SPC: Jack Yount

Jack and Kristin of Nomad

Jack and Kristin of Nomad

The first article I ever submitted to BME was a memorial piece on my friend and mentor Jack Yount.
That was two years shy of twenty years ago. I had always planned on writing more about Jack per Shannon’s request, but as time went by and other projects took my attention I didn’t get around to it. Which is strange considering the massive impact the friendship with Jack had on my life. So. I’m sorry it’s taken a few decades to get back to where I started, but sometimes it’s nice to take the long way ’round.

Rasmus photographed by Stanley Kubrick

Rasmus photographed by Stanley Kubrick

Jack was born John Andrew Yount on Sep 15, 1926. When he was nine years old, his parents took him to the circus where he saw the infamous strongman Rasmus Nielsen. Rasmus was a circus sideshow performer; a three-in-one blacksmith, tattooed man and strongman. Had that been all, he may have still influenced young Jack- but thankfully Rasmus had set himself apart from other tattooed men with the addition of tongue, septum and nipple piercings which he hung weights off of to the shock, horror and delight of 1930s circus goers. A pre-Lifto Lifto!

Seeing Rasmus swing weights from his pierced nipples never left Jack and in the 1950s while attending college Jack read about a student at a rival school who had spent a summer in Europe studying and ended up travelling around with gypsies. When he was finished with his semester abroad they threw him a party and pierced his ear which made a splash in the local papers. A friend of Jack’s who had served in the Navy decided that they “we’re not going to let them get away with all this, are we?” and Jack and twelve or so of his fellow students decided to pierce their left ears.Rasmus_Nielson-1-797321

Six months later Jack, remembering Rasmus, figured that if piercing his ear didn’t hurt.. maybe his nipples wouldn’t either and with that in mind used a darning needle to pierce his nipples. Earrings were inserted and with that, Jack became a piercer. Word discretely got out and Jack began piercing friends, and then friends of friends. By the time I met him  he was already a Master Piercer with thirty years of experience, working under the name of Mr. Jay.

I was a teenager then; fifteen years old with a few tattoos that my mom had lied about my age for me to get. Piercing was something I had experimented with when I was much younger but at the time there was no real outlet for. There weren’t openly advertised piercing shops unless you lived in San Francisco, LA or some other big city and here I was smack in the center of Florida, not old enough for a driver’s license but still wanting pierced. While at Bud Pierson’s ANCIENT ART tattoo in Orlando I inquired with Bud about piercing. Not spooked by my age he said that yes, he did occasionally do it, but didn’t like to, and why don’t I just talk to Jack Yount about it? He lived closer to me than Ancient Art, and I think you two would get along.

A less modified Jack on the beach

A less modified Jack on the beach

Bud scheduled my tattoo appointment to coincide with Jack’s, and soon I was to meet the man who influenced my life in ways that I still can’t fully articulate. I didn’t really know what to expect, but when I walked into the room to see Bud tattooing the very upper inner thigh of a cotton haired 63 year old… that wasn’t it. The first thing I noticed was that Jack looked like he was someone’s grandfather. The second were the 00g rings he was wearing in his stretched and tattooed nipples (which were easily 1″ by then). The third was that he was wearing a lycra thong that contained a penis bigger than a coke bottle.

Obviously I knew right then and there that Bud was right. We would get along just fine. I introduced myself, telling him that Bud had recommended him for piercing, and I know it’s weird that I’m only fifteen but my parents are right outside and if he were to talk to them they’d give consent for sure…

Image17Jack waited patiently for my breathless run on sentence to finish up, smiled and said “Why don’t you all come out to my place in Zephyrhills. We’ll make a day out of it.” And we did. That first visit, my parents came with me. I can’t really express the surreality of my folks- my Dad a farmer who’s nickname was the Gator and my Mom a tiny spunky Southern Baptist- in a house filled wall to wall with homoerotic art and giant framed portraits of naked pierced and tattooed men. Needless to say- they fell in love with Jack too.

My first piercing from him was my nipple. This was a different time and place than the modern standard of Body Piercing; Jack worked out of his home. He’d offer you sweet tea, maybe an eskimo pie… as well as injectable anesthetics. “Piercing is brutal. It’s better to feel a small prick than a big one, right?” Jack did almost all of his piercings with 2% xylocaine injections beforehand. He also started most piercings at a minimum of 10g and larger if the customer asked.

While my parents sat by the pool, Jack showed my brother and I his ‘modification album’. By this point I had already tracked down every available PFIQ, Body Art and Piercing World Magazine I could get my hands on (apologies to you all, but I totally lied about my age. Sorry Jim, Pauline, Ted) but this… this was the holy grail.

