*some portions of interview assisted by p7tms

Daniel, known to many on BME as Loco, has a large interest in body modification, inspiring him to make a trip from Europe to visit Todd Bertrang for several modifications. Daniel also has become the webmaster of Bertrang's website.

What modifications do you currently have?

Well, at the moment I have 25mm(1") earlobes, 5mm(4ga) nipples, a 5mm(4ga) apadravya, 6mm(slightly less than 2ga) dermal punched outer conches, a 6mm(slightly less than 2ga) labret and 8mm(0ga) septum. Besides piercing I wear about 40 hours of tattoos and I used to have a self-done scarification on my left hand but it's very faded and pretty much gone. I've also had the frenulum of my cock removed. I've had a lot more piercings in the past but taken many of them out because I grew tired of them and these days I'm not much into the cluttered "face-full-of-steel"-look. It's OK for somebody else to get as much piercings as they can fit in and I even find that it looks really good on some people, it's just not me anymore. I want more of a maximized minimum, if you know what I mean.

How does your family feel about your mods?

My family doesn't know about my genital mods, although I think they suspect that there's something dangling down there. All they know about are my tattoos, which they are OK with as long as I stay away from the face, neck and hands, and my facial- and nipple-piercings. The piercings I don't think they really understand but they've grown to accept it as a part of who I am now that they've realized that this isn't a phase that I'm gonna grow out of. All in all, my family is very supportive of me in most ways. I actually bought my dad a tattoo for his 50th birthday and now he's planning on getting more.

What types of reactions do you get from people due to your mods?

It differs greatly ofcourse. I always get a lot of stares, mostly because of my ears I think since they are the most radical of my visible mods(I wear a plug in my septum most of the time and most people don't realize that my labret is "that thick" all the way through). Whenever I decide to wear a tusk or something in my septum I notice a big difference in the reactions I get though. I'm pretty easy-going about it actually. If someone seems interested and really wants to know something about my mods I'll be more than happy to talk to them depending on their attitude. For example if somebody really seems to be sincerely interested and aren't going "oh you fucking freak why did you do that?" I'll gladly answer any questions they have as long as I've got the time to spare. But sometimes people are just assholes and I feel like smacking them right in the mouth. It's like just because you look "weird" they not only have the right to stare and point at you while whispering and cracking jokes, they also have the right to grab you and pull on your jewelry and stuff like that. At one time when I came out of a liqeur-store a wino came up from behind and grabbed my lobe and started pulling on it yelling about "crazy kid's probably got a big iron-ring through his dick too, haha!". I got so mad I almost lost it. I yelled something obnoxious to him and just walked away although I really felt like kicking his ass.

What type of jobs have you hold and what type of job do you currently hold?

In the past I've had a million different jobs such as flipping burgers, working in a warehouse, telemarketing and streetcleaning. At the present I'm studying web-design and in the meantime doing a bit of freelance web-design on the side. I also write for two scandinavian metal-magazines, Close-Up Magazine and MetalWire, doing interviews and reviews. I hope to get a steady job doing web-stuff once I'm done with my studies. So if anyone feels like giving me a job or wants me to build them a nice web-page feel free to e-mail me.

Have your mods caused any problems at work?

Not really. Although I've been turned down for lots of jobs because of my piercings and tattoos. My reasoning is like this though that if you're good enough at what you do it really doesn't matter what you look like. You have to be strong enough to make people look past their own prejudice. The thing is that most people that meet me in person and talk to me find that I'm a very nice guy and very easy to get along with. I'm very far from the insane freak that some people seem to think that I am. Unfortunately though I've lost quite a lot of friends because I've chosen a lifestyle outside of the mainstream. Many of my old friends from school can't deal with my mods and therefor stay away from me nowadays. Not that I care too much, I'm still the same person on the inside and if they can't see that they can go fuck themselves to put it bluntly. I've got plenty of friends anyway so I can do without the narrow-minded dickheads in any case.

What has been the inspiration behind your mods?

