The Lizardman vs. Jason “Cork” Sand [The Lizardman]

Jason Sand Interview

I had the opportunity to meet Jason (IAM:Cork) in person in 2003 after first reading about him on BME. Since then the original interview with Jason was removed for various reasons but always with an eye towards replacing it with an updated account his amazing life and modifications. I was very happy when he approached me with the idea of doing the new interview and I hope I have done him justice by asking good questions — following are his responses.

LIZARDMAN:  Let’s start with the standard introduction: What’s your name? How old are you? Where do you call home?

JASON:  Jason Sand. 27 years old. Currently living in the D.C. Area (MD), next year Vermont.

LIZARDMAN:  How would you describe your motivations for your modifications?

JASON:  I would say many of my modifications are a blend of reclamation, spiritual, and aesthetic appeal. My theme as a whole is based on my personal and spiritual evolution. Amongst all of that I’ve accumulated a few mods that simply appeal to me artistically, or even sexually.

LIZARDMAN:  Describe your modifications and who did them:

JASON:  My facial and neck tattoos are by various artists including Shane Munce, Rosanna (No hope No fear in Amsterdam), Joe Marro, Preston Jarvis, Mike Derazmo, Chris Lee a.k.a. Batryder, JD (Psychotic INK), Jackie Brown, and Eric Stokes. My half sleeve by Bryan Harper. The back piece in progress is by Shane Munce and Chris Lee. I have an in-progress chest piece by Jon Clue and a crotch piece by Mike Fikes. The leg and foot work is from Shane Munce, Mike Derazmo, and Eric Stokes. And I also have some other work by various artists.

My piercings from top to bottom include two 2ga upper ears, a 00ga upper ear, a 4ga upper ear, a 1ga conch, a 1.25″ ears (split and reattached by Steve Haworth), a 13mm Septum piercing, a 27mm by 14mm labret, three guiches in 00ga, 1/2″, and 5/8″ guiche, and a 1″ upper scrotal piece done in transcrotal style (i.e. partially stitched closed during procedure.)

My carved silicone facial implants and eight large Teflon horns are by Steve Haworth with Jesse Jarrell having carved the facial ones.

My chin branding is by Steve Haworth and my shin branding is by Alva in Jacksonville. The chest cuttings are by Frances and the knee cuttings by Ron Garza.

I have a self-done partial subincision and a partial head splitting by Shane Munce. I have a self cut and reattached split tongue — I think that’s it.

LIZARDMAN:  Future modification plans?

JASON:  I’m thinking about possibly switching the Teflon in my chest out for silicone. And really that’s about it… I’m pretty complete with most of my projects aside from tattooing.

LIZARDMAN:  Did you have an overall plan or idea for your mods or was it a piecemeal or evolution process?

JASON:  Most of it was part of an overall plan, but like many things in life, some of it was spontaneous, and much of it evolved and changed naturally as I came up with better or different ideas. Even now that I’ve planned out the rest of my work, there is still loads of room for change and adaptation.

LIZARDMAN:  Can you expand on the theme? I think because its not an obvious visual one it may be harder for people to pick up on immediately.

JASON:  I am not sure I can get this across correctly, mainly due to not being done, but I’ll give it a go. I have a few different related themes. Starting at the face the blue dots are to honor the skies above, and the water below — a tribute to air and water. My face and neck is a representation of destruction and creation, the Big Bang with the symbol for “God” (as in a being, not the one in the bible) being in the center, and below on my throat, a goat with the same symbol of God, representing destruction. I’ve also incorporated plants and animals in between this to represent the here and now. On the sides of my head I have “Kill thine Idols” (as in don’t have idols before your perception of god or enlightenment). The other side states “life after death” in regards to passing from this life into another.

My front torso is a huge face in progression formed out of different forms of plants from a cellular level to a lichen growth. As this piece progresses it will have more plant textures incorporated. This represents the organic process of part of myself growing out of me, a kind of spiritual peek through my inner window, ever reaching outward.

My back section is a tribute to fertility (the “human” orchid — human vagina — as opposed to insect vagina emulation), represented with an orchid and various spiders. Once finished it will have incorporated a scene of various nebulas and birthing stars, all overlapped with webbing to represent how it’s all “tied together”. Growing off the orchid and encompassing my ass will be two large berries with fetuses growing inside them, fusing the concept of birth and growth with an organic plant-like fusion. I’ll leave it at that for the areas that are not currently done so as not to jinx it.