Somewhere along the road, Jack had developed an interest in ‘Modifications’. I had never really heard the word in that context before; this was when the most extreme thing anyone had ever seen was Carl Carroll’s bisected penis in Modern Primitives, and here’s a whole album of things that made that look like a starter set.

Image55

“This- that’s my friend Rudy. He has 1000cc of silicone in his bag. The Doctor did this last visit. Oh. That’s my friend Bill. We split his cockhead a few years ago”. Every consecutive photograph blowing my mind with Jack smiling, telling us personal anecdotes about the men in the album. It was surreal in how quaint it was. It never felt weird or creepy which considering the circumstances could have easily been the case.

By the time we left Jack’s place we had made a new friend and followup appointments for  PA piercings. Thankfully Jack didn’t make me bring my parents for that one! As our friendship grew he started introducing my brother and I to a collection of modification marvels; men with penises and scrotums so full of silicone they had to have custom pants tailored; men with perfectly surgically formed vaginas who weren’t transgendered; eunuchs, nullos, amputees… every visit to Jack’s house was special.

Image47Jack himself had an impressive selection of surgical body modifications:
He had been castrated; he had his suspensatory ligament cut. He had large amounts of silicone injected into his penis (which was also subincised with a surgically split/reshaped glans) and scrotum (which contained several silicone coated stainless steel balls) and chest which was also augmented with estrogen therapy to help grow breasts. His left index finger tip had been amputated and he was tattooed from neck to toe. Before amputating his scrotum he was having issues with conventional toilets, so he had his urethra rerouted between his scrotum and anus and towards the end of his life he ever started stretching his ear lobes.

Through Jack I met his apprentice Mike Natali (who also went on to be a big influence in my life) as well as Brian Skellie who’s still a friend to this day. I learned about art and culture, music and gardening. Jack became family, a surrogate grandfather who not only taught me how to split a penis but how to be an adult. He quietly influenced a generation of modification fans via his influence on me and my connection with Shannon/BmeExtreme. He passed away in Hospital in Copenhagen Denmark on Jul 15, 1995 at the age of 68.

Jack and Brian Skellie

Jack and Brian Skellie

I’m not sure what he’d make of modification today with it being more aesthetic than sexual and more public than private, but I’d give anything to be able to talk to him one more time, about my life and my adventures on the road he helped me find.

Thank you Jack, for everything.

As always, if anyone has any followup questions they’d like to ask about Jack- throw them in the comments section. I really do work for tips, and my tips are you folks discussing modification, not just reading and not interacting, so if you’d like these recollections to continue… you now what to do!

Oh! And for those of you who would like to hear Jack speak- several years ago I shared some great video with Bme/News featuring Jack. Check them out!

On Piercings and Subincisions
On Silicone Injections.


377714_4397120693666_450451457_nShawn has spent the majority of his ife in the modification world.
In addition to writing poorly for Modblog, he also edits the often neglected Scarwars site, the more frequently updated Occult Vibrations tattoo blog as well as his personal diary at Sacred Debris. He lives in Philadelphia with his faithful Italian Greyhound Bailey, his roommate Megh and a steadily growing Pushead collection

30 thoughts on “SPC: Jack Yount

  1. Hi Shawn,
    I’d love to see any more pictures of Jack and his work! I also remember a Dr. Brown being involved at one point? Maybe a story about that as well? Jack was an amazing man and i am very jealous of your friendship! If only i had been around then! Great article Jack and Shannon definitely opened my eyes up at an early age to the not-so-accepted private modifications and have positively changed my life since!

  2. Shawn, that’s another beautiful tribute to Jack as well as an amazing story about the origins of your interests as well as the origins of our community and culture. I love this SPC series – I have been missing the old SPC for years (and missing you!!) and this is an awesome blast from the past.

  3. There’s a world of stuff that I left out-

    Jack was a devoted husband and father. After his wife passed he had the diamond from her wedding ring made into an earring which he wore until his passing. It was stolen by the cremator but his 00g nipple rings SURVIVED cremation and after a polish from Chuck @ Bravo! were good as new.

    He was an executive at a major home fixtures company before he retired.

    He was a major patron of Dr. Ronald Brown (re: The Doctor) who later went on to be convicted of the death of a 77yo man who’s leg he amputated. Jack would fly the Doctor to Florida for lighter modification work and would fly to his clinic in Mexico for more advanced surgical procedures.

  4. It’s nice to see Modblog getting back to itself again. Especially with a lovely tribute to Jack. He was a great man and my nipple inspiration.

  5. What a great read!!! Your so lucky to have had the chance to not only learn from Jack but to know him personally, as a friend. A lot of people have hero’s and Jack is definetly one of my hero’s and I absolutely LOVED this article and I can’t wait to see more! Thanks Shawn!!

