Tag Archives: Tattoos

Where do we go when we die?

In late August, 2018, I presented a multimedia discussion for the members of Death Party Philadelphia with the catchy title of “Where do we go when we die?” The group, some three years old now, hosts monthly events relating to death positivity 1 and death adjacent subject matter so I worked my particular niche (the presentation may have alluded to me being a one trick pony) into it by discussing human taxidermy of tattooed skin and the fluid concept of “forever” when it comes to the human body. The central focus of the discussion were photographs and video from museums and institutions that house and exhibit preserved, tattooed, human skin- the Wellcome Collection, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN), Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum and Japan’s famous Medical Pathology Museum at Tokyo University were represented alongside pop culture ephemera and some deep dives into the semiotics of tattoo culture. Continue reading


  1. Death Positivity on Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death-positive_movement

A wish is a dream your heart makes

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As my wife and I busily prepare our luggage for this weekend’s trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in (rainy) Orlando, Florida I thought it was only fitting that I put together some very NSFW photos of Jack Yount’s Disney tattoos for archival here at Sacred Debris.

Jack’s quaint little house in Zephyrhills was filled with paintings and statues- mostly homoerotic subject matter but with a noticeable presence of Disneyana; he was a great fan of Mickey Mouse and the Disney animated films and in the early 1990s began a full leg tattoo of iconic Disney moments by Ancient Art’s Just Plain Bud Pierson. The tattoos were a whimsical contrast to Jack’s other more shocking body modifications; the placement of Timothy Mouse 1 shrieking in horror at the sight of his subincised penis was intentionally tongue in cheek.

Jack was very encouraging when I decided on a Disney-themed tattoo for my own back-piece (pictured above at Scarwars2 in LA) by Inksmith & Roger’s Mike Wilson.

The photos include Disney tattoos by Bud, Jack’s pieced, split and silicone enhanced penis and R.S.- the owner of the infamous removed split penis that ended up in a jelly jar.

Pubic Tattoo: Hans of Denmark


Things have been fairly quiet on the front end of Sacred Debris lately, but behind the scenes archival and preservation have been clicking along quietly with the final few piercings in the Safe Guide series digitized and edited. I was really happy with the quality of the footage on that tape and my attempts at color and contrast correction to remove the yellowing have been promising; I’ve kept two versions of every piercing procedure from the VHS Cassette- original and altered- so I’m free to move on to the next archival project, which will either be a castration procedure labeled ‘Jim loses his manhood’ or footage from the 1991 Paris Tattoo Convention. The former may end up in the Sandbox, and the latter on Occult Vibrations. Depends on how usable the footage ends up being.

hans of denmarkAs a palate cleanser between video updates, the above is a photo of the incredible Hans of Denmark, who made frequent appearances in the 1980s body modification periodical circuit with his enlarged piercings and full body tattooing. This photo dates back to 1978 and was taken by Sailor Sid Diller on his first London visit and features Hans’s pubic tattoo outline by Alan ‘Mr. Sebastian’ Oversby.

In the 70s I became interested in tattooing and piercing. I began by having a small design placed on a discrete part of my body by Svend, a tattooist working in Nyhavn. It was then difficult to get your ear pierced so I decided to do it myself. Actually I’d been experimenting with needles when I was young and discovered that I liked the sensation of inserting pins and so on into my skin. However I couldn’t discuss this with anyone as they’d simply think that I was a crazy kid so went to the libraries and read as much as I could on African scarification rites and anthropological studies on body deformation….Later I went over to London and met a tattooist, Dennis Cockle, who tattooed my torso with large colorful designs and another man, Mr. Sebastian, pierced my penis. Now this was something else altogether, when the anesthetic wore off I could hardly walk. 1 

Hans went on to be almost fully tattooed from neck to toes and was famous for his enlarged piercings which included an 1″+ apadravya piercing. I have photos in my scanning queue of his finished pubic tattoo, those will be included in future updates.


  1. Body Art # 7, Interview with Chris Wroblewski. 1989 Publications Ltd.

A lucky or auspicious object


During it’s two decades in print, P.F.I.Q. magazine featured the work of an impressive lineup of photographers; the work of Jim Ward, Fakir Musafar, Diane Mansfield, Mark I. Chester, Michael Rosen, Charles Gatewood and Efrain John Gonzalez (alongside the wonderful submitted content) helped capture a scene when it was much smaller and more intimate.

