A few days ago I was out to dinner with old BME friends, and one conversation that came up was some of BME’s old April Fools articles. I think my favorite was “Love At First Bite” because it was so believable and fooled a good percentage of even the most experienced readers… But the article that started BME’s pranks was one first published April 1, 1999 — “Adding and Subtracting” — and one of the reasons it was so successful was that it was not just BME’s first joke article, but was published in an era before April 1st being a day where the entire web was flooded with nothing but jokes, making the whole thing less convincing. Anyway, since I couldn’t find this article in BME’s public articles, I’ve decided to republish here for historical reasons! After the article you can also read some of the responses the article generated, including a multitude of requests for interviews including Details, ICON, and The Village Voice.
Ryan and Dave are the most unique identical twins you’ll ever meet. After tiring of piercing, tattoos, and implants about three years ago, they began exploring much heavier surgical modifications. Dave had spent two and a half years in pre-med at Queens University in Kingston, and using contacts made both there and online he and his twin brother have changed themselves in ways far beyond anything anyone else has ever attempted.
BME: Let’s quickly talk about how this all got started.
RYAN: I guess when we were about thirteen we started getting tattooed. This is when we were living in Phoenix. I won’t deny that we had pretty poor judgement and got some pretty bad tattoos. Luckily, they were fairly light and over time we got some real nice coverups, as you can see.
DAVE: Our lives in Phoenix were actually pretty rough and our parents knew that we were running with the wrong crowd, so when we were sixteen they sent us to live with our aunt in Toronto — Canada — it was a bit of a culture shock but turned out for the best. I finished high school at the top of my class and was offered a biology scholarship at Queens University which soon transitioned into Pre-Med. Ryan stayed in Toronto and got hooked up with the piercing scene.
RYAN: Some friends of mine were just setting up a new studio — Dave and I had been doing piercings on our friends for about a year, and it just seemed like the right thing at the right time so I decided to become a piercer. At this point the piercing community was pretty young and it was an “anything goes” scene and still mostly underground — I got to meet a lot of guys into amputation and castration and really heavy stuff. It got me thinking a lot about what we wanted to do with our own bodies. I introduced Dave to them as well and he shared my feelings.
BME: What happened next?
RYAN: After discussing and thinking about it very seriously for about a year, we decided to take the big step. To put it simply, Dave had his entire right arm (since we’re left handed) amputated at the shoulder and we surgically reattached it immediately behind my right pectoral muscle.
BME: Wow. If I wasn’t looking at it right now I’d never believe it. How was the procedure done?
DAVE: Obviously there was no clinic willing to do a procedure like this (we didn’t even bother to ask), so we had to do it all under local anaesthesia since we simply didn’t have the facilities to safely administer general anaesthesia. We had a group of two practitioners and two assistants working on us. First we elevated my arm and using an Ace bandage we slowly squeezed all of the blood out of it. Then we tourniquetted as high up on the shoulder it could be, and injected lidocaine into the exsanguinated veins. Almost immediately there was no feeling whatsoever. An amputation knife cut through the skin and muscles, and a bone saw did the final removal. Bleeders were ligated and the wound was cleaned up. This entire part of the procedure took about forty minutes.
RYAN: At the same time as Dave was being worked on, the other practitioner and his assistant prepared the attachment site on my chest. Veins and arteries were spliced to supply blood to Dave’s arm and the skin and some of the subcutaneous tissue was peeled up to merge as smoothly as possible. Luckily the healing went smoothly. The transplant healed up in about a month, as did Dave’s stump.
BME: You’re a bit vague as to who did it. Who were the “practitioners” and how did you find them?
DAVE: When we had the procedure done we signed non-disclosure agreements and legally swore to protect the identities of everyone involved. As far as how we met them, you’d be amazed how many kooks you meet in med school. That’s as far as I’m willing to go on that question; I’m sure your readers will understand. This type of procedure is simply not acceptable.
BME: Did you have any difficulties with rejection?
RYAN: That’s the nice thing about being identical twins! We share the same genetics!
BME: You can’t be that identical — You’re wearing glasses and Dave isn’t.
