During the planning stages of the fourth ModCon event I received a call from our patron, Shannon Larratt of BMEZINE, asking what I was thinking about for an event tshirt. By that point most of us had a closet full of black t-shirts from other events so I suggested we think about using navy blue to lighten things up a little bit but still keep it dark enough that we retained our gothy street cred. With that agreed on, and with it being the fourth Modcon, I also asked if we could politely borrow the iconic Fantastic Four logo from Marvel and mash it up with the iconic split penis that had been on all of the other Modcon tees.
In less than a day Shannon whipped something up that made us both laugh and remains one of my favorite event shirts.
Earlier today my old friend Janice posted this photo of her MC4 shirt on Instagram; I love seeing it cracked and worn down but still obviously very much loved.
The first time I met Dennis Avner- Stalking Cat- in person was at Pierson International Airport in Toronto the night before ModCon3. We picked him up in the huge passenger van that was rented for the weekend, offered him dinner which he politely refused and brought him to his hotel, which caused quite a stir with the reception staff who’d never seen a human tiger before.
He proved to be quite a character. In the years that I knew him I never saw his back and chest tattoos in person, so these photos were quite a find. Facial tattoos by Larry Hanks, 1985.
Dennis Avner August 27, 1958 – November 5, 2012.
Top photo features tattoo legend Bob Shaw, scanned from 4×6 print. 1980s photos scanned from 3×5 prints. ModCon photo of Philip Barbosa, Erik Sprague and Dennis Avner ©2001 Bme/ModCon.
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.
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!
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.
The full import is finally complete on SUBINCISION FUN, the video originally submitted to the spcOnline site in 1996/7 by my friend JM 1 2, who was one of the most fascinating and genuine modification fans I met through Ken Schein’s UNIQUE mailing list during the tenure of my subscription. He was a renaissance man and a true gentleman, preferring to “not cuss around Ladies” and giving his lecture on ‘Tens Units for Pain Management in Body Modification’ at the 1999 ModCon event using the word doodlehanger in place of penis as not to offend.
When we started corresponding his letter usually derailed quickly from our modification talk and we’d share stories of travel, kinky sex and adventure. J was an edge player who got into modification through sexual exploration; if putting things in your penis felt good, he reasoned, it would make sense to split the underside open to expose even more of the sensitive urethra. He recorded his adventures- photographs, VHS tapes and plaster molds of his cutting progress which he’d share with other modification fans he met along the way.
One of the most hardcore bits of play from his contribution was- and I can’t emphasize do not try this at home enough– urethral sounding with a ballon filled with mercury 3. He claimed to have been turned on by the surging of the mercury inside of his penis. A rubber band was tied to the balloon and secured over his glans to avoid the balloon going further than expected.
This short clip features him inserting the balloon in his urethra. I’ve seen this footage dozens of times and it still makes fills me with a nervous awe.
Sandbox members: the extended edit is up for you folks. Enjoy!
- J: Subincision Interview ↩
- J: Story of a Subincision ↩
- Symptoms of mercury poisoning include: tremors; emotional changes (e.g., mood swings, irritability, nervousness, excessive shyness); insomnia; neuromuscular changes (such as weakness, muscle atrophy, twitching); headaches; disturbances in sensations; changes in nerve responses; performance deficits on tests of cognitive function. At higher exposures there may be kidney effects, respiratory failure and death. ↩
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.