Howie / LunaCobra Interview Posted

Click on the picture to check out an interview with controversial and cutting edge heavy body modification artist Howie, and then come on back here afterwards if you’ve got comments or questions.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

84 thoughts on “Howie / LunaCobra Interview Posted

  1. I know you will see this over and over but a shreiked when I saw the front page updated! I don’t know where to begin… I think I’ll start with the interview. :):):)

  2. I loved this interview.
    I loved how he talked about how he would do procedures for less money if he thought they would look good on the person. It’s nice to see a body mod artist that seems to honestly care about the way someone looks after they are done with them.

  3. i wish there was a school to learn heavy mods. Or at least someones house I could crash at till they taught me everything they know :P

  4. Rad interview. I have been looking forward to reading it for a while. I especially enjoyed this mysterious “man-jaw” fello.

    “SUPERARTMAN” – best shit ever.

  5. It’s great to read another interview, especially one that covers so much ground. thank you

  6. I think it’s only fair to point out that Justin’s “triple transdermal forehead implant” proudly pictured in that article rejected out and had to be removed within a matter of months.

    I’m not even going to get into what an interesting take on the Jim’s implants situation that is, seeing that Howie wasn’t there and I was. Yep, two of them would’ve worked out perfectly, since the pointy implants were smaller than the half-dome implants used initially. The three new implants were removed by a general practitioner here in Darwin because all three rejected out through the skin – two of them were far worse than the far right side one, but it was breaking the skin at the time of removal. I have no doubt that Jim still supports Howie in every way, he was star-struck with Howie the first time he laid eyes on him and defended him to the end, even when my doctor was telling Jim that if they didn’t come out, he was going to die from the infection that had taken hold. “Pushing the limits” (as Howie puts it) is a very interesting spin on the situation. It’s all old meme and had been hashed out a billion times before, anyway. I just genuinely wonder if Howie sincerely believes in his version of history.

  7. Where would the bod-mod-world be without practitioners willing to educate themselves and try new things?
    Enjoyed the interview!

  8. Haha, freaking, badass outlaw of bod mod is what Howie seems to be. All in the name of ART and LOVE, nonetheless.

    I don’t care if he did something evil as transdermaling an old lady into submission, he’s still a pretty cool dude.

  9. without trying to start something lori, who was it that you asked to remove that transdermal from your head? thats right, the man who’s work ethics you seem to hold so low. why is it everytime Howies name pops up you feel the need to focus on anything negative you seem to know about him.

  10. Oh, look, I knew it was all going to get dragged out like this. Yes, Pete, I had a transdermal implant done by Howie and it didn’t end well, and after consulting with several plastic surgeons and doctors who would not even touch it, I had Howie remove it (as you know, as you were in the room mouthbreathing right behind me while it came out), as my options were pretty limited to either him doing it or me doing it, and I knew he could do it after seeing him remove (and keep, which is another story altogether) the transdermal implants out of Justin’s head, as I mentioned above. I also paid him $250 to remove it – a fee which when originally discussed was going to go to the owner of a studio we were supposed to be renting, but that fell through and it ended up happening in a hotel room. I was well aware of how the fees often change on the day, though, so it wasn’t surprising at all – I actually won a bet over it, several people couldn’t believe that he would charge to remove his own fucking-up-and-rejecting work. Good thing I packed the sterile dressing packs and stuff, and had the sense to organise a prophylactic course of broad-spectrum antibiotics, eh?

    Why do I feel compelled to mention that Howie is not perfect and that some of his work has plain and simply NOT worked out? Uh, how about the fact that no one else ever seems to, and it just blows my mind sometimes? I really don’t get why nobody understands that. I get crucified by all of Howie’s cheer squad when I come out and say it, it’s not like I don’t know that his friends will get up me for writing it, but frankly, I believe very strongly that it needs to be said. Yes, Howie can be a very friendly and charismatic guy, and it certainly shows by how vociferously he is defended by those who know him (and those who wish they did), but my God, is it really that revolutionary to believe that it is important for mod practitioners to admit that they do, in fact, fuck up sometimes? Let alone to proclaim some of their more well-publicised bad outcomes are, in fact, successful – just because the client in question managed not to die and has come to terms with/settled for what they ended up getting?

    “Where would the bod-mod-world be without practitioners willing to educate themselves and try new things?”

    Indeed, and where would those practitioners be without guinea pigs/chopping blocks persuaded into paying thousands for procedures later touted as “experimental”, left to deal with the uncertain consequences on their own after the great experimenter has left town for greener pastures, not even sticking around to see the immediate outcome of the “experiment”?

  11. Lori, I definitely appreciate your comments and experiences, but I think that you’re overreacting and perhaps personalizing this. First, at least in all of my dealings with Howie and what I’ve seen online, he’s been very willing to discuss complications with his procedures (more so than many), and we made a point of doing so in this interview.

    Also, risks have been discussed at length independent of specific practitioners, and I would hope that everyone is very aware that transdermals are a very risky procedure in terms of eventual complications and removal. That said, it’s also quite important to recognize that the complication rate that people have with them is still much lower than the complication rate that people experience with accepted mainstream cosmetic procedures such as breast implants.

    Howie’s complication rate is much lower than many practitioners out there, and is certainly lower than what most plastic surgeons have. It’s important to understand that complications will happen though — to everyone.

    Moving into an arena that’s closer to home for you, it would be unfair to judge you for piercings that have gone wrong. I know you’re a solid piercer that acts extremely responsibly, but the fact is that piercing/mods are not 100% successful at the best of times.

  12. .. I’m not trying to imply that howie is dirty or anything(!), I’m just curious about this particular photo, and why maybe he would choose not to wear gloves to rig a suspension.

