Tag Archives: 1990s

Modern Sideshow: Bebe the Circus Queen

bebe

From our friends at Wikipedia:
Bebe the Circus Queen (Beatrice Aschard) would perform a variety of stunts such as having a watermelon placed on her back and split with a sword, lying on a bed of nails while weights were placed on her chest… or the “Plastic Bag Of Death”, where she gets into a large plastic bag and one of the other performers sucks all of the air out with a vacuum cleaner. She would also employ an electric grinder in her act (for example, she would create a shower of sparks from a metal chastity belt covering her groin area).”

Taking classic acts from sideshow and vaudeville and translating them for modern audiences, the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow found themselves with ‘falling ovations’ daily, as people in the crowd would faint (no doubt aided by standing in the sun for hours, binge drinking and enjoyment of recreational party favors) as The Amazing Mr. Lifto performed his take on Rasmus Neilsen’s ‘pierced weight lifting’, upping the ante by including swinging heavy objects from his pierced penis. They’d cover their eyes as The Torture King skewered his cheeks and torso like B. A. Bryant had done decades before while touring with Barnum himself and laugh with relief when ThEnigma, tattooed from head to toe like a jigsaw puzzle did a tattooed clown act- that is until he started geeking live insects.

This was still when piercing culture trended older- 40s, 50s- and youth culture was just starting to discover expressing themselves with tattoos, body piercings, scarification and other avenues of modifying their bodies. Seeing stretched piercings swinging weights live on stage, with Eddie Vedder (or insert rockstar here) joining the cast to oooh and awww had a profound effect.

But the one member of the original troupe that didn’t get much attention was Rose’s partner, Bebe the Circus Queen. She didn’t have the dynamic motormouth of Jim, the pain proof skin of Tim “Torture King” Cridland, the stretched piercings of Joe Lifto… so she often got overlooked when it came to media write-ups of the show.

This may be an odd photo for a body modification history/culture blog in so much as it features no body modification, but without the Jim Rose show’s promotion of piercing/tattoo/modification culture during the transitional years of the early 1990s, things may have played out differently, and without Bebe, the Circus wouldn’t have been what it was.

That and I really liked the photo.

Late 1990s, 35mm print scan.

Jack and Kristian

My earliest piercing experiences with Jack Yount taught me that he came from the bigger-is-better school; at a time when some piercers were starting with initial 14g jewelry, Jack was more prone to starting at 8g. Blake and Kristian at NOMAD SF certainly understood the appeal of large gauge piercings and jewelry, so when Jack visited their shop in 1994 he instantly warmed up to them both. This photo features Kristian and Jack-  if you’d like to read up on an often overlooked face from the early 1990s piercing scene, check out this BME interview conducted by Shannon Larratt: https://news.bme.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/pubring/people/A10101/krist.html

Get Forked

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.

Dare you

If you look at the BME Encyclopedia on it’s founder Shannon Larratt 1 under the subcategory of “Personal Body Modifications” it lists his blackwork forearm tattoos as the result of a dare. While I know the stories behind quite a few of his tattoos (coverup of matching symbols, a love of homoerotic S/M iconography) I can’t say I was privy to the story of being dared to get heavy blackwork half sleeves.

Shannon sent this 4×6 print to me sometime in the 1990s to be published on my spcOnline site.

 

Picture in Picture

When I first approached Jack Yount about the possibility of doing my meatotomy, he gave me a photocopy of a chart of basic line drawings of possible male genital modifications with exotic names like the Full Persian Butterfly and Cobra to educate me on some of the options available. To this day I have no idea where or when the drawings originated, just that Jack had a folder of them ready for anyone interested in his modification work.

The gentleman in these photos may have seen Jack’s chart, detailing the process of forming his own Cobra.

These date back to the late 80s/early 90s.

Shannon Larratt Detroit 1998

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.

Filling in the blanks

It’s been 27 years since I got my first tattoo and while my interest in various disciplines of body modification has changed in focus over the years I find that my desire to be fully tattooed is still as much a goal as it was when I sat down at a biker shop in Georgia and had that first poorly applied one done on my inner forearm.

