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.
Because body modification and ritual are not only powerful tools for self discovery and definition but also stand as strong and potentially influential statements to others thereof, they represent a significant threat to those who reject their uniqueness and the systems and processes that rely upon viewing people as members of a category or their designated job title.- Erik Sprague1
Later on this year (I want to say September or October) will mark the 20th anniversary of the the launch of the spcOnline site, which originated a lot of the content I post here on Sacred Debris. Twenty years and so many people have come and gone from my life- true eccentrics who live up to the promise that body modification shouldn’t be the most interesting thing about you regardless of how interesting your body modifications are.
One of the longest friendships I’ve maintained has been with a former PhD student turned sideshow performer named Erik Sprague. Despite SPC being primarily history oriented I occasionally ran new content, including the lip and tongue tattoos of a not quite Lizard. A few decades later I’m running the photo as history, so I suppose time has caught up with us both.
I always found Erik’s thoughts on body modification culture (and culture in general) to be worth listening to, so if you haven’t checked out his book “Once More Through the Modified Looking Glass” you should absolutely put it on your reading list: http://www.thelizardman.com/book.html
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.
The early days of the western body modification movement were documented by pioneers like Fakir Musafar (who taught himself photography and darkroom technique) and Charles Gatewood; decades later their iconic 35mm images remain bold clear snapshots of our community’s history.
Things got choppy in the 1990s when digital cameras started taking over, with low dpi images replacing the clarity of their SLR analog counterparts. A lot of the images that were submitted to the spcOnline site from 1995-2000 are grainy low resolution .jpg images that do a decent job of documenting the modification but won’t stand the test of time like the old hardcopy photographs.
Like this one, featuring a young Sideshow performer doing the human blockhead circa 1997. First person who correctly identifies him (with bonus points going to anyone who can name his stage name at the time) will receive a goodie from the SD/SPCO archives.
“Hey, Rube!” is a slang phrase most commonly used in the United States by circus and traveling carnival workers (“carnies”), with origins in the middle 19th century. It is a rallying call, or a cry for help, used by carnies in a fight with outsiders. It is also sometimes used to refer to such a fight: “The clown got a black eye in a Hey, Rube.” -Wikipedia
My social networking streams are all polluted by discussion of the latest episode of Ink Master; instead of rotting my brain with “the worst thing to happen to tattooing since Hepatitis C” I’ve queued up this fun little short film starring Canada’s sweethearts Burnaby Q. Orbax and Sweet Pepper Klopek- the Monsters of Schlock.
The day they filmed my segment I was nursing a 103* fever, so I don’t remember a lot of it. I was also 70lbs heavier than I am these days so seeing chubby, medicated me ramble on is kind of weird, but ultimately better than Ink Master.