  13. It’s a slippery slope situation, since a lot of different body modification practitioners do things that fall into the grey side of legal matters. But I have to agree with Lori. My gut reaction to Howie’s work is worry and major discomfort. Pushing the envelope in the field on art is commendable, but when your so-called art is a human being (and the so-called artist never went to medical school), it’s not always worth the risk.

  14. kleptesvirgo – My feeling is though that third parties should not be making that determination. If the client and practitioner are comfortable with the risk level, I don’t see the problem. It’s not as if there isn’t consent.

    I feel that I am mature enough to make decisions about my own life, and I certainly do not want someone else’s sociocultural boundaries being forced on me.

  15. Agreed. Not for me, but if I were involved, I wouldnt appreciate people looking askance at my choices. It’s hard enough for everyone, becoming themselves. Who is anyone to question another’s choices? I for one find automobile travel to be a far more dangerous concept than this guy’s bare hands being within the same frame as the opened skin. Cars are scary, Day Care for infants sounds like a surefire collapse of society, I could go on. This life choice seems fairly innocuous.

  16. You can see my view on this (being the one their talking about with the blotched nipple removal) on my page…….

  17. Soooo… What if someone decides they’re happy to be a guinea pig/canvas for an experimental mod, then later on realises that actually, they weren’t in a fit emotional state to make that decision & now have an irreversible, extreme mod? What would the legalities be in that situation? And what if it was REALLY unsuccessful, to the point where someone was hospitalised, or (gods forbid) died as a result of the procedure? Has anything like this ever happened? Would we get to hear about it if it did? It happens on a frighteningly regular basis with even the most common mainstream mods (liposuction, breast implants & the like); once you get into the realms of surgical mods,surely similar complications are going to arise sooner or later? What then? I’ve read the ‘personal choice/freedom, it’s your own body, do what you like with it’ argument many MANY times now & completely understand the reasoning; that’s not what I’m getting at. Where would the artist stand, legally & morally? Would we be praising the artist for pushing the boundaries then? Please bear in mind these are QUESTIONS, not opinions!

  18. What can i say?
    Howie rules. I’m so glad to have met him and i wouldn’t have wanted ANYBODY else to point my ears. They have turned out amazing!!

    :D

  19. what bothers me more than more than anything I’ve read in this article is that I feel that Howie is representing himself as a surgeon and I have a hard time letting that notion slide without mention.
    “Sometimes I’ll be talking with doctors in my family, or another surgeon about something they did or learned that was new, and it gives me an idea”
    another surgeon? then in a previous comment:
    “Honestly, unless they are a surgeon they don’t know what they are talking about.”
    To accept the notion that he is a surgeon, especially after such double speak, is ridiculous.
    I’m all for art and I’m all for love and kudos to Howie for loving what he believes to be art, because we all know that there are a hell of a lot of artist out there in the modification world and beyond who hate what they do, but what Howie does, by his own definition, is art and this is not to be and should not be confused with medicine and I think this needs to be set straight.I believe what I’m trying to say can best be summed up by Mr. Douglas Adams:
    “Present somebody with a questionnaire clipboard, and they lie. A friend of mine once had a job preparing a questionnaire for people to fill in on the web. He said the information they got back was enormously heartening about the state of the world. For instance, did you know that almost 90 percent of the population are CEOs of their own company and earn over a million dollars a year?”Right now I don’t believe that statement has ever held so much truth.

  20. I agree some mod artists have messed up more then howie. then again I saw cere doin a guest spot at a tattoo shop. Alot of people do work out there but how many are really good or safe at what they do that are not surgeons. not too many. Some of these kids that have been piercing at the mall for 3 months need to stop thinking they are ready to do scars and implant work. i think him teaching people is a bad idea personally. Its like me teachin kids how to make bombs or the 10 top ways to slow roast fetus. it takes years to learn everything involved in doin this type of work. some dumb kid is goin to watch him for a couple hours and start thinking he is trained enough to do bigger and better. teachin this shit is just goin to make more hack mod artists out there.

  21. I don’t think it’s at all unfair to judge me for piercings I’ve done that haven’t worked out, that’s one of the ways one judges the quality of a piercer – another way is to judge HOW the piercer handles it when they produce less-than-perfect work. I’m a human being, I freely admit that I’ve made bad judgement calls on surface work in the past or done the odd navel that wouldn’t settle down or exited a piercing on the edge of a mark. See, I’m ethical enough to stand behind and guarantee the quality of my work, and I absolutely provide one hundred percent full backup service to all of my clients for the life of their piercing at no charge. If they are not happy with the outcome of their piercing for any reason, I will re-do it after healing for free with a smile on my dial and no accusations or blame on the client. I’ve also never come even remotely close to killing someone with my work, what I do is inherently NOT as risky as what Howie does, and as we are all fond of pointing out, I am one of those “conservative” piercers who is much more inclined to talk clients out of bad-idea-long-term-risks piercing concepts and steer them towards something different and cool that’ll actually be healable and relatively easy to live with long-term. Which is probably another facet of my reputation as a solid piercer, eh?