RYAN: Dave wears contacts; he’s vain. Anyway, because our genetics are the same, healing a transplant is no more difficult that healing a severe laceration. I’m exaggerating a little, but it’s not the same as a regular transplant.
BME: The arm is amazing, but I’ve got to admit that this “alien finger” thing you’ve done is really something. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s actually quite disconcerting!
RYAN: Yeah, we’re very proud of it. When people see the arm, they think it was an accident — transplants like this do get done every once in a while for medical reasons. The finger though, that’s art. We challenge anyone to take body art to a higher level.
BME: How did you pull this one off?
DAVE: First we removed the centre joint of my finger, along with the skin and just over an inch of overhanging tendon. Then we split Ryan’s finger at the end of the first joint. It was relatively easy to insert the extra joint, especially since we had so much extra tendon to play with. The amazing thing is that Ryan actually has feeling in the end of that finger now — the nerves were compatible!
BME: Dave, why are you wearing a bandaid over your stubby finger?
DAVE: When we put my finger tip back on, minus the middle joint, we didn’t have enough tendon to work with so I don’t actually have very much mobility in it. I tend to bang it a lot. We’re actually going to remove it altogether and remove the bone right down to the wrist. That will let us shift the little finger over without much apparent scarring giving us a very realistic three fingered hand.
BME: Can I ask what the two of you do for a living? I assume you don’t have regular jobs.
DAVE: We make a great living in the traditional world. I’m not going to say the name of our company, but to suffice it to say that we’re the sixth largest producer of adult entertainment software in North America. The Ferrari Dino 246 that Ryan is leaning on right now is a $50,000 car. That may not seem like a lot of money, but we paid it off in one day. Not all “freaks” are punk kids.
BME: I know you don’t really like talking about this that much, but… why?
RYAN: First and foremost, we consider ourselves artists. A lot of our friends and associates who have similar interests have a more fetish oriented body modification attitude about it — while we respect that point of view, it’s not what we’re about.
BME: Any regrets?
DAVE: I guess I’m the one that should answer that one. No. Not at all. We share everything. I don’t feel that I’ve given anything up. I’m not sure if anyone who’s not an identical twin can really understand the strange bond that’s going on here. I’ve never had a phantom limb pain. It really feels like it’s all still a part of me.
BME: What modifications does the future hold for you two?
DAVE: We’ve got some genital work planned that’s pretty exciting. As soon as it happens we’ll be sure to update BME readers with some photos.
And now the fun part! Here are some of the letters that were received at the fake email address claiming to belong to Ryan and Dave. I should point out that everything in the article is theoretically possible. Let’s hope that some day a couple brave folks try it. At least it made everyone think! I was also really happy to see how positive the feedback was. A funny side note — some major mainstream press even wanted to do articles on this! So you’re in good company if you were fooled.
Thank you for your recent contribution in interview form to http://www.bme.freeq.com. While I am not a paying member of the e-zine, I do enjoy perusing what is available for free. In addition, I am not intimately familiar with the body modification community, so I am unsure of how much ‘toungue-in-cheek’ humor goes on about (for example) how extreme people’s tastes and actions become in the realm of body modification.
What I am trying to delicately state is, what you purport to have done must be a joke. I am not medically trained, but I simply do not believe that what you purport to have done is medically possible. In addition, it would seem prudent that anyone who had any designs on amputating a sibling’s limb and attaching it to their own body would seek psychological attention.
So, if it is a joke — bravo! It’s very funny and carries the same punch as say, the urban legend regarding Rod Stewart swallowing 2 gallons of male ejaculate.
I have just finished reading your interview on BME and was totally amazed. Basically, I just want to offer you both a great big pat on the back. Not only have you had the courage to satisfy your greatest desires, you’re changing the face of body modification. It’s a popular misconception that body modification is all about piercing and tattooing, and you two are the exact opposite!
I admire your courage greatly. I can’t get that point across enough. Not only are your mods innovative, they’re truly beautiful and must make you both feel fantastic.
Being just 17 years old, my forays into body modification have been limited. However, I do have a beautiful blackwork back piece that I’m enormously proud of!
