Liberty bell with brass knuckles cutting on IAM: phoenixxx..
This tattoo (by Bruce at Body Art Tattoo, Newport Beach, CA) has to be one of my favourites of recent months. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this sprayed on a wall around Toronto, along with “Think, Please!” Toronto graffiti artists are quite special.
Read more for another photo..
“I’ve wanted my knuckles tattooed for years, so after a few days of internal struggle and a few drinks I decided to go for it! I think that people nowadays are getting lazier and are less informed, so my tattoos are a reminder to me and everyone else to educate yourself and read more!”
If I could afford to have my books shipped over from England, I would definitely do as I’m told..
Apologies for the fewer than usual posts today (at least it seems I haven’t posted as much) but it’s been busy and I’m not feeling well. I’ll make it up to you, starting with this impromptu collection of knuckle piercings on (and by) Brian of Studio Graphics, Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Read more for some tongue-split-on-shiny-knuckle action, and an incredibly deep explanation of how they came to be..
I’m posting this tattoo to show my friend Michael, who’s a chef at a top restaurant here in Toronto. He doesn’t have any tattoos himself, but I’ve met quite a few modified chefs — this one, the wearer of this veal demi-glace half sleeve (by George at Shelton Tattoo in Shelton, CT) explains,
“To me one of the differences between a regular restaurant and a great restaurant is whether they make their own stocks, and demi-glace is the ultimate stock. It has to be done right from the beginning because all of the flavors — or mistakes — are magnified when the sauce is finished.”
Elements of both the tattoo and the stock include a wine bottle, ladle, stock pot, carrots and carrot tops, leeks, onion, water, spices, celery, veal knuckle, and tomatoes. Anyway, I see tons of computer geek tattoos, so maybe it’s time for a food geek tattoo…
Jacki Randall is a self-taught artist and tattooist working at her shop Charm City Tattoo in Baltimore. She’s had shows at the Harrisburg Museum of Art, Pendragon & Fontanne Galleries, the Nat’l Cathedral College of Preachers, and other venues, and her publications have been widely seen including in International Tattoo Art, On Our Backs, and Independent Biker, and she’s been publishing lesbian-themed cartoons professionally for twenty-seven years now. You can see a porfolio of her tattoos on BME, as well as visiting her at Charm City Tattoo.com. In this age of slickly presented superstar artists like Kat Von D (with all due respect to Kat’s
BME: Have you always been an artist?
My mother had saved a drawing of our Amazon Parrot I made at eighteen months… I don’t recall doing it, but I don’t ever remember not drawing.
BME: What did your mother think of tattooing and how did you get into it?
My parents had a very biased, narrow view of tattoos and tattooing. They didn’t understand it at all.
Over the years I’ve become personally acquainted with their stereotypes, but I don’t identify with them.
As a kid I’d see tattoos sporadically. Like most parents, my folks tried to protect me from interesting things. In elementary school, I was the one handed the marker and begged to draw the skull and dagger on your arm. My attention wasn’t focused on tattooing till one day as a teenager I realized I had to have one.
BME: Tell me about your first tattoo?
I was working on a surrealistic painting, having been dazzled for the first time by Max Ernst & Man Ray, and needed a planet to balance the continuity. I loved the asteroid belts of Saturn, but not the planetary association with hardship, restriction, limitation, status quo. What I embraced were the qualities represented by Uranus; genius, revolution, invention, electricity. So I put Uranus in my painting, giving this planet asteroid belts. Two weeks later UPI radio news broadcasted that an asteroid belt had, in fact, been discovered around Uranus. So there’s tattoo #1…
BME: What made you decide to start tattooing people?
Initially the idea of being so intimate and personal with strangers put me off, but as I got older and became adequately spooky, saw past it and connected with the sacred underlining. Money is no reason to devote your life to anything. Greed ruins every and anything.
Before actively engaging in tattooing, I studied whatever I could get my hands on regarding disease control. I’d known AIDS casualties, and the ugly probabilities scared the hell out of me. I was living in Frisco at the time. I found tattoos by artists and now-obscure books particularly inspiring.
I nearly burned my place down building and sterilizing needles. Some company put out this cheap slab jig, and I used that and upholstery thread (with my teeth) to build needles. I destroyed three perfectly good soldering guns. My partner had to leave the apartment for hours at a time. That was OK…we were on the same block as the Bathhouse.