    My issues with Howie aren’t personal or emotional, it’s professional, although my experiences with him are certainly first-hand and personal, for sure. It’s not like I’m questioning how he’s handled bad outcomes without having had to deal with them firsthand, in the flesh. But I know people will slag me off personally for whatever I say that dissents from the going opinion, and that’s fine, I’m really not fussed. I will continue to objectively and unemotionally discuss the flip side of the coin when it comes up (especially when at least three of the bad outcomes I have personal experience with or know if in lurid detail are discussed cavalierly in his sales pitches) because as I’ve said, I believe that someone has to do so (especially when reading comments like #25/JohnBlake up there – “knows exactly what he’s doing”, I nearly choked reading that – there’s someone reading the sales pitch and not the risks, or even the client’s side of the story such as modifieddesign’s). Yes, Howie is a nice guy and he sure does make friends easily, he’s very funny and charismatic and everyone who meets him likes him. That’s not what I’m talking about. And really, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills sometimes when I find that people are unable to grok that. I’m not arguing for the sake of it, I’m not starting a flamewar, I’m calmly and rationally contributing to a discussion on the subject, and discussions often have differing viewpoints. I’m certainly not hysterical or “overreacting”.

  22. Lori, having an alternative viewpoint is a concept that not many people round here are familiar with. It’s like waving a stick of garlic bread at a bunch of vampires. They’re going to start hissing.

  23. Howie’s website hasn’t been working for the past 2 days. Has anyone else had this complication? I need info on his whereabouts.

  24. lalala – Quite likely the artist would be fucked. In our nanny-culture victim society, those who offer people freedom are at constant risk, whereas those who counsel people away from freedom tend to be lauded.

  25. OMFG.
    This man, this man, wow.
    I can not even begin to talk about how amazing and talented, and most of all personable he is. Once he jump started my car.
    Heart Love for Life Howie.
    xoxoxo
    Lindsay

  26. I mean totally if he’s jump started your car, he must be a professional who doesn’t put a foot wrong!

    Seriously. Too many fan boys and girls who blindly defend while donning rose-tinted glasses. There’s two unprofessionals in these comments, and I’ll leave you to decide who they are. *rolls her eyes*

  27. Hmm, okay, begin at the beginning…

    Shannon I thought the general tone of the interview was well done; friendly but not too friendly nor entirely easy. This despite the fact you know Howie well enough to let him ink your scelera, which still gives me the hinx to think about.

    Regarding the comments for and against Howie, the pattern I see emerging is more of a problem with the perception of mod artists than with any one individual. Campbell describes him as a polarising figure above; from what I’ve seen personally mod artists seem to collect a following of somewhat blindly-adoring fans, and a base of no-nonsense pragmatists who routinely highlight the artists fuck-ups to substantiate they’re not so special.

    I know Howie through having Lukas & Satomi work at my studio last November; he spent some time visiting and hanging out with them. From the conversations we’ve had he seems to take his work very seriously and do everything he reasonably can to ensure the safety and success of his clients. In my experience that’s about all you can ask of a mod artist, and more than you get from many.

    After those few days we had a period of convincing staff and a few friends of the studio to slow down and make sure they wanted to get their eyebrows tattooed and sleeves of solid blackwork done. One of our piercers even decided he wanted Howie to tattoo the whites of his eyes black… yeah, connect the dots.

    By contrast, my business partner was highly critical of both Lukas and Howie personally claiming to be ‘unimpressed’ because of the hype that surrounds them. We discussed it at some length later and my overall impression is that he was envious of their success. Despite not personally knowing either of them, he knew of less-than-ideal work they’d done and determined these failings made them unworthy of the notoriety and reputation.

    The point I’m meandering round to is there doesn’t seem to be much middle-ground between being star-struck and being resentful. Truth is Howie’s just some guy, just like Shannon’s just some guy, just like your neighbor is just some guy. I’d put odds all three of them fuck-up and fall on their ass from time to time, and I’d put better odds there’s someone there to point and laugh when it happens.

    So why all the drama?

  28. PostScripts:

    Lori: I’m not looking to imply that you’re envious or bitter about something; I don’t know you, and I do try to minimize being a bastard when I can… but if it’s an “old meme” as you say, wouldn’t it be better for you to let it go? Are you trying to keep people informed because you’re really afraid for their safety, or is it the lush gasping of the doe-eyed that keeps stirring your ire?

    Baby Teeth: That comes across a bit like you’re arguing semantics… technically speaking he does practice surgery, but is not a licensed surgeon (nor doctor nor physician). Maybe an ‘amateur surgeon’ then? I can certainly see where you’re going, but I’d be pretty damn surprised if anyone meeting him in real life believed him to be an MD.

  29. Have I mentioned Howie is one of my all time favorite people? No other practitioner today captures the spirit of heavy mod history like my man Howie. Like Jack Yount and our heavy mod forefathers, he has no studio, he does procedures well outside his legal right and he has made mistakes. Nonetheless, his love for the art and culture of body mods is so extreme, it humbles me. He works in less than ideal conditions. He does experimental and dangerous mods. OF COURSE there are gonna be issues. I have never once heard him pass blame for any of his mistakes and his clients are (or should be at least) aware of the risk and the conditions in which there procedures are being performed. Steve Haworth, Brian Decker, Pat Bartholomew and Howie are some of my favorite practitioners. They all do things different, they all have different traits I admire and our industry needs people like each of them to be well rounded.

  30. Well outside his legal rights, huh? Don’t you think the law is there for a reason? Like, you know, to keep people safe?

    Apparently not. Nice to know the body mod community endorses law breaking! That’s going to look so good next time the media decides to come calling!

  31. Hey Dimruthien, this stuff is never going to be truly legal…I’m pretty sure those that get the procedures done know that…

  32. dimruththien you seriously gotta relax and just let people live there lives. just because someone supports a certain person doesn’t make everyone fan boys and girls. i’m a major suppoerter of most heavy body mod artists purely because of what services they can provide for the people that want heavy mods and don’t want to have to do them at home on themselves. it’s not as if there forcing there work on people. you have to remember the client approaches them not the other way around. i can see what your getting at and don’t want to totally shut you down or anything like that but i really think this community is well past the point of return for the level of mods people are wanting. i’d support a mod artist who has studied what there doing and has done many procedures and gained experience in this field over someone trying to heavily modify themselves in there own bathroom because they couldn’t find an artist to do it for them.

