“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
- Anthony Robbins
After a few months of me asking other people questions it seemed like a good idea to once again let all of you ask me some questions. As always, it was fun. I think some old ground got retread here and there — but nothing is written in stone, so it’s always good to reconsider things. And we were once again visited by a familiar spectre: Will this be the last Q & A?
Read on and find out.
sinceresoul: How long did your facial and head tattoos take, and how many sittings did you go through?
I only generally keep track of total overall hours and then only because people seem to want to know. I don’t really worry about individual portions of my body. And since different artists work at varying speeds and the design is a big factor, I don’t think time is all that great a measuring stick.
But, to try and answer your question — here are some best recollections and estimations.
My face was outlined in one sitting. That includes my neck and throat but not my scalp or ears. I believe that it took about two or three hours to do but I was there for six hours if you include getting the stencil drawn on right. The facial scales were then filled in over four (maybe five) more sessions of two or three hours a piece. My scalp was outlined and the black Mohawk stripe filled in during in one sitting of around nine hours. Since then some scales have been filled on the sides of my head and neck for about three more hours worth of time. Also, I have had one ear recently colored green and the other one is scheduled to be done the weekend before BMEfest — the first ear took just under 45 minutes.
ttowla: When you do television shows and interviews they focus on your “freak” side and your sideshow act, but do you ever want to show that you do “normal” things as well? (Like eat steak, or do your own laundry, and that you don’t consume bugs at all meals etc.)
I don’t eat steak. I hate doing laundry. If bugs were easily available I might eat them at each meal — I will snatch up random ones and eat them if the mood strikes me. My freak side pretty much is my normal side — I don’t behave all that differently offstage than I do onstage. I tend to be trying to balance something or juggle and seeing if anything at hand can be swallowed or stuffed up my nose. The real difference is whether or not I am being self-conscious about it. Onstage I have to concerned with presentation and an audience, offstage I just do it.
Do I want shows to focus in more on my “normal” activities like driving and grocery shopping? No! I want to be entertaining and interesting. I find those things boring — which is why I find freaky ways of doing things to make them more interesting to me. If I turn on the TV and see someone just grocery shopping or eating then I turn the channel. Being on TV to me is primarily a means of letting people know about my show and what I do as an artist — that is what I want put on TV.
perk900: I have a very important question? Bacon: How do you like it? Crispy, chewy, or burnt to a fucking crisp?
I don’t like bacon at all. I don’t eat meat as a matter of taste and like Samuel Jackson said (per Tarantino), “I don’t dig on swine”
Reverence: Which do you prefer, performing on the east or west coast and why? Or do you have no preference?
I just like performing — but I will describe what I see as the differences around the US.
East Coast: East coast crowds are aggressive and challenging, they won’t let you get away with anything half assed but if you do reach them they will support you and go off like nowhere else.
West Coast: West coast crowds often seem like they can’t be bothered — playing LA can be a real chore. However, you know when you get a response that you have achieved something.
Central: You didn’t mention them but the central US markets are great venues and crowds. They tend to ‘pop’ easier and just seem to be enthusiastic that you showed up. They show love and almost never give you any BS or drama.
More often than not it is the venue that makes the difference (good audiences are everywhere) and to that I would have to say that while the coasts have the more prestigious rooms the central US treats you better and gives you much less venue attitude.
Herra Kuolema: I heard you can juggle. What props do you use? Balls, clubs, rings, diabolos, devilsticks or what? And how many? Thanks for this piece of information.
I have juggled since junior high but I am still pretty mediocre. I do some very basic contact work, two piece, and three piece juggling. I also do balancing — fingertips, hands, chin, and nose. Since my skills are limited I tend to rely on unusual and/or dangerous props and setups to sell the act. I use balls, torches, knives, & plungers most often but I have used rings and clubs in the past. I haven’t used a devil stick in quite awhile but I was proficient in the basics years ago.
Also, Dube exerballs (weighted juggling balls) are part of my daily exercise routine.
Badine: It seems that you meet all different kinds of unique people on IAM. Not to mention that a lot of people (including me) admire you for your intelligence, your awesome sense of humor and your cool ass mods! What do you think of the fact that tons of people want to hang out with you and talk to you? Do you enjoy meeting and making friends with IAMers? And I bet you get flooded with IMs too! Thanks in advance for answering my question.
I think my basic reaction to people wanting to talk to me is that I am simply flattered that people care enough about what I think and do to want to talk to me about it.
I enjoy meeting and talking with people in general — and if they are interesting (as most people, especially on IAM tend to be) then all the better. I do get a little bogged down with my IMs from time to time but I don’t mind.
Sicklove: Of all the cities in the world you have been to, besides your wife, was there another reason besides love that decided your move to Texas in concrete?
I probably would have moved to Texas anyway — but to Dallas not Austin. And if not Dallas I think I would have ended up in NYC after Albany. So, yes, as I have said before I ended up in Austin, TX because it meant being with Meghan.
Mars: Assuming you could find a qualified artist, and you believed there were no safety concerns, would you get your eyes tattooed, and if you did, what would the tattoo look like (ideally)?
I’d do it in a second. My design would be simple — I would want to whites of my eyes to be filled in with a speckled green to make them more crocodilian.
matt gone: I am seamlessly tattooed between my legs, meaning it is tattooed solid everywhere. Even places that normally do not accept tattoo ink. Will you go this far even though it may be one of the most painful and difficult ordeals you will ever go through? Tattooing the genitals is one thing, behind them is quite another. You have to spend days in bed not moving like a surgical procedure and have multiple sessions. It is the worst. Will you go that far?
