Monthly Archives: April 2003

Duelling interviews

These two interviews were conducted with the assistance of 1 Ounce White Rum, 1/2 Ounce Lime Juice, 3/8 Ounce Melon Liqueur, and 3/8 Ounce Apple Sours, shaken with ice and served in a martini glass.

At what age did you begin voluntarily modifying your body?

When I was first handed markers as a little kid, I drew on myself rather than drawing on paper (or walls). I can't remember a time in my life when I did not have these drives.

Body modification is my — and I believe everyone's — natural state of being. The most distinct thing that humans do is communicate on a complex and massive scale. The way we decorate and modify our bodies is one of the more carnal and “true” ways that we communicate. To be honest, I find it highly disturbing that someone would choose to muzzle themselves and not try and communicate.

To answer the question on a more direct level, I started seriously modifying my body (as far as mods that were permanent and public) in my mid teens with tattooing, stretched piercings, and scarification.

What spurred this decision? Did you think much about it beforehand?

Not really, no — but why would I? It's just who I am. It's sort of like asking “what made you decide to talk with that voice?”

Please describe your body image prior to your modifications. Have you noticed a change since then? Please elaborate.

I don't know if it was an “internal” versus “external” body image sort of thing, but what I can tell you with full certainty is that the few periods in my life where I was forced to restrict my body modification activities were the darkest I ever experienced.

How do you view your modified body relative to Western societys beauty norms/ ideals?

To put it simply, I don't. I am not “Western society” — I'm Shannon, not some statistical average — so what Western society has decided the beauty norm or ideal is is totally irrelevant in the decisions I make as far as my body goes. My body modifications reflect who I am, not what I think I'm supposed to look like according to the lowest common denominator.

What role do you see the modified community playing in regards to these ideals?

I hope that the modified community can help show people that they have the right to think for themselves and look however makes them happy. A person's body belongs to them, and is for them alone to shape. What other people think should only affect their decisions for their own bodies.

Do you see a relationship between heavy body modification and blurring/erasing gender roles, gender norms, and the binary system of gender identification?

I don't think that body modification specifically affects gender identification in and of itself. Certainly there are people who will use body modification for gender shift, and there are others who will make assumptions about others' gender role and orientation because of body modification, but those are personal prejudices that I don't think speak directly of body modification.

Can you give me a brief history of body mod?

The history of modern body modification is extremely difficult to confirm. Not only is it almost totally undocumented until quite recently, but a massive assortment of conflicting stories as to its history exist. We'll never really know the truth but I'll do my best to give what I think is an accurate overview.

Body modification has always existed as a subset of sexual expression, both in individuals and in “clubs” (which I've documented going back at least into the late 1800's if not far earlier). Body modification is also evident in the Middle Ages, with paintings of the times documenting an assortment of facial piercings in various crowd scenes. It also become briefly popular in the 17th century and then again at the end of the 19th century, and is of course enjoying massive popularity at present.

Simply put, body modification always exists on some level, and depending on the whims of the dominant culture, it becomes more or less apparent to the mainstream (picking up transient enthusiasts at the time). It's possible that the popularity at present has grown large enough that it'll be the norm in the long term, which would be wonderful.

What are misconceptions people have about body mod, the people involved, culture etc?

Let me name a pair of facts first. Body modification is normal for all demographic groups. Body modification is a healthy expression of being human. To generalize, anything other than that is a misconception that has more to do with the ignorance and/or prejudices of the speaker than any truths about body modification itself.

Any religious implications in changing the body?

I guess that depends on your religion. If anything, body modification and more importantly body rites can be used as a tool to “get closer to God” — as was recently seen in Iraq as Shi'ite Muslims free of Saddam's restrictions were once again free to engage in their bloodletting and flagellation rituals!

What would you say to a young person who is thinking of getting any work done?

“I'm glad you're thinking!” is what I'd say. Too many people modify their bodies without really thinking about it one way or the other, which seems to me like it could be kind of wasteful… not that I haven't done exactly that on many an occasion!

What safety precautions do you recommend people know about?

For the basic procedures (tattooing and piercing) I'd recommend that people understand the sterility concerns, how things like cross contamination occur, jewelry selection issues, and so on… if they understand that they'll be able to find the best and safest artists in their area. For heavier procedures I'd advise people to educate themselves as fully as possible on the details of the procedures. Because body modification is on the whole utterly unregulated, and will be for some time still, clients need to be very aware of what they're doing.

What have you done to change your body?

I've cut it, poked holes in it, burned it, shoved plastic under my skin, bisected it, and cut off parts of it. I've done the same things to my cars incidentally. It's all about being yourself, being happy with who you are, and communicating that.

Ask yourself this: are you YOU, or are you what others made you?

Can you tell me a bit about your site?

BME is the largest and oldest (est. 1994) full-spectrum body modification publication on the planet. It strives to help people understand who they are and what they're going through, and to assure them that it's normal. It also fights to responsibly educate the world about body modification, as well as promoting its growth.

"I have no problem with homosexuality.  I have a problem with homosexual acts."

A number of people have pointed out that I'm being “unfair” in calling Sen. Santorum's homophobic and bigotted quotes — in which he'd said that gays were in effect sexual criminals that were “antithetical to a healthy family” (more) — as being statements “by the government”… So I'm adding this entry to cut down on the number of replies I have to do.

Let me be clear on why I put it that way… primarily because he said it with the (silent) support of the government and that support continues. And that silent support should not be ignored, and it is saying volumes.

