What mods do you have?
Well, to some I have a moderate amount but to others they are more extreme. To be honest the quantity vs. what experiences I had getting them is a far more interesting question. However, here they are. Numerous tattoos, full Celtic sleeve right arm, tribal(esque) left; Cobra left leg and fantasy/oriental dragon right leg; allegorical piece on my back; and yes there is my favorite tattoo: a poorly done one on the thigh. I did this one myself, under supervision by the shop owner. It is an Ankh---'eternal life' but now it represents my spirit to explore and to live. That tattoo is my favorite as simple and imperfect as it looks. I do need to explain that on my right forearm is my family crest. My family being of Irish decent the Celtic style that is the rest of the arm fits quite well and I use that style not only because I really like it but it honors them. As far as my left arm, I have the German State shield and the shield of the city in Germany where I was born. The rest is tribal on that arm and also seems to fit the style of the shields. As you now have guessed my family and I are not blood. That's another story, another time.
I have been pierced, branded, scarred and I do have 8 implants. The piercings have been up to as many as many as 20+ for adornment and another 40 entrance and exit wounds for suspensions. All of what is left of the scarrings and brandings have been incorporated into the tattooing but the experiences of getting them and the designs will forever remain with me to the end of my days.
Piercings have included -- earlobes, 8g PA, 2 10g quiches, 1 navel curved BB (size long forgotten) and a septum of at least 10g but had been stretched to 6g (for the record---it's currently at it's smallest size). Extant includes a 5 frenulum ladder and 3 navels (which migrated out), 2 wrist surface piercings and a labret.
Brandings include both the infinity sign on the left biceps and some triangular shapes on the left forearm. All have been incorporated into tattooing. I do not keloid well and for the most part they are not noticeable. What is important is that I know they are there.
Scarrings include some triangular shapes in the upper right arm. I do have an 8 beads implant in my left arm also part of a tattoo design. By the way, I get more interest from people who notice the implants, even doctors, because of what they are but to me they are merely "bumps" to add texture to the art piece.
Who did your implants?
Steve Haworth, September 2000 at Infiinite during his one of his trips East.
What do you have planned for future modifications?
My plans for the future is mostly more tattoo work. There are some details that need to be done with my right sleeve. After that is done I will have the rather disjointed images on my left arm converted into a tribal sleeve. Before that I have been contemplating more implants running down the top of the forearm to the wrist. That has yet to be decided. As far as getting more metal, that aspect is pretty much over. It served its purpose, I had a great deal of fun with it. Besides, the types of piercings I would want I can't have due to my work constraints. Maybe when I retire or win the lottery I'll get those.
You said the piercings have served their purpose, what purpose was that?
The ones I had for adornment were just for that. Sure getting them initially gave me quite a rush but that was transitory. My genital ones still give me pleasure for obvious reasons and those for the most part remain. Getting the piercings were definitely part of exploring how far I could push my body and part of my life's journey. Living and pushing the limits of both your physical and mental body is important to me.
What sparked your interest in body modification?
I don't know if I would call it a spark. It was throughout my youth that I was both appalled that people would do this to themselves but yet very curious. I was brought up in a very conservative but loving household and piercings and tattoos were definitely not the norm. This at the time did not bother me. As time progressed or should I say as I got older and as body mods were becoming more visibly common my older and latent curiosities again started to reemerge to the surface. I was however, now working and working in an industry that really doesn't appreciate body mods and one could argue for good reason. Another influence in the timing was the internet explosion. With sites like BME and others not only piqued my curiosity but intensified it. Finally, and I guess you could call this 'the spark,' as it was a couple of months after my 41st birthday I got my right nipple pierced. Call it giving in to some basic inner calling long suppressed or a mid life crisis or merely satisfying a curiosity, that was the beginning.
Do you regret not starting at an earlier age?
On the one hand, sure I regret not starting earlier however that is questioning the past that can be 20/20. The path of my life was fairly much a straight line. Although, I had some curiosity about getting modded, it was never an overwhelming or a controlling emotion. I then came to a fork in that path and I made a conscious decision to explore where this fork has taken me. It was a change and a welcome one. Getting mods have allowed me to explore areas of my own personality and character that I certainly knew about but kept neatly filed away. Starting earlier would not have served the same purpose. So ultimately, I have no regrets on starting earlier. When I started was the right time and more importantly under the right psyche.
Do you think people had a harder time accepting your choice to be modified since you started later in life?
I don't think so. They tend to be more surprised about what I have done and some do not understand but they are, especially my family and friends who have known me over the years are for the most part accepting and for those who are not as accepting they are respectful of my decisions. I have not lost any friends over my mods and I have gained many new ones.
How has your family accepted your mods?
It has been the gamut of reactions from stunned fascination and acceptance to silence. My sister wanted to see them right away and thinks it's great as long as I am careful (and that in suspensions, as she knows about that as well) to my oldest brother who is silent but without reference to them wanted to make sure I was bringing a long sleeve shirt to play golf in at his country club. How I told them was an interesting story in itself. Another time and another space. The one person in my family who does not know is my father. There is a very good reason and that is that he is 92 now, very sharp and independent. I do not need, wish or want to distress him in any manner. He does not deserve that. I know his opinions and his private reaction should he ever find out. I have too much respect and love for him to put him through anything that would upset him and I know my mods will.