It pleases me greatly to learn that your modifications began at such a young age. Like you, I may regret what I have now in years to come, but in my eyes the human body is infinitely changeable. It’s good to know that I’m not the only young person who was seriously into altering their body. It’s sad that my age receives negative reactions from the body modification community. I am never really taken seriously, and have even been accused of being a groupie!
Anyway, I did kind of lose my point there, but I can’t say how much I admire your courage and strength for going for what you want and believe in.
I wish you all the best for the future, and hope that you two can go some way in eradicating the prejudice and misconceptions surrounding body modification.
I read the article on you guys, “Adding and Subtracting,” with the common amazement of most readers. I was actually disappointed, however, to read that it was posted on April 1st. Since that date has past, please fess up, am I and April Fool or not? Though I could never attempt such a thing, I find it inspirational that two men could do something so radical.
Hey, my name is ***, I’m GWM, 31, a horny landscaper from Mass. I’ve recently developed a fascination/fetish about castrations and amputations. Have either of you guys wondered where these desires come from? Past, future lives perhaps? Or maybe everyone has these thoughts and they never let the seeds germinate.
Always been intrigued by twins, too. You’re lucky to have each other, I’m sure you know that. How do you guys like to get off? Do you have the same sexual orientation or desires?
I’d like to know/see/witness more about the genital stuff.
Who are Ryan and Dave? Are they cute and horny? Who is Shannon? Is she cute and horny? Can we have a party?
This has got to be a hoax. What the fuck????? I’m astonished. Speechless. Aghast. Must be fake; do you have more pictures? The ones you have on the internet could easily have been manipulated. Could be a prosthesis. After all, you are into adult entertainment and computers so…….
Anyway, even if this is true….WHATEVER.
Enjoy your third hand.
Bravo! I must say that you both really kick ass. Though I do admit that your modification is a bit too drastic for my immediate tastes, I was so wonder stricken By you article and your photos that I felt compeled to write in to you both and congratualate you on what I believe to be one of the most astonishing things that I’ve seen in my life thus far. I’m still in a mild shock that some one was able to successfully pull this off, let alone to this degree, But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to congratualate you on a job well done! I do have a question though. Does the second right arm and finger operate, or is it just the finger? Thanks for such an awe inspiring article. you’ve really made my day!
You guys are the coolest! What you are doing is unbelievable and I am so glad I could see the pictures on the BME.FreeQ page. You are creating art with your bodies… Wow!
I wish I was a twin so I could do similar things. I have a PA but nothing can compare to you guy. The beauty of it is if you want to change it back… you just reattach it… Your bodies are really works of art. Keep up the good work!
I guess you must be sick of this type of mail, but I must say that I am very impressed with your mods. You must share quite a strong bond as twins. Anyway, I’ll keep it short. I respect your work, and it’s great to see new limits being pushed. Your resolve is inspiring. Good luck with your next mods!
Two words: Fucking Brilliant.
the report on the twins was pretty kewl, but i have a slight bit of skepticism churning through my brain as to weather the did or not.
would love to hear more about their transplants and organ swapping.
I read an article about you two and found myself in total disbelief. Please convince me you are for real. I am not sure what to believe. I feel really ignorant toward the whole thing-is it real or is it just a trick you are playing on body artists to try to get them to to harder shit? Either way, I am super impressed. Email me other pictures, links, whatever you think can help me believe this really happened.
if it’s a joke..then ha ha ha … i didnt know that it was the 1st of April but shouldnt it b removed after the 1st…..by the way…it does drow a whole new light on all the freeqs that you host…i guess now i cant belive who is real modificated and who is a fake one
it does sound too freeq…switching hands…
i was wondering how all the modification pop up to be in Toronto….is there something in that air?….acid?….
well nice joke…if it is a joke…
Hah! “Interview posted April 1st.” That’s a good one, Shanon.
I just read your interview today, and I am very impressed: my hat goes off to you… let’s just say that I identify strongly with what you have done.