What first attracted me to mods was that I liked how it looked on others and wanted to try it out myself. As long as I can remember I've admired tattoos and piercings, most of the time being envious of the people wearing them. Some of my tattoos are purely pictorial, i.e. they just look good, but some of them hold a lot of personal meaning to me as well. With the piercings it all started as an aestethic thing and I tried out a lot of different things before I found a combination of piercings that made me feel comfortable and as time goes by a plan has started to form in my head. I've found that my mods make me feel a lot better about myself and essentially boost my confidence and comfort me in a way. Not only that, but some of the mods add function as well. I'm naturally talking about the sexual aspect of mods. Genital piercings can add a whole new dimension to your sexlife. I actually feel more secure in my role as a man now that I've got genital piercings, not because of the whole "I'm a man and I can take the pain"-crap but simply because I enjoy my genitals more now, both aestethically and functionally. Mods make me feel more like the person I want to be than I would without them. It's funny but some mods seem to be calling out you you know? Once you've seen it and know it can be done you just gotta have it! That's how it was with my apadravya. I saw one and instantly felt I had to have one. It's like an urge that is awakened that you didn't even know you had until it reveals itself. To me, mods are both a way to show the world who I am inside as well as a way to make me feel like myself. It's hard to explain, it's just an urge I have.

So would you consider your mods to hold more of a sexual and self-esteem related aspect or is there a spiritual side to your mods as well?

Essentially both. Spiritual in the sense that they are something that I need to have to really enjoy being me. Like I said, it's a strange and unexplainable urge. The other alternative holds true as well because my mods actually turn me on in a way. They make me feel more comfortable with myself and my body and thus help me indulge myself in sexual adventures that otherwise I might not have the confidence for.

What do your mods mean to you?

They mean the world to me naturally. I wouldn't go through hours of pain and months of healing and aftercare if this wasn't something I felt very strongly about. They make me into me although it's an ongoing project ofcourse. I have a fairly clear picture of what I wanna look like and how I want to function once, if ever, I'm "done" with the mods. I get a lot of crap for having mods, especially in Sweden since over here you're "heavily modded" if you have like 5 tattoos on your arms, 0ga lobes and a septum-piercing. I wouldn't take all of the shit that's thrown my way if this didn't mean a lot too me. You see I'm not doing this for attention or shock-value, although I might have been a bit like that 5-6 years ago, I'm doing this because it makes me happy and makes me feel more secure and comfortable with myself.

What future modifications do you have planned?

There's a lot planned as far as future mods go. Definitely a lot more ink. That's something I'm gonna concentrate on during the next year or so. Piercings I'm planning to get is a scrotal-ladder in 6ga, but that will not happen until I can get back to Los Angeles and visit my friend Todd Bertrang, who by the way is responsible for my frenum-removal, apadravya and nipples. I'm also looking into surface-piercings at the moment. There are some of those that I really like, although I'm a bit concerned with them rejecting and leaving ugly scars. If I decide on doing surface-piercings I'm getting them done with surface-bars though, since that seems to be the most sensible option. Another thing that I've been totally fascinated with ever since I knew it was possible is implants. I want some genital beadings done for sure and have another very cool implant-project in the works. I'm not saying what it is since I don't want anyone stealing the idea, haha. But I assure you that if I have it done it will rock bigtime! I've already discussed it with a practitioner actually. All I need is the cash, which is always a problem it seems. One other thing that I definintely am getting done as soon as I can is branding. There's a lot of crappy branders out there though. I'd really enjoy getting work by Blair whom I really admire for his branding. He seems to be a brilliant guy in many aspects. Scarification in general appeals a lot to me but as I said there's a lot of shabby work being done so I'm waiting until I have the chance to have work done by someone I really admire, such as Blair, Lucas Zpira or Toro and Sundream. I was supposed to get a branding done this summer but I actually totally forgot about it because there was a lot of other stuff going on. Finally, there are a couple of surgical mods I've given a lot of thought. First there's tongue-splitting and that I gotta have done sooner or later. Oral mods fascinate me and tongue-splitting is so cool and the sexual benefits of it appeal a great deal to me as well. The whole concept is just so awesome. Secondly, I'm currently contemplating getting circumcized. This is because ever since I had my apadravya and frenum-removal done my penis looks a bit weird when flacid. The foreskin no longer covers the head, instead it looks like a wrinkly tire resting at the base of the cockhead. If I decide to get circumcized it's mainly for aestetic reasons. Thirdly, subincision holds a strong appeal to me and always has as long as I've known about them. I was first planning on getting a subincision done this summer but changed my mind because I decided I wanted to try out a couple of other things before I did something that radical to myself. There's no reason to rush into something like a subincision. If I ever choose to get it done I will have to be VERY sure that I can live with it for the rest of my life. Therefor I'm currently doing a lot of research on the subject and corresponding with a couple of individuals that have subincisions and thus gathering as much information on the pros and cons of this modification. On top of it all I'll keep stretching the piercings I already have a bit more. I'm hoping to have a 0ga labret by the end of the year and possibly stretch my outer conches to 0ga as well. It's often really hard for me to get the mods I want though. Not only because I always seem to have a cash-flow problem but mainly because there is a definite shortage of good practitioners in Europe, especially in Sweden where there basically are none except tattoo-artists and piercers. This is not only bad though because it makes me have to wait a long time for the mods I want and I therefor have time to make sure that I really want it and that I'm not rushing into anything.

