Thursday, December 25, 2008

it pays to be inked

Hey all! Merry Christmas if you celebrate that kinda thing :o) Since my family does, and are currently trying to rip me away from my MacBook to join in the festivities, I'm gonna have to make this short. Not a problem though, as all I really have to say is that if you're tatted with any kind of Asian-inspired imagery, you can submit a photo of your mods to a contest run by TY KU liquor. Just fill out the form provided, attach a photo of your tat, and presto, you'll be entered to win a party thrown in your honor at the tattoo shop of your choice as well as a TY KU gift package. Never tried the stuff myself, but it's endorsed by the ladies of Missbehave magazine which, from my experience, is definitely a good sign. The deadline is January 30th, so you still have plenty of time to enter, but make sure to get in there if you qualify! It's worth a shot, and if you win your tat will be displayed in the next TY KU ad. Mods and liquor. Yum. Enjoy the holidays all!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

voyeur with a cause

Body modification is a term that can be used to describe countless bodily alterations, both mainstream and alternative. The range of procedures it encompasses seems to grow every year as dedicated bod mod practitioners, plastic surgeons, and other mod specialists utilize their knowledge of the human body as well as the ever-expanding range of technologies available to them to advance the science of body modification. Some mods, like amputation and facial reconstructive surgery, are undergone to treat a pre-existing problem. Others are done purely for their aesthetic appeal, or for the very experience of pain and healing itself. Still others are done not for the modder's health or pleasure, but to have some effect on those who will be viewing the mod. That is, outward-directed mods. Some choose to tattoo swastikas on their body to educate others about the symbol's benevolent roots. Gang tattoos can also fall under this category, as obtaining one is typically a non-negotiable requirement for initiation into the gang, and because these marks are often used to distinguish friend from foe. These mods send a message. They are not a simple nostril piercing or flower tattoo that can mean something different to every viewer. They are in-your-face, and guaranteed to have an impact on the outside world. It is with this very intention that Canadian filmmaker Rob Spence will soon be getting one of the most inventive and technologically sophisticated mods I've ever encountered. After an initial eye injury and subsequent complications, Spence recently had his eye surgically removed and replaced with a prosthetic. He is now involved in a project to turn that prosthetic into a working videocamera that will record the world as he sees it, literally from his point of view. Just like any other outward-directed mod, the new eye will make Spence's private world public, in more ways than one. First off, the feed from the camera will be broadcast live on a webpage so viewers can see what Spence is seeing at all times (unless of course he has temporarily turned it off). In addition to having access to what's in front of Spence's face, viewers will also get a taste of what's going on in that buzzing mind of his. He hopes his new eye will help to disseminate his personal views on what he calls our "culture of surveillance." People have already started to tell Spence that they will not want to be filmed when he finally completes the new eye - which is exactly the reaction he's going for. "People are more scared of a center-left documentary maker with an eye than the 400 ways they are filmed every day at the school, the subway, the mall," he says. His aim is to make people more aware of the invasion of privacy that has become disturbingly commonplace in the lives of Americans, an invasion to which we have become comfortably numb.
Although he calls himself the "eyeborg guy," Spence is a bit different from typical cyborgs. Cyberpunk novels depict cyborgian characters who have melded their bodies with various technological devices in order to compete with the Man, and simply stay afloat in an ever-evolving world of corporate takeover and oppression of the common man. Rather than wanting to compete with the Man, Spence wants to reveal His subtle infringements on the rights of citizens, himself included. With his new eye Spence hopes to get people thinking about privacy, and presumably how, in recent years, more and more citizens have been willing to give up their rights and freedoms in exchange for what are hailed as "safety measures," but are in some cases nothing more than unabashed snooping sprees by Big Brother. It's easy to live in blissful denial of the fact that your private phone calls may be secretly monitored, but when your every word is being recorded by a human eye, the uncomfortable truth is inescapable. Spence's message is in your face, literally.
Hearing about Spence's project has gotten me thinking about a lot of elements of body modification that I don't think I've addressed before. For example, the idea of a mod being totally in-your-face got me thinking about people with really heavy facial modifications. Why do they do it? I love mods, but I get enough comments about my two tiny facial piercings and 3/4" lobes as it is. I couldn't imagine looking like this dude.
He probably gets stares wherever he goes, and likely gets shunned by many older folks who simply can't get past the prejudices ingrained in them decade after decade. I've been wondering if perhaps these individuals get such extensive mods to prove to society that looks can be deceiving, or at the very least that they aren't everything. Talking to a heavy modder is likely no different than talking to any other person out there. They're not insane, they're not deviant, they're probably a generally 'normal' lot in terms of their behavior and hobbies and such. I wonder if perhaps the message they're trying to send is that we need to stop judging books by their covers, whether that cover be black, transgender, disfigured, tattooed, whatever, and realize that we're all one in the same. Fuck, maybe I'm overanalyzing here...maybe they just love the aesthetic of heavy mods!
So, yea, that was my ramble for today. Hope you enjoyed it and possibly derived some sliver of education or entertainment from it. P.S. I'm totally open to any ideas for blog posts, so let me know what interests you and I'll do my best to scribble something up on it! Oh yea, in case I don't see you, happy motherfuggin holidays.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

getting down with "opening up"

