It’s been thirteen years since we held the first Scarwars event in Philadelphia. Over the years, both on the (now defunct) Scarwars blog and here on Sacred we’ve posted tons of pics from the event(s) and there are still hundreds that have never gone online. Like this photo by SW1 photographer Allen Falkner of Dave Gillstrap working on a cutting with removal.
The design is a mashup of an anatomical heart and a set of brass knuckles; Dave contributed t-shirt designs for the first two events- one featuring an anatomical heart, the other brass knuckles.
Ari – Sean, I always have everyone do a standard introduction to kick these off, so give us a brief bio.
Sean – I’m old, I’ve been everywhere. Ok, so brief history of Sean in bod-mod. Started with Sadistic Sundays at the video bar in 1990, roughly. I think it was right after high school – I was eighteen. Was doing that for a little bit, was just a Sunday night show type thing, and then left town for a while doing the hippie soul searching whatever, did Ren Fairs for a summer just to get away. When I came back Allen Falkner had moved back to Dallas and he and I became friends. I was hanging out with Allen, helping him paint his first room in his first studio when he was just renting space from a furniture store. He rented a room from them which soon turned into a piercing empire. We hung out for another couple years there in Dallas where I helped him attempt his first suspension, which was fishing line and just a ton of piercings. It was absolutely horrible. It lasted like three seconds – the fishing line started to snag and pull through because it was so thin. We look at it now like what the hell were we thinking? But you experiment, you figure shit out. At that time Fakir wasn’t as willing to share the suspension information with Allen; he did later, so until then there was a lot of us just looking at videos and guessing. Continue reading →
Earlier today while procrastinating on the first wave of proof reading the Better Safe than Ari interview with Séan McManus, I was doing my normal mindless scroll through my Facebook timeline, hoping against hope of less mindless political bickering and more pictures of people’s pets; the lament of life in the age of social media. As I scrolled past pictures of what my friends had for dinner or check-ins at various movie theaters and restaurants I saw no less than two photos of friends hanging from hooks in their skin. The photos were peppered with comments, positive comments, from friends and family. One had a “I knew you could do it!” encouraging post from the suspendee’s mother.
None of this would be possible without the contributions of Sean McManus (director) and Allen Falkner (primary subject) of The Marionette. Sean’s film- back when films were actually shot ON film- is a nodal point in the advancement of body ritual/body art in Western Culture. And it was a by/for production; the people involved in the film were also involved in body suspension. Predatory media often sees body modification as a quick and lurid bit of exploitation. “Look at THESE freaks” is a call older than Barnum. What The Marionette achieves is the removal of the shock value of a pretty shocking process. It’s accessible. At times emotional. And always entertaining.
The suspension community has changed a lot since it’s filming, but anyone who is interested in body-as-medium owes a great debt to this film, and you should absolutely have a copy in your collection.
Blair, Dustin, Dave Vidra and Tom Brazda @ NIX. Photo courtesy of Dustin Sharrow.
How do you introduce Tom Brazda? Seriously, I’m asking you, how the fuck do you even begin to summarize a titan like him? If you pierce, you’ve at least heard his name mentioned. He’s a fucking legend. And next time you speak about him in the past tense, stop it – Tom never stopped kicking ass and taking names. He’s been gracious enough to wax intellectual with us, so y’all turn off your cell phones and read closely – Tom deserves your undivided attention.
Ari – Tom, give us a brief introduction
Tom – My name is Tom Brazda, I started piercing in an amateur way around 1989. I went professional in 1991, so 28 years of experience of watching things happen.
Ari – I would love to start earlier with some of the first experiences you had with piercing before you were a piercer. Were you getting pierced before you got into the business?Continue reading →
Red(head) in Tooth and Claw A night shmoozing with the sweetest hooker in the biz.
Dana and I actually talked about how nice Dana is. Renowned not just for his piercing and suspension work, but for being all around such a fucking nice guy. From his early come-ups in California to veering off into being one of the most notable suspension practitioners, taking his skills all over the world at suscons, Dana is truly one of those old heads that’s seen some dynamic shifts the industry has taken and rolled with the punches. We sat down to talk about his introduction to suspension, the ebb of ritual, and why age helps lock down the sweet spot of professionalism in the piercing room.
Ari – Let’s do the really generic usual intro, except I want you to do it for both piercing and suspension.
