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.
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Video of the non-modification portions of our 1998 chat has been archived, but since it’s just 3am ramblings between a few friends hasn’t been shared publicly.
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.
It’s been eighteen years, give or take a month or two, since this photograph of Shannon Larratt was taken. I’ve posted about that day before, 1 citing it as the meeting where we came up with the concept that would grow into the ModCon events 2 and how it impacted the future of the BME and SPC sites. It was also a night where we stayed up talking until after sun-rise, sharing stories buzzed on caffeine and candy and not taking ourselves too seriously.
Shannon was wearing a classic BME.FreeQ.com shirt that day; you can see a little bit of the logo in the photograph.
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.
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Most of us perceive time as something linear that we move or progress through from start to finish. The Inuit believe that time moves through us in a repeating and cyclical fashion; from this they have the word Uvatiarru, meaning both “in the past” and “in the future” at the same time. There are truths that are revealed in the passage of time, and when they are forgotten, the are discovered again on the next cycle. – Shannon Larratt
I just finished doing a data-dump to my backup drive of September’s raw video files; in total I managed to import and archive about 60gb of unedited video content last month with subjects ranging from oral histories to surgical procedural footage. The majority of the import was for archival only, with no immediate plans for the video to appear here on the SD blog.
It’s an often intimidating amount of data, with each imported analog media cassette’s video being split into multiple segments. As the files moved from laptop(s) to the backup drive I started thinking about BMEZINE founder Shannon Larratt’s ultimately unrealized Uvatiarru film project. DV cameras were sent to BME fans all over the world, their content returned to Shannon for inclusion into the finished film.
Like the hundreds of clips transferring to my digital archive, Shannon’s video contributions kept coming in; the Cured (which was the original name of the documentary) US tour, the British Virgin Islands tapes, piercer Jon Cobb’s trip to Myanmar, Vietnam, and Cambodia… all of those segments just waiting to be stitched together and reformed into something greater than the sum of it’s parts…
A website popped up, as with most of Shannon’s projects, with a mission statement and a few stills and trailers. Ultimately the film was never to be completed.
At least three trailers were cut for the film, including this ‘behind the scenes’ trailer featuring Jon Cobb.
Most of us perceive time as something linear that we move or progress through from start to finish. The Inuit believe that time moves through us in a repeating and cyclical fashion; from this they have the word Uvatiarru, meaning both “in the past” and “in the future” at the same time. There are truths that are revealed in the passage of time, and when they are forgotten, the are discovered again on the next cycle.
Rites of the body are humanity’s earliest known form of communication with each other and with the spirit world — as far back as 30,000 years we see everything from simple tattooing to rituals involving amputation of digits by shaman. Over the past 500 years we humans have done our best to mask and even expunge these carnal voices, but they can not be silenced because they are who we are. Our bodies are vessels for these acts; we are designed, by hand of god or by hand of fate, to use our bodies to be the voice of the universe.
All over this world people are responding to a growing feeling inside them, each in their own way and with their own dance, but driven by the same underlying unifying heartbeat. Some dance with a heritage and guidance, but most don’t know the names for the passions that drive them. A wind gathers in them and around them and we’re watching it sweep through the world as we finally realize that the ultimate purpose of billions of unique puzzle pieces in different shapes and colors is to, through the strength of their differences, complete the puzzle that tells us who we are and what we are here to do.
The movie Uvatiarru attempts to take a picture of this storm.
Shot on location in over a dozen countries with hundreds performance artists, social deviants, and modern shaman, Uvatiarru is the result of nearly ten years of preparation and filming by Shannon Larratt and BMEzine.com. The film features amazing performances including all manner of body modification, suspension, piercings, body part removals and reshapings, fireplay, astral travel, and adventure.
Uvatiarru is currently scheduled for theatrical release in July 2004 with a double-DVD edition being released later with hours of bonus footage and several behind the scenes features. Bookmark this website to stay up to date on all the details.
Source: www.zentastic.com, Uvatiarru content ©2004-2015 bmezine.com
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.
Original Source: 8mm Video Tape.
Conversion Source: 8mm Video Tape.
Location: Detroit, Michigan.
Subject: Shannon Larratt (bme)
Interviewer: Shawn Porter (spcOnline, Sacred Debris).
I’m not sure if I can give a good reason as to the real reasons behind why I wanted it done. The general concept had already been interesting to me, but whether it was something that I needed on some level is highly debatable… Back then I did a lot of experimenting with my body, so maybe it was as simple as curiosity..- Shannon Larratt 1
This video was shot in a Detroit, Michigan hotel room in 1998 and features BME founder Shannon Larratt and I discussing the process of having his tongue surgically split by Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon Dr. Lawrence Busino as well as a brief history of it’s contemporary origins. 2
This was the first time Shannon and I had met in person after years of online communication and comes from a larger conversation most of which isn’t body modification related.
I had a Tumblr message asking for more posts from piercing’s “middle school” era, so I dug out one of the 1990s albums and found these shots, submitted to the spcO site back in the late 1990s by Shannon Larratt of BMEZINE.COM. I’m not sure I ever actually added them to the site back then.
During the mid/late 1990s piercers challenged the ‘if it protrudes, pierce it” ethic of the previous generation, trying out new piercings, new techniques, new jewelry and aftercare. Sometimes things worked out, sometimes they didn’t, but the experimentation was integral to the evolution of the modern piercing community.