Category Archives: Scarwars.net

ScarWars Two: Lotus

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According to my external hard drive “Wintermute” there are somewhere around 1,500 official photos from the ScarWars2 event that took place in February of 2006. That’s not counting the photos from artists/clients/attendees that I’ve never seen.

These images- #974 and #972 from event photographer Atom Moore- features Ron Garza working on a client’s back with the assistance of Thorsten Sekira.

http://www.rongarza.com

Scarwars 2006: 10th Anniversary

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Over the course of the three Scarwars events- two in Philadelphia and our Los Angeles outing in 2006- thousands of photographs were taken by our incredible staff of photographers that captured every aspect of the shows; procedurals, portraits, candids and even after hours hotel chicanery and there are probably still dozens if not hundreds of photographs from attendees that even I haven’t seen. It’s almost impossible to pick a single favorite but I always said that if/when we ever do a Scarwars book this 2006 photo by Rachel Larratt of Richmond, Virginia’s Josh Burgh 1 would end up on the cover.

I’m not sure if that makes it my favorite, but if not it’s damn close.

I wrote a long winded and absurdly sentimental piece on the impact the first Scarwars event had on my life that can be found here: http://sacreddebris.com/scarwarsten (as well as an ‘evolution of a subculture’ piece that can be found http://sacreddebris.com/evolution-of-a-subculture-scarwars1-2005) and had considered doing the same for SWII for it’s tenth anniversary; instead, I’ll share what my friend JL had to say about it:

I went to ScarWars for a lot of reasons. I went because friends I don’t get to see all that often would be there. I went because I’d never been to a modded convention and I was curious to learn what they were about. One reason I chose to go to ScarWars specifically had a lot to do with the fact that scarification has meant a lot to me individually, and I wanted to see scarification as a basis of a community. Beyond the intense amounts of fun to be had with the artists, organizers, participants and spectators, I think the thing I really loved about ScarWars was the sense of acceptance that took me in from the minute I arrived. I’ve always believed that preps, punks and hipsters are much more discriminatory toward the non-conforming than certain subcultures are to the mainstream. This was undoubtedly true of the people I met at ScarWars. The simple fact that I showed up and was interested in the work was all that was necessary for me to feel like I had every right and everything to gain from being there. My own experience with scarification gave me something to love about my body. Beyond that, it gave me a focus for graduate work. And at ScarWars, it gave me a community.- J.L.

We always did our best to make the events about more than just modification; the sense of community was equally important and letting everyone know that they were on equal standing- from artists to clients to the volunteers who made sure that the event went smoothly- was always our top priority and is why when I go back through the stacks of photographs (digital, which is never quite as satisfying as analog) my eye is most frequently drawn to the candid moments of the Scarwars guests and artists casually chatting, sharing a story and a laugh before blood was drawn. A decade later and that’s what I remember most; the Storm Trooper (in full Imperial White with a blaster ready for action) guarding the door, “Coop fishing” using our friend Walnut as bait, sitting around the complex bar after the event ended of the night and raising hell… all of that stands out more than a cutting or two.

Thanks to the staff, artists and clients who made the event what it was- I truly couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without them.

Notes:

  1. Scarification by Brian Decker, NYC

sw2_3235: Dave Gillstrap

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Event: Scarwars 2.
Location: Los Angeles.
Year: February 2006.
Photographer: Rachel Larratt.
Subject: Dave Gillstrap.

My wife and I took a much needed week long roadtrip for Thanksgiving; Philadelphia to Asheville North Carolina, Asheville to Atlanta Georgia and back to Philly, checking out the sights, seeing family and just unwinding from all of our responsibilities. I had packed my laptop and had a few blog entries ready to go out, but you know how it goes with vacations…

I’ve been focusing a lot on the 1970s lately, so I figured a 2000s post may be a welcome change. This 2006 photo, by BME’s Rachel Larratt, features scarification artist Dave Gillstrap at the second Scarwars event in Los Angeles. For the event portraits I asked our photographers to go very simple, white backgrounds and neutral lighting to let the personality of the subject stand out.

DPBSPC: Scalpelled Tongue

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In the photo: Dustin, Phil, Blair.
Procedure: Scalpelled Tongue Piercing.
Artist: Blair.
Year: Unknown. 2001?
Source: spcOnline

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!