  33. Dimruthien, Suicide is a life threatening risk which also against the law, and you don’t often see people being prosecuted for it. More people die from fork-related accidents than from body modification.

    Everything else I would have said about this whole situation, Shannon has already said.

    As far as the content of the entry goes, I really liked this interview a lot. It was refreshing to read those points of view, and Howie is simply beautiful.

    Nuffsaid.

  34. I’m pretty sure it’s no secret that i’m certainly not a ‘fan’ of Howie and his work but nor am i a ‘hater’, i have just seen things how they are and feel the need to remind people that we’re not talking about him working on children here, we’re talking about grown adults with the capability to research their impending work.

    Yes he takes risks and has had bad outcomes but to be completely honest it’s the nature of the beast. Anyone getting a surgical procedure by a mod artist has to be a complete idiot to not be aware that as a complication their ear might just rot off or they might die from a blood infection.

    I completely disagree with the comments made about howie not knowing exactly what he’s doing.. i believe he really and truely does, but just doesn’t care enough about the individual hes working on to not do it… for the record i think this is an attribute ALL modification artists possess, but in varying degrees.
    That isn’t HIS problem, it’s the problem of the person getting the work done who refuses to see that they’re allowing to be done to themselves.

    I have had work done by various artists, some good and some bad.. but when it comes down to it i don’t blame the artist for what i end up with, i blame myself for not preventing it from going badly.

    I enjoyed the interview and thought it was quite honest, he’s definitely a surgeon.. just an underground one that doesn’t practice in a conventional manner and if that makes him and majority of his customers happy then good luck to them.

  35. Dimruthien – “The law is there to protect people”.

    Any law that “protects” a person from themselves is making the statement that you are fundamentally owned by the government, and that it’s their right and duty to determine your destiny. Any such law is a form of slavery, and I have no problem denouncing it.

    Suicide is an excellent example to raise, because suicide, the right to take ones own life, is the ultimate and defining right.

  36. ‘More people die from fork-related accidents than from body modification.’
    I LOVE that statistic! where did it come from? (87% of all statistics are made up, by the way)

    Shannon – you rock, but I find your tendency to see things as very much black or white rather alarming. Sometimes people DO need to be protected from themselves – mental illness is a big ol’ grey area. Ignoring it in the name of person freedom won’t make it go away, no more than slapping a ban on extreme mods/suicide (I agree that the link is tenuous Dimruthien) will make people’s right to freedom of choice go away.

  37. So on the one hand you agree that a ban will not by any means mean discontinuation of practice but on the other that there are many with serious mental issues who are simply not “in their right mind” to make such a decision? This may be so but still, they wed, birth, drive, educate and do all matter of things that possibly they should not if they are not in their right mind. In other words, what should be done as protection? On site evaluations, maybe but then where do we stop because once we have protected the unstable individual from themselves, how do we protect OURSELVES from them? Outside of institutionalization, I see no way to protect people from making life choices. I mean, not that I would. Also, I dont believe in mandatory seatbelts for adults, safety helmets, etc and believe in letting Darwin’s law of natural selection run it’s course.

  38. Yea, Gabriel, thats why, because people are jealous. I talk bad about him for that exact reason, your a freakin’ genius. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he hacked me up, sent me away with no bandages, told me to go to cvs to get the things to set my implants, and then waived good bye. That was real professional of him, and thats just the small story, read my page for more.. Thank god he blamed me when it went wrong, that was awesome. I’m so jealous of him….

  39. “Suicide is an excellent example to raise, because suicide, the right to take ones own life, is the ultimate and defining right.” – Shannon

    Exactly, and as long as that possiblity (or promise, depending on how you interpret it) will always be there, we as beings shall have the right to our freedom to modify at our own risks, by our own will, and use our own educated judgment to make our own decisions about the things we expose ourselves to.

  40. lalala – I believe when it comes to fundamental rights, that we have to operate in a black and white realm. You can’t be free if there are exceptions — free is a black and white issue.

    The state has an obligation to help people with needs, not imprison them.

    modifieddesign – There’s no point in sending people to your IAM page if they don’t have IAM access because you have access restricted. I don’t have that access, so I can’t look at your page for the story, and I don’t know if Gabriel has that access.

  41. “The state has an obligation to help people with needs, not imprison them.”

    The state, in reality, has no obligations other than to serve the will of the people. The state is an abstract that’s representative of the majority of the people and their wishes. If the majority of the people (who are, in reality, the state) want to make it illegal to dye your hair red, that’s what the state will, and realistically should, do. You’re born into a society of rules – if you don’t like them you can try to change them or you can remove yourself from that society. You can also defy them but then when you wind up in shackles – you can’t say you didn’t know the risks. Nobody doubts Mel Gibson was right in Braveheart – but he also got his dick sliced off (involunatarily I might add) and wound up dead.

    You want people to be free to make their own decisions and not have anyone protecting them against their will then, by all means, let your children do as they please – don’t tell them what to do – they’re sentient beings and, as such, should be allowed to make their own decisions. If they want lollipops for breakfast lunch and dinner – who are you to protect them from their own decisions? I mean, if you can’t protect a mentally ill person from themself then who are you to protect a child? So let your kids crack open that thermometer and play with the mercury – you can tell them it’s dangerous but, come on – don’t interfere with their freedom, let THEM make the decision. If you want to deal in black and white – let’s take it all the way.

