Joshua: Transdimensionally Modified
"...angels dressed in the prejudices of the twentieth century; avatars of another plane, speaking to us from truths beyond normal human understanding."
- L. Stanley Davis
A History of Transdimensional Abduction
After posting the pictures and experience of my forehead tattoo a few weeks ago (see “Does this mean I’m not getting that job at McDonalds?” in the tattoo section), I was quite surprised (and of course excited) to receive the following email:
"Long time listener, first time caller"... LOL... just saw your new tattoo and felt I should write you about a similar project I've been working on myself (and our mutual friend Lukas Zpira has been telling me to for ages). I've attached a few pictures and yes I will answer your questions!
Suffice it to say that I most definitely had questions. I can’t confirm the validity of any of Joshua’s backstory of course, and he freely admits that it’s difficult to believe, but the mods speak for themselves. That said, while folks such as Katzen and The Enigma (who just released their album, check it out at HumanMarvels.com) are well known, there are many lesser known concept transformations such as the British performance artists who transformed themselves into witches and ghouls in the 1980′s or the “Belgian Furry Collective” who became werecreatures, or the many transformations by artists such as Steve Haworth in America, Emilio Gonzalez in Argentina, and Lukas Zpira in France.
That said, sometimes what’s more interesting than the modifications themselves are the motivations that brought the person to make such a radical change to their lives.
While he’s asked to remain anonymous for now, he has set up an IAM page at iam:Krill. Following is a transcript from the phone interview we did (Joshua is currently in Japan doing an art installation) along with some additional photos (thanks to Vanilla for transcribing it; as soon as the BMEradio server is up and running again I’ll post the MP3 file).
Shannon/BME: Thanks for talking to us about your remarkable transformation Joshua. Can you tell me a bit about what brought you to this decision?
Joshua: When I was about eleven years old I was living with my parents on the [US military] base near Helsinki, Finland. My father was a radar technician involved in early detection in the case of Soviet attack. One night I was woken up by a loud hum and a thumping noise. When I opened my eyes I saw bright balls of light surrounding me — it was so bright that everything was white.
Suddenly there was a sound like an electrical “pop” and the balls disappeared and when my eyes readjusted three dark figures were standing there. I don’t really know what happened to me, but a few moments later the lights flashed again and I found myself with them in another place, what I now know was their “ship”. I was never afraid; if anything I felt a strong sensation of euphoria the whole time. They told me that it wasn’t safe for me to stay with them — something about my human physiology being incompatible with the speed or way we were travelling at or something like that.
To allow me to be there safely they did a number of procedures; what they did was typical of what other abductees report so I won’t bore you with that; I’ll post the full story and details to my IAM page if people are interested.
My next memory was of waking up in my bed the next morning. The memory of my abduction was vivid, but my father had been telling me bedtime stories about “UFOs” they’d tracked recently (which I never took seriously) and I figured it was just a dream. When I went to the kitchen for breakfast my parents broke some horrible news to me — my Husky puppy Charlie had died that night. Like all kids, I was close to my pet, and to try and make me feel better my mother unveiled early the dirtbike I was to receive for my birthday two weeks early.
When I got back from playing my clothes were dirty and I brought them down to the laundry room where I was suddenly shocked back to reality — standing over the basket that Charlie had slept in was the same Grey creature that had taken me to his ship the night before. He was stroking the blanket that Charlie had been lying on when he died — I didn’t move — I was terrified that he might see me. I didn’t know what to do.
I thought he hadn’t seen me as he ran his hands over everything, and picked up some of Charlie’s hairs and held them between his long slender fingers. He turned his eyes and made contact with me, and suddenly we were one — I was flooded with a terrible feeling of guilt and grief and loss… I could feel what he felt, and we were one. I was him, I’d done this. I mean, I, Joshua, hadn’t done this, but in his attempt to communicate with me the night before, something had fatally injured Charlie.
