem with what I published and I kept things on their server until a photo adult performer Nina Hartley and I on my person blog (we didn’t call them blogs then) got me shut down. 20 years later I still appreciate the irony that America Online had no problem with voluntary amputation but female toplessness was a no-go. When we went dark due to the terms of service violation BME’s Shannon Larratt offered unlimited storage space and bandwidth with no content restrictions; the spcO remained on BME’s servers for the next ten years. Like Sacred Debris, our primary focus was history but we also branched out into more recent modification culture with convention coverage, chat rooms and personals and profiles of contemporary piercers and tattooists. Never the biggest (the BME juggernaut was impossible to compete with) we managed to stay true to the mission of documenting body modification culture from ritual, sexual, aesthetic and extreme with content that often wasn’t available elsewhere. Our archives were responsible for seeding the original incarnation of BME/Extreme, which opened the floodgates of what was then a very closed community of surgical body modification devotees. encouraging them to send in photos of their own modifications and ultimately influencing Shannon and I to create the ModCon events.
I am reminded of how very, very, VERY different my life (and by extension, BME, and by extension of that, a lot of other people’s lives as well) would be if I hadn’t met Shawn at exactly the right moment … If I’d met him earlier or later it wouldn’t have been even remotely the same — it had to be that moment for all the pieces to fit. I am proud to have been a catalyst for change and growth in a lot of people’s lives, but in this case, it was Shawn that was the catalyst in my life. On one hand it’s amazing how life-changing sequences birth from chance and coincidence, and on the other hand, duh, what else would genesis be? ~ Shannon Larratt September 1st 2012
In 2005, a decade after the initial launch of the site, BME’s server suffered a major crash and the majority of the spcO directory was lost; my backups were sloppy and incomplete and, partially motivated by the work I was putting into the SCARWARS events/blog I decided to not recover the site, ending it’s run with gratitude for everyone who had viewed the site and participated in it’s ten year tenure.
In late 2013 I discovered a cd-rom of old spcO images and began posting them on my personal facebook page. The flood of nostalgia encouraged me to reconnect with some old friends, rescan old images (spcO’s average image size was 640×40 at a 72dpi resolution) and start talking to trusted confidants about maybe resurrecting SPC as a blog. Ultimately I decided to go further back than spc, back to my old print/glue/staple body modification zine Sacred Debris, but without spc and it’s legacy I doubt any of this would have happened.
So happy 20th anniversary to the Shawn Porter Collection (online). It was a lot of fun and certainly helped shaped my 20s.
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.
Ten years ago today I was nervously pacing in a Port Richmond 1 warehouse, hoping that the months of planning the inaugural Scarwars event- from assembling the artists, hand picking the attendees, making sure the photographers had what they needed and praying that the warehouse owner believed my ‘we’re shooting pornography, please give us our privacy’ cover story- would be enough to make sure that the weekend would go off without a hitch.
We made some amazing memories that weekend; the artists made some beautiful scars and while there were some glitches (the gentleman walking around dripping blood comes to mind) by and large it ended up being one of the most laid back events I’ve ever hosted. In the decade that followed we’ve seen decorative scarification flourish; while not getting the same widespread acceptance that tattooing and body piercing are currently enjoying people are finally starting to come around to the idea that a cutting isn’t always mutilation and that sometimes our scars make us stronger. I hope that in some small way we had something to do with that.
I’ve asked SW1 staff, artists 2 and guests to share a memory from the event- here are their stories:
Angela (Medical Liaison)
As someone who was relatively new to the BME community and also now as “modified” as others, this event was extremely inclusive. I attended as a spectator as well as someone on the medical/biohazard team. A very distinct memory, may it be good or bad, was of a young gentleman who had just got some work done and was walking around shirtless. He happen to drip blood EVERYWHERE. I followed the blood trail to him, cleaning up as I went. Finally as I got to him, I drew a circle on the floor and told him he wasn’t allowed outside of the circle…. Over the years of scar wars, this def happened less and less as people were much more aware of themselves… But that was the first… Oh yeah, and I was topless for most of it.
Brian (Staff Fixer)
When you asked us to look back at the inaugural Scar Wars, I literally had to go through pictures and re-read diary entries to jog my memory. After being flooded with nostalgia and thoughts of “I miss them”, I searched for what it was like those important days. It was hectic. I remember being the first ones there and the last to leave almost everyday. My role in the event was a catch all. I documented what I could, helped wherever possible, and most of all was privileged to witness amazing humans enduring painful experiences that ended with huge smiles. Being part of the chaos was grueling at the time, but come 10 years later it stands out as a defining moment of my life. i also can’t believe how many titties there were.
My memories of Scar Wars are mostly about the people who attended. Many friends from around the world who I was meeting for the first time or seeing together in one place when they usually were so far apart. I had seen scarification done many times, but not in such a concentrated group of skilled practitioners, and it was great to walk around the room and watch them all work. The collaborative spirit was something that struck me as well- so many artists with different styles and techniques, all willing to share information and learn from one another. It and the subsequent Scar Wars events are some of the most positive memories I have of any body modification event I’ve ever attended.
Jesse Villemaire (Scarification Artist)
Scar Wars had so many great memories! 10 years later and I’m still proud to be friends with many of these great artists. I remember connecting with Ron Garza immediately as he put a camera crew in my face to interview me as soon as I arrived. Ron then made me comfortable and allowed me to ask as many stupid questions as I needed too in order to excel my techniques.
I also had the honor of collaborating with Brian Decker on a large bamboo scar piece on Corinna’s back. Corinna dealt with every emotion possible as many friends were coaching her through this intense project…still so unreal. It wasn’t just about cutting people, it was about bonding on a level that’s hard to describe.
The enjoyment of learning with many others, realizing there’s multiple ways to create a scar, watching Dave create “shading” with his cross hatching technique, seeing other artists collaborating for the very first time…it was all very inspiring.
Scar Wars is a significant part of our history. Thanks Shawn for having a vision that brought so many talented people from around the world to showcase the art we were truly passionate about.
Ryan Ouellette (Scarification Artist)
Scar Wars was the first time that I felt like I was part of a larger scarification community and that I really had colleagues in it. I knew there were other people out there doing it and getting it but I was in this little bubble of only seeing my pieces and only knowing my techniques and aftercare. Being able to watch other people doing it really helped me expand my own methods. I grew a lot from that experience and scarification really came into its own as a respectable art form, rather than just an internet fad.
Allen Falkner (Photographer)
So many fond memories form that weekend. Sadly most stories cannot be shared with the public due the nature of the indiscretions and the people involved.
Scar Wars was an intensely personal experience among friends and strangers, unique in a way that doesn’t feel possible anymore. I got cut at Scar Wars and love it ten years later, but it was not the most memorable thing about the event. What I remember most was an inherent trust in the people I was surrounded by that I’ve since learned is rare. It is hard to put succinctly into words how this event (and others like it) helped me personally grow. I’ll leave it to a simple thank you to everyone involved.
Shawn Porter: (Host)
The first Scarwars was fun. It was supposed to be serious, life changing, important.. but more than anything it was fun. The staff worked overtime (literally) to make sure that by the time I walked in the door everything had been taken care of so I was free just to enjoy myself and have a good time. Everything lined up perfectly and I was humbled to be part of something that meant as much to the artists and guests as it did for me.
I received this tracing along with a direct photocopy of JJ’s hands in September of 1997 after striking up a friendship with him through the UNIQUE mailing list. I had started collecting hand tracings a few years previous to our correspondence and when I asked him for tracings of his hand he happily obliged, adding the drawings of his reshaped bone structure on several of them. All of his amputations were self done.