I don’t know if I will or not. Being that it is not only not a public area, but also an area that I myself don’t see (without a mirror and some effort) it just doesn’t occupy much thought for me. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I won’t do it, but if I will remains to be seen.
big lobed freak: Do you have any plans to stretch your ears larger? If so do you have a goal in mind?
I don’t have any particular plans to stretch my ears beyond and inch — however, for quite awhile I didn’t have plans to go beyond 3/4”. Then, after some contemplation I went to an inch — in part because I was seeing jewelry and item I wanted to fit. My primary concern with my ears is maintaining their strength for lifting in my show — I currently use empty beer kegs onstage (which weigh 35lbs) and I can do a bit more than that now. I suspect I may get a bit more size just by pushing the weight limit some more and inserting larger pieces after lifts, if I have goal at all it is more weight rather than larger diameter.
schizonoid: What kind of negative reactions do you get to your mods, other than people staring, pointing and talking amongst themselves? What’s the worst reaction you’ve gotten? Have you ever felt bad after having gotten a bad reaction from a child for example? Come to think of it, I’m guessing their mothers are more prone to bad reactions than the kids themselves.
I don’t think of stares as negative — I stare, I think it’s a natural reaction to something interesting. I will also talk amongst my friends but I will usually wait till a private opportunity, particularly if I think it would make someone uncomfortable.
I have scared kids from time to time but I have a lot of experience working with them so I can generally mediate the situation pretty quickly. If not, I don’t feel bad but I do try to remove myself or do whatever is necessary to let the kid calm down. Many times it is the parent who worsens the situation — and probably created it since kids learn from and mimic the reactions of their parents.
Goat: Was college worth it?
College was worth it for me. This was primarily because I had a full academic scholarship. As they say, YMMV (your mileage may vary). Graduate school is another story, for all the good experiences and people I met the financial burden it left me with is still not justified.
I know you’re into computer gaming, but what’re some other games you like to play (board, card, etc)?
I like chess and Othello (reversi). I enjoy most card games. I had a long love affair with mankala in college. I find tangrams to be helpful with thinking through problems and beating any creative blocks I might be having. Tic-tac-toe still engages me on a philosophical level. The thing is, I tend to get to play these mainly online against other people or against AI — another reason I love pc gaming, it provides opponents when you are alone.
Will this really be the last Q and A?
Yes and no. I think that, for at least some time, this will be the last Q & A in this form. However, I have idea for a similarly reader question based column that I will begin next month. Just keep an eye on my IAM page for details.
Misticals: Do you ever plan on having children? If so are you going to raise your child the cookie-cutter traditional way (or as close to possible) or your own special way?
I will not, and Meghan is with me on this, have children. Regardless though, I am not sure there really is a cookie cutter way to raise a child. It seems like by its nature it would always be a very unique experience that more one attempts to restrict the process to a model the more problematic it would end up being. Certainly there are values and principles that one might see as traditional to the process but the application must be individually tailored.
If I found myself raising a child I would, as I imagine many do (whether they wish to or not), rely upon my own upbringing as a guide. They keys being instilling a sense of self, responsibility, and providing as much opportunity as possible.
grammaton_cleric: I have always wondered how you made the decision to undergo a full body transformation and also why you picked the lizard to transform into.
The transformation itself started as a concept art idea which became a performance project which then continued to develop and absorb / integrate many of my pet ideas and loves; like sideshow. I chose a reptilian motif out of pure personal aesthetic — I just like how its looks.
LoveIsUnity: I have a question I have been wanting to ask for a while but it seems all the previous Q and A’s have slipped by me. Which philosopher has beliefs and ideas most similar to your own?
I’d love to say Heraclitus but I know that’s not true given the spiritual nature of his thought, but I dig his style.
It would really depend on the subject matter but the two well known and accepted philosophers that I would most often agree with would are Nietzsche and Wittgenstein.
Badine: Do you plan to get anything else pierced?
I have been playing with idea of lip rings for a couple years now but I have no definite plans.
glider: How do you feel about people getting tattoos of your logo or your likeness on themselves?
I see anyone getting my logo or likeness tattooed on them as incredibly flattering. If my image is that appealing to them or something I do moves them to get it done then I am really kind of awestruck. I just hope that they have seriously considered it and are doing it for their own sake OR they are doing it in a truly comic and irreverent sense with that full awareness.
In comparison to many performers/celebrities, you are very approachable and “real” to your fans, and to some extent there appears to be a blurring of the line between “friend” and “fan”. How does people perceiving you as a real or “down to earth” person affect the public freak persona that you need for the career aspect of your life?
Part of the reason I don’t think of myself as a celebrity is because I am easily approachable and honest with people. Also, I don’t like the celebrity concept as it tends to play out, where people will be interested in you just because other people are interested in you. It’s easy for me to be “real” with fans of what I do because my fans are real — I don’t tend to get the celebrity chasers who only give a damn about me because x number of other people do.
As for blurring the line between “friends” and “fans”, I am very friendly with people — and even more so when they are fans of what I do because I am really enthusiastic and in love with what I do. From time to time this does create minor issues because people will perceive themselves as being closer to me than they really are but it’s definitely more boon than bane. I actually think it helps me professionally because when people get to know me a bit, they often become invested, in a way, in what I do. I think its like what happens to me when I tour with a band or work with another performer — regardless of what I felt of their work before, if its positive I come away wanting them to succeed and being more drawn into and receptive to their future work. I think this is an extension of coming to know and like them as people. And, by seeing that I do have a “down to earth” aspect I think most people will develop a newfound respect for me.
Of course, if people were to think that the freakiness was just an act it would probably have a very negative effect — but getting to know me will simply reinforce to a person that I really am what I portray myself to be onstage — I just project it more (turn it up to 11) when I am performing.
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 BMEzine.com LLC. Requests to republish must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published July 27th, 2004 by BMEzine.com LLC in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.