I’m fairly sure II first met Efrain in May of 2000 at the NYC Tattoo Convention at the Roseland Ballroom, which is when this photograph was taken. On honest-to-god 35mm film. I found him to be incredibly sweet, welcoming and mischievous and over the years when our paths have crossed he’s always been armed with a smile and a camera.

I figure most readers of Sacred Debris are familiar with both of these gents- Manwoman (seated) and Jon Cobb.

Jon’s legacy in the piercing scene is as one of it’s greatest agent provocateurs and technicians, he originated (or popularized) a small handful of piercings that, though still fairly uncommon, changed the industry in ways that are still being felt. His ability to defend his techniques and placement- freehand piercing, nape piercing- set him apart from someone who just threw caution to the wind and did something new for the sake of ego.

Manwoman (February 2, 1938- November 13, 2012) was a Canadian artist, writer and musician who came to greater attention after his appearance in RE/Search Publication’s Modern Primitives in 1989. His book The Gentle Swastika documented his life’s work- The rehabilitation of the Swastika through his artwork and collection of pre-WW2 memorabilia.

I’ve been hesitant to post any Swastika related content up till now; it comes with the pretty heavy tariff of having to field complaint emails- usually from irate, uninformed and downright hostile folks who don’t know about anything other than it’s usage by the National Socialist Party or from those who feel that it’s just a tad too controversial to even bother trying to explain otherwise.

We’ll see how it goes.

You can see more of Efrain’s photos at http://hellfirepress.com

El Hombre Lagarto

96ESBecause 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 Sprague 1

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


To Infinity…


I met this gentleman somewhere around 1996-7 at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Tattoo Convention in Portland, ME. I’m sure I have the notes somewhere to go along with this but if my memory serves he had been cut by Raelyn Gallina and Keith Alexander- though who did what is lost in time.

It wasn’t common to see scarification at conventions back then; even displayed piercings could cause furled eyebrows and not so quiet mutterings of disapproval from some of the older biker folks, so when I spotted him from across the room I quickly made my way over to chat with him and snap a few photos. Part of the charm of the smaller community back then was having instant mutual friends; conventions were like family reunions that gave you the opportunity to meet some truly genuine characters.

Being Modified In Inner City Baltimore

My husband and I own our home in inner city Baltimore. The intersection that we live on is one of the busiest intersections in the southeast district of the city. It is also one of the top ten worst open drug market areas in all of Baltimore City.

It’s generally not a violent area but it is filled with prostitution, alcoholics and drug addicts, and, most of all, drug dealers who are out at all hours during the day and night. They often yell at the top of their lungs that they’ve got “boy, girl” (heroin, crack) and “big fat 25s.” My specific intersection offers these boys a great cover – each corner has a business that deals with food or alcohol and it is also home to one of the busiest bus stops in the entire city. These guys can get away with hanging around on the corner with the excuse that they’re “just waiting for the bus” or they’re “meeting their friend to go in to the bar” (only closed from 3am – 6am). I see them get arrested with drugs on them and then quickly turned through the wheels of the justice system – it’s fast enough that they’re out and back at their job the next day.

Despite all of this, I love my neighborhood. There’s something honest and true about it. We have a prominent Latino population and I believe that these people will be one of the key factors of this place improving. When I take my dog for his early morning walk, I see them going off to work – typically to construction and labor jobs. They are generally family oriented and productive and on the weekends they blare Mexican Mariachi music from their homes and their booming car speakers. (My hope is that some of their spice will rub off on me.) There’s a bakery down the street and the smell of fresh baked bread is something I get to experience every single day. I’m about a half mile from one of the biggest parks that the city has to offer – the pup loves that place, and I do, too. A few blocks south, the neighborhood is significantly more gentrified with lots of cute local bars, grocers, and shops. My favorite part is that we have a small community of residents that really give a shit.

Every Thursday morning, I sweep the sidewalk for most, if not all, of my entire block, preparing for the street sweeper to come by. (The city has taken away the bulk of our city-owned trashcans, and with these flourishing food-related businesses in combination with the busy bus stop, sweeping my side of the row is no easy task and can take hours.)

