The fifth Lizardman Q & A
— I knew it had to go at least this far — The Law of Fives
. The Law of Fives is great, the more you look for it, the more it appears. Take a look at your hands — five digits on each. Of course, if you are polydactyl you may be experiencing the law of sixes or sevens…
For more on the Law of Fives, and other fun mumbo jumbo, consult the Principia Discordia by Malclypse the Younger.
For the latest Lizardman Q & A, just keep reading.
J.T: I know with being famous you get all sorts of attention, but do things like being part of a tabloid article that pretty much cast a negative tone to you and your being bother you? Also, I have read in your diaries about a few times people have used your image without permission. What course of action do you take to either stop them or gain compensation? Do you live and let live or do you aggressively go after them?
The tabloid article referred to here is the recent piece in the Weekly World News. Let me first take this opportunity to once again deny my fame. I’m not famous — I am recognizable and I draw attention. I think there is a subtle difference. I don’t think the short blurb in the tabloid was all that negative. Yes, they portrayed me as a freak — but I always take that as a compliment regardless of intent. I have three issues with the piece overall.
One, they used my given name and not The Lizardman. My deal with press is to always use my stage name because that’s how I present myself publicly and make my living as a performer.
Two, they inaccurately described my modifications — ‘fish scales’?!
Three, the images used came from a photo-shoot that was done expressly for another magazine article.
The last one is what leads me to the second part of your question. As much as I would like to live and let live, I cannot. If I do so, I risk losing what thin rights and legal recourse I do have concerning my image. The law requires that I aggressively pursue and defend my trademarks in order to maintain them. I usually start out by tracking down the source used by the offending publication or entity as well as contacting them to demand they demonstrate their rights to use (i.e. produce a valid release). I do this anytime I do not feel someone has the right to be using my likeness or I disagree with the context of its use.
In one recent case I emailed a magazine editor off their website to complain since a photo designated for promotional use associated with a recent event I had done ended up in their ‘grab bag’ commentary pages with a disparaging caption (no mention of the event it was taken at). As a result, the person who put the pic and caption in was reprimanded and lost the column assignment and I got a nice complimentary article in the next issue. That may seem harsh but keep in mind that had the person simply looked at the back of the photo they would have seen it was clearly marked as to how it could and could not be used — a standard practice. In other cases, including some pending, I end up seeking monetary awards.
Gravedigger’s Daughter: If given the chance (and the money to do it), would you ever consider putting together a DVD of performances with other performers in the ‘freak show?’
It would depend entirely on the content for the DVD. I would certainly be willing to work with any number of other performers and I have worked with many in the past — I’d love to a ‘battle of the monsters’ or such with Enigma. The idea of putting out a video is less appealing though. I will say now that unless a huge sum of money is involved there will never be a Lizardman show DVD. I do not want my show out on video for a number of reasons. Mainly because it tends to negatively affect ticket sales (many people foolishly think that seeing it on video is a substitute for the live experience) and it makes theft or imitation of material that much easier.
Meghan: Four ferrets? What the hell were you thinking?!?
“That oughta shut her up for awhile” – Nelson Munce
serpents: When you were on the game show with Stalking Cat and Beki B and a contortionist, you fell down a trapdoor when you lost. Did you really, or was it a camera trick?
The trapdoor on Russian Roulette is real. You fall a few feet onto a crash pad and then crawl a short way out from under the stage. I didn’t so much lose as I got randomly eliminated, dammit.
serpents: Actually, another, more serious question. Given the recent events with The Great Orbax, have you reassessed any of the acts you perform, or been given pause as to what you will attempt?
I don’t know all the details about Orbax’s accident, so it’s hard for me to comment on it. I do know he is a solid performer and I am glad he healed so well and quickly. I read a couple reports and saw the damage he suffered. But, the thing about doing these sorts of acts is that an accident for another performer — at least for me — has no effect whatsoever on what I do or how I do it. For any act I do I have already considered and accepted all the risks involved and worked out how I will deal with them. If I hadn’t then I shouldn’t be doing the act. If something happens to another person and it makes you wake up and realize there is something else you missed then it should really be a wake up call to you to stop completely. Performers most often get hurt when they get too relaxed or complacent — you should always be in a state of alert and concern for your own safety and that of everyone else present.
