The Lizardman Q&A Part 10 [The Lizardman]


“Survive and enjoy doing it.”

The Lizardman’s Questions & Answers has reached round number ten. For which I can, of course, only take half credit at best since I only supply the answers — the questions, as always, came from IAM members. The fact that no call for questions has gone without a steady response leads me to, hopefully, believe that these are still fun for everyone. They also helped form part of the basis for the The Lizardman FAQ I put online late last year.

Once again, thank you and enjoy:

Have you ever thought of changing your diet to more resemble that of a lizard?

I am a vegetarian, by taste, and I do eat live insects. So, depending on which one you choose my diet does resemble that of a lizard.

Realistically though, the only things that I take into account when choosing my diet are taste and health (with a heavy emphasis on taste). I am a picky bastard as anyone who has ever gone to eat with me can attest.

If tomorrow it became a federal law that tattoos are illegal and all of the tattooed people had to be rounded up and placed in camps across the nation, would you lead the march against the White House?

Why are these hypothetical scenario questions so often gloomy and pessimistic?

I would not march on the White House in such a situation — what you have described is well past the point of no return. I am nobody’s martyr! When I act and fight for modification rights and respect I do so out of enlightened self interest. What is good for all is often also good for me, but don’t think that I will blindly sacrifice myself or you will be very disappointed.

As we all know, you have traveled the world. I have not been able to do that. My question to you, since you aren’t the “norm”, what country or cities are more welcoming to your lifestyle? Are there certain countries or cities where the majority have frowned upon you if not shunned?

The great thing about being an entertainer is that the world welcomes you. When I travel it is almost always for work — doing a show or an appearance.

I know that other people with public modifications on par with my own have had far different experiences in many of the same places. To answer your question though, I honestly can’t think of anywhere that particularly leaps out as welcoming or hostile to such a point based upon my modifications or lifestyle. My experiences most places are so focused that I kind of doubt I ever get a really good sense of what it is like on a regular basis — that’s part of the downside of touring. I get to go almost everywhere but I don’t really get to experience anywhere very deeply.

Where would your “optimal” place to live in for the rest of your life be? By that I mean somewhere you visited and really enjoyed and would like to, or you can imagine yourself living in for the rest of your life.

The requirements for my happiness are almost completely unrelated to geography. The optimal place for me is one where I have my friends and family and the freedom to live more or less according to my own desires. I am very happy in Austin, TX currently and could easily see staying there. Besides which, I travel so much that I effectively get to live all over in a sense.

What is your favorite species of lizard and reptile?

I really like the various monitors and salt water crocs.

Why are you so lovable?

Loving me is easy cause I’m beautiful. Heh.

What kind of body modification makes you uncomfortable?

No particular kind of modification makes me uncomfortable — but it’s also not like I would watch subincision or flesh removal procedurals just for fun.

If anything about a modification is going to bother me it will most likely be the motivation. When people get procedures as a means of one-upping someone else or seem to be pushed into it by others, that makes me uncomfortable. I also get ‘the willies’ when I see practioners doing things like cross-contaminating.

Have you ever considered more subdermal implants (small flattish ones, on your arms, for example) to make your scales appear more “textured”?

I’m not entirely sure how feasible such a massive implant project like that would even be, but it’s not something I would really want. In terms of texture for the scales I think that further tattooing will provide that adequately through the effect of color shading… I’m not currently considering any further implants with the possible exception of magnetic implants that would be essentially invisible.

What’s your favorite movie, and favorite video game, and why? Or one of, seeing as ‘favorite’ is kind of tricky!

It is very hard to pick a favorite. Besides which, my favorites have changed and likely will change again in the future.

I can say that in terms of movies I have watched the original Highlander and Caddyshack more times than probably any other films. I still really like Highlander on a lot of levels but I am kind of burnt out on it, whereas I still watch Caddyshack at least once a week or more on the tour bus and Full Metal Jacket runs on a loop in our front lounge most days.

For video games, I have a long running obsession with the Mortal Kombat series.

iam:Metalheart is taking a break from IAM

Who’s your favorite comedian alive or dead?

Rodney Dangerfield. I loved his stand-up style and his autobiography It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs not only inspired but also influenced me in terms of my own work.

What book or books have you read that have had the most impact on you (or been the most enjoyable reads)?

The Illuminatus Trilogy has profoundly affected me many times. I have read it at least once a year since I first found it in while in high school in the late eighties and I have no plans to stop.