When you were in Los Angeles visiting Todd this summer, how did your experiences with the general public differ from those in Sweden?

While in Los Angeles I didn't feel that people stared quite as much at me as they do back home. Why this is, I don't know but I guess they've seen the stretched ears, tattoos and all that a lot more than they have in Sweden. I had no trouble at all with people because of my mods while in the States as a matter of fact. I was a afraid I was gonna set the machine off at the airport going back though, but I didn't. That would've been a pain in the ass with my dick all swollen. I was definitely not in the mood for that kind of hassle.

Todd did your frenum-removal, apadravya and nipples....can you give us details on these procedures?

I had the nipples done on a tuesday and the frenum-removal and apadravya done the day after that. For the nipples I chose to have them done in 4ga since this was the gauge that I wanted them to be in the end anyway. For the procedure Todd had me sitting on a chair while he marked and clamped the first nipple(my right nipple). This nipple had been pierced once before by a clumsy ass of a piercer using a 12ga ring and it never fully healed and I took it out after about two and a half years. This left me with some serious scar-tissue on there. The scar-tissue made this particular piercing a lot more painful than it would've been otherwise. Todd cut through my nipple with a scalpel and then inserted a tapered insertion pin to get the jewelry in place. While doing the actual cutting the cut had to be adjusted a couple of times due to the scar-tissue and because of this the procedure took a bit longer. The pain of the initial cut wasn't that bad actually but the cutting of the scar-tissue hurt like a bitch. Once the jewelry was in place Todd gave me a banana and a glass of orange juice to help my blood-sugar up before he did the left nipple. The procedure was then repeated for the left nipple. For the frenum-removal and apadravya I was lying down. First Todd cut the frenulum off and placed a couple of stitches down there and then he moved in for the apadravya. He clamped the head of my penis and then cut straight through it with a scalpel, tapered a 4ga barbell in there and before I knew it I heard him say "That's it. Now you've got an apadravya my friend". Needless to say I was very happy to hear those words. Then I had to sit with my bloody penis in a mug of herbal tea for about 20 minutes or so and that was pretty much how it happened. It's more than possible that I've forgotten some of the details though. My memory seems to be slipping these days. Must be old age creeping up on me.

What was your inspiration for the frenum-removal?

There are several reasons why I had my cock-frenulum removed. First of all, it was simply too short and sometimes hurt during sex when I was really hard. Secondly, I wanted it removed so that I could have the apadravya centered as much as possible without having too go straight through the frenulum. Also, I've never really liked the way the frenulum-area looks. I'm much happier with the way it looks now.

After having these procedures done, what is your impression of Todd's skill and bedside manner?

I have total confidence in Todd's abilities a piercer and cutter, even more so now after having been on the receiving end of his scalpel. My piercings and frenum-removal were all done to perfection and the aftercare he gives really does work. His aftercare however might demand more of the piercee than the aftercare you'd get at most studios, and I don't see this as a bad thing. The end-result will be very satisfactory if you're just willing to put in the effort and that I am and so should anyone that wants quality mods anyway. There is nothing wrong with his bedside-manor at all. In fact, he's by far the most caring bodmod-practitioner I have come across yet. This is proven partly by the simple fact that he doesn't really make much money of doing mods "his" way. He does it because he loves doing mods I guess. I'd also like to add that my girlfriend was with me at Todd's house and quite contrary to what most people seem to think of Todd he did not in any way try and force mods on her or anything. He was however extremely helpful in answering questions that we both had concerning possible future mods. Plain and simple, Todd Bertrang really is a very nice guy as well as being a very good practitioner as far as pure skill is concerned.

