Treat me as a hostile witness…

Here's the follow-up questions they sent me and my answers.

1) My theory is that body modification is part and parcel of an entire “tribe” or culture that exists within mainstream culture – a tribe with its own set of aesthetics, philosophies etc. Am I correct, or totally wrong?

You are totally wrong, but I can understand how it must be easy to operate under that misconception… Sort of like how many people assume “all blacks are alike” because they share a few obvious visual similarities. Of course, this is not true, and there is a massively wide set of ideas and personality types. Body modification is pervasive in all demographics.

But I think the reason we see this misconception is that the average person can't see past their own prejudices and self-worth issues. After all, most people seek to “look like everyone else”… Why shouldn't they assume that people who look the same think the same? It's all very sad — humans can be so much more.

2) If the answer is “sort of right,” (I'm assuming that there are more than one tribe practicing bodmod in western culture, just as more than one tribe practices it across all cultures) then who are these cultures, exactly?

It's not even “sort of right.”

3) What function does bodmod serve for its practioners? Again there are probably many answers – aesthetic, spiritual, as markers of “otherness” or marginalization, as sexual adjuncts, etc. Is there one primary function, or do all of these come into play to the same extent?

They all come into play, depending on the person.

4) I understand “pain with a purpose” (I've had two kids) but like most “mainstreamers,” I'm a bit puzzled by what appears to be the action of undertaking pain that has no obvious result – I'm thinking particularly of the really extreme forms (penile sub-incision, pocketing etc.) What's the point?

I think that's a somewhat ludicrous question that you're asking, and for subjective political reasons, not objective reasons. After all, when was the last time a women with breast implants was grilled, “did you just do it for the pain?” Not only that, but breast implants have a 15% rupture rate, making them (along with most other mainstream cosmetic surgery) hugely more dangerous than atypical body modification. People do this things because they like the effects of the outcome, not because they like having the procedure done.

5) Who do you think makes a good candidate for bodmod – and who doesn't? Are there people that you think just shouldn't go there, for whatever reason (too young, psycological fragility, etc.)

Free humans should engage in body modification and enjoy its rewards. Those who prefer to be slaves should probably play it safe and avoid it.

6) It seems to be that if you really become entrenched in the bodmod culture, you're really well and truly kissing mainstream culture goodbye. Is that the point? And how much do body modifiers value the shock value or impact that their practices have on the regular guy on the street? Does the shock/reaction value figure largely in many people's attraction to bodmod?

Mainstream culture is kissing itself goodbye with its shallow and self-destructive course, and to be honest, it's become decadent like the Roman Empire did as it fell, and cares less and less what appearance people choose for themselves. Sure, there are various neo-con groups having a knee-jerk reaction to body modification, but they're not the norm.

In any case, a person who gauges their self-worth or success by ability to “fit in” is a person who will never achieve anything in life.

7) Why do you do it? What's in it for you? What have you had done? How far are you willing to go? What does it give you – I'm looking for real specifics: a rush, a high, a sense of control, aesthetics, a political statement, etc. Anything and everything you can give me would be great.

I think it's very sad that people who make decisions outside of the mainstream — that is, for themselves, not just because they were in effect forced to “to fit in” — are somehow expected to go to great lengths to validate their behavior through complex explanations. Can you really answer why you look the way you do? Why isn't “because I like it and it feels good” enough?

8) Finally, how are your personally positoned vis-a-vis mainstream society? I assume you're not serving coffee at Starbucks – I could be wrong. Is your interest in bodymodification a consequence of your own internal and external situation; or did you get into on a whim and then liked it so much that it became your dominant interest? (if it is).

Well, Starbucks won't hire people with piercings, so instead I formed my own IVR (Interactive Voice Response) corporation. As a result, I've got a net worth in the millions and two Porsches sitting in my driveway — those people at Starbucks who refuse to hire “people like me” can kiss my a**. I'd also like to point out that 60% of entrepreneurs are highschool dropouts. When you exclude people from a system, instead of becoming “failures”, many choose instead to create their own new system, and often this new system is superior to the mainstream one.

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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