Lizardman Q & A, Round III – Through the Modified Looking Glass

Lizardman Q & A – Round III

A lot of people here have been asking me if I’m going to apply myself when I go back to school next September. It’s such a stupid question, in my opinion. I mean, how do you know what you’re going to do till you do it? The answer is, you don’t. I think I am, but how do I know? I swear it’s a stupid question.

- Holden Caulfield
from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Third time’s the charm right? Once again, you have provided me with a wealth of material to shoot my mouth off about. And in that spirit, I have added a bonus rant to this edition of the Q & A.

B O N U S   R A N T

Everyday some random fool has to ask me: ‘WHY?’

Why? You want to know why? Well, ok then, let us pretend just for a second that I actually owe you some kind of explanation. That for some reason I am actually beholden to a poorly evolved chimp like yourself for some sort of acceptance or approval. No, in fact, fuck that – I don’t owe you a damn thing. If you want an explanation, then earn it. How about you tell me ‘why’ or better yet you tell me what. That’s right – what. What about your mundane, restrained, carbon copy existence is so incredibly compelling that you could not possibly risk it for a fulfilled life of self expression by doing something for yourself?

I know your cognitive powers are already being strained in an attempt to process the fact that someone has actually not adhered to your rules of appearance and behavior but try to consider that some people actually enjoy and embrace their individuality instead of trying to beat it into submission everyday with a mallet of normality.

If you ever do manage to de-contort your head out of your ass, feel free to look around and notice how different we all are despite the efforts towards social cloning by you and the rest of the automatons. But, since I’m feeling generous I will tell you why – and I’ll even do it near monosyllabically so you will have a chance to understand:

“Because I am not like you. Because I am a freak and damn proud of it.”

Please note: The above is simply a rant and not meant to be taken too seriously (or too lightly for that matter) I am big fan of ranting (part of what drew me to the Subgenius were their terrific rants). People who don’t fit nicely into pre-defined categories, especially when it comes to appearance and mods, take a lot of crap from other people everyday, this is just a small venting, a taste of how nice it might be to let go at those people with both barrels from time to time.

Some quickies first. Black licorice is my favorite candy (Sparkle And Fade) and my favorite smell is fresh popcorn (Vasquez). I have worn green lipstick — and a few other colors (Choice). While I don’t have a heat rock, I think I might like one (Abaddon), and I have no plans to perform The Nutcracker as a modded ballet, starring myself (Anti-Climatic). I have worked with real lizards in photoshoots (lilfunky1), and if I could be a form of money, I’d be the YEN — because I like the double meaning in English (Turbodog). I have chased people around waving my penis (Goat), and if I had to fight The Lizard (Dr. Conner from the Spiderman series), I’d definitely recommend betting on me (Jef). I play dirty.

If I found a genie in a lamp on the beach, who says to me, “I’m going to take away all your mods, but you can have one wish”, I’d think it was great — it would mean I could do it all over again, bigger and better (jasonthe29th). If I just got to choose between “immortal and grounded” or “mortal with the power of flight”, I’d definitely choose immortal (Theoriginalpope). Death is game over and I am having fun playing… If I was limited to the choice of a superhero power, I’d choose invulnerability (Darkelvis).

Oh, and I’m pretty sure that if you’re going to spell candy with two letters it would be “BJ” (MACHINE29).

Do you ever buy magazines that have articles about you in them and go up to people and show them saying, “Look, it’s me!”? (Nick)

Nope, but when I used to model for a lot of art classes and the like I would go to the gallery shows and stand by paintings and drawings of me and smile at people as they checked them out. This was especially fun when it had been a nude modeling session.

Ever scare the absolute shit out of Jehovah’s Witnesses when they come knocking? (serpents)

I believe I have shocked a few door to door evangelists in my time. Once while I was living in Albany (above a bar) a woman came knocking to hand out pamphlets and was greeted by me in just a towel (fresh from a shower) and obviously not happy at having run down the stairs to meet her. She was pretty taken aback but still managed to stammer out a god bless you or something like that and handed me the pamphlet.

Do you mind being the butt of a joke (re: Russ Meneve on Jay Leno)? (Quinnnchick)

Not at all – but I’d prefer it be a good joke. I missed the Leno bit, but as it has been recounted to me, it sounds like little more than a cheap shot without much substance. However, since a comic rarely achieves greatness without drawing from his own experiences it is probably best for Russ that he is focusing in on jokes about masturbation and not having dates.

Do you see yourself having a kid any time soon, and what would you say to those people who would call you an unfit parent because you are heavily modified? (ScabBoy and postmodgirl)

I don’t plan on having kids soon or ever in the future. It is not a responsibility I am willing or interested in undertaking. The fact that I am modified has nothing to do with it nor would it have any bearing on my ability to parent. Parenting is not at all dependent on one’s appearance – if anything, having an unusual parent would probably be an advantage to a child in the long run.

