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 1995, my spcOnline was a fledgling body modification site hosted on America Online. AOL. As an ISP, they seemingly had no problem with the body modification content I was posting but I was TOS’d and my site removed over a topless photo of adult film star Nina Hartley that was part of an article I had written on my personal diary page.
Shannon Larratt graciously offered unlimited server space on the BME servers, with no prohibition on content, where my site remained for a decade before I finally retired it in 2005. My time with BME, Shannon and his wife Rachel helped spawn BME/Extreme, ModCon, and Scarwars and directly influenced Occult Vibrations and Sacred Debris.
Fifteen years after first meeting her, I still rely on Rachel for an ear to bend when I’ve got a new idea for a project or just a funny, snarky story to tell at three in the morning. She’s been through a lot over the last few years and she still does her best to keep things going. Recently her home and the majority of her belongings were damaged in a natural disaster in South Carolina.
The fine folks @ Metadope have put out two rad BME patches with funds going to help Rachel and Ari.
Grab some patches, support 20 years of Body Modification documentation and have a happy Halloween!
Modification: Ear lobe stretching/cartilage piercing.
Client: Shannon Larratt
Location: Toronto, Ontario.
Year: 1992-1994 (date unknown)
Original Source: spcOnline
When I first started the spcOnline site in October of 1995 it mostly consisted of photos from my own collection; pictures I’d taken or inherited made up the majority of the content for the first few months but occasionally we’d get reader submissions. This one was one of the earliest, submitted by and featuring BME founder Shannon Larratt’s early progress with ear lobe stretching.
This photo previously appeared on spcOnline as well as the Sacred Debris tumblr feed.
This photo was originally submitted to my spcOnline site in 1998 and features BME’s Shannon Larratt and Tim Cridland (aka Zamora the Torture King) showing off their split tongues. In 1998 tongue had yet to achieve the popularity it’s currently enjoying:
At the first Modcon in 1999 my split tongue was a novelty and, as I recall, the only one present other than Shannon’s. Between hosting many of the splits at my house and Shannon’s network of people and practitioners via BME we could say that at that time we probably knew personally or could at least name most of the split tongues in the world. This would soon change.- Erik Sprague 1
By the last ModCon event, tongue splitting had reached a level where it was no longer on the qualifications list for entry.
I woke up this morning to find my social networking streams full of photos of Shannon Larratt; bearded and serious, monastic and stoic with motivational quotes accompanying them. It’s been two years since he passed away; who he was will, in time, be replaced by who people want him to have been.
Those of us who knew him- who laughed with him, fought with him, spoke to him every day or had spats where we didn’t speak for months- who remember the good, the bad and the ugly of him- have a responsibility to remind the people who are looking for a prophet or a guru that behind it all there was just a dude. A funny, good hearted dude who was as frail and fallible, as strong and as sure as anyone else. Shannon was a man, not a meme.
My memory of Shannon for today is how my friendship with him profoundly affected my wardrobe. I never left a meeting with Shannon Larratt without having at least one t-shirt gifted (or forced upon) to me. Some were funny. Some were bad. Some had his face on them. Some had genitals on them. A lot of them had genitals on them. I’d say “no thanks man, I already have 200 BME shirts” and somehow I’d still end up leaving with a bag stuffed with them.
This photo finds Shannon pleasantly drunk at his house in La Paz, Mexico having one of my Scarwars shirts forced on him. That BMEFest- 2005- was hands down the best BME event I ever attended. It was all smiles, laughter, good times and just one more beer.
It’s been a strange trip, but one I’m certainly glad to have been on with him.
I can’t remember when Shannon Larratt submitted these to the spcOnline site; sometime in the late 1990s seems right but I’m honestly not quite sure. The 4″x6″ photos showed up in my Post Office Box with a note that’s long since been lost.
The piercings- vertical lowbrets- were performed by Tom Brazda at Toronto’s Stainless Studios. Brazda was one of a small handful of highly influential piercers who emerged out of the early 1990s scene. His contributions to the piercing scene have been immeasurable if not regrettably overlooked.
According to the BME/Encyclopedia:
The vertical lowbret piercing starts inside the mouth between the lower lip and the teeth (not behind the teeth as with a mandible piercing) and travels straight down, exiting on the lower edge of the jawline. This piercing is usually done with a straight or very slightly bent barbell 1.5″ to 2″ in length depending on anatomy.
Healing is usually uneventful, although the piercing can be quite sore at first. Gum erosion is also a risk depending on placement. In some cases there may be some transfer of fluid from inside the mouth to the outside of the piercing.
I can’t remember the situation that led Shannon Larratt and I to have to cancel the first iteration of the 4th ModCon event in 2003; I’ve looked at old emails and IAM entries and haven’t been able to jog my memory.
What I can recall is that an event was planned to coincide with a BMEFest/Toronto Suscon weekend but for whatever reason we cancelled with very little notice, leaving folks who had secured travel/hotels in a bit of a bind. 1
Then Maryland based Body Piercer Sean Philips and I quickly organized a partial event for attendees who had already booked travel; and with very little turnaround time we were able to do a truncated hotel event, calling it ModCon 3.5.
The list of procedures was considerable smaller than other events- A tongue splitting, some transdermal implants, a transcrotal and a glans splitting if I recall correctly- but we still had a good time.
Unlike previous ModCons- the tshirt went out to attendees a few weeks later, and featured the ModCon logo over the Borneo Rosette that I had been using for spcOnline image tags. The back of the shirt read “ModCon 3.5- Not a drop spilled” as a little barb to some of our cross contamination issues at MC3.
This sample was emailed to me for approval before the shirts were printed.
I went on to host a full fledged ModCon 4 in 2004.
- Other 3.5 attendees have reminded me that with the BMEfest event moving to Tweed Ontario, it shook things up and facilitated the need to cancel the event. ↩
Before the first ModCon book, which covered the first and second events, there was a limited run ModCon 1999 Event CD available on CD-Rom. It was basic HTML formatted with three size gallery options for the photographs that included printable resolution images of Toronto’s Philip Barbosa amazing black and white portraits.
Other ModCon media includes two books, a vcd and a dvd of procedural footage.
“Memory is what we are. Your very soul and your very reason to be alive are tied up in memory.”- Nick Cave
In the nearly 20 years that I knew Shannon Larratt we found ourselves in plenty of situations that became fodder for epic stories; drunken nights doing vinegar shots and stumbling to Pizza Pizza to sober us up, planning out the marketing on ModCock sex toys and even arguing the ethics of starting an event for cannibalism fetishists that was something straight out of Gaiman’s the Doll’s House storyline….
Very few of my best memories of him have anything to do with what brought us together in the first place; as our friendship went on we talked less and less about body modification and more about the dorky pursuits and hobbies that occupied our time.
When this photo was taken in early 1998 in Detroit Michigan- and apologies for using the original 1998 72dpi scan- we were eating candy, planning the first ModCon and arguing whether mutual masturbation before a hockey game was necessary for a win. When my copy of the second Modcon book arrived in the mail the inscription read “Shawn- my next book is about hockey- on so many levels.” I’m still not sure what he meant by that, but I’m sure we would have won the game.
Today would have been Shannon’s 41st birthday; he’s very dearly missed.