My cartoon ‘Urban Hell’ (above) is patterned very closely after my apartment building. Those people were real.
The spooky thing about cartoons is who and what they conjure up. SoMa’s where the speaking canvasses started approaching me. Painting and drawing can be lonely, so it was a refreshing change.
This provided a good place to be underground, the cover was so flamboyant.
BME: Who are your influences?
An incomplete list of influences include Maxfield Parrish, Ub Iwerks, Greg Irons, Spain, Rick Griffin, Romaine Brooks, Imogene Cunningham, Claude Monet, Lalique, Tiffany, Mucha, Warhol, Solanis, Holzer, Thompson, Cayce, Vivien, Barney, Cookie Mueller, Robin Morgan; of course, music & film, etc…. Especially music – must have good music for tattooing.
In tattooing the finest illumination happens when you’re in the zone where the work speaks to you, as in any art.
BME: What sorts of tattooing do you most enjoy?
I enjoy anything I can use as a vehicle. Bizarre and intelligent clients are the most fun.
Beautiful subject matter is always desireable. Most of my fun pieces were drafted on the spot; Winnie the Shit, DeathChef, Bongstoner, Notre Dyke, PMS Skull/RudeGirl for example.
Most bizarre? The Holy Royal Cheeseburger, Prune Juice Dominatrix, Goddess Kali disemboweling a hermarphrodite…won’t see that everyday, even now!
From time to time, I have just picked up the machine and worked ‘cold’, but that’s on the very few who know me well. There seems to be a consensus of tattooists who don’t understand the term ‘freehand’. My understanding from the old farts who worked thirty and forty years or more, was that anything drawn on the skin, then tattooed, is Freehand.
BME: Tell me about some of your experiences as a tattoo artist?
I can’t say which stories are more absurd; accounts of tattooists, patrons, hangers-on or spectators.
People setting themselves on fire, dancing in the work area with swords, bullets through the floor, junkies, nude drunks, perverts, obscene calls from slumber parties and shut-ins, street people en route to the drunk tank, bored troublemakers looking for places to be ejected from, winos, smelly lawyers, cops wanting to be gangsters, convicts, psuedointellectuals obsessed by ‘coolness’, clients automatically regressing to previous lifetimes, lewd geriatric exhibitionists, sufferers of psychopathia loquatia, ‘performance artists’, gamey tweakers, ghosts of dead artists, etc…ad nauseum…
I must’ve called this up with the ‘Telling Them What They Want to Hear’ ’toon…
It is because of these abysmal work conditions I am only now getting around to doing what I am capable of.
There was this nasty, arrogant gal who looked down her nose while informing me that I
I recall a hanger-on who told one tall tale after another. Couldn’t help himself. He finally embarrassed himself gone as soon as he realized no one was buying his shit about being contracted by the gov’t to design a special tattoo machine. Like his ’48 Knucklehead wasn’t embarrassing enough.
BME: What do you think of the tattoo “reality” shows?
I consider the tattoo shows to be unwatchable crap. Every time you hear ‘reality’, get ready for scripted soap operas. If I had a buck for every time in the 90’s I said; “..one of these days they’ll make a show out of this…” But a shoot where I worked could only safely be nestled between Taxicab Confessions and OZ.
I watched the occult, motorcycles, feminism, culture, lesbianism, and more get co-opted, assimilated, pasteurized, sterilized, homogenized, sanitized, neutralized, bastardized and misrepresented, made palatable, and packaged for mass-consumption; why would tattooing be any different?
All part of the New World Odor pushing us ever nearer to ‘Armageddon’ (courtesy; The ‘faith’ industry) and the peasant/aristocracy model endorsed by Caligula on the Potomac. Marketing/programming is sponsored by financiers who support the three guys who own the media and approved by the lords of the mcprisons, insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical behemoths.
If you can get it at the mall is it still desirable?
BME: Do you turn people away?
Of course I turn people away; No business is better than bad business. But who am I to judge? I’m the person who refuses the act of holding humanity back by propagating ignorance and hatred.
In regard to hands, faces, etc., it’s only responsible to let them know what their limitations will be.
BME: What is Art?
What is Art?
People proudly flaunt hideous tattoos as though they were Michaelangelos.
“What is Art” is subjective, and political.
Some of what I love are; creating, museums, guitars, birds, archeology, locomotives, stained glass, anthropology, forensics, astrology, thunderstorms, occult sciences, paranormal phenomenon, culture, history, and my partner of nearly twenty years, Robin.
