Tag Archives: spconline

Forty One

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 “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.

 

I need this like I need a hole in the head….

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An anonymous tumblr follower suggested that I start adding all of the ‘one shot’ updates- the single photos with no articles to go with them- to the Sacreddebris.com site proper instead of just dropping them on tumblr. It makes sense considering that anything I post here also ends up there, and who knows… it may even make it look like I update this site more often than I do.

I’ve been pretty open about the future of this blog; I can’t say it’s going to make it past 1st January 2015. But until I pull the plug  I might as well try to keep it updated.

This photo is an early digital camera shot (thus the quality) from approximately 1996-7 that was submitted to the SPCOnline site by BME Editor Shannon Larratt. I’ve written about this before- the infamous ‘fork handle dermal elevator’ procedure (which you can check out here– but for those too busy to click the link…

Shannon had a set of implants in his forehead done by a traveling practitioner and he felt they were crooked. Since the artist had moved on he had to have his roommate ‘fix’ the placement, but without proper tools they resorted to using the flat end of a fork’s handle in place of a dermal elevator. There’s a lot of talk recently about irresponsibility with documenting certain procedures, but when Shannon submitted these to SPC we didn’t even consider the possible negative consequences of publishing graphic, ill advised procedural photos.

OP-Ed: A lesser ritual?

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John Joyce was cutting my face when our photographer took this picture. It was either the last cutting or close to it of the last night of Scarwars3 in Philadelphia, October of 2007.

He was cutting into scar tissue from my previous facial cutting(s) and the pain was starting to spike. My friend Klein came over and took my hand and squeezed it. Followed by Sarvas, Christiane and Håvve. Hand after hand grabbing me, reminding me that I was doing just fine. To this day, I don’t know how many of my friends were holding me. Most of the SW guests had gone home with just a core groups of die-hards still hanging around. The feeling of safety and of my friends looking out for me was one of the most amazing things that came out of the weekend for me.

A few days ago I started writing an article on anesthetics use in the early days of the Western body piercing community. It wasn’t exactly common, per se, but interesting to note that the majority of piercers who used them- either ‘spray freeze’ 1 or injectables 2 worked almost exclusively from private or home studios whereas the loudest voices against their use came from piercers working out of retail shops.

There’s an ethic in the tattoo community of ‘Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe.’ Don’t share private things because they could fall into the wrong hands; those hands are a communally accepted boogie man of hacks, scratchers, kitchenwizards and the scariest of them all- legislators seeking regulation. Retail piercing shops had to take a stand against anything that could possibly harm their business; especially at a time when the entire concept of piercing seemed like the pursuit of S&M devotees and sexual deviants. The late 1970s issues of PFIQ 3 featured piercing and fictional content much more ‘extreme’ than what could be found in the 80s editions; with more eyes watching we had to be much more careful. Lines had to be drawn.

11nipspray copyPiercers like Doug Malloy, Sailor Sid Diller and Jack Yount used anesthetics, with Jack feeling that piercing was ‘brutal’ and that his clients shouldn’t have to go through the discomfort of an ampallang without a nerve blocker. Jack often pierced at thicker gauges than his West Coast peers and his reasoning was a 25g hypodermic needle caused far less distress to a client than an 8g. He would allow photographs to be taken of him doing minor surgeries with no fear of legal reprisal, but he was adamant that no photos be taken of him using injectables. His fear wasn’t unfounded, and in 2002, seven years after his passing, a Florida body piercing shop was raided and it’s piercers arrested for practicing medicine without a license. 4

The arrests made several news broadcasts, one of which cited a possible complication being death from anaphylactic shock due to the anesthetic used, if the client didn’t die from hemorrhaging or massive infection first. In response, Truitt says he never uses anesthetics for any procedures, and none were found in the studio. 5

The genie was out of the bottle and released into the Internet superculture. The worst fear had been realized and soon legislators would work on banning piercing/body modification. Any day now.