I am and have been, since the very beginnings of my interest in body modification, a huge fan of BME's former godfather, Shannon Larratt. His writing has always been clear, concise, and often damn witty, making for years of engaging Modblog posts and BME feature articles. After a shitshow of legal battles earlier this year, Shannon is now divorced from BMEzine, much to the chagrin of his many followers and admirers. Through his many contributions to the body modification community he has, in my opinion, advanced the subculture as well as mainstream understanding of the subculture more than any other single person in the bod mod community. He has disseminated information on every type of body modification imaginable, and has always strived to understand and explain the various practices from a range of viewpoints, yielding incredibly in-depth and well rounded sources for anyone wishing to better understand a particular aspect of the subculture. I know this is a long-winded and kiss-ass-ish intro, but I seriously respect Shannon both as an individual and a mod-vocate.
After his break with BME, Shannon continued to blog on his personal website, Zentastic, which I check out from time to time and see what he's been up to. There are usually lots of photos of his adorable daughter Nefarious and stories about their various excursions, but he also keeps readers up to date on his many projects, one of which being a newly released book of interviews called "Opening Up." In accordance with Shannon's dedication to keeping bod mod info ever-flowing and ever-accesible, the book is available from Zentastic under a creative commons license in PDF form FOH FREEZ! How awesome is that? I personally downloaded a copy right away, but after having perused it a bit have asked for a hard copy for Christmas. Let me tell you right now: if you are at all interested in body modification, as an artist, piercer, modder, BIID sufferer, psychologist, sociologist - the list goes on - you need this publication. It's chock full of interviews with everyone from piercers, tattoo artists, and extreme body mod practitioners to doctors, voluntary amputees, and modified celebrities. There are even gag-inducing sections that relay mod artists' horror stories with perverted and hygienically challenged customers, as well as an informative section on the development of microdermals and surface piercing.
Although this post isn't a review of the book, it is my version of a gold star, two thumbs up, smiley face, what have you. If you're looking for the perfect Xmas gift for that special modded someone, there's no doubt that their face with light up with sheer glee upon receiving this gem. I might return to talking more about this book once I've read more than the 5 or 6 interviews I've checked out so far, but I wanted to mention it as early as possible so all y'all readers can check it out for yourselves. Enjoi, and, you're welcome :o)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

temporary failure to conform

As the majority of my customers at Chili's are older folks or families, it's always nice to have a modded bunch to serve. I know that looks can be deceiving, but I've found that most modders I meet often share at least some basic views of mine and are a pleasure to chat with. Enter an adorable couple at table 93, Dnash and his lovely Icelandic lady, Aggatho. They're both wearing matching crocheted beanies (which I later found out were made by Agga herself) that have little apple stems poking out the top, and sit next to one another rather than on opposite sides of the booth they occupied. Luckily I'm allowed to wear my 3/4" plugs to work, and they acted as the perfect little ice breaker to get us into talking about mods. Agga sported a pair of cute red plugs, an eyebrow barbell, and a nostril ring, while Dnash was adorned only with his mass of facial hair (although after spotting a sparkle up mah nose told me that he previously wore a septum ring too). After talking for a few Dnash handed me his business card, saying that he makes vampire fangs for a living. I was, of course, enthralled to hear this, as fangs are a rarely seen but really effing cool mod in my opinion. Although the option is certainly available to get one's teeth filed into a point, it's a painful and permanent procedure that I would imagine is regretted more often than not. Biting my tongue is painful enough as it is! Ouch... Dnash's creations provide a great solution for those interested in vamping (ha) up their look, but only part-time. As I inquired further about the fangs Agga pulled out what looked like a pill case, and within seconds had slipped two tooth-colored caps onto her canines. I was amazed at how flawless they looked! If I had encountered her with the fang-sthestics already in I definitely would have assumed them to be her real teeth. And, to be honest, they also looked pretty hot! Although I'm not into the whole vampire aesthetic/subculture, I've actually been considering getting a pair ever since our meeting!
In any case, the encounter got me thinking about all the temporary mods out there, and how they allow people to maintain a professional appearance when necessary, like in the workplace and at family gatherings (depending on your family, of course), but also be able to satisfy the desire to modify one's body when alone or in the company of more open-minded folk. There are a few categories of temporary body mods, including those related to particular subcultures (fangs, corsetry/tightlacing, ear pointing - real, faux), mainstream mods gone funky (crazy contact lenses 1, 2, extreme hair color, elaborate nails, artsy makeup 1, 2), special occasion or extreme mods (body painting/airbrushing, play piercing, saline injection), and kiddie mods (henna, temporary tats, magnetic earrings). I love that there are so many options to customize, decorate, and alter one's body without having to make a permanent commitment. Although permanent mods certainly hold a value all their own, temporary mods allow for individuals to get to know their body better, to remove themselves from their prim and proper everyday appearance (and, perhaps, state of mind), and to fulfill their instinctual desire to mod without fear of repercussions from what may be a not-so-mod-friendly community. Plus it's just really fun. I mean, imagine smiling at your local bank teller while sporting a set of Dnash's pearlies. Good for a double-take, that's for sure :o)
Whether they're done alone as explorations of the body or done in order to achieve a temporarily different look, non-permanent mods offer all the fun of body modification without the various anxieties that sometimes accompany it. So, what's your poison?