Tag Archives: Shawn Porter

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Video of the non-modification portions of our 1998 chat has been archived, but since it’s just 3am ramblings between a few friends hasn’t been shared publicly.

OVxSD: Best Intentions II

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(Crossposted from Occult Vibrations)

Issue #2 of BEST INTENTIONS magazine is now available. I have an article in it, so any review would be biased; but if you like the stuff we post here on OV you’ll dig it.
http://bestintentionsmagazine.bigcartel.com/product/issue-2

120 pages full colour tattoo magazine including interviews from –

Claudia De Sabe (Seven doors, London)
Dave Fox (Studio One, Philadelphia)
Curt Baer (Iron Mountain, California)
Eterno (OTR)
Patrick Kitzel (Tribal tattoo magazine)

Articles by –

Rosie Vans tattoo travels journal
Mr Gordo Instax view of Seven Doors
Shawn Porter’s Occult Vibrations

Artwork and tattoos by –

Ant Dickinson
James Matthews
Jimmy Duvall
Matt Kerley
Nick Mayes
Sam Ricketts
Teide
Tony Weingartner

Cover by Claudia De Sabe. Includes logo sticker designed by Joseph Aloi JK5.

 

Ready to wear: ModCon4

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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.

 

Evolution of a Subculture: spcOnline

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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.

SPCxBME: Tongue Splitting

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Original Source: 8mm Video Tape.
Conversion Source: 8mm Video Tape.
Year: 1998.
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.

[email protected]

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Ten years ago today I was nervously pacing in a Port Richmond 1 warehouse, hoping that the months of planning the inaugural Scarwars event- from assembling the artists, hand picking the attendees, making sure the photographers had what they needed and praying that the warehouse owner believed my ‘we’re shooting pornography, please give us our privacy’ cover story- would be enough to make sure that the weekend would go off without a hitch.

05SW100We made some amazing memories that weekend; the artists made some beautiful scars and while there were some glitches (the gentleman walking around dripping blood comes to mind) by and large it ended up being one of the most laid back events I’ve ever hosted. In the decade that followed we’ve seen decorative scarification flourish; while not getting the same widespread acceptance that tattooing and body piercing are currently enjoying people are finally starting to come around to the idea that a cutting isn’t always mutilation and that sometimes our scars make us stronger. I hope that in some small way we had something to do with that.

I’ve asked SW1 staff, artists 2 and guests to share a memory from the event- here are their stories:

Angela (Medical Liaison)
As someone who was relatively new to the BME community and also now as “modified” as others, this event was extremely inclusive. I attended as a spectator as well as someone on the medical/biohazard team. A very distinct memory, may it be good or bad, was of a young gentleman who had just got some work done and was walking around shirtless. He happen to drip blood EVERYWHERE. I followed the blood trail to him, cleaning up as I went. Finally as I got to him, I drew a circle on the floor and told him he wasn’t allowed outside of the circle…. Over the years of scar wars, this def happened less and less as people were much more aware of themselves… But that was the first… Oh yeah, and I was topless for most of it.

Brian (Staff Fixer)
perkperkWhen you asked us to look back at the inaugural Scar Wars, I literally had to go through pictures and re-read diary entries to jog my memory. After being flooded with nostalgia and thoughts of “I miss them”, I searched for what it was like those important days. It was hectic. I remember being the first ones there and the last to leave almost everyday. My role in the event was a catch all. I documented what I could, helped wherever possible, and most of all was privileged to witness amazing humans enduring painful experiences that ended with huge smiles. Being part of the chaos was grueling at the time, but come 10 years later it stands out as a defining moment of my life. i also can’t believe how many titties there were.

Kathleen† (Staff)
My memories of Scar Wars are mostly about the people who attended. Many friends from around the world who I was meeting for the first time or seeing together in one place when they usually were so far apart. I had seen scarification done many times, but not in such a concentrated group of skilled practitioners, and it was great to walk around the room and watch them all work. The collaborative spirit was something that struck me as well- so many artists with different styles and techniques, all willing to share information and learn from one another. It and the subsequent Scar Wars events are some of the most positive memories I have of any body modification event I’ve ever attended.

Jesse Villemaire (Scarification Artist)
Scar Wars had so many great memories! 10 years later and I’m still proud to be friends with many of these great artists.  I remember connecting with Ron Garza immediately as he put a camera crew in my face to interview me as soon as I arrived. Ron then made me comfortable and allowed me to ask as many stupid questions as I needed too in order to excel my techniques.

I also had the honor of collaborating with Brian Decker on a large bamboo scar piece on Corinna’s back. Corinna dealt with every emotion possible as many friends were coaching her through this intense project…still so unreal. It wasn’t just about cutting people, it was about bonding on a level that’s hard to describe.