[Ed. note: A fire stunt recently backfired while The Great Orbax was performing; when preparing to have a flaming cinder block smashed on his chest, he became engulfed in a kerosene fire and suffered serious burns to his face and had to spent a week in the burn ward. Luckily he is very strong and a good healer, but it could have gone far worse.]
Goat: Since I can never post a serious question… Ya ever bounce a quarter off someone’s ass?
Actually bounced? I don’t think so. However, along the lines of other classic tasteless jokes and stunts like ‘touch your elbows behind your back’, I and the rest of the bar staff at a place I used to work would do a thing about bouncing a quarter off someone’s ass that ended up with them just getting spanked very hard.
Anaesthetise: Do you feel obligated to stick out your tongue whilst having your photo taken?
Pretty much. It often takes a conscious effort for me not to do it now — I managed to keep it in for our wedding shots. Most photos I take are souvenirs for other people and they really want the tongue to be out, so it just becomes second nature.
Nullius: Do you have health insurance?
Starting with the New Year I will have health insurance through Meghan’s job — my lovely new bride. It will be the first time in about five years that I have been covered. However, while I may have been ‘working without a net’ as concerns my own health, my show has always been covered — either through policies I have taken out or by the venue or promoters. Event coverage is something I think is a must for any performer — risk yourself, not the audience or venue. It amazes me when I get contacted by promoters who want to undercut my price by saying something like ‘Well, Bob here in town said he’ll breathe fire for half that’, and when I ask if Bob has over a decade of experience, and if he is insured they don’t think it matters. Well, when Bob burns himself, your stage, and the entire front row and you’re in court for the rest of your life you will be wishing you spent that extra money on me and my insurance policies!
CT: What is the most bizarre assumption that someone has made about you simply because of your mods?
That might be a hard one to narrow down. How about that I am Irish or a Jets fan? Those two kind of caught me off guard at the time. I am pretty sure the people making them thought it was paint and not tattoo at the time though.
Girl: What is the worst reaction you have ever had from a random member of the public? How did you respond?
A very large biker once walked by me, paused, turned and said. ‘You make me want to punch you in the face.’ I looked at him and said, ‘You gotta do what you gotta do’. We stared at each other for a second or two, then chuckled, and he decided, quote — “You’re alright.”
Since nothing actually bad happened (he just felt the need to ‘size me up’), I don’t know if that was the worst but it certainly had the potential to be far worse than anything else that has ever happened to me. He was not alone and I was.
The Eternal: I’ve heard you speak about student loans and why they’re not a good thing to get. I assume you had an awful experience with them in the past. What happened?
It’s a good thing this is online, because many forests could die supplying the necessary paper for me to list my grievances with the current university system in this country. But focusing on student loans:
When I decided to go for my doctorate in philosophy, I first tried to make it on savings and through tuition waivers and pay from teaching. That wasn’t nearly enough to cover the ‘mandatory’ costs, much less food and shelter. So, I took minimal subsidized loans to begin with. This still ended up with me having to go to my family for some support. So, the next year I took out larger loans (but still not the maximum they wanted to stick me in debt for). And so it went that in just six graduate semesters I had been effectively pushed into about $36,000 worth of debt, whereas I had entered with no debt at all. Keep in mind that I lived in horrid apartments for under $250 a month rent and kept my food budget around $100 a month so the rest of that money plus my teaching earnings all went to tuition, fees, books, and the like.
The current school pricing and loan system sets out to make people indentured servants to banks. In many cases it pushes people to get degrees and certifications that don’t hold a candle to real world experience but cost far in excess per school year of what the future job will pay annually. A better plan would be to work construction for two to three years at 18 and then use that money to get the degree you want — if you still think you need the degree after spending some time in the “real world”.
The only good thing I can say about my student loans is that they make me happy about the current poor state of the economy because the interests rates on them are staying low.