When I sweep, I see many empty liquor and beer bottles, losing lottery tickets, discarded snack and candy wrappers, socks, used and unused condoms and sometimes, burnt spoons and used needles. What this says to me is that these people are looking for any way out of their situation. They’re frustrated, sad, hopeless and broke. At least the prostitutes are trying to be safe – but finding nasty, used condoms on the sidewalk where kids often roam is a stomach-turning experience. For me, Thursday is a conflicted day. I walk out of my house, broom in hand, ready to make a difference. Even if that difference only lasts a few hours, it’s worth it to me. When I’m finished sweeping, I come back into my home, and I’m reminded of the serious issues that surround my little oasis in this city. Today is Thursday. Like every Thursday, I feel somber, humbled and extremely lucky to have such a supportive network. Not everyone is so lucky.

I guess if you’ve made it this far into my post, that you’re wondering what this has to do with being modified. After all, this is a blog about modification. I’m getting there.

My husband and I are some of the only white people on the block. (There are a few others who live around here, but many of them are too afraid to leave their houses and hang out in the neighborhood.) In my neighborhood, if you’re white and you’re not buying drugs, you seem suspicious to the neighborhood regulars. Even the patrol police officers ask us what we’re up to, thinking our presence here is strange.

In my last post, I talked about a seemingly unidentifiable line. The thin, fuzzy series of points that separates someone who has modified him/herself to an extreme, where it effects their life in our society on a daily basis and, then, someone who hasn’t gone quite so far. I think I have crossed this murky line and I believe this based on the fact that I can’t leave my house without getting hassled or questioned about my modifications by someone at some point during that day – in or out of my current neighborhood.

It has finally happened. Being modified has come in handy for me (and I’m talking in my day-to-day life, not about personal fulfillment or feeling complete, here). It has made me into this mysterious being. I am an entity that my neighborhood just can’t seem to figure out. We certainly stick out here – for being white, for taking care of how the exterior of our house looks, for being a two-car family, and for having the cutest Pug ever (in my opinion, at least). But more than that, we’re tattooed and we’ve got lots of “piercins.” In the same way that the majority of society thinks we’re up to no good because we’ve visibly altered ourselves in this way (this attitude is all rooted in a series of studies done by a guy named Ceseare Lombroso – I’ll post about him in-depth another time), that’s what the dealers on my block think, too.

There’s a guy who stands on my corner. He deals anything from weed to heroin. He’s got a crew. I know his name and his friends’ names. I also know he’s good for three murders but he doesn’t know that I know about any of this. He also doesn’t know that I’m working with many different types of community organizations that are, and will continue, getting in the way of his operation and others like it. Not too long ago, I was walking my dog and I passed him. He stopped me, “Dang, girl. You tatted up. You do tatties?”
“Hey. Yes I am. I do not.”
“Where you go for ‘dem tatties?”
“I’d recommend the Baltimore Tattoo Museum or Read Street Tattoo. They offer wonderful quality for a fair price.”
“What ‘chu doin’ later?”
“I’m not sure. But I’m thinking cooking dinner will most likely happen.”
“You wanna’ hook up?”
“Mmmmm… I’m flattered that you’d ask, but I’m in a happily, committed marriage.”
“Yo, girl, I know. He doesn’t gotta’ know.”
“Mmmmm… But I’d know. And I’m big on the whole loyalty thing.”
“Girl, I respect that shit. Loyalty. That’s what’s up. One more thing.”
“I ‘aint gonna’ fuck wit’ chu’.”
“Oh! Well that’s really nice to know! Why not?”
“Girl, cause’ you fucked up! You can take pain n’ shit. That shit hadda’ hurt! You a bad ass Mofo!”

At this point, I tell him and his friends to have a nice evening and continue on my way.

I’ve had many conversations similar to this one with many of the dealers who hang around my neighborhood. But this one sticks out. I remember every word he said. And I remember it because I was terrified to be interacting with someone who I know has killed people. (If you’re wondering, he’s not in prison because our States Attorney makes obtaining arrest warrants for murders really difficult for the Baltimore Police Department.)

Not only does this guy think I’m into pain (for the record, I dislike getting tattooed and I dislike getting pierced even more), but he, and most of the others, think we’re in the under belly of society – just like them. They make the same assumptions that the rest of society makes: we’re doing something illegal and/or wrong, we’re not mentally stable, we’ve had horrific childhoods, etc. My neighborhood is the first place where I haven’t wanted to prove them wrong. Their misconceptions of how I operate are completely false, but these mistaken beliefs help to keep my husband and I safe. They just can’t seem to figure us out. In a way, maybe they’ve got a little of it right. We are kind of in an under belly. Or, at least I think so. It’s not a bad one. But to them, it is an unknown.