Last week- some 14 years since the Florida arrest- a well known body modification artist posted photos on his Instagram/Facebook of a procedure that exposed his client’s skull. Far from the keep it secret, keep it safe self-regulation of days gone by, here it was posted openly. Not behind the pay-per-view wall of BME/Extreme, but on the modern Eye of Providence Facebook. To say it inspired discussion would be an understatement. They were coming, the regulators. Any day now.

I posted about my proposed article- again on Facebook- and laid out my misgivings. Would talking about anesthetic use in the 1980s somehow make a connection that today’s body modification practitioners, some of whom are doing modification work on a public scale undreamed of in Jack and Sid’s day, might be using them too. Where does my responsibility lie?

The feedback the Facebook page provided was helpful. An influential West Coast piercer (long since retired) discussed using numbing creme in the early years of his career. Another Sacred Debris writer echoed my worry of exposing current modification artists. A friend from New England discussed his views on ‘earning’ a modification by feeling all of the pain from the procedure. Having earned all of my modifications- including the ones I was lucky enough to experience pain-free thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, I couldn’t decide the right course of action and the direction the article should take.

I could talk about the piercers who offered ‘pain free’ procedures to their clients. I could discuss the fear of regulation that anesthetic use inspires. I could talk about ritual and earning modifications (the story that starts this article found me with blue-gel being applied to the cutting to help me deal with the pain and how it was still a significant ritual for me) or I could somehow talk about all of it.

I went with 4: All of the Above.

What are your thoughts?
If you could get your piercings done without pain- would you?
Do you feel modification artists should post photos of extreme modifications being performed?

Notes:

  1. Usually Ethyl Chloride.
  2. Most commonly Xylocaine.
  3. Piercing Fans International Quarterly. 1977-1997, ed Jim Ward.
  4. THE POINT #23, 2002
  5. THE POINT #23, 2002

Who’s Who: Four Fingered Joe.

This article originally ran in 2000 on the spcOnline site and is being republished for archival purposes. It should not be considered a how-to.


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Revision.
At a very early age, I found myself thinking about what would it be to have a finger missing, and I use to tie my fingers back and even at the time glue them down.
When I turned 16, I could no longer do that cause I had a job and did not have the time to play with my hands, so I decided that I would go for the real thing. So one evening as I was helping my manager close the store where I worked at, I closed the gate on my index finger and it just came right off, very little blood until I saw my hand then the blood began to really come out. Well, that night I became a finger amputee, and the feeling was, this is right. I knew then that my desirers were not false, these were true feelings, this is the way I am supposed to be. My family just saw it as an accident, and that was fine they were upset and I had to play the roll.

Controlled Situation.
A few years later, I still wanted more but I wanted to do my own, in a controlled situation, where I knew how long, how much bone to clip how to stitch so on and so on. So I did some homework and at the age of 22 I did my middle, ring and thumb.

I know that to some this is not what is call NORMAL, But this to me is as right as anything anybody would want. Some people want Large Breasts, Some Men Want to be Women, Some Women Want to be Men, and there is nothing wrong with that. Why? Cause from birth this is the way they feel and this feels right. And so is this for me. Unfortunately you can’t go to a hospital and say I would like to have these 2 fingers taken off and get it done. So I do them my self. But there is a safe way of doing it and you really need to find out how it is done with as little loss of blood as possible and I do recommend that if you are going to do something like this, make sure you are ready.

The right tools.
1. Need to have all the right tools.
2. Everything should be sterilized
3. Practice on something other than your self. or someone else.
4. Numbing the finger would be best. there are many ways, choose what you feel is right for you.
5. Get sutures to close the wound to avoid infection.
6. If possible in case anything goes wrong, make sure you know where the nearest hospital is, and then have a good plan for what has happened cause you will get arrested or even put into the LOONY bin, and we know that we are not crazy.
7. Most important, if in any way you can, please, please, please make sure you have ANTIBIOTICS because if you should get an infection, how will you explain the missing finger or fingers and the stitches.
But most of all if all, what you really wanted was a finger or two gone and you get an infection you could wind up with an arm amputation, and it may not be what you had in mind.

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They don’t grow back.
Yes, I have finger amputations and yes I enjoy each and every one of them, because this is the way I feel my hands should look like and feel like.