And in a blink it was over again. I was totally drained emotionally — I reached out and touched the Grey, I guess to try and give him some comfort, but, with a pop and a hum he was replaced with a bright ball that shot through the basement wall and was gone. In a daze I put my clothes in the wash and contemplated the death. “We” weren’t sad so much because Charlie had died, but because we had killed him before he was “supposed” to die if that makes any sense…
Even though that was nearly fifteen years ago now, I’m still remembering new details from it and still learning to understand how it affected my life. Overnight I went from a boy who didn’t take anything very seriously and spent his days playing to a being who felt connected to all life around him…. I don’t think I really knew how to express this love and commitment and connection to the universe I felt.
Shannon: Ok… Wow… I don’t really know what to say. I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced anything with aliens, if that’s what you’re describing, but my experiences with the interconnectedness of all life are what have motivated most of my decisions over the past couple of years.
Joshua: I know — I didn’t write you because your tattoo looks like crop circles, I wrote you because I thought you’d be able to relate to the message that was shared with me.
Shannon: Did you tell anyone? What did your parents think? Your father must have been receptive at least?
Joshua: Oh no! It turns out he really was just joking when he told me those UFO stories… When I told them they assured me it had all been a dream. If it wasn’t so real, I’d believe them… But how do you prove an experience like this? For all I know there’s some kind of X-Files implant buried away in me somewhere, but it’s not like anyone’s going looking for stuff like that so I really have no idea. It was clear no one was about to believe me so I just bottled it up until, as is obvious, I couldn’t keep it inside any more.
Joshua with his cousin in front of the amateur radio telescope array his father had built in their back yard as a hobby project.
A day of hiking near their home in Finland, several months after Joshua’s “alien abduction”.
At home with his father enjoying Groscht, a Finnish desert similar to an America ice cream soda float, but made with whipped goat yogurt.
Shannon: Yes — let’s talk about how this experience actually made you want to start modifying your body.
Joshua: I never had another “encounter” or “abduction” since that day, but I feel like in the joining I had imprinted the Grey’s identity on myself on some level — much like how many Native Americans describe their relationship with their totem animal. When I thought of myself, I never was able to picture just Joshua again… I mean, I was still Joshua of course, but I was also that Grey being at the same time.
I think people have an “internal image” of who they are… When you close your eyes, you know where your arms are, where your heart is, where your mind is, what you look like, and all that. I had that, but it was overlaid with the Grey. Since that encounter I’ve not been able to think of myself as just human any more.
I know all of this must sound crazy, but what really drove me crazy was that what I saw in the mirror just wasn’t what I felt like inside… I had the wisdom to understand that it didn’t really matter, but it was just making me bonkers to be one person on the inside and another on the outside. I tried to lose as much weight as possible and tried not to exercise and did get my build as close as I could to the Grey’s, and it helped a lot, but I knew it was just a start.
Oh, at this point I was about eighteen and, other than a few tattooed buddies of my father’s, I had no contact with “body modification” or had any concept that this type of transformation was possible outside doctors. My father was transferred to Fort MacDill in Florida, which eventually brought me to enrolling in USF’s …
Shannon: Sorry — what’s USF?
Joshua: University of South Florida — I was accepted at their fine arts program, and to make a long story short I ended up in their art history exchange program in Paris [France] and met the amazing Lukas Zpira… I know he’s started to become quite well known in America at this point so I’m sure listeners know who I mean.
Anyway, after meeting Lukas and seeing the amazing work he’d done on others like the Brazillian Monkey Boy and Pierre [ed: Joshua is referring to a well known French full-body concept transformation client of Lukas's that has been slowly "cyberneticizing" himself into robot form] who introduced us, I told him what I wanted him to do to me — although I have to admit that I never told him why. I hope he’s not too shocked when he listens to this. He told me he wasn’t really comfortable doing something this radical without a proper explanation, but after three years of calling him every two weeks, I guess he knew I was serious and wasn’t just asking him on a whim.
He told me he respected my individualism and we began to seriously plan the work and he helped me work with both him and a tattoo artist at a studio he owned at the time (I think he’s sold it since) to achieve what you’re seeing in the photos and what you’ll see in person this year when I visit you for ModCon.
I’ll continue with Joshua’s interview shortly, but since Lukas is on IAM as well, it was easy to do a brief interview about Joshua’s procedures with him. I’d like to include that now; Joshua and I didn’t really get too deep into the technical aspects.
Shannon: Thanks so much for talking to us again Lukas. Can you tell us about the day that Joshua first contacted you?