If you could sum up your philosophy of life in a sentence what would it be?

I don’t know if I can do that yet. I definitely don’t think of myself as a role model but in terms of my philosophy, such as it may be, I do think that how I live my life is the best expression possible rather than trying to work language around it. If I have to take a swing at a one-sentence summary I’d currently go with: Survive and enjoy doing it.

Do you feel like there are certain mods you’re missing out on that you couldn’t incorporate into your lizard theme?

There are some designs and ideas I have had and passed on due to my overall theme but I don’t think I am missing out. Ultimately, if I really want something I find a way to make it work for me and my theme. I made the rules for this project and I will bend and break them as I see fit.

What’s your favorite city to perform at and why?

I don’t have a favorite city for the simple reason that the city you are in is a guarantee of nothing. No matter where you are the crowd can be good or bad or indifferent (which is worst of all). Of course, there are general trends that I have talked about before but the closest thing I could say for a favorite is the town I am in any given night because that’s my focus.

Who do you look up to?

I admire a lot of people but I try not to put anyone on a pedestal. The most important thing to remember about anyone you look up to is that they are still human and they have faults just like everyone else — this is especially important for anyone who might look up to me.

A short list off the top of my head would be: Lanny & Cindy Sprague, The Great Omi, Rasmus Nielson, Robert Anton Wilson, Rodney Dangerfield, Penn & Teller, James Randi, Aye Jaye, Houdini, Andre Breton, Heraclitus, & Zeno.

If you could meet anyone dead or alive who would it be?

I always hated this essay question in school. One of my favorite responses was to suggest that I wanted to meet myself under such conditions that I would have answer any question completely and honestly since we lie best to ourselves. I know that’s a cop-out so, I suppose I would like to meet the actual historical figure or figures behind the New Testament (I find the alleged evidence of a historical Jesus to be rather suspect) so that I could try and discern their motives and get a read on how they would feel about the abomination that their efforts have become in the many modern forms of Christianity.

I know that at one point you were a doctoral candidate in philosophy — what was your planned dissertation going to focus on?

It would have been a linguistic theory of art. My undergrad thesis was a treatment of the ancient problem of the one and the many using the latter Wittgensteinian notion of family resemblance. My doctoral thesis would have used family resemblance in a similar fashion to address the question ‘what is art?’.

What special challenges do you face when travelling? Do you have additional issues getting through airport security, due to being “the green guy”? Alternatively, do you get special treatment in a positive light? Extra drinks from stewardesses, for example?

My two main travel challenges are my show gear and other travelers. In terms of gear, you have to think about how airlines tend to view things like swords, traps, and flammable fuels (or their residue). Luckily, over the years I have gotten very good at streamlining my props and packing them for weight and security.

Other people are a challenge because as much as I want to be polite and accessible, people who have layovers in airports don’t seem to understand very well that I may not have the same amount of time and that I need to get to my gate to make my flight. On occasion I do get a little special treatment. I fly enough that I have racked up elite status on some airlines and using the same ones means that in some places their staff tends to recognize and remember me. I have gotten quicker passage through security, upgrades, drinks, and been boarded earlier in the past. I have also been invited up to the cockpit a few times — including post 9/11.

Your stage show does have a lot of sexual innuendo in it. Do women or men hit on you after shows?

It does? Define “a lot”. I thought it was just right or a little low if anything. Anyway, yeah people do hit on me (both men and women) after shows, before shows, anytime really. As much as I am not a fan of wearing jewelry, the wedding ring is nice thing to have at those moments along with the phrase “I’m flattered but…”

What is the one thing you collect that has nothing to do with sideshow memorablia or the “lifestyle”?

I don’t really collect things. I have tried but I usually get bored or just forget. I have been keeping ‘do not disturb’ signs from hotels for a while but that is lifestyle related. I keep an archive of stuff related to my career and I gather circus, magic, and sideshow materials for research. If I wasn’t my own historian and researcher my possessions would probably be rather spartan or just clutter.

Do you see yourself tattooing your body a second time around in the future to brighten your scales?

I think once will be enough, or at least I hope once will be enough. I won’t rule out touch ups here and there but I don’t envy the prospect of going over my whole body more than once. I’ll leave that sort of thing to Lucky Diamond Rich.