I’m 22, have about 100 square inches of branding work done on me, about 10 implants and amputated my own pinkie in September, way before I ever landed on this site. I’m going to have the bone cleaned off, polished, autoclaved and implanted back into me – and I thought that was original!!! By what I read, I’m assuming you guys are around 25.
Anyways, I will be attending Modcon and definitely hope that you will be there – I would really like to meet you in person. Please write back, I would definitely like to establish a good contact with you… maybe it’s because you’re closer to my age (I identify with that a lot more than some 50 year-old) and maybe it’s because you have done what you have out of creative expression, as opposed to a physical/fetishistic desire. Most of what I do is of a conceptual nature, which I interpret as being a fair balance between artistic transformation and personal exploration.
i couldnt come up with a sbject without sounding critical or corny so i decided not to. IT seems to me that some some people are born with with the sort things that you call art we call them defects. It also seems to be a mockary of those with true defects. Unless you somehow manage to make this transition from freakish to cool. In which case those people with real defects will appreciate your contribution. Also what you have done is more science than art. piercing now thats art. and there is no thing better than a tribal tattoo in my eyes. in conclusion i ask you this what about when your seventy. what will you think then?
After seeing the pictures from the Adding and Subtracting article I must admit I was very disturbed. For the first time in many years I found myself nauseated and not since a brush with kiddie porn have I found myself filled with such a sensation of innate wrongness. I am left with the question, Why? What prompted the brothers to do this to themselves. The article itself fails to answer anything but the how of it.
I just got reading your interview that you had with BME, and to tell you the truth, I would never do anything like that and the only stuff I’ve ever done was a tattoo and a couple of piercings!
I honestly feel that you guys are very brave when it comes to what you’ve done to your bodies. I’m happy for you both because you have such a strong relationship as well as a strong friendship, and that you guys didn’t let and wont let anything stand in your way!
I do wonder what the rest of your family thinks about this whole thing, if I’m not out of line?!
Ryan & Dave, you both amaze me so very much! You may seem strange to the common I, but I think it’s great that you did what you wanted to do and not what anyone else told you to do.
P.S. If you don’t mind me asking, what are you planning on doing to your genitalia and will that effect your sex life in any way.
P.S.S. Hook it up with the adult films, they are exciting and interesting to watch and plus I get ideas from them. HAHAHA!!!
loved the interview that you gave, and I am really curious as to what genital mods you have planed… I Imagined a few things, but would be greatful if you could give a few hints, I am most interested! thanks guys! keep up the fantastic work!!!
Was this a real piece or was it an April 1st wind up?? I stumbled across this on the first and was completely facinated but then thought it couldn’t possibly be, please don’t take any offence I was really just wondering.
I came across your story on the bme page and simply cannot believe it. Even the posting date is April 1st!! I cannot understand why you would give up your arm (Dave). That’s permanent… Oh well, on with some questions.. what about the extra arm, is it dying? i guess the muscles are atrophying (sp?) Do you anticipate that it will have to be removed in the future? How can its weight be supported? I cannot belive this.. oh well. Please write back.
Hey guys. I love the arm transplant. I’ve also been interested in extreme mods but never seen anyone that has done something like that. I’d like to run something past you to see if it would even be feasable. I have larger feet and hate it. I’d love to find someone to trade feet with. Do you know if something like that would be surgically possible? I’ve even thought about finding 2 guys and putting one of each of their feet on me and giving them each one of mine. Make some interesting pairs of feet :)
I was amazed at the apparently successful cadaver hand transplant to a living body, but this tops that…what a story! Is there any feeling or control of the transplanted arm or finger?