Lukas Zpira: Everyone always asks me when they see Joshua’s photos in my portfolio what I was thinking accepting him as a client, I mean, who wants to transform themselves into an alien, you know? But he is an artist, I understand what he seeks.
Shannon: How did he approach you?
Lukas: He knew Pierre. Pierre made the introduction and Joshua presented to me drawings he had made — the alien pictures like you see on the X-Files and what else. I had not done anything quite that extreme on an American (it’s not so uncommon here in France). But, a few years passed, and I understood he was serious so I accepted the task.
Shannon: Could you give me a run-down of the procedures?
Lukas: Some of what he wanted was not possible… changes to the orbit of the eyes, his jaw work reshaping… I used a mix of implants and surgical works to shift the shape of his face, and then with tattooing to pull it all together. The tattoos were not done by me personally.
On his mouth, he wanted it to be small and fine. I did this in two stages — I must say these aren’t things I’d offer to just anyone when I tour. All work such as this I do only in France with a plastic surgeon associate I met through Les Tour d’Avril [ed: A French implant manufacturing company that's friendly to body artists]. First we excised triangular strips along the lip and pulled it “in” toward the mouth’s inside. The effect was thinned lips to almost nothing, and no “divet” under his nose. In the second part we cut away the edge skin of his mouth and stitched it together. There was scarring but we knew we would tattoo over it.
Shannon: Did this have any detrimental effects?
Lukas: It did change his voice, but only a small amount… But yes, it did. Before the surgery we super-glued his mouth edges shut to see what it would sound like. He is harder to understand. He accepted that. The musculature has not changed — we knew we could reverse it should he desire.
Shannon: And his ears?
Lukas: I cut them off. It was not hard.
Shannon: Um… OK. Simple enough I guess! Tell me about what you did to his nose.
Lukas: I am proud of what we did. I had done a similar mouth procedure on another customer, but at the time the nose work was the first. If you look at anatomy, you will see the nose is a jigsaw puzzle of cartilage with skin stretched over. We used Jesse’s [ed: Jesse Jarrel, a 3D implant designer that most will know better for his work with Steve Haworth of HTC, another pioneer of this type of transformation] 3D scanner at school to capture Joshua’s nasal structure and designed the piece on his computer system.
The whole thing is in my portfolio. If Joshua permits it you may post the pictures to BME. We pulled out all of the cartilage in his nose through an incision under the upper lip. This left us with some loose skin in the shape of a nose but with no structure, no support. Then we inserted the implant which we had made on the school’s polymer printer and pulled the skin tight over it.
It sounds mad, I know, but nose job surgery is so common that we had much to go by and it healed well. You can see this in his pictures… Also, we put in a few Teflon implants — that was first — and then tattooed over all of it in a light grey to unify and hide scarring.
Shannon: Wow… Is he the most modified individual you’ve ever worked on?
Lukas: I have travelled the world and done and seen many amazing transformations. I have done four other “alien” transformations (I think Melise has put some of them on our website), where the people wanted to be made into grey creatures, but it is true, Joshua is farther than anyone… But I am currently transforming a young woman into a Grey as well, very exactly the same. I have promised Joshua I will introduce them when he meets with me in Japan [ed: Lukas will be working in Japan shortly; check his IAM page for full tour details] — he is quite excited! I will take many photos of them both. I will also be in New York soon, and I can show people in my portfolio.
Shannon: Thanks for talking to us about this Lukas, and I hope we can have you back again soon to do a full interview about everything you’ve been doing these past years.
Lukas performing Joshua’s first procedure (the forehead augmentation procedure). Sorry about the pixelation — Joshua does not want his pre-surgery mouth or nose shown here, and the other folks in the procedure room need to be kept private. The full set will be added as soon as Lukas is able to scan them.
And now back to Joshua…
Shannon: Do you have more work planned for the future?
Joshua: There are a few things I’m not happy with; I’m not happy with my eyes. I want them to be bigger, and I want the orbits to be less pronounced… I do wear special scleral contacts to give it that illusion, and I hope one day to find an osteopathic surgeon who can help me with that… But I also don’t want to cripple myself in the process. I’m trying to make myself happy and complete, and if I’m “broken” in the process it sort of defeats the whole purpose.