I’ll end this post with something that happened just a few days ago. Since we’ve moved in, we’ve had a doormat on our front stoop. This doormat stated, “Come Back With A Warrant.” Ever since we bought this house, that doormat has become a staple on our row. Almost every day, at least once, I’d hear a dealer or resident go by and chuckle at it, saying something like, “Come back with a warrant! That shit is gangsta’, yo!” Anyway, a few days ago, someone stole our doormat. In all honesty, we’re surprised this didn’t happen sooner. One of the resident drug dealers stopped me on my corner when I was walking my dog. He said, “Shit, yo! What happened to your doormat?”
I replied, “Someone stole it.”
“Yo! That shits fucked up! If I find out who took it, I’ma’ get it back for you.”

1964426_779778552052022_74016072_nRachel Timmins earned her MFA in Studio Art (Metals Concentration) in December 2012 and her BFA in Metal/Jewelry Design with a Minor in Sculpture from Buffalo State College in 2009. Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions both nationally and internationally in venues like the National Gallery of Victoria, Snyderman-Works Gallery, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, the Design Museum London and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Rachel’s work can be seen in many publications such as Unexpected Pleasures published by Rizzoli Publications, Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective published by Lark Books and Jewel Book: International Annual of Contemporary Jewel Art published by Stitchting Kunst Boek. She can be found lecturing on her work and other related topics as well as giving workshops across the United States at various institutions and universities. Rachel lives in Baltimore, MD, where she often teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She resides with her pug, three cats and husband, Matt. To see Rachel’s work, please visit: www.racheltimmins.com

Hi, I’m New Here.

jewelry from Anatometal

jewelry from Anatometal

I’m interested in a lot of things, some of which are: permanence, metamorphosis, control, carnival history, jewelry and value.  Today, right now, right this minute, and for the rest of forever, I’m specifically interested in otherness and adornment.  For me, these things converge and make up a large portion of my identity.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this were something that was felt by most people:  feelings of alienation, due to a certain sense of self, are commonalities that many people have with one another.  But we don’t talk about it, well, not unless we know the other person feels that way.  For me, the drive to become heavily modified is an integral part to who I am as a person.  I knew this before I was old enough to understand what any of it meant.  I knew it when I was in elementary school.  I remember the precise moment that I knew, too. The person who showed me what it was, had no idea what he did. He probably didn’t even know I existed. If I saw that same punk rocker today, I know I could point him out.  He had a HUGE septum piercing.. or, what’s what it looked like at the time. I knew that was what I wanted.  Without saying a word, he told me that what I knew I needed to do was okay.  On that day, everything changed.  I knew where I was headed and I knew that there were other people out there who would understand me… I also knew that because I lived around a bunch of rich white people in the middle of suburbia, that it’d be a really long time until I was able to really find any of them.

I got into body modification a little late in the game as far as the contemporary American body modification timeline is concerned.  Hell, when The Gauntlet  started in the mid 70s, I wasn’t even born yet.  I might be taking a big leap here, but I’d identify myself as a part of the last group of people who got into this before it got trendy.  Maybe some of you who came long before my time would disagree, but, I’ll say this:  I’m fucking dedicated to this lifestyle.  My life and livelihood, much of my education and my career as a maker is rooted in this culture and this identity.  It’s not a choice, well, not for me.  Sure, it’s a choice to step into a tattoo shop.  I get that.  But the internal drive is not a choice.

A few years back I remember reading a blog post by Shannon Larratt, the creator of BMEzine.  He compared the desire to become heavily modified with being gay.  Later, I interviewed Shannon as part of my research for my MFA thesis work and he kind of turned on the statement.  He stated, “I still think there’s a place for this idea, but because of how much society has changed — I don’t think anyone ever expected things to grow this large or this mainstream – it would be a little different in nature. In some ways we are a victim of our success. The sort of people who’d want to be a part of such a commune in the past needed protection from the mainstream unmodded society — now they also need protection from the mainstream modded society! We have very much fallen prey to gentrification.”  On one hand, I agree with his statement because we have become so big.  But on the other, I know that what he said in the past is true, because I still feel it.