Love your work back in the Barnum days. Anyhoo, have you ever had homosexual contact? Perhaps with Jesus? (shawn.spc)

Nope, no homosexual contacts with Jesus (an old nickname for my assistant and business partner for those who don’t know). I haven’t had any real homosexual experiences to speak of (not my thing) but I do get propositioned a fair amount, which is flattering in its own way.

Can we expect a tail being added to your body any time soon? Are there any advances in prosthetics that would let me get a tail? (spotmonster)

If I knew of a way to really have a tail then I would have one but alas it is some time away in the future. I will say that some of the animatronic prosthetics being used in the furry communities are pretty cool though, but they don’t meet my criteria.

What’s the worst you’ve hurt you self performing/practicing for a performance? (NipplePlay)

A few years back I got second degree burns over most of my face fire breathing at AMJAM – the wind turned a fireball around on me and it engulfed my head. Unpleasant, and on video it looks like I was probably dead since you lose sight of me from the shoulders up. Other than that I have deeply sliced my foot jumping on broken glass.

What is the best comic book (and book) you have read lately? (FindtheRiver92)

I do read comics from time to time – I used to read a lot when I worked for Diamond Comics. I loved Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Scud: The Disposable Assassin (from which I took one of my old names: Spidergod5) In terms of Marvel, I am big Sabertooth fan. The best non-comic book I have read lately would be The Golden Rule of Schmoozing by Aye Jaye.

I seem to remember on your big BME debut interview, you mentioned fingernail modification. I was wondering; have you continued modifying your nails? (Raze)

Not much to report there. I have experimented a bit and managed to thicken my nails to a point but I never kept with it enough to get the sort of results reported in the BME FAQ and galleries for extreme thickening – which is what interested me.

Has anyone ever accused you of “stepping on sacred ground” by glorifying heavy body modification? (bullgod2481)

Not per se – I have gotten the standard flack about desecrating the body on several occasions. My response is usually to deny their premise. I am not a believer so to me I’m not desecrating. There are also those who talk about how good I looked before or how much better I would look without my mods. To them I simply say that I think my mods make me look even better.

Why did you not continue with your doctoral studies? To the same end, is it easier (artistically, academically, politically) outside the system than inside it? (Volatile)

Continuing my doctorate would have meant going deeper into a system and structure I didn’t agree with or particularly care for. Also, financially it was the best decision to stop spending money and start making it. There are benefits both inside and out, which is better depends on your personal preferences and goals.

Ever have anyone come up to you out of the blue knowing exactly who you were and asking for an autograph? How do you feel in general about your “celebrity status”? Oh… and want to come hang out with me some time? I figure if I hang out with you, people will be forever less scared of me! (Hotpiercedguy)

I get recognized all the time and sometimes they do ask for autographs – it’s a very nice feeling; it makes you feel appreciated in a way. Recently, while I was at the Gravity Games for Sobe I was signing posters and doing short shows in their Lizard Lounge area when a woman approached me on one of the couches and asked me who I was. When I replied that I was The Lizardman she was not impressed and immediately went on to ask why she should know me, why I was there, was I an athlete at the games, and stuff like that. As I tried to formulate a response to this a family came into the tent, including a little boy who immediately recognized me and got very excited. They were all fans of Ripleys and had also seen many of the Discovery Channel and TLC shows. They saved me by regaling the woman with stories about my TV appearances and more. In the end, she asked for a picture and an autograph as well – very gratifying.

Hanging out with me may just make them more scared…

If you had the opportunity to meet your Higher Power or God, what would you say to them? (INGUSWETRUST)

The same thing I say every time I look in a mirror – ‘You again?’ Seriously, no god or higher power for me. See the spirituality article.

Do you have any fetishes? (Serpents)

Oh yeah – if it’s vaguely sexual it gets my attention. Physically, I am a legs and ass man with a preference towards redheads. Not surprisingly I also like piercings and tattoos. When it comes to action I am dominant with a taste for spanking and restraining. And, big surprise given the tongue and teeth, I have an oral thing going. I also dig blood.

If someone wants to be a performer like you, obviously getting “the look” is just a matter of plunking down the money to pay for the procedures… But that doesn’t make one a superstar. How can someone best learn the sideshow acts, and become more comfortable on stage and develop a winning stage persona? (Glider)

A look is not a show. A look can compliment a show but it will not substitute for content. Also, your look can hinder your work – it can typecast you or remove you from consideration for many roles and opportunities. Before I was heavily tattooed I made very good money being filmed for stock footage doing fire-breathing and the like. I no longer get those jobs because of my unique look. It can also influence the audience — many performers use a normal look in order to make their acts all the more amazing or shocking. With my look, people tend to expect the extreme right from the start. In my opinion, you should develop your look after your show in order to compliment it and if your look is going to involve permanent modification then it should be done only for personal satisfaction and not any perceived benefit to the show – you still have to live with it offstage.