  42. Backing up what Shannon said, we cannot justify laws that protect people from themselves. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the US and yet we don’t see laws banning KFC (nor should we). I am going on a political rant here and not a mod rant, but how can anyone think it’s fair to tell a sane adult what they can and can not do to there own body? My core belief is freedom, and I feel my body art interest go hand in hand with that notion.

  43. Airi Zombie:
    “Suicide is a life threatening risk which also against the law, and you don’t often see people being prosecuted for it.” – in several countries (including The Netherlands) suicide technically is illegal (you will be incarcerated if you fail). “More people die from fork-related accidents than from body modification.” – This is a terrible straw-man, as there are more people the use forks than practice heavy body modification. If you were to reverse this, it’s easy to say that there are more life-threatening injuries related to modification than fork related injuries by people who have modifications.

  44. its kinda like with piercings, you can have that customer come in and want something alittle heavy or so and you give them the full run down. then the next time you see them its totally fuct. like with kids these days stretching there lobes way too fast and ruining there lobes. i guess the point im trying to get across is the screening process for doing the procedures on some people. a good judgement call for sure should be made by both parties.

  45. Being an early practitioner going back to the ’70′s I remember a tongue piercing being a recipe for bloody disaster. For a long time Mr Sebastian (the father of British piercing) refused to do them after a hospital emergency room removed a tongue bar surgically instead of unscrewing it. Today a tongue piercing can not even raise an eyebrow. When I did the four and a half inch chest bars in the late 1980′s it was a 6 day wonder, and so it has gone on. We have come a very long way is a very short period of time, and the more radical a procedure the more the odds are there will be failures. If we quit the day I got sprayed with blood doing an early tongue piercing, or warned everyone not to try it because it was so dangerous – we would still be in the dark ages.

    I agree entirely with Shannon, and Sean Philips. We have come a long way and this is not something that is being done to some kiddie walking in off the street. It is serious work being done at the request of hopefully sane thinking people who usually have had a number of procedures already. There will never come the day when what we do is entirely with out risk of some sort. Be it a metabolic reaction, an infection that gets out of hand or an adverse material reaction. We are still learning, discovering and experimenting. The search for ‘something different’ is often the motivation to get extreme work done, and it will always drive the pushing of the limits that we have already explored to date – and those limits will always be extended so long as thecraving for ‘something different’ exists!

  46. I’m sure if any of you talked to even half of the ‘cutters’ I’ve talked to over the years, you’d be doing your level best to shut them down and protect people from them, ‘freedom of choice’ be dammed.

    I’m not talking people like Howie, Sean, or any of the names you’d recognize. I’m talking about people who have no effing clue about such basics as anatomy and sterility. People removing body parts when they don’t know how to suture.

    None of them compare to any of the big-name practitioners.

  47. Modifieddesign: Sorry man, as Shannon guessed I can’t read your article; until the iam payment page comes back online I’m in limbo. If you want to open access, I’d be most interested to read it… otherwise it’s a waiting game. As far as my train of thought goes, it’s just a working theory; you’re welcome to cry bullshit. Anyone see the same pattern, out of curiousity?

    Dimruthien: It’s not so simple as compliance or law breaking. Philosophically, I do not acknowledge the right of government to restrain my personal liberties. I can accept wholeheartedly a reasonable perspective of social contract, but many of us (speaking internationally) live in countries where corporate interests ultimately outweigh those of the citizenship. When those entrusted with defending and supporting the populace betray their oaths and/or the guiding principals of their nations in favour of personal gain, they lose the moral right to govern; ‘law’ as we think of it loses relevancy in favour of the ‘reasonable choice’ of individuals.

    BadApple: I’ve seen artists make people wait up to a year before they’ll do serious proceedures, and in the case of heavy mods you sometimes have such luxuries. On the piercing/tattooing side I’ve seen quite a few warned clients go out and find some back-street good-ole-boy to do the work, then come around looking for help fixing the mess; there are lots of scratchers out there who won’t refuse a paying job. I’ve come to the conclusion that while you do what you can to guide people in what you think is the right direction, most of the time they’ll follow their own course.

  48. My issue here is the fact that don[‘t you think some of these practices are illegal for a -reason-? I know Shannon is all gung ho with his Borderline Personality Disorder black-and-white thinking going on about how people have freedom to do what they wish to themselves, even saying people have the right to commit suicide. That is, quite frankly disgusting. People also have the right to be safe. There are no psychological or psychiatric tests to be done before one gets castrated by a hack who calls himself a surgeon.

    Sorry, bud. You have to go to medical school to be a surgeon, not mutilate people in hotel rooms by using appalling judgment. We go to modification artists, be they piercers, tattooists, cutters, whatever, because we trust they know what they’re doing. We trust that they will give us informed information on the modification and tell us about any problems or risks that may happen. They don’t use us as experimental guinea pigs without any disregard for our safety. Howie is no surgeon. He’s just a ballsy hack thats used his charisma to get people like Shannon to back him, and god help anyone who stands up for what -they- believe in, or seen, or their own opinions.

    Yes, people have the right to choose what goes on with their bodies, but perhaps if these procedures won’t be touched by professionals, maybe there’s a reason? Maybe because it’s not -safe-? Maybe because a surgeon doesn’t want to put anyones lives at risk? Because thats what Howie does. He puts lives at risk, and god help you if you actually stand up and say “Howie butchered me and didn’t care”, because people like Shannon, Pete and Penny will tell you you’re wrong because you don’t think Howie is perfect and loves kittens.

    If someone wants to get castrated, then by all means do so, but perhaps you should seek psychological evaluation before you do, and explore all your options with -qualified- surgeons, instead of hotel room hacks with a scalpel.

    Suicide is also wrong, plain and simple. I’m disgusted that anyone could compare suicide to being put in danger by some self-titled surgeon.