Were there any modifications that you had planned to get this summer during the visit that you did not go through with? If so, what and what were your reasons for holding off?

In additions to the stuff I had done I had planned on getting a 6ga scrotal-ladder of 6-10 rings and also a branding on my chest. The reason I didn't get these done was simply because I had to realize that I couldn't handle any more mods after the nipples, fenum-removal and apadravya had been performed. I had been doing a lot of partying the whole week up until the day when we did my nipples. That this was a bad idea I actually knew but being the schmuck I am I had to really learn it the hard way. My B-vitamin level was extremely low and I was pretty worn out from the drinking and partying and my body thus had a hard time dealing with swelling, bloodloss and so on. So I decided enough is enough, knowing that I would definitely be coming back to Los Angeles with a year or two this was not such a big deal. I'm still fairly young so there's no reason to rush things.

So do you plan on getting the brand and the scrotal ladder both done on the next trip?

The brand I still plan on getting and I'm pretty sure I'll get the scrotal-ladder as well, all in good time. It all depends on what other mods I wanna get next time I visit Todd. If I get something pretty severe done like a tongue-split or a subincision I might be satisfied with that and have to come back a third time. As the plan for my modifications slowly but steadily forms in my head new things are added and the mods shift in priority so it's really hard for me to answer that question right now.

You are currently the webmaster of Todd Bertrang's website. Did this come about before or after your trip to Los Angeles?

I've been the webmaster of Todd's site since the 5th of February this year, almost 4 months before we went to LA. I'd known Todd via ICQ, chat and e-mail for over a year before this though. Oddly enough he didn't know I had the skills until I told him about it a couple of weeks prior to me getting the job. He has previously had a couple of other BME-regulars handling his website and apparently he was very disappointed with the guy that was handling it at that time. The guy just wasn't doing any work at all. In two months or something he only managed to put up 3-4 pictures and did no other work at all on it. So I suggested he fire the slacker and give me the job and it turns out he did. I rebuilt the entire website form scratch, re-organized everything and Todd supplied me with all the necessairy texts and a ton of pictures. Since the actual creation of the present website I've been adding stuff as Todd keeps them coming.

Has holding the position of webmaster been an educating experience for you relating to mods?

Sure it has. I've been seeing pictures of Todd's work and compairing them to work done by others, reading everything that's on his site as well as talking to the man himself and thereby soaking up as much as I've been able too. I had prior to being Todd's webmaster applied several of his methods to mods done by piercers over here, such as utilizing his aftercare and getting local piercers to do some larger gauge experiments on me, so I already knew that his way works fine. Todd is always more than happy to answer any questions I might have about any mods that he himself is capable of performing. Through Todd I've also come in contact with several of his clients and talked to them, swapped stories and educated myself even further. So it has been very educational indeed.

Are there any mods that you think go too far?

As for going too far I think everyone has a limit. I say to each his own, as long as you're not harming anyone else you can do pretty much anything as long as it is for the "right" reasons. For example, I don't condone people cutting themselves up when they are feeling miserable - that's just self-destructive behaviour. However, if someone feels and are sure that they'd be happier being castrated or with a bifurcated dick, that's fine. I don't claim to understand all of the different motivations that various people have for the mods they get but I do try to accept everyones mods and the choices they've made. Personally I think I draw the line at amputation. That is simply something I don't understand. But if someone is happier missing a finger, hand or whatever, good for them. Amputation does raise a whole other set of issues though, most of which are discussed in various sections on BME, and I'm thus not gonna get into the politics of it here. But that's where I draw the line personally I guess.

What advice would you give someone who is planning on getting mods?

The only real advice I'd like to give is to do your research and be very aware of what you're doing before you do it. Don't rush into anything and don't get pierced, tattooed or anything just because it's "cool", because "everybody else is doing it" or something similar. You only have one body and thus you should be careful and be sure to seek out a quality practitioner that you feel comfortable with for any mods you decide to get. Don't let some crappy hack fuck you up just because you're in a rush. Looking back there are a couple of things I might've done differently if I knew what I know today. Nothing major though, so basically I have no regrets myself.

Daniel can be contacted at [email protected] and his web-site can be found at http://locodude.cjb.net

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