I’m not a big fan of my jaw either… I want it to be more triangular. I’ve talked to a few oral surgeons and they’ve told me that there’s no way they could restructure my jaw and keep the dentition functional. So to do that I’d have to pull all my teeth and switch to custom dentures. As extreme as I may seem, I’m not crazy — that would be going too far I think.
Other than that I’d really like to lengthen my fingers… I fantasise about doing that trick they use to make models’ legs longer — they did it in that movie Gattaca as well. Basically you break the bones in numerous places, and set them slightly stretched. It’s very painful, but you end up with longer bones. I’ve been fiddling with a stretching apparatus, and I found a vet that said he’d help me with it, but in all honesty I’m really nervous about it. I don’t want to screw up my hands. [ed: BMEnews recently featured a link on this subject, click here to read it now]
Shannon: Maybe someone on IAM will have direct experience for you… I’ll be sure to include your IAM name with this interview so people can anonymously get in touch with you. I have to ask you though — why did you keep your hair? I’m sorry if this sounds insulting, but aren’t aliens supposed to be bald?
Joshua: (laughs) You’re not the first person to ask me that — I don’t “think I’m an alien” or anything goofy like that. I’m half way; a spiritual hybrid perhaps is the best way to put it. Anyway, I’ve had all kinds of different hairstyles over my life. I never really thought of my hair as being a part of me. More like a hat that’s glued to my head, you know?
I will admit though that I also think it’s a bit of a safety blanket… One day I’ll probably shave it all off. I did it once, but I just couldn’t go anywhere without people freaking out!
Shannon: Yeah, that’s true… I guess a hairdo is more of a fashion thing that “who you are” for most people. Let me ask you now, what’s life like as an alien?
Joshua: I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. Obviously I can’t — and don’t — go out in public very often, and when I do I usually cover up. I’m proud of what I look like, but you have to understand that I did it for me, not for anyone else and it makes me sad when people turn me into someone to laugh at.
Shannon: I’m sorry… and I know what you mean.
Joshua: The amazing thing though is that when I first had this experience I didn’t really know if I was alone or crazy, or if it was aliens, or if I’d met God, or what… and you have to admit, it’s hard to take alien conspiracy crap seriously. But then I started meeting people; I don’t know how we found each other, but I now have a small network of about forty people who’ve all had similar experiences and all were driven to change their bodies in similar — albeit less extreme ways… And now Lukas tells me he’s working on a young woman to an extent similar to my own. I’m very much looking forward to meeting her.
I’ve learned that the world is a very big place, and when you’re special, it’s very easy to feel alone… But the truth of it is that even though it may not always seem like it, this world is also full of special people, and with open hearts we can and do find each other. I have faith that with Love we can all live joyful lives and serve the universe in the way we’re meant to.
Shannon: Were your body modifications instrumental in your understanding of who you are?
Joshua: Yes, I think so. I’m not going to tell you there aren’t other ways I could have gone about this, but being able to tackle it all hands on and really live it, I was able to find my place in the world and as a result I feel both closer to myself, closer to the life around me, and of course closer to the Grey that started me on it all.
I know I’ve identified in my own internal rationalisation as an alien, but to be blunt, I really can’t tell you if that’s just a projection of having grown up around science fiction. It would be arrogant for me to say that we are the first generation to have this happen to us…. If I had been born four hundred years ago, would I have perceived him as an angel? I really don’t know… I know he was good.
I often try and explain it by quoting Barbarella: “An angel doesn’t make love… and angel is love.”
Shannon: Thank you so much for talking with us, and I look forward to seeing you in a few months. Is there any last message you’d like to leave for the readers of BME?
Joshua: Love each other. That’s all you have to do in life.
A drawing Joshua did of the “Grey” who he met as a child.
Well there you have it. I’m not sure if there’s really any commentary I can add to this… I feel like anything I write would pale next to both Joshua’s message and his remarkable transformation. Thanks again to Joshua for speaking to us, and thank you to Lukas Zpira for filling in the details.
When the interview is posted to BMEradio I’ll add the updated link here and mention it on my IAM page as well. Until next week, be good.