I question the sincerity of the masses who have joined this community (if it can be called a “community” anymore) and I wonder what happened to earning your place within it.  That’s an argument that I remember seeing often in many of the IAM/BME forums:  What is the difference between those who have manipulated their body to the point of it seriously effecting their ability to navigate through mainstream society and those who choose to only have an earlobe piercing?  They have both chosen a form of modification, so, what makes them different?  I certainly am not stating that one form of permanent or semi permanent adornment/modification is better than the other – it’s an individual choice.  However, I would argue that they are different and that the more extreme of those examples is driven by an internal force that is not felt by the masses.  I’m not sure what the line is or how to articulate precisely where it’s drawn.  What I can say for sure is that I know the line when I see it.

So, why does this question matter?  I think it matters because it all boils down to identity within our greater culture.  Adornment is a part of our individual identities – if we don’t express it in a form of modification, then it’s expressed in another way: the clothes we wear, any jewelry that we leave on and often forget about (like a wedding ring or small cross necklace), the cut and color that we choose for our hair, etc,.  This aspect of each of our lives in inescapable and because of that, we should be considering it on the daily.

So, I wanted to share the private e-mail interview that Shannon was kind enough to grant me as a part of my first post here at Sacred Debris – even when he was feeling shitty, Shannon responded to me. He hoped to contribute to the academic sphere with regard to body modification.  This was the last time I ever communicated with him.  Despite knowing each other for years, we were never the best of friends, but, it is because of him that I’m married to my husband, that I have many of the friends that I do, and so many memories of an amazing community that has since dispersed.  The community he built with us helped me to gain the confidence to do what I knew was right for me and it allowed me to find my footing.  He got one thing right for sure, we have certainly grown.

Shannon Larratt snowrail@gmail.com


to me
 R:  How old are you?  Where were you born?
S:  I was born September 29, 1973 in Victoria, British Columbia.
R:  Where can people find you online or in other print publications?
S:  (I think that’s obvious)
R:  What made you first get into body modification?
S:  A combination of nature and nurture, I assume. Because I started expressing a body modification drive at a young age, in a rural environment, far away from any outside influences and before a body modification industry even existed, I can only assume that I’m wired for it on some level. I’m sure it helped that my mother grew up in South Africa and we had various books on African body art in our home library, and that my father had a tattoo that he’d won in the sixties in a wrestling competition.
R:  What do you think your position is in the body modification community?

S:  I’d always thought of myself as a sort of historian or amateur anthropologist or even just journalist, but then someone told me that my role is “catalyst”. That is, to bring about change in others. To start fires in people. I liked that a lot and thought it was quite apt, because I haven’t just documented the world of body modification and body play — I’ve also promoted it and done everything I could to help it grow, and to guide it in that growth.

R:  Why did you start BME and IAM?  When you started them, what were they?  Since you are no longer directly affiliated (please correct me if I’m incorrect here), from your perspective, are they still functioning in the same way today?

S:  I started BME because I wanted to share what I was doing, to find other people like me, and I wanted to change the world so that the things that made me an outsider became normal. I wanted to create an space where people could safely express themselves in a positive and uplifting manner. In the decade and a half that I ran BME, it never veered from that. IAM was BME’s community arm, originally started so that I and others would have a place to blog.

To be honest, the biggest changes in BME are due to culture as a whole changing.

R:  What do you think about the body modification community now?  Is it a community?  Why or why not?

S:  Yes, body modification is still a community, but in a different way than it was ten years ago, because it’s much, much larger and sits in a different — and broader — demographic space.

R:  Quite a while ago, I remember you writing about starting a modification commune where modified people could live together, almost like a tribe.  What was the fuel for this idea?  Is it still something you want to pursue?  What would be the benefits?

S:  I still think there’s a place for this idea, but because of how much society has changed — I don’t think anyone ever expected things to grow this large or this mainstream — it would be a little different in nature. In some ways we are a victim of our success. The sort of people who’d want to be a part of such a commune in the past needed protection from the mainstream unmodded society — now they also need protection from the mainstream modded society! We have very much fallen prey to gentrification.

R:  How do you think being a heavily modified individual is viewed by people who do not participate in body modification?

S:  That’s very difficult for me to answer. I have very little affinity for the “normal” person.

R:  Do you think making permanent changes to your body is significant?  Why or why not?

S:  Altering your physical form makes the statement that you control your destiny and your physical being. Redefining what you are is an essential part of the transcendent human experience.

R:  How do you think commitment plays into body modification?