    Don’t forget kids, on the matter of suicide and self injury, Shannon doesn’t care about you. That why he ignored the emails I sent to him and Roo, where I desired self injury trigger warnings be placed on “ritual cutting” submissions to the modblog. Shannon obviously doesn’t care that through posting those images for the general public to see without a cut or a warning, that he’s putting people in danger, or is it just because they have the freedom to express themselves by modifying their body?

  49. I ain’t touchin this discussion with a ten foot pole, but I’ll nudge that ten foot poll an inch to discuss something I saw posted by Patrick Bartholomew

    Although I essentially agree with 98% of your post Patrick this is what I have to disagree with:

    We have come a long way and this is not something that is being done to some kiddie walking in off the street. It is serious work being done at the request of hopefully sane thinking people who usually have had a number of procedures already. There will never come the day when what we do is entirely with out risk of some sort.

    Although I do realize we’ve come along way, we’ve also taken many steps back. As that’s what life and this type of stuff is about, taking steps forward and back to make mistakes and learn from them…But sadly not many artists are learning from their mistakes properly, at least from what I’ve seen & heard.

    And I can guarantee you that some people are attempting this stuff on individuals who just walk in off the streets…Be it as “simple” as a lobe scalpelling procedure, right up to tongue splits,etc…So to say that kiddies just aren’t walking in off the street to request it, is not true…Cuz I’ve been asked quite often if I do scarification, implants, tongue splits, extreme mods, by random nobodies.

    Also perhaps they are sane, and perhaps they are not…But until modification practitioners start issuing psychological evaluations how does one gauge ones sanity to get this type of work?

    The main problem I’m seeing is people are seeing the photos, the videos,etc and honestly the risks aren’t being made public and aware fully…ie: they do not fully grasp the concepts of the pros and cons, because they’re just hyped about getting the work done…And honestly I see more newbies to this type of work, then repeat customers getting LOTS of work done…Its the people who think tongue splits/elf ears,etc are the cool new shit and they want to be apart of it.

    It’s reached a commercialized boom within its niche market base.

    Agreed though that theres ALWAYS risks with what we do…From the simplest piercing, right up to the more extreme harder surgical procedures…The main thing is that the mod artists need to discuss FULLY the pros and cons and make the clients understand, as I know many “artists” over look the cons and just briefly touch on them and focus on just the how cool is this factor.

    But yeah there’s risks in hospitals, dentist offices, walking the street,etc…its about knowing and fully comprehending the risks to make a sound judgement call based on the facts.

    The hard part I find is that many mod artists are unable to obtain the proper materials to do things correctly, or even learn the right training…for example: there’s various types of sutures for various situations as well as suture techniques…Yet mod artists often just get what they can get and work with that…Which can often lead to problems.

    As much as I love the extreme mods, I personally keep them at arms length away from me…The only extreme mod I want nowadays is my tongue split, but I will save up to have a certain surgeon I know of to do it with the right materials(proper sutures, suture technique, suction, anesthetics,etc,etc,etc)…It might mean it’ll cost more (although its priced around the same as some of our more expensive mod artists)…But at least it’ll be the best of the best…which I think every person should strive to consider, that is that they deserve only the best for their bodies. Because once that body is fucked up in this realm, sometimes there’s just no going back.

    but yeah that’s just the scatter brained entry I wanted to put after seeing this article cause soooooo much discussion on the subject.

  50. Thomas Moore:
    I’m not in the Netherlands. Neither are a lot of us here.

    And the basis of the fork comment is to show that everything you do every day involves taking a risk. These risks are part of these peoples lives.

    My life, Howie’s life, Shannon’s life, whoever’s life.

    And our lives aren’t owned by anyone else.

  51. also boys and girls let us not forget that some people choose to let others own their lives, BDSM master/mistress – sub relationships.

    yeah I know you’re all groaning and rolling your eyes, we all know I can be a bit “off” and point things out like that…But hey some peoples lives aren’t controlled by their own accord that have other factors involved. ;P

  52. Airi/Thomas: It’s illegal here in New Zealand as well… a pretty perverse law if you ask me; I understand people are occasionally prosecuted when they fail to die. On the other hand, if you consider the insult-to-injury aspect, it’s grimly hilarious.

    Dimruthien: We’re not going to agree for the most part, but I do think you’re right about mental health being an issue where some mods are concerned… for castration in the same way that it’s required for gender change surgery, and I do think serious modifiers should set hard limits with regards to the level of danger to their clients. Unfortunately as Elizabeth said, there is a natural selection element to all of this; if some dumbass wants to set his balls on fire and run around squealing like a monkey, I am quite prepared to watch, laugh and not lament his passing from the gene pool.

    Of course, Howie says in the interview that he doesn’t do anything but the very basic below the belt, so I’m not sure of the relevance.

  53. The relevance was that some of the extreme modifications should have psychological evaluations. Something Howie is not qualified to do, and need I also add he’s not qualified to be doing anything he does?

    As I stated before, an individual goes to a body mod practitioner with the belief they’re in good hands. That the “artist” will not attempt to put in implants that are too large without first consulting the customer/patient and explaining the risks involved with inserting implants that are too large.

    The average layman or body mod “collector” wouldn’t know how big was too big, or what was good or bad for an “artist” to be doing. I expect my piercer or tattooist to be completely honest with me, outline the risks of the procedure and such before the procedure begins. I expect my piercer/tattooist to have good hygiene, work in a clean and appropriate environment (not a hotel room), and to tell me that my _________ may not work because _________ before we even get started.

