Did you ever notice?

Caitlin noticed this today… Glenn Hetrick is like a goth Donald Trump.

Gender issues in piercing, archived interview

I just did a little interview with a Brazilian author. I’m always so paranoid these days that my pain level is distorting my ability to answer properly, be it by making my answers to shallow or be it because I’m in a constant terrible mood that I’m always fighting to keep from leaking out (my “stay calm” tattoo could not be more relevant). So I hope this turned out ok. Please don’t tell me that it is, I’m not saying this to fish for compliments — if you do feel like commenting, comments on the questions or your own counter-answers are always interesting.

*** Piercing as we know it started in the Los Angeles Gay S&M scene. Can you give a brief history of how women started to surface in the body piercing community?

I would not make that statement at all. There have always been piercing societies, documented back to the 1500s, and it has always been about both men and women. It is true that in America, the first piercing studios were opened by gay leather men, so sometimes people think this is where piercing came from, but that’s not true — it’s just who started the first businesses. They deserve a mountain of credit for that of course, but don’t think that it represented the whole piercing community. If you look at other areas, Europe for example, the piercing community had a heterosexual bias. Piercing has never been limited to just one demographic group, and has always been very diverse.

*** Are there any divergences in the way society views modified men and women? If there are, what are the most apparent?

The differences in the way society views modified men and women simply reflects the way society views men and women in general — to generalize, men are tough, women are sexy. Some parts of the body modification community are more socially aware, some are less. As I said, the body modification community is really just a slice of the larger world.

*** Body modification in most of it’s forms is commonly considered an expression of individuality, yet each day we see more and more people modified, many of them with the same tattoo motifs and same piercings. From your point of view, why is this and how did it start?

Humans like to tell themselves that they’re individuals, but we’re herd animals at our core, and are mortally frightened of actually being individuals. They love symbols of individuality but don’t really like being individuals most of the time. In any case, people getting the same modifications as others has always been a significant part of the mod world — if anything, it’s individualism that is new and atypical. Indigenous societies tended to get the same tattoos of course, and then here in the West tattooing has spent much of its history being flash-based, with people selecting their tattoos from a limited menu. Even much custom work draws from a limited iconography. But I think it’s also important to understand that most people don’t see tattooing as making themselves a true individual — they simply see it as separating themselves from the untattooed mainstream. And this attitude is rapidly disappearing as tattooing becomes common to the point of normalcy, making the majority of claims of individuality vapid, shallow, and ludicrous.

*** Tongue piercings and lower back tattoos (rudely called tramp stamps) are commonly associated with both femininity and promiscuity, do you consider this a coincidence?

I think it’s fairly obvious that the sort of person who sees such links is connecting tongue piercing to oral sex — sexual submission being the implication — and the lower back tattoo is linked to intercourse from behind — again, sexual submission being the implication. I don’t think anything here is surprising or coincidental — I’d say it’s quite obvious and mirrors the way the women are treated by men in general (and occasionally how they exhibit themselves to men).

*** In your view, has body modification, other than plastic surgery, been incorporated into the mainstream vision of beauty?

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that body modification is part of the mainstream view of beauty, but over the last decade a “tattooed vixen” archetype has certainly developed that markets “edgy” sexuality to the mainstream in a way that they see as both exciting and safe. Given the overall gentrification of body modification, and most subcultural communities due to the Internet overexposing every facet of human expression, this is completely unsurprising.

The Sleeper Has Awakened

I’m just going to echo the entry I wrote for BME here:

Over five years since tattooing a small part of my eye blue in the very first set of eye tattoo procedures — the day that opened Pandora’s Box and launched perhaps the riskiest but most exciting body mod procedure to date — Howie (LunaCobra.net) has done the next and perhaps final stage of my eye tattoos. As you may know, my blue eyes are at least in part inspired by the Eyes of Ibad that the Fremen of Arrakis (ie. Dune) get due to their constant exposure to the powerful drug melange. Normally when Howie does an eye tattoo, the wearer is looking for a solid color — although there are obvious exceptions like Pauly Unstoppable’s unbelievable “cosmic eyes” which involve complex gradients. In my eyes we went with the “less is more” theory, using the fact that ink injected in the eye spreads dramatically to create a hazy, cloudy effect that looks different from every angle, mostly quite subtle, but almost blue-black in a few deeply saturated spots. The eye is both subtle and extreme, in an effect that’s completely alien, yet maintains its humanity and is almost even normal — I’ve noticed in public that people seem unsure what they’re seeing, whether it’s natural, or a trick of the light, or something induced.

The effect will probably continue to change somewhat over the next several months. These pictures in this entry were taken on day three, about 48 hours after the procedure, and at that point all swelling and irritation was already long gone — in fact it was gone 12 hours later, or when I woke up the next morning. I believe this is in part Howie’s experience, and in part how light we went with the procedure. I truly believe that with eye tattoos, it’s important to err on the side of going light — you can always add more in a few months (or in five years) if you went light, but if you go heavy, well, you’re going to have to live with it.

Remember, if you are interested in eye tattoos, these are a high-risk procedure that should only be attempted by those with significant experience and training. Please begin by reading BME’s Eye Tattoo FAQ.