Speaking of Gauge at Golden Eagle Tattoo in Santa Barbara, they also sent in these shots of a webbed toe piercing. It’s really quite remarkable to me just how many have been posted. With these being common, I wonder why I’ve only seen one semi-permanent behind-the-knuckle hand piercing (ie. a “crucifixion” piercing that travels from the palm to the back of the hand, through the sweet spot right behind the knuckle), done about fifteen years ago by Mark Pantalone if I remember right (does anyone have the issue of, I think, In The Flesh magazine that featured it?)…
Yesterday we talked to a few individuals who “needed” amputations for primarily physical reasons, so today I’d like to chat to two people who chose amputation for purely psychological reasons, each choosing to self-amputate one of their fingers at home, disguised as an “accident”. Both of them did this privately and secretly, for themselves, so the pictures in the article are not actually of them.
BME: Tell me about yourselves?
Douglas: I am a thirty year old male from northern Europe, and I live in a small community with me wife and son.
Beth: I’m completely sane, and to all intents and purposes ‘normal’. I just happen to be driven to do things in a way that most people can’t understand, and I’m capable of doing things to myself that a lot of people are not. I believe I’m somewhat unusual as I’m female and I did this entirely alone and without any assistance or help from anyone. I have five digits on one hand, four and a small nub on the other, having removed most of my ring finger.
BME: Why did you choose to amputate your finger?
Beth: Because I wanted to, I could, and it made me happy.
Douglas: A few reasons — one of the reasons is actually your fault Shannon! If it wasn’t for BMEzine and the ModCon book, I probably wouldn’t have been thinking about it the years before I did it. BMEzine has opened my eyes to various body modifications, and I have always been fascinated by people doing extreme things to their bodies. Amputation is as far as you can go if you ask me, and I wanted to see if I was able to do it myself.
BME: Was it rewarding or worth it in terms of that way of thinking about it?
Douglas: Yes, it was. I haven’t gotten pierced since the amputation, and I have some tattoos left to be done, but otherwise I feel complete in my body transformation. I used to be somebody else, but today I am me.
BME: Do you feel that BME should do more to discourage people from cutting off fingers, or would this just make it even more appealing on that level?
Douglas: If people want to cut off their limbs, they will do so even if BME discourages them from doing do so. What I think is more important is that BME should provide “safe” guides on how to DIY and that someone (not neccecary BME) should the person them to slow down and think about the consequences it will have for the rest of their lives. That goes for all modifications.
BME: You said you have other reasons as well?
Douglas: We have a friend of our family that is missing fingers from different accidents and wars. I can’t swear that it formed my interest, but from a psychological point of view, it probably did.
The first time I came across DIY amputation was when I was twelve years old. My mom and I went to the movies and saw a film named “Black Rain”. It’s a film about an American cop going to Japan to deliver a prisoner, but something goes wrong and the prisoner escapes and blah blah blah. It’s not a very good movie, but the Japanese prisoner is a member of the Yakuza, and in the movie he cuts off his own finger in a traditional way. That had a huge impact on me. I remember thinking “WOW!! That is some heavy shit! Are people really capable of doing that!?” Yes, they are.
BME: That’s funny — I remember that scene making a big impact on me as a kid as well. How did you do your amputation?
Douglas: I got intoxicated with alcohol, put a rubber band on my pinky and injected some lidocain with adrenaline in it. Then I waited about thirty minutes or so, and then I took out a huge kitchen knife and ‘popped’ the joint in the finger with some heavy pressure.
Beth: I had no desire to go through the knuckle joint — disarticulation. I wanted to go through in between knuckles. My need was very specific. I obtained injectable xylocaine, a syringe, a rubber band, a scalpel, butchers poultry shears, a paring knife, a belt, and a towel. I found out how to perform a digit nerve block from a nursing guide. After administering the xylocaine in the appropriate places I tied off tightly with a rubber band and placed my hand on a chopping board. Originally I intended to excise the tissue away from the bone first, leaving a longer flap on the underside. I figured this would make patching it up easier, having studied closure procedures on medical websites. Of course it didn’t occur to me how suspect that would have looked in the emergency room but that idea went out the window anyway once I began to cut.
