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!

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Adding and Subtracting

A few days ago I was out to dinner with old BME friends, and one conversation that came up was some of BME’s old April Fools articles. I think my favorite was “Love At First Bite” because it was so believable and fooled a good percentage of even the most experienced readers… But the article that started BME’s pranks was one first published April 1, 1999 — “Adding and Subtracting” — and one of the reasons it was so successful was that it was not just BME’s first joke article, but was published in an era before April 1st being a day where the entire web was flooded with nothing but jokes, making the whole thing less convincing. Anyway, since I couldn’t find this article in BME’s public articles, I’ve decided to republish here for historical reasons! After the article you can also read some of the responses the article generated, including a multitude of requests for interviews including Details, ICON, and The Village Voice.


Ryan and Dave are the most unique identical twins you’ll ever meet. After tiring of piercing, tattoos, and implants about three years ago, they began exploring much heavier surgical modifications. Dave had spent two and a half years in pre-med at Queens University in Kingston, and using contacts made both there and online he and his twin brother have changed themselves in ways far beyond anything anyone else has ever attempted.

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I’m With Stumpy

I absolutely love tattoos with a sense of humor, and it seems like amputees really have what it takes to sell a good joke tattoo. In this case, as featured on the US Marine Corps flikr page, ‘U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Redmond Ramos, a corpsman, displays a tattoo that reads “I’m with Stumpy” showing his sense of humor Nov. 14, 2012, during the first Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii. Ramos deployed with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, to Sangin, Afghanistan in 2011 where he stepped on an IED, resulting in the loss of his leg. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)’

im with stumpy


Memorial Amputation

The very oldest example of religion that we have documented is in the form of a voluntary amputation found in a Polish archeological site dating back about 30,000 years — Blake wrote about this for BME back in 2003. Even today there are African, Australian, and other indigenous cultures that practice small digit amputations as a way of coping with mourning and the loss of a loved one. There’s something very instinctual about it in the human experience.

A friend of mine, an experienced cross-spectrum practitioner, recently did this amputation on a customer who had lost his mother, and wanted to do this amputation as a tribute or memorial to her. The procedure was fairly simple, although not as simple as the hammer-and-chisel that many people resort to. He used a number 11 scalpel to peel back the skin, leaving enough skin so that when he removed the bones there would be enough left over to create a flap to cover the wound to speed up the healing. Doing the procedure this way also leaves a more comfortable result, because the amputated finger has a little more “padding” on the end.

Ear pointing FAIL trainwreck

My friend Arseniy from Total Ink in Saint Petersburg is doing a presentation about ear pointing so we were talking about the history of it and he asked me if I knew of any “fails”. I told him that I’d seen some points that had opened up, but I couldn’t think of anything too terrible. He was like, “you need to go look at my ‘home bod mod’ gallery.” He told me that this had been featured on ModBlog about a year ago, but I couldn’t find it in my searches, so I’ve decided to write about it again even though I’m sure many of you will have seen it before — this kind of warning can never be posted too often.


Yikes. Yikes. Yikes.

What you’re seeing in these photos is the ear of a person who decided to have their, friend an amateur body modifier, do their ear pointing because they didn’t want to spend the money to have it done by someone qualified in a studio — after all, getting an ear pointing done by someone experienced not only involves their fee but sometimes travel as well, to say nothing of patience. However, ten days later, this corner-cutter managed to get parts of their now necrotic ear amputated.

In the first photos (1A and 1B), you can see the ear being cut and folded over at an extreme angle. I should add that these photos were taken not at a clean and contamination-controlled studio, but at someone’s house, without even a proper light. They just leaned their head on the window frame for illumination, with plenty of dirt and dust visible in the haphazard workspace that didn’t appear to even have been cleaned — the space is so contaminated as to make gloves almost pointless, to say nothing of the hilariously inappropriate paper towels being used as a DIY surgical drape.

In photo 2, taken on day one, it should already be obvious that the odds of success are very low. The ear has been folded at such a comically extreme angle that the pressure on the healing tissue and cartilage would have been enormous, to say nothing of the extremely unpleasant aesthetics of the new ear shape and how difficult it would be to keep clean if it actually did heal. By day five, photo 3, the ear is starting to tear open and is quite swollen — infection has set in, made worse by insufficient care on the part of the client. By the end of the first week, photo 4, the sutures have completely torn out and the ear is back to its original shape, minus the part that was cut out of course. However, at this point the infection is well established in the majority of the cartilage. Cartilage infections spread quickly and are difficult to treat. Two days later, her ear was cleaned up at the hospital. Some cartilage was lost, but a remarkable job was done in saving the majority of the ear. Click here to see the other side two years afterwards (sorry, the angle doesn’t really show it but it’s the best I could get, and I couldn’t get a photo of the other side that matches the more damaged ear). Lest you say “well that doesn’t look that bad”, I want to mention two things — (1) this photo shows the ear in the best possible light, and (2) I’ve seen ears collapse completely from infected industrial piercings — see the BME wiki entry for “ear collapse” for more information on how easy it is to damage cartilage.