What do you do for a living? And your coworkers & employers know about your mods?
I work for a major retail company here in the DC area. They are very conservative company however also very tolerant prior to public hours, which means, before store opening I can have my sleeves rolled up as I work but as soon as those doors open, I'm in my jacket and tie and no one can tell. As far as my coworkers and employers, they know---maybe not quite everything but anything I permit them to know they do.
Have your mods affected how your coworkers and employers treat you?
Most are stunned and yet fascinated, some more so than others. None, so far have been horrified. Believe it life goes on and that there is a time and place for issues that people may have with my personal choices. They need to deal with me and me with them. I work in a professional environment and I am highly regarded for what I do at work. Besides, I have always believed that business is business and personal is personal. Ask me about what I do outside the work place, outside the work place. However when someone new comes into contact with me and sees something, I will allow them a brief time to ask me if they wish. If they do, I am open with them and their questions. If they don't ask I consider the matter closed. That is my approach. I do have to go into the store during other than work time because I may need something. I have no difficulty wearing what I want and they have no difficulty if I am not covered up as I am not on duty.
What's the most interesting question you've been asked regarding your modifications?
I have been asked all the usual questions. "Did it hurt?" "What are those bumps in your arm?" and so on. I guess the most interesting question came from an emergency physician who quite matter of fact, asked me how the implants were done. He was not judgmental nor critical. In fact the whole episode that night was interesting. I got many questions from the staff of the hospital about my mods including the usual ones.
You've been suspended, describe the experience & what inspired you to go through with it...
I've had the privilege to be suspended twice. The first one was a private suspension which Allen Faulkner and his crew from TSD helped me with. The experience of that suspension, which was a superman, is so hard to describe. So many emotions, feelings and thoughts went through my head. I was up for about 50 minutes or so and the only reason I came down was because I thought it was time. It was a spiritual and emotional event for me. It was an ending but more importantly a beginning for me. I would do it again in a heartbeat. The second was done at TxsCon last year. That was a Coma style. It too was a wonderful experience but for different reasons. More painful but more psychological as you are looking up at the roof and knowing there is nothing keeping you from hitting the ground other than some hooks and rope which you can see. I would do that one again also and I know I will do both again.
Photo courtesy of TXSCON
You were on TLC's "Human Canvas"...
I did it as a favor for Keith Alexander, a friend and the person responsible for most of my piercings, all of my brandings and cuttings. I do not know the circumstances of him knowing the shooting of this program but he thought I would fit in so he suggested that I give them a call. I did and yes they wanted me and a few other people that I know to be part if it. For the record, I am not a media hound. In fact I really don't like to be photographed. It took a lot for me to do that shoot. Also, if you saw it, note that I was a mess. My hair was all over the place, the shirt I was wearing was awful. I had just gotten there from work----work being a 20mi car ride from the NYC suburbs to the city. First they asked me to change into shorts but then the producer saw me and said he wanted to photograph me first in my 'work clothes' so I had to change back. The point being, be mindful of what lies beneath. It was funny actually. When I first saw it on the air, all I could do was shake my head. Almost a year later I had moved from New York to Virginia and within a couple of weeks sure enough the program was re-aired and someone from my new store saw it and asked me if I was that person. To say the least I did a double take. The other people I was with were all from RAB (Rec.Arts.Bodyart) a newsgroup I read often and participate sometimes.
What was your impression of the TLC crew? Did they seem open minded?
The TLC crew was great, not only for being friendly but very professional. They treated us all with respect.
What is your feeling on how the TLC show turned out as a whole? Do you think it approached body modification as it should have?
I think it turned out well. It was informative and interesting to watch. It showed many aspects and history of the art form. It did it with the appropriate amount of caution without being alarmist. It showed that much of what is done today dates back to antiquity and that you never know who has what under their clothes.
How involved with RAB are you?
I have been posting on and off since the beginning of getting my mods, about 4 years or so. I read it almost daily but there are periods that I do not write or respond to postings.
What's your opinion of RAB?
RAB can be annoying, boring but also can be fun and informative.
Some people feel it has become a negative environment, would you agree?
It could be to the uninitiated. There is a certain dynamic to any newsgroup and there is certainly a dynamic to this one. There are the old time dominant posters who show up everyday and respond to almost everything no matter how mundane, boring, stupid or trollish the post may be and those who just sit back read, wince and bring a smile to their faces. If you really look at it, RAB is a great cross section of any social grouping. There is a difference, I have had the privilege to meet in real life some of the members of RAB. Their on line persona vs. their face to face are, for the most part, very different. The difference being, the understanding that human contact vs. the faceless postings which allows people to say things they would never say out loud. I have my friends there and I have met them face to face and I do have people who have expressed a "dislike" for me although we have never met face to face. However, there is a wealth of information and experience for those who look, read and put aside the bull that is written. It can be and is a useful forum.
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