Still Staying Calm

As I get older- 40 this year- mortality is becoming much more of a real thing for me. I sometimes reference Indiana Jones IV when talking about getting older and seeing the people I love leaving me: “We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away” and it’s true. I look at the people in our community who have moved on to whatever comes next- Jack Yount, Keith Alexander, Shannon Larratt, Josh Burdette and countless other amazing personalities I’ve been lucky to have known over the years and I try my best to be thankful for the time I was given with them instead of dwelling on the sadness of losing them. The nights where we’d stay up till five am just bullshitting about everything and nothing, all for the satisfaction of seeing how far we could take it- whatever it was. Body Modification, movies, art, some joke that as the years have passed I can’t even remember but the memory of telling it on Shannon’s couch on Bathurst street, drunk out of our minds doing shots of aged vinegar and being total goobers. Even the bad times still bring a smile to my face.

I’m  sad that Shannon will be remembered ‘just’ because of Body Modification; he was so much more than that. An artist. A father. A husband. A writer. Someone who’s contributions to social networking will go largely unmentioned in an age of Tom Anderson and Mark Zuckerberg, but Shannon’s contributions to the field- not just the ability to communicate with people all over the world, but to really connect with them- has made an incredible mark in the lives of those of us who were part of the BME community of sites. It wasn’t just a place to share what you had for dinner or funny pictures of your cat; we communicated, man. We talked. When we were having a bad time- the whole community had our back.

A year ago today… It was rough. It’s still rough from time to time, but… the photo above? Those people, people I met through Shannon and his work with BME? We still have each other’s backs.  A month after Shannon passed away we got together and instead of mourning- we celebrated. People came from all over. We played in the park. Told stories. Met children that were born as a result of their parents meeting on BME and falling in love. Jewelry companies and modification artists donated products and services that we raffled off during a bacchanal at the bar my family owns, raising $3600 for Shannon and Rachel’s daughter Ari. In the year that’s followed I’m more connected with my ‘BME friends’ than I had been in years.

I would rather have a world with Shannon Larratt in it- even when we were spatting- than one without. But I’m glad to have had him in my life for as long as I did.

For the post I wrote when Shannon passed- and the eulogy I delivered at the 2013 APP Conference:
Discarded Reliquaries/Stay Calm. 

For photos from the Stay Calm Philadelphia Event: Stay Calm Philadelphia


Shawn Porter has spent the majority of his life in the modification world. As a body modification archivist and documentarian, he has one of the most extensive collections of documents relating to the early American body modification community in existence. He edited the SPC website from 1995 to 2005, co-founded ModCon, was the host of ModCons 3.5 and 4, and created and hosted The Scarwars Project from 2004-2007. In 2011 Shawn launched Occult Vibrations, a blog devoted to traditional American tattoos with a focus on the occult and esoteric. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife Julia and their creepy pets Mr. Bailey Papers and L. RonBenet Ramsey.


  1. it was an amazing gathering of extraordinary people. i loved seeing familiar faces and getting to know new ones.

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