First, he's the Senate's 3rd ranking Republican (if he can't speak for the government, who can?). Second, he “clarified” his remarks be saying*, “I have no problem with gays, I just have a big problem with them acting on their sodomite desires, and lots of people agree with me too!” (more, more, more). Third, not only has no official statement been issued by the government (more) — Ari Fleisher just said in effect, “it's not a big deal — we've got more important things to worry about” when asked about it (more) — but they are actively supporting him via their “unofficial channels” (more, more).

So, simply:

  1. He is a direct representative of the ruling branch of the US government.
  2. He made profoundly bigotted remarks as a representative of the government.
  3. No statements decrying his comments were issued by the government, so we can assume they stand. On the contrary, the traditional “pseudo-government” lobby groups all supported him.
  4. When asked to clarify his remarks, he “clarified” them into an even more bigotted form.
  5. Again, no statement from the government.
  6. When asked by the press what the President thought about the comments, Ari Fleisher replied that they were really no big deal and joked with the reporters that monitoring the UN inspection teams (which isn't happening) is more important.

PS. Just so you know exactly who Sen. Santorum is, here are a few of his claims to political fame (and I've listed only a few here):

  • He directly supported a bill that would make murdering an abortion provider “justifiable homicide” (more, more).
  • He tried to force through a bill ensuring that “creationism” was taught as a viable scientific theory alongside education in schools (ie. trying to force schools to teach Christian mythology). (more, more, more)
  • He was of course a supporter of the “faith-based” charity system which allows funneling of federal funds to religious groups (more).
  • He's the guy that along with Sen. Brownback is pushing through legislation that would cut federal funding to any educational facilities that allow students to speak against Israel (more, more) — that is, he doesn't give a damn about Constitutional rights.
  • He's also part of the crew supporting putting that crook Chalabi in power (more).
  • He's trying to initiate sanctions against both Syria and Syrians in America (more, more, more).

* PARAPHRASED: The actual quote is “I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts. As I would with acts of other, what I would consider to be, acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships… (and so on)” (more)

Stupid snow


The US government, via Sen. Rick Santorum, said recently that homosexuality was a crime up there with incest (more, more), and called for US leaders to embrace religion. He went all to call George Bush (a Methodist) a great Roman Catholic leader, and decried JFK for not listening more to the Roman Catholic Church when he was in power — not that Bush listened to the profoundly anti-war Pope (more).. Of course, given that many Republicans are being housed in mansions paid for by the Christian right, his statements are no surprise (more, more).

I could link a thousand stories about gigantic protests by Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq demanding a theocracy of their own, complete with repression and less “freedom” than ever existed under Saddam (more, more, more) — that seems to be the story of Iraq right now — looting, chaos, killing, and louder and louder calls to kill America… Then there's always the Red Menace as well (more).

Innocent civilians, mostly children, continue to die every day in Iraq thanks to US aggression (more)… Thanks to mines, US cluster bombs, and so on, children are being killed in playgrounds (more, more, more). Not only that, but the US, who clearly can not handle the overwhelming humanitarian crisis, is blocking any UN aid teams from entering Iraq (more), presumably so they can hand out “aid contracts” to US corporations (more).

I think most of us realize at this point that Iraq didn't have any weapons of mass destruction and the war was started using lies (more), and the fast roll-over clearly shows that Iraq posed no credible threat… That said, given that mainstream America still believes the WMD story (and anything else they're told to believe), the US is blocking access to UN weapons inspectors — after all, if you're going to lie, it's best not to let others prove you're trying to deceive them (more, more).

But don't worry, the government is fighting to get you “easy to use” mini-nukes (more)! Yay for the end of the world. Oh, and here's the best way to guarantee terrorist attacks: hand Iraqi oil to the Israelis (more) under US command… While we're screwing stuff up, did you know that the US is holding children at “Camp Xray”? (more)…

…oh yeah, that and expelling nine-year old girls from school for havin red streaks in their hair (more). America is getting very screwed up… Here's the message that's being sent:

  • If you look normal, act normal, and do what the government tells you, you're the “good american”.
  • If you get bad grades, screw stuff up, don't do your homework, don't learn to read, whatever, it's probably someone else's fault — probably someone with red hair made it impossible for you to work. It's not your fault if you're “normal”.
  • If you don't look normal, you have no right to an education or other government services because you are not a “good american”.

Fight it now, or live with it forever. There's a serious snapback erupting on mods, alternate sexuality, free expression, religion, and everything that one would expect should be embraced in a free society.

I'm a sticker maniac…

OK, I just added six more to the order… I've tried to size them to a legit 72DPI so they will probably be about life sized (or a chunk smaller depending on your monitor settings).

New stickers in 2-8 weeks

The following six sticker designs have just been ordered since people seemed happy with the first set — and I think these look a lot better as well… More will be on the way soon. You can never get enough stickers. Anyway, these are all red, white, and black on vinyl in a 2.13″ x 2.75″ size, courtesy of Sticker Guy (if you wanted to make stickers for a BBQ, or something it's pretty cheap — you can do runs of 250 stickers for $20 postage-paid — just be sure to give 8 weeks lead time).

PS. As always, these are not for sale. When they get here I divide them into four piles. I give one pile to Ryan to throw in with BMEshop orders as he sees fit, one pile goes to BBQ hosts, and the other piles get sent to people who help out via PayPal as well as sending random packages to the pros.