Twenty years in a circle.

sacreddebrisshawnporterI used to make zines.
Truth be told, I still do. Photocopied, stapled zines. Analog. Circulated via the US Mail. The best thing about them was that they invariably ended up in the hands of people who were genuinely interested in the subject matter. Some independent bookstores like 3 Birds or Quimby’s had zine sections, but most zines, mine included, never had that kind of distribution. You had to want to find us.

In early 1994 when I started the Sacred Debris zine, there were surprisingly a lot of options when it came to Body Modification periodicals. PFIQ (Piercing Fans International Quarterly) was still in print, as was Body Play and Modern Primitives Quarterly. In the Flesh and Tattoo Savage could be found on newsstands. The UK had Piercing World and Body Art. There were other body modification zines; tattoos were covered in Tatmag and there was I am not my body out of the Pacific Northwest. There had never been a time where so many avenues were available to people interested in learning more about modification.

And then came the internet. It changed things. Radically and completely. In my (aborted) talk for the APP “A selective history of contemporary body modification” I ended the presentation in 1995 with “BME, SPC, the rise of the internet and the Death of Body Modification.”

BME went online in December of 1994. SPCO followed in mid-to-late 1995. Encouraged by the amount of content that came flowing in once BME was ‘seeded’ with surgical photos from my collection, Shannon Larratt split BME up, adding /extreme and /hard to focus on surgical/advanced modifications as well as pornography featuring modified devotees. October 2000 saw the IAM community site’s arrival, and in the fourteen years since we’ve seen thriving sites, blogs and communities pop up covering every conceivable way there is to modify the human body.Print died. PFIQ and Body Play ceased publication. Body Art and Piercing World went away. All of the different voices and experiences that they offered slowly merged into just a few outlets.

And now, twenty years later, I’ve found myself returning to the beginning. Sacred Debris (dotcom. Not the zine. But more on that later) is a repository for people interested in Body Modification’s history, and hopefully it’s future. We’re glad to coexist in a world where BME, Scarwars, Tattoo Snob, Occult Vibrations, and thousands of other sites provide great content. It’s intention is not to compete but to offer a different perspective that will cover everything from amputation to (editors note: find something that starts with z) and everything in between. It’s an experiment for me; most of my projects over the years have been single person entities. The hours of work that will go into Sacred Debris- from scanning hardcopy photographs, sorting, viewing, capturing, editing and uploading vintage videos (featuring luminaries like Jack Yount, Sailor Sid Diller, Dr. Ronald Brown, Todd Bertrang and more) to writing and soliciting original content will be massive. One way or another this material needs to be archived for future generations. My hope is that the community will get behind us and interact with the content-comment and discuss, submit and assist or even just crowdsource materials for our archival.

I don’t want to make the site about me. I want to make it about us. Our history. Our future. Mission statements are supposed to give you an idea on what to expect- but if you come along on this journey I’m happy to say that you can throw expectation out the window and just enjoy Sacred Debris for the wonderfully all-over-the-place experience that it has the potential to be. ‘Archiving and Celebrating the Culture of Body Modification’ is our goal- and wether the content we give you will be from the 1970s or from tomorrow will be anyone’s guess.

So please. If you like what we’re doing, please let us know. Please help us out by donating content, participation in discussion, financial assistance or resources to keep this going. While the past is available mostly to those of us who were around in the ‘good old days’ the future can belong to you, if you’re willing to put the time in.

Thank you for checking out Sacred Debris. We’d love to hear from you, so let us know what you think!

respectfully yours,





Shawn Porter

Sacred Debris


Shawn Porter has spent the majority of his life in the modification world. As a body modification archivist and documentarian, he has one of the most extensive collections of documents relating to the early American body modification community in existence. He edited the SPC website from 1995 to 2005, co-founded ModCon, was the host of ModCons 3.5 and 4, and created and hosted The Scarwars Project from 2004-2007. In 2011 Shawn launched Occult Vibrations, a blog devoted to traditional American tattoos with a focus on the occult and esoteric. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife Julia and their creepy pets Mr. Bailey Papers and L. RonBenet Ramsey.


  1. I’m so excited about this, Shawn! History and culture have always been some of my favorite aspects of body modification – I’ve enjoyed your BME posts (and my old SPC panties) and can’t help but think that a dedicated site makes the most sense for this sort of venture. There are so many stories and milestones and memories.

  2. I am so very excited for this Shawn. THIS needs to be done right now in time.

    This will be my new “go to” site. I look forward to the updates and maybe helping when I can, if needed.

  3. I am super excited to see where this goes Shawn! the future body modification enthusiasts and practitioners alike need to know the history of their own field and where they came from!

  4. Mr. Skellie-
    I hope that I discover ‘young you’ in this stack of videos that I hope to tackle next week. It’s not a Delorian, but I’m hoping the 8mm time machine will provide us with a lot of memories returning!

  5. As my daughter dips her first toes into body modification I’m super excited to share this with her. Thank you Shawn for making it happen. <3

  6. Shawn, I can’t tell you how happy I am that you are starting this project. I’ve read the articles split on BME over the past years, but can’t wait to see where this progresses.

    A wealth of information, both past and present for many people. Great work hun.

  7. Shawn, please let me know if there’s any time-consuming ‘busy work’ you need done. Scanning, organizing, tagging, etc. I’d be more than happy to help with my overabundance of spare time. If I could help in other ways I certainly would.

    I appreciate you doing this.

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