 

In deference to Slack

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Dealing with technology that’s older than some of the readers of this blog comes with a certain level of frustration. Courting donations, finding the tech we need and buying it, waiting for it to arrive to find that it’s defective or doesn’t suit the needs of the project, starting the returns/refund process and then sitting in a holding pattern before you start the whole thing over again has burned me out a little on regular updates.

I have a replacement 8mm VCR en route to Philly and am scouting some digital8/DVC platforms as well, but in the meantime…. I’m enjoying the slack. I should be scanning photos, there are VHS tapes I could be importing… but eh. I think I’m going to let Slack win until the 8mm project gets underway.

I hadn’t planned to update until I had some good news, but once I started thinking about Slack… Flashback to 2006, Los Angeles for Scarwars2- Dave Gillstrap did this fitting tribute to the prophet of Slack himself, J.R. “Bob” Dobbs.

“Moses parted the Red Sea, Oppenheimer split the atom, but “Bob” cut the crap.” – Steve Antczak

[email protected]

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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.

05SW100We 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)
perkperkWhen 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.

Kathleen† (Staff)
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.

Julie (Guest)
SWJULEScar 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)
shawnscarwarsThe 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.

Notes:

  1. Port Richmond is a neighborhood in North Philadelphia, several miles from the downtown area.
  2. The artists at the first ScarWars were Ron Garza, Dave Gilstrap, Vampy, Monte, Jesse Villemaire, Brian Decker and Ryan Ouellette

Ready to Wear: Scarwars 1

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Over the years we made so many event t-shirts that it’s hard to pick a favorite- but if I absolutely had to choose I’d probably go with this Dave Gilstrap design from the first Scarwars in Philadelphia, PA May of 2005.

These were originally made available for pre-order to help generate funds (and interest) for the event and quickly sold out long before we made the first cutting at Scarwars. This was the only design I ever broke my ‘one and done’ promise for with a second printing made available the following year for Scarwars 2, this time featuring an added orange screen for the flame/phoenix.

Ready to Wear: Scarwars 3

DAVESWOne of the most fun parts of hosting any event- from the backyard BBQs to the more organized events like ModCon and Scarwars- was having an excuse to make an event shirt. Long after all of the stresses of organizing a get-together have faded you still have that little reminder in your closet. Maybe a little worn out and not in the best shape, but hell- that’s the way some of us felt after the events were over.

This was one of the designs for the third Scarwars event, hosted in Philadelphia in October 2007. It features artwork by attending cutter Dave Gilstrap and was printed in Philadelphia by Awesome Dudes Printing.

Books of Blood

tumblr_n7ld1tgwpK1town8so1_1280Why then was he so distressed to set eyes upon them? Was it the scars that covered every inch of their bodies, the flesh cosmetically punctured and sliced and infibulated, then dusted down with ash? – Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart

Only nine more days until Halloween and it’s already a damned good fall here in Philadelphia It’s cold and rainy out, I’ve got a ‘mulled cider’ candle making my house smell like an orchard and a horror movie playing on tv as I scroll through photos trying to find spooky halloweeny things to blog.

This photo, by staff photographer Atom Moore, originally ran on Scarwars.net in 2006 and features a fresh cutting on David by New Hampshire’s Ryan Ouellette. Done at the Los Angeles Scarwars event the cutting was designed by horror icon Clive Barker specifically for the client. Barker related tattoos are fairly common, but to my knowledge this is the only time Clive drew a design specifically for scarification. Pretty rad coming from the man who gave us “Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.”

Clive was kind enough to give David a box of signed posters to bring as gifts to the Scarwars II attendees.

 

Phases of Healing: Branding

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I used to run a feature on the Scarwars blog that showed the phases of healing that a cutting or branding went through over a several year span. This branding was one of the most dramatic- a reminder that even when performed by a professional modification artists, sometimes the finished scar can radically change over time.

The initial strike branding (top left) was done in approximately 2005/6. The scar grew significantly over the years- bottom right is 2009 and shows and extreme change in size. The flower cuttings were done in 2009.

The variables in any scarification procedure- past picking a qualified artist- can include genetics, location, aftercare and luck.  The Scarwars blog always did it’s best to give people interested in their first scar a realistic expectation of what could be expected during healing.

(The small ‘dot’ scars next to the Pisces were from a chest suspension. In the four years between the first and last photos you can see that the client’s scars are still very pronounced.)