  6. Stories like this remind me of why i got into the community and what made me fall in love with bme. please keep the stories and history coming shawn <3

  7. I keep trying to write you guys a straightforward history piece when I sit down at the Macbook; but then I invariably personalize it and make it about my experiences with the subject at hand. I was always the kind of person who wanted to get right in there with things, not write about them objectively. As such it’s making this more about MY life than I intended….

  8. this place hasnt been the same without you. keep it coming, i found your articles a good read years ago, thats still the case

  9. Don’t second guess your writing. It’s enjoyable, insightful, and thought-provoking.
    Do you have approximate dates for the photos above?

  10. Chris:
    Jack and Kristin: Approx 1992-3.
    Kubrick Rasmus: 1950s.
    Kobel Rasmus: 1940s.
    Jack on Beach: early/mid 1980s
    Portrait: 1990/91
    Nipples: 1991/2
    Jack and Brian 1993/4.

    All approx.

  11. I really enjoyed this read. I think a lot of folks can say that some of this experience sounds familiar just based on how BMEzine itself changed our lives. I’m 22 years old now, I found bme around 16 and tattooed my face at 18 or 19. I read this story as if I got to know him as well. It reminds me of what a great community we are. I’m proud to be a professional piercer and carry on this legacy. I look forward to seeing more posts from you!

  12. Paul! I’ll be seeing you at conference and want a hug.. AND I’ll be in the bay area in July so I’m going to invite your sexy ass to dinner.. maybe we’ll collaborate on something. Which isn’t me flirting. Mostly.

  13. I love the history of body modification. Thank you for sharing, I look forward to more!

  14. Shawn, I really enjoyed this post. I love reading stories of before body modification was “trendy”. It is so great to read about people exploring sexuality and extending the bounderies of what it means to be human.

    I can not put into words how happy it makes me to read about the way body modification used to be. I think that for us that got into body modification before it was mainstream these posts bring back something that has been by and far lost.

  15. Shawn, how old were you when Jack did your P.A.? Still 15/16? What was his general opinion on piercing minors, especially regarding piercing genitals on minors? This is very interestingly unique to me because based on the way you tell the story, it doesn’t sound like there was any apprehension on his behalf on doing the piercings. If that’s the case, do you believe it was because of speaking with you first and gauging your intest on the subject, or if it was a general thing?

  16. Great question.
    It was a time/place where the idea OF a minor getting pierced- much less genital piercing- was incredibly uncommon.
    I’d say the average age of his clients was 50 (with 40 and 60 being common) so someone so young requesting these things was a sort of curiosity. Obviously he knew that my parents were ok with piercing since they spent that first day up there with my brother and I and never flinched at Jack’s photos etc so when we asked about the PA (and yes… 15) he was fine with it. Had it been another person my age… probably would have been a different story.

  17. First and formost, I’m enjoying reading your articles so much! Seriously, so good! Secondly, do you have access to any of the “extreme” photos that Jack shared with you in the early days? I would absolutely love to see some early examples of this type of work.

  18. I do. I have all of them. A significant portion of the early bme/extreme content was stuff from Jack, or stuff that I shot at Jack’s house.

  19. I had heard most of these stories and seen most of these pictures but Brian Skellie without a mustache? That’s a shocking image to come across!

    Keep these post up, Shawn. The young un’s need to study their history!

  20. Thank you so much for this Shawn. And thank you again for notifying me when he passed–of course, that’s how we met. I knew Jack for the last few years of his life. Every time he visited SoCal it was like the gay sideshow came to town. He attracted the most interesting modified people. He knew me after I amputated half my thumb. Jack did my PA on his last trip to SoCal–that’s also when he did his index finger amp.I wish he had lived to see me get some silicone in my dick and balls and amputate my foot. Recently I’ve been permanently removing all my head and body hair (think alopecia universalis). Still don’t have any ink, though.

    Jack was one of a kind. Everyone was his best friend. I remember taking him to the Peterson Automotive Museum in L.A. and he was wearing his usual tank top and shorts. He chatted up anyone who showed even the slightest interest in his ink. He was the Pied Piper of mods. Ironically, several years later I would tour the auto museum containing Bill Harrah’s cars in Reno with the late Chaz Holder who was one of the big mentors for major amputations.

    Thanks for the extended remembrance–it was well worth doing.

  21. What many people forget about you Shawn was your phenomenal archive of early piercing information. That is something that would be fantastic to see it put together and made available. (preferably in book form). Your place in the history of the “Modern Primitive” movement, along with Shannon is assured – I don’t think you could be categorised as far as who, what, where, you fit into the Mod Scene. Where ever you are needed, you seem to be the right person doing the right thing, the right way. It is as if the evolution of ‘Our Thing” automatically included you whether you wished it or not. Your contribution has been fundamentally different to most, but it rates very high on the ladder of importance. Long may you continue.

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