As far as learning acts, there is no substitute for direct instruction from a qualified professional. I could have saved myself years and a great deal of discomfort if I had had resources like Coney Island’s sideshow school (WWW link) available to me back when I was teaching myself. The school is run by Todd Robbins who is one the modern greats.

But simply learning to do the acts is not necessarily learning to perform (though Todd can help you with that as well). Anyone who wants to perform sideshow or any other form of live entertainment should study theater, improv, stand up and the like. And that study should be active – there is no substitute for doing. Practice makes perfect, or at least improvement.

Has anyone attending (watching, not participating) your performances left the scene early because of sickness, vomiting or something like that? (ServMe)

It happens all the time and it all depends on how I am pitching the show. Most often it is something like the stomach pump but I can get that reaction whenever I want by tweaking out the presentation. I have had people come up to me after shows and say ‘You made me puke! That was so cool!’ It is an interesting reaction that I bet few other shows can get.

Have you ever been forbidden to perform in a certain town or community by officials, without prior warning? Has the show ever been shut down? (ServMe)

I haven’t been shut down but I did lose a promotional appearance (for a live bug supply company) after the strongly Christian wife of the owner saw my website and decided he shouldn’t be doing business with the likes of me. Another time on tour, we pulled into the venue in Salt Lake City and found that a local officer was waiting for us with the venue manager. They were there to make sure, among other things, that I would not have any nudity in my show – apparently the description of my Mr. Lifto-like liftings in earlier press had them scared I would whip out my penis onstage and hook something to it (not unheard of, but also not planned for this show). They also suggested that there should be no profanity and that sexual references kept to an absolute minimum… but given that the bands on the bill would not be censoring their lyrics we didn’t cut the cursing from our show.

Has there ever been a point when you wanted to go back to being less visibly modified? (The Fog)

Not seriously, no.

What do you think of the recent RIAA lawsuits, and the downloading of MP3s in general? (Powerviolence)

I think the lawsuits are a very bad approach to the situation and they are more than deserving of backlash from it. As for downloading, I do see it as theft of property and self-destructive for those who are fans of an artist. The artists can only take time to produce when doing so provides the means for their needs. Sure, some artists are grossly wealthy but that doesn’t make it right in principle. I see the major problem being with the labels for continuing to expect high prices for less product.

What do you think comes next in the spectacle of life? After you die… what happens? (Raze)

I think you die, I have no evidence or feelings that lead me to believe you get anything more afterwards, so enjoy it now.

Is there any one single person in the world that you would like to get in a fight with?

Due to my martial arts training I define some terms a bit differently than many – to me fighting is an all or nothing, kill or be killed affair. As such, I don’t really want to fight anyone but if I have to I want a pushover opponent. On the other hand, there is sparring which is a cooperative exercise whereby each participant is trying to better the other. I would gladly spar with most anyone – it’s fun. Maybe Jackie Chan or Jet Li.

Many people (at least in the body modification world) see you as a larger-than-life celebrity… are you?

I see myself more as being recognizable than famous or a celebrity.

Do you feel that you have done a better job during a show where audience members have adverse reactions like puking, passing out, crying, or even cringing?

Only if that is what I was going for. It often amazes me at how positively crowds can react to being pushed in those directions. I have watched people puke over the barricade and then cheer even louder. Fainters have been picked up by their friends and applauded as they were carried off to the first aid station.

When you were a small child, what did you want to be when you grew up? (Eliz)

Marine biologist, scuba diver, mountaineer, scientist, stock broker, explorer — lots of things.

Erik, what is good in life? (Jackalgod)

To hear the lamentations of your enemy’s women.

What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you? (Snitty)

I really don’t know – I guess that means nothing has been too horrible.

“Free Will vs. Destiny”… Can free will and a predetermined path co-exist?? Is it valid to believe that one can have free will and destiny at the same time??? (perk900)

You can define out the terms in such a way to make it possible for both but I prefer my concepts a little cleaner than that. So my feeling is no – make a choice dammit! It’s either free will or predetermination.

How would you like to be remembered when it’s all said and done? (INDESTRUCTIBLE)

With a laugh and a smile.

Erik Sprague

because the world NEEDS freaks…

Former doctoral candidate and philosophy degree holder Erik Sprague, the Lizardman (iam), is known around the world for his amazing transformation from man to lizard as well as his modern sideshow performance art. Need I say more?

Copyright © 2004 LLC. Requests to republish must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published September 25th, 2003 by LLC in Tweed, Ontario, Canada.

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