The enjoyment of learning with many others, realizing there’s multiple ways to create a scar, watching Dave create “shading” with his cross hatching technique, seeing other artists collaborating for the very first time…it was all very inspiring.

Scar Wars is a significant part of our history. Thanks Shawn for having a vision that brought so many talented people from around the world to showcase the art we were truly passionate about.

Ryan Ouellette (Scarification Artist)
Scar Wars was the first time that I felt like I was part of a larger scarification community and that I really had colleagues in it. I knew there were other people out there doing it and getting it but I was in this little bubble of only seeing my pieces and only knowing my techniques and aftercare. Being able to watch other people doing it really helped me expand my own methods. I grew a lot from that experience and scarification really came into its own as a respectable art form, rather than just an internet fad.

Allen Falkner (Photographer)
So many fond memories form that weekend. Sadly most stories cannot be shared with the public due the nature of the indiscretions and the people involved.

Julie (Guest)
SWJULEScar Wars was an intensely personal experience among friends and strangers, unique in a way that doesn’t feel possible anymore. I got cut at Scar Wars and love it ten years later, but it was not the most memorable thing about the event. What I remember most was an inherent trust in the people I was surrounded by that I’ve since learned is rare. It is hard to put succinctly into words how this event (and others like it) helped me personally grow. I’ll leave it to a simple thank you to everyone involved.

Shawn Porter: (Host)
shawnscarwarsThe first Scarwars was fun. It was supposed to be serious, life changing, important.. but more than anything it was fun. The staff worked overtime (literally) to make sure that by the time I walked in the door everything had been taken care of so I was free just to enjoy myself and have a good time. Everything lined up perfectly and I was humbled to be part of something that meant as much to the artists and guests as it did for me.

Notes:

  1. Port Richmond is a neighborhood in North Philadelphia, several miles from the downtown area.
  2. The artists at the first ScarWars were Ron Garza, Dave Gilstrap, Vampy, Monte, Jesse Villemaire, Brian Decker and Ryan Ouellette

Una más cerveza

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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.

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Mail Call

10346362_10205313162736072_1248252913514474697_nToday wasn’t quite the horrific Snow Day that local meteorologists called for, but with 1/8″ of snow on the ground I used it as motivation to do a little cleaning around the house, starting with unsorted boxes in my closet. Years of correspondence were lost in one of my moves (from Florida to Philadelphia, I’d bet) but there are still a few boxes of mail that were saved from that fate so after a trip to Target to buy more Rubbermaid bins I took to the task of sorting twenty year old letters and hopefully making headway with the creating of a filing system.

Some of the highlights so far:

A letter from the editor of ‘Epidermal Intrusions’ which was intended to be to Modification what PFIQ was to Body Piercing. My name had been given to the editor (Rhalan) by Steve Haworth, who I wouldn’t meet in person for another year. We exchanged a few letters before the project eventually lost steam and was canceled before ever going to print.

Keith Alexander’s followup letter to the APP after sending in his membership application (circa 1995/6) with detailed counterpoints to issues raised by the fledgling organization with typical K.A. passive aggressive charm.

Open Letter to 1996 APP Conference (Orlando) attendees, possibly from Keith. It’s unsigned.

5″x7″ original print of Jack Yount from  photographer Stefan Richter.

Postcard from Jack Yount from a vacation to Southern California.

Well- here I am trying to be discovered. All the do is undress me and then they faint. Such is fame. Went to the Gauntlet this A.M., Sorry but it didn’t do a lot for me. Poor rep by people I talked to in the shop. Was in Mexico, San Fran and now L.A. Will be back next week. Tell the family I said “High”. -Jack

 

Letters from ‘Toecutter’ written in his typical ‘stream of consciousness’ style.

UNIQUE contact list mailings.

Photos of Tom Brazda doing ‘lo-bretts’ on Shannon Larratt, mailed from Stainless Studios.

While it’s made me sad that I’ve lost so much correspondence over the years I was pleased by how much was still around; I’m going to start scanning the letters and postcards tomorrow so they’ll never be lost again.

 

ModCon CD-ROM 1999

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 4.22.32 PMBefore 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.

 

 

ModCon4 Video recovered (NSFW)

mc4labiaI received a message on tumblr a few weeks ago asking if I could answer a few questions about Photographic Preservation and Collection Management, a topic that’s obviously germane to an ad hoc historian like myself.

If a real archivist were to see my organizational system they’d be horrified. Getting everything in order, however, would take some of the fun out of my randomly discovering forgotten treasures, unlabeled and just waiting to be found.

When I was looking for my Social Security card today I came across a CD case filled with unorganized DVD+r and CDr, including one that was labeled MC4 in tidy block Sharpie letters. I popped it into my Macbook and was surprised to find some raw video of a few of the female genital modification procedures performed at the 2003 ModCon4 event.

There were a few cameras recording at the event that I never had access to, so it was great recovering some of the footage I had thought lost.