_Stigmata_: Are those really tattoos or do you have the wife paint them on the same exact way every time before you go out?
I only dignify this with a response because of the source, so: Same question right back to you Jon.
perk900: Say a small child drowns trying to emulate Spongebob Squarepants by trying to live under water in the backyard pool… Who do you blame??? The parents for not properly teaching their child to fear and respect that pool… Nickelodeon for not putting a proper warning before the show… or is the child just not fit enough to survive and this just a case of thinning the herd?
Some of this will depend on the age of the child but overall the parents need to be monitoring their child — especially around a pool or when there is access to the pool. If the kid is still trying to emulate cartoons in this manner after a certain age, then yeah — we probably didn’t lose a future NASA engineer. I wouldn’t blame Nickelodeon because a warning probably wouldn’t get through to a dumb or too young child and the parents wouldn’t act differently or probably even notice it anyway (not if they are the sort that lets their kid around the pool unsupervised). Also, I think some things are so basic as to defy the need for warnings and labels — if you can’t figure out fire=hot, then good riddance.
ServMe: Do you mentor other artists that are either working on a full body transformation, or want to make it in the same field as you have made it in? Would you consider teaching young people that are serious about it the “tricks of the trade” or give them guidelines in order to circumvent things you wished you’d have know in advance?
I don’t know about mentoring, but I have spoken with and given my advice as requested to many people. I do workshops with groups from time to time on various sideshow skills like fire manipulation and talk about different aspects of the business as it were. However, I am not at a point where I want that to be my focus and to do it right, it needs to be your primary focus. I try to be as open and helpful as I can, but in a responsible manner that won’t potentially hurt sideshow or the person interested.
My next non-interview column will actually be about things I have learned in the course of becoming a ‘professional freak’.
JuanKi: Were there any other “animals ideas” to turn yourself into before or competing with a “lizard”? Also, when will you be finishing your face ink? Finally, what does the Lizardman ride?
First, there were other ideas and concepts but not really other animals — gargoyle being the closest to an animal. The black markings on my back were originally designed as part of that concept and got held over into the reptilian theme.
On your second question, soon, I hope — as with the rest of my body. I’d really like to say in the next two years — but I keep getting busy with other things that make getting lots of sessions in difficult.
Finally, right now I’m driving a 1998 Geo Metro (sigh — good mileage and it gets me there). I could really use a nice Sportster or maybe a Buell, but other things come first.
kl3rk: Tongue splits — scalpel and suture or laser and suture?
Mine was done with laser and sutures but earlier this year I took a scalpel to it to remove a little scar tissue and add maybe an eighth of an inch to the depth.
Having now done minor scalpeling and looking at the results and experiences of others with a scalpel, I think that scalpeling may be a better alternative to the laser — if you don’t mind the blood. I do believe that sutures are very beneficial for shaping and for preventing re-growth. The problem being that suturing the tongue is very difficult and scalpel procedures are not often done by those who can do the proper suturing whereas laser surgery is almost exclusively done by doctors who can also offer the sutures.
ClashingDharma: I apologize if this question has already been asked but when you decided with what you were going to do with your body and such how did you approach your parents with it?
A very good question. A lot of people have asked how my parents reacted but your approach is much better and potentially informative. It took awhile before I really gave my parents the whole picture, but they did get to see it coming as things developed. I tattooed my hands with scales without letting them know until they saw them. While they were very supportive, there was also a little uneasiness. I was not positive how they would react to my facial tattooing. I told them in a phone message (or maybe email — I forget exactly) about what I was doing when I made that step and they came down to the tattoo shop. They got there after I was done with the session and in what is probably one of the best reassuring moments of my life they took it all in and told me they loved me.
That’s it for the Q & A for
awhile. In upcoming weeks and months I will be turning the tables and
asking the questions. So, in addition to my regular ramblings, you can
expect a number of surprise guest interviews.
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 © 2003 BMEZINE.COM. Requests to republish must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published December 13th, 2003 by BMEZINE.COM in Tweed, Ontario, Canada.