I just wanted to start this letter saying I have so much respect for both of you. You created a whole new type of body art, and I honestly can say I only dreamt of this type of procedure happening. I personally, am not interested in doing this type of body modification on myself, but I plan on becoming an emergency room doctor, and I would definatly help people with a passion like yours. Can Ryan move Dave’s arm thats attatched to him? Is there any feeling in it? I also love the way the “alien” hand looks. It is very beautiful. Is the feeling the same or is it a different type of feeling? I once read that if you were to cut a peice of your skin, and then (with a few veins connected) move it to another location of the body, and you scratch it, it will feel like your scratching the original location.. sorry if that was confusing, I can’t really think of the words to explain it :). Anyway I just wanted you to know that other people find beauty in your work, and respect your ability to be different in such an extreme way. Write back if ya want, I would love to hear from you guys :)
I read with fascination Shannon’s interview with you two on BME. Ryan, I imagine your extra arm is cool, but from what I understand of anatomy and your description of the attachment procedure, you probably don’t have much (if any) feeling in the extra arm and no motor control…am I right? Still, it’s an amazing operation, and I’m duly impressed!
Dave, I hope you’re getting along well one-armed. Are you planning to submit any photos to BME of your stump?
Have you had many people ask to be placed in contact with the practitioners that performed the operation? I certainly don’t expect anything of the sort from y’all considering that you don’t know me, but one of these days soon, I hope to find someone willing to amputate my right arm below the elbow. Ah well, dreaming on….
Congratulations to both of you on your accomplishments, and best of luck in future!
I’m sure you guys have gotten a lot of emails like this, but i just read Adding and Subtracting and i was totally blown away by what you guys are doing. I’d never imagined that such mods could be performed successfully…….the alien finger was great…..
neways, i wish you guys success in all your future mods…
I can’t say I would ever even want to do that to myself. That took balls! My father in law had a foot removed (diabetes) and wanted to keep the bones to make a necklace… the doc wouldn’t let him though. I have to know one thing. Does the arm work? Can you open a beer and drink it with that hand?
Talk about a party accessory. I’ve been caught drinking two fisted, but three fisted…. Someone call Gunnies!
I just read your interview on BME peple and I have to say that you guys are buetiful. That was the most extreme thing I have ever seen. I really commend you! Just wondering what are you planning for your genitals, and how old are you guys?
You guys are so full of shit
Awesome April Fool’s. (grin)
That’s phuckin’ hilarious.
My name is **** and i´m an identical twin myself, I must say that what you guys have done is realy great, I understand the kind of bond you´re talking about. Even though I live in Brazil and my brother is living in Hawaii, we will get together soon and hopefully take our body modifications a step further.
Shannon, that was a real blast! Nice one.
Really fascinated by and enthusiastic about your interview at BME’s I would like to make some comments and ask some questions:
How long is Dave’s right arm stump as it has not been a shoulder disarticulation?
Are there only blood vessels connected to the arm in its new place on Ryan’s chest or are there also any nerves and muscles connected to its new base? In other words: Ryan, have you got any sensations in your third arm and is there any chance for even the slightest movements of the arm or the fingers? Is it already more than one year since the transfer has taken place (usual time for nerves to restore)?
As far as now I have heard about three men having their right hand amputated voluntarily (and two of them also have a penectomy and one nut less!!). You have told about your time as piercers meeting a lot of guys “into amputation and castration”. How many guys of that kind have you met, what has been their aim in both cases – and did they reach their aim – and how did they reach it?
I am very sorry about Dave’s shortened finger being not as functional as Ryan’s elongated one. Good luck for the next change of Dave’s hand and good luck for all future plans you have in mind. Can you give me an idea of the “genital work planned” next?
Many thanks in advance for answering my questions and with kind regards and best wishes
WOW! Your interview was fantastic. I have thought a lot about what could be done with transplants among twins and identical twins at that. You mentioned feeling in the finger modification, do you have any feeling in the arm transplant? Finally, I don’t know what you have in mind for the genital modifications but, here are some ideas. First, something similar to the alien finger. Perform a glansectomy on one of the penises, cut the other penis about one inch above the base, attach the glans of the first penis to the short remaining shaft of the other penis and the shaft and head to the long shaft stump of the first penis. This will result in one person with a very short penis and one with a very long one.
Second option would be to trade penises. After distinguishing them, cut them off and reattach them to the opposite person. Be sure to have before and after pictures so the BME viewers can see that the penises have actually changed ownership.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do and I’ll be watching BME for updates.
Unfortunately, I am not a twin so things like this can only be a fantasy for me. Bye.