I started on the top side by pressing down with the scalpel as hard as I could. It cut easily, but I was surprised by the sudden bleeding — that may sound stupid, but I guess I panicked. I sat on the floor and placed the blade of the poultry shears into the cut I had started and squeezed as hard as I could. The nerve block was perfectly administered and I felt no pain whatsoever as I closed the blades. It didn’t require too much pressure to go through the bone — it just kind of went ‘clunk’. It took a couple of goes to cut through the flesh. My finger was still partially attached, so I returned to the chopping board and quickly sawed through the remaining piece of tendon. It was very tough. I had a brief look at my new hand, removed the rubber band, used the belt as a tourniquet and wrapped it in a towel before presenting myself at the emergency room.
BME: What story do you tell people about how it happened?
Douglas: I used to tell people some bullshit lies, but it always ended with me not being able to follow up the questions. My friends knew beforehand that it was about to happen, and most people that know me “know” what really happened, but they can’t prove it. Nowadays I tell people that I was drunk in my kitchen, and that I really don’t feel comfortable speaking about it. I don’t lie, do I…?
Beth: I say I had an accident boning out a joint of meat. I played the female hysteria card. That helped me avoid too much close questioning, and gave me an excuse for failing to bring the digit with me for re-attachment — far too icky and gross! Ha-ha! Plus of course the unhygienic manner in which I became detached from it made it less attractive an option.
Only one doctor made an issue of re-attachment, and I made it quite clear to him that it wasn’t going to happen. The happiest moment was when the nurse took me to have an x-ray and as I laid my hand on the cold plate I was very aware that that finger was not making contact and was no longer there. It suddenly hit me — it was gone and I felt elated. I had surgery under general anaesthesia to repair the stump.
BME: How was your aftercare and healing? One of you went through the bone, and the other went through the joint, so I assume it was different.
Beth: Very, very painful. For the first few days it felt like I had hit it with a hammer but the pain didn’t dull — it was persistent. And very slow indeed. I took antibiotics and pain killers. After ten days I had the sutures removed and began massage and exercise. It took a long time for the swelling to go down.
Douglas: Mine was very easy. I went to the hospital and the surgeon did an amazing job. They fixed all nerves and tendons, so I don’t have any phantom pain at all! The first few days I was on some heavy medication, and I got out of my job for a month or so. That made able to rest up properly.
BME: Was there an aspect of guilt? I know in previous interviews readers have raised the concern that it’s “taking advantage” of the system to make the healthcare system pay for voluntary mods?
Douglas: I have allways paid my taxes, and I would be happy to pay more, so no, I didn’t feel guilt at all. I see your point, but I don’t see it as stealing from other people by using a system I pay for.
BME: What does it feel like now that it’s healed?
Beth: I’m very aware of it; it feels different. I guess it’s slightly tight feeling when I make a fist, and it’s much more susceptible to cold than my complete fingers. I love how it looks, and how differently my other fingers move and behave in order to adapt to the loss. It’s very sensitive. I enjoy having it sucked and nibbled very much indeed. It’s one of the best choices I ever made.
Douglas: It is very hard to describe, but the easy way out would be me saying that it feels normal. I don’t remember how it felt with the finger still attached to my body. My body reacts like if it had been like this since day one. I use what’s still left of the finger as I used my old finger.
BME: That’s interesting — so there’s no “phantom fingertip”? It just ends mentally where it ends physically now?
Douglas: That’s right. At first, my mind was set on still having the finger, so when I tried to “tab” the computer or itch my nose, or even biting my nails, I found out my body didn’t comply with my brain. Also, I dropped things all the time. It took about a year or so for the mind to be ok with it.
BME: Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it over again?
Douglas: There are four things I would have done differently:
Beth: Not that I can think of. I’m very satisfied.
BME: Will you do more amputations?
Douglas: I will never say never, but at the moment I don’t have any plans on it.
Beth: I don’t think I could pull off another ‘accident’.
BME: Finally, how did you choose the specific digit to remove?
Douglas: I don’t know actually. I have always known it would be a finger or a toe, but finger seemed easier to do by yourself.
Beth: It’s strange. I don’t remember what made me focus on that particular finger, or for how long I had wanted to do it. There are reasons which I not prepared to divulge which may have triggered me to begin with. Then I simply became obsessed, driven to remove it. I fantasised about it constantly. I would bend it down and pretend it had gone. I wouldn’t say I had a dislike for it, it just wasn’t ‘right’ and I wanted it gone.
In my mind it was gone long before the actual act of removing it.