Finally, my feet are once again a representation of destruction — and growth within filth. Shane Munce and I are currently working on them with tattoos such as three dimensional realistic zits, the worm from poltergeist, and eventually bruising, bloating, frost bite, gangrene, and so on.

The rest of my body, arms, crotch, and so on carry a few token tattoos from friends — more representations, mostly abstract, of plants and animals. My knuckles read ‘Hard Love’, and my brother has the same tattoo. We got it to represent the way we were raised.

I’ve also used implants and subincision, and eventually tattoos to give my genitalia an abstract, hermaphroditic, plant like appearance.

LIZARDMAN:  Tell me about the lobe re-attachment?

JASON:  Well, as to the “why”, one ear I had overstretched early on and suffered a thin spot. Later down the road I had a similar problem with the other ear during a scalpeling session. They both harbored thin spots but were holding in fine enough until I got too drunk on a rollercoaster ride and had my plugs forcefully jerked out of my ears. That made the thin spots too thin for comfort.

About a half year down the road when I was getting my temple implants I asked Steve Haworth if he’d do my ears the next day. It went well, but one ear did not completely attach after healing, so six months down the road Shane Munce did a partial reattachment on it. I’d say the attachments were about 80% successful, and three years later I’m still happy with the results.

LIZARDMAN:  You cut and then later reversed your own tongue splitting?

JASON:  Yup, after the initial swelling went down, about two weeks to be safe, I realized it was grossly off center, I went back in and removed the scabby tissue from the center and bound it with a rubber band. In the first night the back reattached, and by the second day the front was fairly well attached. I have a small off center fork resulting from it and a crease that opens up a little bit. There is a hard piece of scar tissue in it to this day about five years later.

LIZARDMAN:  So your motivation was simply the off center cut, not that you no longer wanted a split?

JASON:  My motivation to reattach? Yes, it was literally like a quarter inch off center. That’s what I get for marking after the lidocaine.

I had plans to do it again. I was waiting for the lump of scar tissue buried in my tongue to soften and go away. And while it has gotten smaller, its not softer and I’ve just not gotten around to going through it again. I want to make sure its done right and I have been focusing on other areas since then. I’m sure I’ll get around to it later, but with the scar tissue and all, I have some worries that it might not be the best of ideas, and could impede mobility or something. Only time will tell.

LIZARDMAN:  So do you think you will go for a self cutting again when the time comes or is it something you now think would be better done by someone else for you?

JASON:  More than likely I’ll go to someone else due to there possibly needing to be a bit of sculpting, because of the existing scar tissue and fork.

LIZARDMAN:  What are your views on D.I.Y. versus going to professional practitioners?

JASON:  If you want quality work with less risk and better chances of success, go to a professional. Many are even accommodating to “rituals” that people would like to have involved in their procedure. I personally don’t see much wrong with DIY if you’re aware of the potential risks, willing to live with a mistake if it happens, and so on. It is a wonderful experience to have that kind of responsibility in your own hands and bring it to fruition.

LIZARDMAN:  Did the bad tongue splitting affect your views concerning D.I.Y. procedures?

JASON:  Not in the least, I knew I was taking a chance, and lived with my mistakes. Success will only teach and show you so much. You have to make a few mistakes before you really start seeing the bigger picture.

LIZARDMAN:  Do you differentiate much between the process and the product in terms of your modifications?

JASON:  When it comes to my scars, it’s often in the “process” of healing that I find more fulfilling, whereas with everything else, it’s the end product and I don’t necessarily get much out of the process. I do find it emotionally relieving at times, but I this is more related to the idea that inflicted pain can help one displace personal stress along with the physical discomfort.

In terms of getting something for original motivations or not, I’d say that is debatable in the sense that I may get it for one reason, but it could turn into a hundred others by the time I finish it, or on the flip side, I could have a incorrect hundred ideas of what it means, but once finished, its purpose is obvious.

LIZARDMAN:  You keep a low profile outside of IAM and other online modification sites. Is this by design? And if so, why? Given the public nature of much of your work how hard is it for you to keep under the radar?

JASON:  I like to think it’s by design, but I also think luck and circumstance plays a part. During the times when I’ve wanted to be more “public” it generally hasn’t fit into my situation. I’ve done some small TV coverage, a commercial or two, and some events but not much. I’m also not one to pursue things of that nature that don’t just fall into my lap. It really isn’t that hard at all to go under the radar. I use to get approached for things a lot, but one day it just kind of went away and hasn’t come back. So whatever I’m doing, it’s working.