S:  I think that’s different for everyone. The popularity of tattoo removal and the reversal of stretched ears and so on shows that a great many people getting involved with body modification did it with minimal foresight or understanding of the level of commitment they were signing up for.

R:  Do you believe alienation plays a role in body modification?  Either as an instigator, a result or both?

S:  Probably. But I think that focusing on things like this can distract from the larger meaning and worse, create a stereotype.

R:  Do you think people who modify themselves are looking to be seen as a spectacle?

S:  I’m sure some people are. Others aren’t. I think that reflects on the person’s individual personality rather than anything universal to body modification. And again, I think that focusing on things like this risks creating a stereotype.

R:  Quite a while ago, I remember you writing something along the lines of modification being compared to being gay or straight.  If my recollection is somewhat accurate, can you talk about this comparison?

S:  I don’t know if this is as true as it was in the past, because these days a broader set of people are drawn to body modification because of how popular it is as a fashion, but I believe that the body modification drive is as hardwired as sexuality is. There has been some research showing that there is a “cutter” gene — people who express their emotions through body play that is — and I suspect that’s the tip of the genetic iceberg on this question.

R:  You share a lot of images and stories related to body modification online.  Why do you do this?

S:  I think this is answered in your question about why I created BME.


With regard to any future posts that I make here at Sacred Debris, y’all can probably expect a more academic (not to be confused with dry) approach to the posts about many of the things that I stated earlier that interest me.  I hope they interest you, too.  I don’t know how often I’ll post, but I’ll try my best to put something up as often as I can.  I really love what Shawn is doing here – I think it’s important, and I’m excited to be a part of it.



1964426_779778552052022_74016072_nRachel Timmins earned her MFA in Studio Art (Metals Concentration) in December 2012 and her BFA in Metal/Jewelry Design with a Minor in Sculpture from Buffalo State College in 2009. Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions both nationally and internationally in venues like the National Gallery of Victoria, Snyderman-Works Gallery, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, the Design Museum London and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Rachel’s work can be seen in many publications such as Unexpected Pleasures published by Rizzoli Publications, Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective published by Lark Books and Jewel Book: International Annual of Contemporary Jewel Art published by Stitchting Kunst Boek. She can be found lecturing on her work and other related topics as well as giving workshops across the United States at various institutions and universities. Rachel lives in Baltimore, MD, where she often teaches at the Maryland Institute college of art. She resides with her pug, three cats and husband, Matt. To see Rachel’s work, please visit: www.racheltimmins.com

Taking a day off to rest..


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.

Meet Merv C.

Tuesday is generally the day that I do new release videos on Sacred Debris, but I’m feeling kinda stuck on this one. I had planned to write a lot more about today’s video,  featuring a brief chat with Sailor Sid Diller and tattoo/piercing enthusiast Merv Chapman conducted by Jack Yount, but I think I’ll just let the video speak for itself.  Merv had extensively pierced nipples and genitals and was, as this clip shows, very concerned about the ‘bitches’ at airport security harassing him about his piercings; so much so that he painstakingly removes each and every piece of jewelry before flying. A pretty big undertaking considering how much jewelry he wears.

I had first seen Merv in Stefan Richter’s 1986 book TATTOO and later in prints in Jack Yount’s house. He later appeared in HIDDEN EXPOSURES 1 , most likely photographed during the visit he mentions with Stefan in this video. Hidden Exposures is long since out of print, but it’s a true gem for body modification book collectors, featuring Jack Yount, Mr. Sebastian, Merv, Isobel Varley, Genesis P-Orridge and many, many more wonderfully tattooed and pierced personalities.

Jack made these videos to be sent all over the world, connecting the body modification community no matter how remote or isolated; I’m pleased to be able to carry on Jack’s mission to keep these memories alive. In the oral tradition, I’ll share a story that Jack shared with me about Merv undergoing heart surgery. Apparently he was made aware by the surgeon that he’d have to have an incision in his chest, and he demanded that the surgeons perfectly line his tattoo back up during the suturing process or they might as well not cut him. He reckoned that he had gone through the pain of the tattoo and didn’t want to see the artist’s work disfigured!

Thanks to a donation to the Sacred Debris project of a 2tb backup drive, we’ve got quite a bit more room to capture new video and  I can start pulling over tapes now instead of relying on footage already captured. Seeing you folks get behind the project and support it really makes the worth worthwhile!



  1. DE VAAR BV 1994. ISBN 90-75201-01-X