I remember you mentioning a possible procedure to make it so that your navel is gone (only smooth skin, no proof that a navel ever existed). Is such a prodecure possible? Are you still considering it now that you have your stomach tattooed and colored? Ever thought of doing the same thing to your nipples or any other part of your body to add to your theme?

The procedure is possible and was even recently shown on Modblog. I definitely still want to have it done, a touch-up to the tattooing in that area will likely be in order afterwards. My plan was and still is to also have my nipples surgically deconstructed as well.

If there were a way to 100% safley and painlessly remove your ferrets’ fur and tattoo them would you do it? If so, what theme would you give their tattoos?

I don’t see how this would be of any benefit to my ferrets or me; it really strikes me as rather absurd. I love my fuzzy little minions — and besides, they are already tattooed.

My wife, Meghan, who is responsible for introducing me to keeping ferrets had the idea of getting similar dot tattoos but rejected it as not fitting with her urban legend theme. I am still considering getting one dot in the event that I get a vasectomy which is fairly likely (both the operation and the tattoo).

Were you always such a sexy beast?

Without a doubt and only getting sexier. You may also have noticed my legendary humility.

How many times have you been called The Enigma?

How many times have I had to slap the taste out of your mouth? If anyone ever thinks I edit these questions (I don’t), just look at how often I take the ones from Orbax and Shawn Porter.

A lot, but he gets mistaken for me too — apparently all us tattooed folk look alike. In fact, I was once sitting next to him in Jackelope (a bar in Austin) and a person came up to talk to him (he was doing a show there that night) and they went on about seeing him on TV. Eventually they asked, ‘Can I see your forked tongue?’ He simply chuckled, pointed at me, and said ‘I think you want him.’

How about… what’s the modification you’ve received that you enjoy the most?

I love my bifurcated tongue, it is my favorite on pretty much every possible level.

This is a two part question (hope you do not mind), how long is your tongue split? Did it or does it re-grow?

I don’t mind at all. The depth of the split depends on how I hold my tongue but is approximately a little more than an inch. It does not re-grow; the depth has been stable since it finished healing after the second operation in 1997.

I have met you and you seemed a perfectly sane person, by my standards anyway. I was just wondering, why a lizard? Do you or have you ever felt a strong urge to be a lizard? Do you just like something about lizards, their reputation, their aesthetic qualities?

How modded where you by the time you decided to under go a complete transformation? Was it always intended to be part of a show? If you did have some sort of urge to become a lizard, do you feel more complete now? If not, will you ever, or are you just a guy who always had an interest in mods and somehow decided to take it down the path of a lizard?

It has never been about being a lizard for me, it is the transformation idea — I chose a reptilian theme based mainly on aesthetics. At the time I first started thinking about the project my only modification, to most people’s standards, was a pierced ear (done myself with a safety pin).

By the time I truly committed to the project I had pierced and stretched my lobes somewhat and had begun some of the blackwork tattooing on my arms to see how well I would be able to take it. I did not originally intend it to be part of a show but that was a dream that has since come true. I wouldn’t say I feel more complete but it definitely has been and continues to be fulfilling.

So how’d you choose a shade of green?

I had limited options in terms of the greens available in tattoo inks, but I simply picked a bottle out the rack that looked good to me.

What event this last year was the most memorable to you and why?

My Dad’s heart attack and recovery. The reason should be obvious.

I’ve read a couple of times you would like a tail of sorts — ever thought about getting a subdermal implant near your tailbone and slowly stretching it (2nd generation 3rd gen, etc)

I have had it suggested to me before but never seriously considered it. Even if that were a viable method for creating a tail, it would not effectively create the sort of long crocodile-like tail I would want.

Also, when can we expect to see you in Australia?.. I want to see a Brisbane show, I’ll even shout you dinner if you head down this way.

I am still working on getting to Australia, I want to my show there as well — any promoters down there reading this? I’m ready to go.

How did you train your snake to be comfortable and perform on stage? And by snake I mean your little green friend, not your happy green friend!

Snakes are not particularly trainable (snake charmers and similar performers are often actually just choreographing their behavior around the snakes reflexive, instinctual reactions) but they do seem to ‘condition’ based on repetition.

When I start working with a new snake I handle it a lot till it settles down and then I just go for it. The first few times through can be difficult but over time they seem to take to it as a matter of routine. Some recent experiments with snakes and mazes seem to indicate that they have more mental capacity than previously thought and perhaps this is similar to the ‘learning’ exhibited in those studies.

Erik Sprague

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