    If you want to sit back and say it’s natural selection, then by all means. How about you forfeit your right to doctors, emergency services, CPR, respirators, vaccines, etc… Well, if we have a weak heart and have a heart attack, isn’t that natural selection? What about the little girl who drowns in the pool? Is that natural selection? What about your parent/sibling/daughter/aunt/uncle/cousin/grandparent who has clinical depression and commits suicide? Is that natural selection, and therefore we shouldn’t help them? What if someone falls from a horse and breaks their leg in the middle of the wilderness? Should we leave them there to die because it’s natural selection?

    Think about it.

  54. hahaha i dont know the guy, i know nothing about him, only things i’ve heard other people say.

    So-

    Thanks for the interview, Shannon. :)

  55. I have to agree with what Warren says….” Although I do realize we’ve come along way, we’ve also taken many steps back. As that’s what life and this type of stuff is about, taking steps forward and back to make mistakes and learn from them…But sadly not many artists are learning from their mistakes properly, at least from what I’ve seen & heard.”… I have had instances where I have learned — not so much as to how to improve a technique — per se, but rather as to what to avoid in the future. Trans-scrotals (scrunnels) with tight scrotum skins is a good example. Stay below the testicles, avoid making large holes above them, it leaves a very unsatisfactory visual result and makes it difficult to either stretch the hole up or keep it stretched later. We also loose sight of the fact that not everyone is suitable for the same mods. My first lesson on that one was a urethra that came out below the point where the frenum should be — a conventional PA was impossible, however it opened up further great alternatives.

    I also have no doubt that there are many practitioners (and many doctors for that matter) who do not necessarily have say 10 years of experience, but rather one years experience repeated ten times!

  56. Partrick: you hit the nail on the head…or should I say bell-end there ;p

    xvictorx: The cartilage removal stuff definitely looks interesting but after seeing one freshly done up close and personal and how it effects the body…I say something like that should be done with A LOT of bedside manner…ie: the client should be looked after by the mod artist for at least 24 hours.

  57. solid interview.

    howie enchanced my smile almost 2 years ago now. everyday I get up stick my tongue out in the mirror laugh and smile. Kinda odd how a cut of the tongue can improve your life. (lolmeatpants)

  58. Dimruthien: God, I could go on and on for hours about how wrong you are in your dreams of taking away peoples freedoms, but since your so pro-slavery and will not budge theres no point in it. YOU ARE WRONG THOUGH. Once day I only hope that you are taken into a slave camp so you can understand what you are preaching. But then again you probably wouldnt even comprehend the irony of it.

    Anyway, I love Howie. And i PERSONALLY would get work from him.

  59. i don’t know howie…i met him once at APP in 2006…he seemed very nice…some of the procedures featured were beautiful and interesting (i really liked the ear pointing), and the article read well…i wasn’t a fan of the Bipedical flap procedure or the eyeball tattoo (the eye actually horrified me, how well researched were the risks?)…what i found more interesting was two of the clients from failed procedures, one mentioned in the actual article, had a very different take on their experiences in these comments-and were basically blown off to a degree…while i don’t think mistakes should define your career, how you handle them is very telling…charging to remove your failed project from a client or blaming the client is bad business…not that i’m judging, i know most stories have 3 sides: your side, the other side, and the truth trapped somewhere in the middle…but if it indeed went down like that, i hope a lessoned can be learned to be more considerate in the future…

    if he has surgeons at his disposal helping him calculate the risks, then fantastic…as a more conservative piercer, i worry about the backlash of some of these procedures and what having them championed on the internet might create…but i’m rather tired of typing about restraint and ethics, just to get the “we should be free to do what we want speech” …as a body piercer, covered in ink, with 3 feet of dreads-i’m all for the freedom of expression…its a big part of how i live my life-as well as pay the rent…i’m just also inclined to worry about the well being of the client and the industry as a whole when considering some of these applications…he’s a braver man than i…well i’m not a man, but you get the point

  60. So I finally got the chance to read this whole interview and it was all very interesting to me. I’ve always had an interest in body mods though I would never go any farther than lobe stretching and tattoos. The one picture that freaked me out was the tattooed eye. And it was strange that I saw it since I was just talking about how weird it would look if you could get your eye tattooed.

    I give the interview a 10/10.

    I hope to read more.

  61. There was a time when I worried about responsible piercers being tarred with the same brush as the cowboys. It has never really happened. Some procedures are plain nuts, but so long as there is a demand there will be a supplier. Even in the medical world there are good and bad surgeons — and here on the mod scene there certainly are good and bad practitioners. The words “caveat emptor” come to mind – There is no watch dog organization to protect the paying public and there is certainly no malpractice insurance available to Mod Artists and very few are in fact sueable. (The vast majority, NOT even having a pot to piss in.) All you have as a buyer is the reputation of the person with the scalpel or the needle to go on. If it does go tits up – I am afraid it is simply a case of let the ‘buyer beware’!

  62. Well, Firstly let me say, very good interview !! was an intresting read and kept me captivated through the whole thing.

    seems to have sparked some very contravercial comments, this is a good thing. we all need to know about the diffrent opinions of those in the industry.

    Its good to know that there are folks out there who whole-heartedly feel for those that are having work done.

    but something tells me that some people should know where to draw the line between honestly caring, and butting the hell out of other peoples business.
    My personal view on this topic is mildly irrelevant, I have never met any of the people in this discussion apart from briefly once SL and PB, so i cannot say that judgement is swayed by personalities of the people in question.
    I believe in freedom of choice.
    I am sickened by the amount of people who choose a practitioner due to where they live or how much they charge.