Dana – The beginning of my piercing career was pretty straightforward, I was able to start an apprenticeship and attend the Gauntlet beginning training seminars the second year I believe they were offered, 1993. I don’t remember if it was the second year or not. I took the Gauntlet seminars at 17. Sharrin was running the seminar, Sharrin from the NY Gauntlet, she was a real awesome old school Psychic TV head. I “never really finished my apprenticeship” according to Jerry Metzler (Shiva) but as far as all purposes were concerned I was piercing full time by myself, with Julian Ganesha in and out of the shop because he had another full time job to pay his bills. This was in Fresno at a shop called Spear of Shiva. In 1999 I made the move to San Diego to work at Superfly, and then got an offer to move up to Portland and I was there for a few years. My introduction to suspension started a little bit more in 1999/2000, when I got involved with the San Diego crew, and once I got to Portland it was really heavy, I moved to Portland, walked into doing performances once a month at Fetish Night for five or six years straight. Continue reading →
The folks at PS Media are running an Indiegogo campaign to assist in the publication of an updated version of the classic Stelarc book The Obsolete Body. Campaign perks include volume discounts on multiple copies, postcards, posters and other books released by PSM.
When PS Media approached Stelarc to suggest that we could run a new edition of Obsolete Body, his immediate response was that it would be more interesting to publish a new book that contains a complete presentation of his suspension performances, as well as new articles and a different selection of images. We agreed immediately! It is with great pride and joy that we can now announce that PS Media will publish Stelarc’s new book: Stretched Skin—Obsolete, Uncertain and Indifferent Body.
Stretched Skin will focus on Stelarc’s suspension performances—from the very first in 1976 to the most recent in in 2012, including the collaborations with Håvve Fjell and Wings of Desire in 2012 and 2013. The book will also contain some of Stelarc’s other performances; where they have direct relevance to, or lead up to, the suspension series.
Stretched Skin will be a work of art in itself. It is a book on art by an artist, with layout and design by our award winning team. PS Media takes great pride in publishing high quality books. Our choice of printer and materials is made with careful consideration to professional and ethical standards, so that our customers receive a high quality work that they will be proud to own and display in the years to come.
You can find out more here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/stretched-skin-a-book-by-stelarc-photography-art#/
A few weeks ago, some twelve years after it’s launch, I nuked the Scarwars.net blog. It was a long time coming but pulling the plug was strangely anti-climactic. Still, in the decade it was online the site hosted some damn fine content, so from time to time we’ll be featuring highlights here on Sacred Debris.
These photos (by Allen Falkner) date back to May of 2005 and feature Tom’s jaw-dropping full torso scarification by Dave Gillstrap. It remains one of my favorite large-scale cuttings.
In 2014 the Sacred Debris project received a generous donation of 1990s/early 2000s video cassettes from influential piercer/scarification artist/suspension practitioner Ron Garza chronicling the early years of his career. In late 2016 we’re going to roll out a sponsorship campaign (an ‘adopt a cassette’ if you will) to help permanently preserve, archive and share Ron’s contributions.
This video from 1997 features Ron, Steve Joyner (who’s celebrating his 46th birthday today) and a host of other performers in a piece called NATIVE URGES. My intention was to cut it down to ‘best of’ clips but ultimately decided to publish it in it’s original run time.
Going through 575 photos from the 2008 Rites of Passage Campout (taken by Robin Scott/Phoenixxx Rising) made several things abundantly clear to me; that of all the suspension events I’ve attended the campouts were always my favorite, that Robin took some many photos that it was difficult to pick just a few for this update and most of all that I really miss the offline social aspects of the community. Between BMEFESTS, Suscons, Campouts, Bowling with Weirdos, Modcons and the random any excuse parties we used to throw there were so many options to see friends from all over the world. Continue reading →
His flesh was virtually white, his hairless head ritualistically scarred with deep grooves that ran both horizontally and vertically, at every intersection of which a nail had been hammered through the bloodless flesh and into his bone. Perhaps, at one time, the nails had gleamed, but the years had tarnished them. No matter, for the nails possessed a certain elegance, enhanced by the way the demon held his head, as though regarding the world with an air of weary condescension. What ever torments he had planned for these last victims— and his knowledge of pain and its mechanisms would have made the Inquisitors look like school- yard bullies—it would be worsened by orders of magnitude if any one of them dared utter that irreverent nickname Pinhead, the origins of which were long lost in claim and counterclaim. -Clive Barker, The Scarlet Gospels