Like anything in life look before you leap, I know of several whom have amputated a finger then after it was done, THEY WISHED THEY NEVER DID.
So be sure cause to tell you the truth, they don’t grow back.


 

Evolution of a subculture: CURED Tour/Uvatiarru

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In 2003, a small crew sponsored by BMEZine founder Shannon Larratt started a North American tour to film Body Modification enthusiasts/practices for what promised to be a very unique documentary.

Shannon sent out DVC cameras to people not on the tour’s path who he felt could contribute something unique, equipped Jon Cobb with a camera for a tour of South East Asia and even managed to make a website and trailer for the film- Uvatiarru– that ultimately never got produced.

This image is from the first stop of the US Tour on 04 May 2003. While the tour allowed for the crew to go to the homes/studios of the people they were filming, some folks stepped it up and hosted parties and events when the tour came through their town.

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IAM.BME community members Lauren and Sam organized a suspension event in NYC for the first stop of the tour, which found CURED member (and ModCon/SCARwars photographer) Philip Barbosa suspending with an assist from ROP’s Emrys Yetz. A Cured crew member- Johnny- films in the background.

I’ve been told that these tapes still exist; they’re just waiting to be put together and celebrate a time/place that was very influential in the development of the Body Modification community worldwide.

From the SPC: But how does he walk?

rogerk1I ran into my buddy Roger- AKA The Toecutter AKA Subtracting at the 2001 NYC Tattoo Convention at the Roseland Ballroom and snapped some updated pictures of his feet. One of the most common bits of ‘wisdom’ that always seemed to circulate around toe amputation was that if you were missing enough toes you wouldn’t be able to maintain balance and that walking would nearly impossible. Roger, wearing nylons that day, decided to take his shoes off and jump up and down and spin around to prove his nimbleness.

The last time we spoke he mentioned he was going to remove the last remaining (big) toe; unfortunately I’ve lost touch with him (with all of his known email addresses bouncing back) so I don’t know if he ever ‘finished the set’.

 

Taking a day off to rest..

.BUD

Tuesday is generally reserved for video updates, but today is going to be a day of rest here at Sacred Debris; a day to lay down in bed watching True Detective and smothering my pre’ance Julia with birthday kisses. Everyone needs a rest now and then- just ask Viking Navaro (pictured above.)

Bud has long been one of my favorite ‘old school’ modification figures; one of the original ‘Modern Primitives’ who had a very striking aesthetic for his generation. My collection contains quite a few photos (prints and polaroids) of him to be scanned.

But that can wait for another day.

Toecutter

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In the mid/late 1990s, IN THE FLESH magazine (issue number needed; I can’t find them in my archives) ran a story on a voluntary amputee calling himself Stonehenge.They chose not to run photographs of his modification; instead they published tracings of his feet.

I was contacted by Stonehenge throughout he SPCOnline email account asking if I’d like to run the pictures that In the Flesh had been too cautious to print. I’m unsure of the date- it was approximately 1996/7.

I corresponded with Stonehenge- who was then calling himself ToeCutter (and eventually Subtracting) quite a bit before eventually meeting him in 1999 at ModCon1 in Toronto. I found him to be an eccentric fellow; someone who’s personality was so larger than life that his amputations (which have since moved on to his hands) weren’t the most dynamic thing about him.

Subtracting consented to a filmed interview with BME’s Shannon Larratt during which he amputated a fingertip.

toecutterHis Apotemnophilia (Amputation fetish) presented as part of a bigger artistic statement- he cut fingers and toes off at different joints to create an asymmetrical aesthetic making it about much more than just becoming an amputee.

The last working email address I have for him bounces back, so if anyone has current contact information, please get in touch.

His first contribution to the SPCOnline site included a ‘self interview’ which is reposted below.