LIZARDMAN:  Others with mods as extensive as your own are likely to work in either the modification industry or as performers. Have you ever worked in either of those realms? Do you prefer working so-called ‘straight jobs’?

JASON:  I absolutely prefer. Though the money and fame of being a modified celebrity are attractive, it is simply not my calling. Straight jobs are great, though I wouldn’t mind something a bit more unusual and creative from time to time.

LIZARDMAN:  To what extent have your mods influenced your job selections and opportunities?

JASON:  I’m not out there trying to get a vast assortment of jobs. I generally have a good idea of what places will and won’t hire me and tend to stick with those. Believe it or not, my work history and word of mouth have pretty much helped bypass any problems with getting hired initially.

Public notice and fitting into dress codes are definitely limiting factors. Also certain employee environments may not be suitable. I tend to get along really well with college age employees, and am usually taken in fairly well. Granted, my eccentric personality and approachableness helps a lot in this area. Many skilled labor jobs tend to look past the work if you have the experience or capability to back it up.

LIZARDMAN:  Were any comments made regarding there being consequences or resistance to going further than what you had when you were hired?

JASON:  Actually, no, there hasn’t been. I’ve just done it and not asked for permission.

LIZARDMAN:  Do you mind listing the jobs you have had in the past and their reactions to your modifications?

JASON:  When I was just pierced and stretching I got a job as a Data Analyst. After being relocated to another office in Florida, I started tattooing my face. At first a few administrative employees (i.e. the important ones) were a little taken aback. But since I already had a reputation for being eccentric in appearance with my piercings and various hairstyles, it was pretty much looked over. I worked the graveyard shift and rarely had to deal with anyone face to face.

After five years of that I left the job to pursue other interests and ended up working for TLA Video in Philadelphia. They didn’t care at all how I looked, as I was mainly doing sales and customer service over the phone and internet.

When I moved to a smaller city in Vermont I had a bit difficulty finding work. I ended up working in custodial maintenance a few hours a day. After a good while with the company, and a few stints doing other oddball jobs like mortgage refinancing and working in a Thai Bistro, they hired me on full time working in the kitchen and bussing tables (or any other job they had, other than bartending and waiting tables). They didn’t mind if I was seen by customers, but they just hadn’t chanced me serving them.

Then, upon moving to Maryland, I was very lucky to have known the kitchen manager at a TGI Friday‘s in Greenbelt (the third busiest in the nation last year or some such), which is where I’m currently at. When I move back to VT, I’ll probably start back up at my old job and possibly try and see if I can get on at another Friday’s.

Most places just take me as I am. I’ve rarely had anyone complain or reject me. I do occasionally get the uncomfortable coworker but that works itself out over time. Right now I think my resumé and willingness to work in most environments keeps me an eligible candidate for employment.

Jason wearing theatrical makeup as an experiment in disguise.

LIZARDMAN:  Anything you would tell anyone else considering heavy or public mods that caught you off guard after you got started?

JASON:  Hmmm…. What caught me off guard the most was the overall positive reaction I’ve gotten. Many people like the art a lot even if it may seem a little bizarre, basic, and unplanned — I’m not the best artist, but yes, it was all planned!

I expected the negative comments; many of us with lesser mods know most of these. What I didn’t expect was people simply not noticing or at least not letting on to the fact. Online I’ve taken a lot more abuse than I generally get in person.

Some people get loud, obnoxious, and sometimes jump right out of their seats. Expect to be touched, poked, prodded, and sneered at. Expect drunken people to run up to you and say “dude, you totally rock, much respect” — and then figure out a way to respond to such a comment without coming across as an arrogant prick!

Oh, and no matter what your tattoos are, someone is going to ask if you’re the Lizardman they saw on TV.

But, eventually there comes a time when all that goes away for the most part, and you get to start living your life like everyone else. You may look different and be different, but it all comes to how you fit into the community around you. That isn’t affected by how you look, but instead by how you act. That to me is what is most important and will get you a lot further than you think, even with a tattooed face.

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 © 2006 LLC and Erik Sprague / The Lizardman. Requests to republish must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published March 14th, 2006 by LLC in Toronto, Canada.

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