There is no excuse for this happening. Yes, mistakes happen to the best of us at times. Yes, sometimes even the most qualified among us push things too far or in the wrong direction, and a procedure fails. But there is no excuse for behaving in an irresponsible and unprofessional manner. There is no excuse for working in an unsafe and unclean environment with inappropriate tools and supplies. There is no excuse for going to an unqualified practitioner. There is no excuse for not caring for your body and not listening to your body. There is just no excuse for any of this. The body modification community has spent almost twenty years obsessively sharing knowledge online and making it easily accessible to anyone who is interested. There are many channels for education both for practitioners and enthusiasts. No matter what corner of the world a person is in, there is no reason to be making such basic errors in judgement, and behaving with such irresponsibility and abject disrespect for the artform and for the body of the client.

[EDIT/UPDATE: This entry has been edited because in its initial form it overstated the amount of damage to the ear. I've updated the entry with more accurate information, although the warnings remain valid.]

ModBlog News of the Week: September 23rd, 2011

Alright ModBlog readers, the weekend is almost here and I’m almost done work for the day.  Before I head out the door there is still this week’s news to cover.  Before we get to that, I just wanted to remind you that if you stumble across any news stories that you think should be included in the news of the week, just send me an e-mail.

Now then, lets get things started with a pretty incredible story from the UK.

Doctors have treated a young boy with a large birthmark on his face… by implanting horns in his forehead. George Ashman, 5, was born with a bright red blemish on his forehead and his mother Karen, 33, feared he would endure a lifetime of bullying. So when he was four he underwent a surgical procedure to stretch the ‘normal’ skin on his forehead so the birthmark could be removed and covered with the new unblemished tissue.

Doctors inserted two tissue expanders under the skin, which gradually inflated so they looked like two perfect devil’s horns. After four months the implants were removed and the blemish was cut out, allowing the new skin to be stitched together – leaving just a small Harry Potter-style scar on George’s forehead.

During the four months he had the horns, George was subjected to cruel taunts from passers-by. Karen – who is separated from George’s father Lee, a printer, said: ‘School kids hanging around on street corners were laughing and pointing. ‘Once, a teenage lad came right up to us to have a good look. He uttered a cry of disgust. ‘I was tearful and emotional. I had no problem loving my son but others’ reactions were hard to deal with. I felt like everyone was against us.’ George went under the knife in April this year to remove the birthmark and have his ‘new’ skin stretched across in its place. He has only a small scar where the blemish used to be and has now started school with his friends.

Karen said: ‘What I’m most proud of is that through all this I’ve seen strength in George that I never had as a child. He’s different, but he’s himself – and he has never let it hold him back. ‘My little devil’s got guts – and with or without his birthmark and his horns I’ll always love him to bits for that.’

Even with his head being kid sized, those are probably some of the largest forehead implants I’ve seen.  And to think they got that big after only 4 months.

More news to come including a treatment for amputees, and a new type of prosthetic limb.

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ModBlog News of the Week: August 12th, 2011

It’s time again for the weekly newsfeed roundup, and this week is a pretty good one.  We’ve got stories on medical advancements, religion and tattoos, and how one state is bringing members of the APP on board to help draft up piercing regulations.

To start off today, researchers have created a “tattoo-like” electronic film that can be used to monitor a person’s vital signs.

In a paper published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, researchers explain that they embedded electronic sensors in a film thinner than the diameter of a human hair – and then placed it on a polyester backing like that used for kids’ temporary tattoos. The result? A sensor flexible that is enough to bend with human skin.

Instead of using an adhesive, the bandage-like device relies on a weak force called the van der Waals force, which causes molecules and surfaces to stick together without interfering with motion. Sound familiar? This is the force that allows geckos to climb smooth vertical surfaces. In tests, the device remained in place for up to 24 hours. Although normal shedding of skin cells would eventually cause the monitors to come off, Rogers said he thought they could remain in place as long as two weeks.

In addition to monitoring heart rate and temperature, the device could monitor brain waves, aid muscle movement, sense the larynx for speech, emit heat to help heal wounds and perhaps even be made touch sensitive and placed on artificial limbs, Rogers said. He declined to state how soon the electronic skin would be ready for market or what it would cost.

The device could help fill the need for equipment that has more reliable monitoring – and is more convenient and less stressful for patients, said Zhenqiang Ma, a University of Wisconsin engineering professor who was not part of the research team. The device can simply be stuck on or peeled off like an adhesive bandage, he said.

There’s a lot more news to come so grab a drink, put your feet up, and keep on reading.

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It’s a fine line between love and hat

Putting aside the fact that Veal amputated part of her finger, she’s someone who just loves to have fun with her modifications.  So when her dad jokingly suggested that she get “Love” and “Hat” tattooed on her knuckles (below her “High Four” tattoo), she went out and got it done.

Matt and Lester from Holy Cow in the UK did the tattoos, Veal did the amputation, and her niece did her nails.

Frozen extremes

We get a lot of requests for amputation stories, so today we’ve got one, but be warned, this one is pretty intense.

While I don’t know the reasons behind it, Tegumai_B decided to remove his lower left leg.  Typically the types of amputation we see on ModBlog are small digit removals, which are done at home.  However with the loss of a large potion of a limb, Tegumai_B needed the help of doctors.  Of course, going up to a doctor and asking them to remove your limb probably won’t work, so Tegumai_B used his own method of getting his leg amputated.

To start with, he spent most of a day with his foot surrounded by dry ice.  To see what happened next, you’ll have to keep on reading.

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