 


“I get asked questions by a lot of people who are really interest in why I got involved with foot sculpture and how I did it and what are the consequences, so here goes:”

Why did you cut off and change the lengths of most of your toes?
First, I was intrigued with the question, “does it hurt?” My answer would be no except when you amputate right up against the body of the foot; not when you do the actual amputation, but only as it heals. Second, I wanted to change the length of the various toes, with the idea of showing off one more body modification. A bit extreme, I will admit, but the look is quite jarring for a stranger.
When you amputate even the first toe, does this affect your balance?
I would say, that after maybe two toes, I could sometimes feel that when my toes get a message from my inner ears to correct balance, I might lurch or have to do a further correction.

What about the flow of blood? Did you end up in the ER?
When I am going to amputate a toe, I must have all my equipment ready and as sterile as possible. That includes pre-cut gauze bandages so that I can apply direct-pressure for 30 minutes to one hour. The big toes and thumbs have larger blood vessels than the other toes and fingers. These are smaller arteries, and one does not staunch the flow of blood with just gauze bandages. The further back to the foot you go, the more the blood you get. When I did amputate a big toe, I used small rubber tourniquettes and I found that the blood flow was controlled with the combination of tourniquettes and direct pressure. If one goes too far back, one could be unable to staunch the flow and end up in the ER. I did not though. There was more pain and this continued off and on for four weeks, especially at night.

You have now done nine toes or portions of them, can you go further with your feet?
I like the look of my feet now, but I may amputate the nail portion of my last remaining big toe.

Are you thinking about amputating your fingers or portions of them?
This would be a major decision, due to my work and family. My daughter does not know I have amputated my toes. She might want to take a look at my feet if I amputated a thumb nail. This is a major decision.

You have amputated just fingers and toes – – have you thought about amputating an arm or leg.
This is major and I do not like the idea of having to get up to put an artificial limb on in the morning.

Have you met or contacted other people who are involved with do-it-yourself amputation, or wannabes who are searching for a doctor to the amputation for them.
There are people I have been in contact with on the internet. There is a want-2-be news group, and aside from people who want to lose an arm or leg, there are also people in these groups who have already had legs amputated. There are two men who have had the operations. I have heard of several women, who had legs amputated, but they are not Americans. There are also women who are looking for male amputees, they are called “devotees.”

What other body modifications have you run into?
There are people who want to modify their genitals in such ways as castration, multiple piercing, nullification (amputating the penis), splitting the head of the penis. There are people who want to become paraplegics, and of course, all kinds of amputations.

Are there any other body modifications you wish to mention?
In Indonesia, apparently, the teen-agers are stretching their ear lobes and putting plastic bottle caps in their ears. I’ve been doing that here in the USA before I ever heard that they were doing it.

A bloody good friendship

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Sometimes modifications don’t work out.
Sometimes people who know better do really unadvisable things and still, miraculously, come out of it just fine.
Some time in either late 1995 or early 1996 I tried to give Shannon Larratt a ‘how to’ primer on doing a self done meatotomy; the tools needed (which included hemostats, surgical scissors and silver nitrate which was common in that time period as a cauterization method) as well as the step by step process to successfully complete what should have been a basic DIY procedure.

Shannon ended up in the Emergency Room when things went wrong; an excerpt from the hand written journal entry about the incident appears in the 2002 book ModCon: The secret world of extreme modification. Shannon confessed to me that he was too impatient to wait for the proper tools, so instead of using hemostats he used a homemade contraption using rubber bands to supply tension and regular scissors to do the cutting. I’m not sure he even bothered with the cautery. The combination of these factors caused excessive bleeding and the ER trip as well as the end of me giving DIY advice to anyone.

Which brings us to Shannon’s bloody forehead.

While living in Philadelphia, Shannon decided to get a set of forehead implants (which I believe were inspired by a race from the Star Trek Deep Space Nine series called Cardassians) that he wasn’t 100% happy with. He felt that the left one was slightly crooked and with the artist who did the implants already back on the road so with the help of his roommate decided to go the home surgery route to remove them despite not having the proper tools.

Did you know that a the flat part of a fork handle can be used in place of a dermal elevator?

Shannon contributed this photo (as part of a set) to the SPCOnline site in 1998 if memory serves with the playful caveat of not learning his lesson the first time.