Citrine Rock Head Zombie

While sending out the most recent orders, I got an idea in my head after seeing what loose stones I had lying around, and made a new zombie ring that is one of my most ambitious to date… It’s a size 11 1/2 based on my second zombie ring design, the largest of the bunch, which gives me quite a bit of room to play. I drilled out the eyes and enlarged them to accept a pair of red 8mm CZ gemstones, and re-carved lots of new and improved detail into the face. But what I really like about this ring is that I carved out the exposed skull detail, which is normally just metal, and set a tumbled citrine into the head, so that it’s got a stone skull. I’m really happy with how it turned out. In addition, the ring is finished in a mix of my normal black oxide and brass plating over top of the tin/bismuth base metal. This ring wasn’t made for anyone in particular. It can be sized up but not down. Feel free to make me an offer. It’s two and a half hours of work by the way, plus materials, so I’ll consider any non-insulting offer (although I really haven’t decided whether I want to sell it). Edit: This ring is sold!

Other than that my health is continuing to decline, although I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning. My apnea and heart stopping is escalating as far as I can tell and there are many nights (and days) where I wonder if it’s my last. It’s hard to describe what it’s like, because it’s not as if I’m gasping for air, as there’s no desire to breathe. Can you even imagine what it’s like not to breathe but not to want to? I don’t think it’s even possible to hold your breathe and disconnect yourself from the need for oxygen (or need to expel CO2 if we’re being technical about it). It’s not something one is supposed to experience. It’s even stranger when my heart stops. It pauses for a few seconds, and during that period there’s no fear or pair or sense that anything is wrong… If I’m not paying attention I don’t even notice it. If I am, it’s mostly just strange. The heart stops for a few seconds, and then quietly starts again, very lightly and then over four or five beats back to a normal strong heartbeat. No one has any explanation for me.

Anyway, zoom in and see my latest work. I’ve got a few special stones that I need to do something with, so I may create a few more special pieces like this. As painful as it is to do the work, I find it rewarding, and a nice break… Especially since Facebook’s messaging system is effectively broken for me, so I can’t properly research stories for ModBlog.

So many comics, so little time…

There’s an amazing amount of talent in comics these days — some really great new series. One of my favorites that I really want to recommend is Vertigo’s Punk Rock Jesus (available both in print and for download), about the life of a cloned reincarnation of Jesus, created for a reality show, and eventually having a punk rock rebellion when he clues in to the truth of the world. They’re on issue four of the initial story run of six, and it’s gotten better every issue. Love it. Other superb new series include The Massive (asking what might the life of a Sea Shepherd-like eco-activist organization be like after a pole-shift-apocalypse?), Mind The Gap (afterlife/out-of-body musings), Saucer County (a prominent politician is abducted and starts investigating UFOs — also in the alien theme there’s Resident Alien which just wrapped up its initial run, about a crime-solving alien posing as a small town doctor), Rachel Rising (another incredible comic by Echo‘s Terry Moore about witches and im/mortality), MIND MGMT (CIA mind-control type comic), Think Tank (pro-science comic about a DARPA-type weapons researcher rebelling against his masters), Dancer (a James Bond type comic that just wrapped up), A Fine And Private Place (this just started — an amazing ghost and afterlife story), Revival (a brilliant and perhaps supernatural, perhaps alien, take on the zombie comic), Stitched (a very creepy horror military-themed comic), Crossed (both Badlands and the online Wish You Were Here are amazing variations on the post-apocalyptic zombie/pandemic theme, much darker and more perverse than any other series in the theme), Ferals (a good werewolf series — and if you like that there’s also the X-files like Bad Medicine about a medical team that investigates such things), The Strain (Guillermo Del Toro’s horror/vampire/pandemic comic), The Manhattan Projects (a gonzo-hilarious sci-fi retelling of post-WWII secret science), Harbinger (a remake of the classic Valient series about superpowers — my favorite supernatural universes next to Invincible), Superbia (a four-comic series, wrapped up, very funny secret-life drama of what it’s “really” like to be a superhero — good for fans of The Boys), Near Death (about a hitman who after a near-death experience decides to start saving lives instead), Harvest (about a down-on-his luck doctor who gets roped into underground organ transplants), Dan the Unharmable (hilariously dark series that just wrapped its initial story run, about a indestructable dirtbag PI), Supercrooks (a four-part wrapped-up heist story, very fun, focussed completely on anti-heroes), Smoke and Mirrors (about a magician from our world that finds himself in a world where magic is real and commonplace), Grim Leaper (a wonderful four-part wrapped-up love story about a couple who find each other even though they keep dying and jumping into new about-to-die bodies), Complex (a weird comic that reminds me of The Prisoner), Saga (an incredible sci-fi love story)… I’m also continuing to enjoy Kirkland’s two main offerings, The Walking Dead and Invincible (his superhero comic, which is just incredible — in many ways I actually prefer it to TWD), as well as Sweet Tooth and a few other pre-2012 series… And I’m dying for the next installment of Locke&Key as well… I could go on and on… I haven’t even mentioned all the amazing one-offs…