When Shannon Larratt and I were planning the guest list for the first ModCon event in 1998 (which never happened: Evolution of a Subculture- ModCon 1) we required potential guests to list their modifications and found that tattooing was the most common amongst all of the groups represented. Extreme piercing fans, voluntary amputees, heavy genital modifications- regardless of which modification brought them to us, almost everyone had at least one tattoo.

Here’s modification legend Jack Yount filling in some work on his back, early 1990s. Jack had an impressive roster of body modification procedures but his tattoos, which ranged from the whimsical to the erotic, were probably the most time consuming.

A wish is a dream your heart makes

As my wife and I busily prepare our luggage for this weekend’s trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in (rainy) Orlando, Florida I thought it was only fitting that I put together some very NSFW photos of Jack Yount’s Disney tattoos for archival here at Sacred Debris.

Jack’s quaint little house in Zephyrhills was filled with paintings and statues- mostly homoerotic subject matter but with a noticeable presence of Disneyana; he was a great fan of Mickey Mouse and the Disney animated films and in the early 1990s began a full leg tattoo of iconic Disney moments by Ancient Art’s Just Plain Bud Pierson. The tattoos were a whimsical contrast to Jack’s other more shocking body modifications; the placement of Timothy Mouse 1 shrieking in horror at the sight of his subincised penis was intentionally tongue in cheek.

Jack was very encouraging when I decided on a Disney-themed tattoo for my own back-piece (pictured above at Scarwars2 in LA) by Inksmith & Roger’s Mike Wilson.

The photos include Disney tattoos by Bud, Jack’s pieced, split and silicone enhanced penis and R.S.- the owner of the infamous removed split penis that ended up in a jelly jar.

Halfadravya- Tom Brazda NSFW

JMsubpierce01GMsubpierceI’ve been interested in body art for a long time. I now have a large subincision, head split halfway back, and three pairs of 8 gauge jewelry up both sides of the subincision. If I’m interested in impressing a partner, I put six captive bead rings in the holes, and they’re 3/4″ inside diameter and hard to ignore. If I’m going to the gym to work out I just put in six 8 ga. barbells so when I’m in the shower it isn’t as obvious that I’m carrying around a significant amount of metal. I’ve worked out regularly for the past few years, and nobody has ever commented on or questioned my genital piercings, though occasionally somebody will say something about my unusual tattoos – J. 1

There aren’t many subcultures where you can talk about a penis in terms of being famous or influential. Adult movies, certainly, have had their share of iconic appendages so much so that names of particularly endowed stars from the 1970s and 80s are still currency when talking about larger than average measurements. Our own body modification community, in it’s recent history, has also had it’s own rogues gallery of iconic altered penises like Carl Carrol who appeared originally in PFIQ #15 and GM who was known to BME readers as “J” who’s “story of a subincision” article and videos 2 are frequently cited by clients requesting the procedure as a major inspiration.

Other subincisions had appeared on BME and SPC before J, but his had a certain aesthetic appeal that became the archetype for a split penis. While doing his early self done modification work he was unaware of the larger community that shared his passions, keeping it a secret from all but his most intimate contacts. We met through the UNIQUE mailing list 3 and eventually met in person in 1999 at the first ModCon event in Toronto. When he discovered body piercing it was a novelty to him- I remember an excited letter where he marveled that “they can PIERCE that now??” in reference to a basic genital piercing. The dichotomy always struck me funny- that a man who had disunited his urethra to the scrotum and who used mercury filled balloons as sounding rods had no idea about the piercing scene that ran parallel to heavier modifications.

J travelled to Toronto to meet BME founder Shannon Larratt and stopped by Stainless Studios where he had Tom Brazda do a series of piercings on his split shaft and glans; we affectionately called his reverse Prince Albert a halfadravya because it was the 1990s and making up names for piercings was all the rage. It’s my sincere hope that it in no way influenced the dolphin kisses and panda bites of today.

 

Notes:

  1.  J: A Personal View: BMEZINE.Com Interview by Brian Henderson
  2. http://sacreddebris.com/subincisionfun
  3. Published by BALL CLUB QUARTERLY’S Ken Schein, Unique was a contact zine that offered mail forwarding for modification devotees.