    A friend of mine had breast implants by her local surgeon, without looking at a portfolio of work and was basically butchered. There was nothing she could do about it
    it was her fault for letting him do it and it was his fault for doing it.
    I would rather get someone like Howie to do trans-dermal implants for me, knowing full well he has done them before with a rather high success rate, than let a cosmetic surgeon with no experience in this specific field do them just because he has a few bits of paper saying he is a surgeon and may be able to stitch an aorta or remove bags from eyelids.
    I would rather let someone who has done near on a hundred tongue splits do mine, rather than a surgeon who is supposed to know what he’s doing (but had never actually done one)
    If you choose to have work done by a hack then more fool you
    If you choose to approach a surgeon who has never done things like this before then good luck to you and the surgeon
    If you choose to research your mods appropriatly and and are aware of the risks then you will only make the best decision for yourself.
    if you are unaware of the risks then you should not be having this kind of work done at all, even if it means contacting a practitioner and speaking to them in great detail fully understanding the implications, mulling them over and then having work performed on you.
    I think a bad practitioner should be deemed “bad” if they work on a client who knows nothing or even just the basics about what they are having done.
    regardless of the quality of the work, i considder a good practitioner to be one who fully informs the client of ALL POSSIBLE risk, fully informs the client of his complete portfolio of work….regardless of quality
    i hate to see practitioners only showing clients the good work and skimming over the fuck ups and things that never worked out just to set the client at ease.

    I’m not backing anyone in this discussion, i’m not shooting anyone in this discussion down, everyone is entitled to they’re own opinion, just as everyone is entitled to do whatever the hell they want to themselves, which includes getting whoever the hell they want to do it for them.

    the only thing that i wish to see is more information to the client, i spoke with someone who had forehead implants. they hadnt seen a portfolio of work, only heard that they were a good practitioner. didnt have a clue what material was in his face, and didnt know what the risks of his actions were, this i felt was disgusting. his work was immaculate..his scarring was minimal, aesthetically he looked great, however this was appauling, and i would be much happier to say that i approve of a totally honest beginner working on a client doing a slightly lower quality job, but the client being totally aware of the potential and potential outcome of the work he/she is having done.
    I liked reading in the article about the bits and pieces that didnt exactly work out the way it was planned. but as i said earlier at the end of the day my opinion doesnt really matter and people should continue doing the best they can, be it practitioners working to the best of theyre ability and clients doing appropriate research into what theyre having done.
    i’m not talking about just heavy mods but even navel piercings and tattoos of chinese symbols on backsides.
    honesty is the best policy all around.

    I’ve often wondered what would have happened if bme/information wasn’t here to inform potential clients of the work theyre asking for.
    I have also wondered how much bme/information has contributed to people getting hurt (asking for proceedures or encouraging proceedures)

    I sit on the fence Do what you want to do, say what you want to say, ask what you want to ask. but dont try to stop anyone doing what they want to do, just try and make it as safe as possible for everyone involved

    at the end of the day we’ve all seen the gloveless self castrations and the unhygenic self piercing proceedural photos.

    and i agree with patricks comment of ‘BUYER BEWARE’

  63. I’m in agreement with Cere, Sean, Shannon, & Patrick. Freedom is totally a core value and can (legitimately) only be treated as an “in-black-and-white” thing. There’s no such thing as “partial freedom.” It’s either there or it’s not. As for Howie’s work, I think he’s doing amazing things for the community as a whole. He’s a great person, and so are many, many of the other people in this community that practice heavy, or even minimal, mods. Progressive ideas are really important in this field right now, and it’s totally awesome that Howie’s willing to put himself out there and possibly face bullshit like this from people, which he probably does get on an almost-daily basis. It’s just really wrong to make a value judgement on what someone should or should not be allowed to do to their bodies.

    DIMRUTHIEN: I think you’re really overreacting. Body mods are a personal choice, no matter how extreme. It’s up to the person who’s going under the knife (or need, or gun, etc) to make the decision of whether it’s right or not. Procedures go wrong and they are NOT always the practitioners fault, but they are NOT necessarily the customer’s fault either. Shit happens, things get messed up, people get over it and move on… they also try newer things. It’s a hit and miss practice, but the only way to get it right is to make mistakes and find ways to correct the procedures or improve them for the future.

  64. my only issue is with the eye tattoo, really…its just not safe to fuck with the eye…like i said, the interview was well read and alot of the work was beautiful and interesting…i can’t really speculate on the whole implant debate, because i don’t deal with them…my only real concern is for the eye tattoo…its just not safe to fuck with something as sensitive as the eye…i was just addressing this issue under an eye lid piercing…i suppose i’ll re-itterate my point here, because it should be said…
    FROM A SITE RUN BY DOCTORS TO HELP PEOPLE WITH EYE INJURIES:
    (direct quotes)”Injuries to the eye are the most common preventable cause of blindness” …”Do not touch, press, or rub the eye itself”…”Do not try to remove any foreign body except by flushing, because of the risk of scratching the surface of the eye, especially the cornea”…”a particle can scratch the cornea and cause an infection”…

    HERE’S WHAT I KNOW ABOUT TATTOO INK FROM MY DAYS OF APPRENTICING TO BECOME A TATTOO ARTIST:

    tattoo ink isn’t FDA regulated and sometimes the questionable contents can cause a reaction in skin…especially red…a person who has had no previous reaction can suddenly, and without warning, develope an allergy…fortunetly in skin, this isn’t really dangerous and is a totally fixable situation-but in the EYE, A VERY SENSITIVE MEMBRANE, it could cause blindness…

    pushing the envelope and being an innovator is a very cool in all, but some practices should end when mobility or possible handi-cap is at risk…his ear pointing was really beauitful, i’m in no way calling him a hack…but given he’s put his work up her in a debatable arena, then it shouldn’t be crossing lines or messing in the affairs of others to offer an opinion…and the eye ball tattoo is a bad idea…

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