Rose Adare: Restraint & Revolution

Recently a friend forwarded me a video of an art opening — the one I’ve included below — asking me if I recognized anyone. I watched the video with curiosity, and yes, I did recognize someone, seeing my friend Kala Kaiwi (who was just featured in part III of the “Evolution” series) and a number of other modified and atypical models immortalized in paint. The artwork turned out to be that of Hawaiian artist Rose Adare, who I tracked down and interviewed about her current Restraint & Revolution gallery show.

“I set out to paint nontraditional people in a traditional medium.”

I should also mention that you can find out more about Rose and her art at her website, where you can also get in touch with her about both originals and prints (which are very reasonably priced by the way, starting at $20). Her current show will be at Holualoa’s J+ Gallery until March 10, 2013.

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* Are you a modified person yourself, or more of a fan?

I don’t have any hardcore bodymods yet, though I do have a fiery tattoo on my lower back I drew while learning to fire spin in Ireland, and I have four spike piercings crowning the top of my ear. All of my piercings were done by Kala Kaiwi, our resident specialist on the Big Island of Hawaii — he’s also the model in Primal Buddha.

* How did you get into piercing and tattoos?

A lot of things drew me to bodymod. I was a San Francisco goth while studying at the Academy of Art University — another shadow in the Deathguild scene, dancing on coffins at Spike’s Vampire Bar at Burning Man! In 2005 I was in a collision with a municipal train and wound up in ten body braces. With the overall body-pain I had to escape the cold of San Francisco so I moved to Hawaii. I wound up living with the wonderful John Corbin — R.I.P., fondly remembered as Burning Man’s flaming bagpipes. He used to have a flamethrower which would set off a huge jet of fire when he wailed! His house was covered in surreal murals, and my room was a bright pink girly-girl room with a mural of Pudge the Fish (the sandwich eating fish from Lilo and Stitch). Here’s me, lying in black, in a bright pink room with Pudge the Fish. Aloha!

Years later my partner, Alex Stitt, the fire dancer in Pyro Paramour, moved into a new place with Robert Bennett, the model in the painting Ardens. I adore Robert. He’s family, and the one who painted all the murals in my old house. He’s one of the best tattoo artists on the Big Island, and unlike many tattoo artists he’s also a painter, which gives him an eye for detail and form, and his professionalism is next to known.

rose - primal buddha

* What were you “trying to say” with this series of paintings?

When I was dreaming of Restraint & Revolution I was imagining all the different kinds of corsetry. The painting series is about how people push social boundaries, and corsets are amazing because they have transformed from a symbol of chastity worn under the clothes, to sexy, naughty lingerie worn over top. A complete 180! Everyone in the series pushes those boundaries. Kimberly Dark (Mysterium) is one of the top six LGBT speakers in the country, Carol Queen (Queen 2B4) founded GAYouth and the Center For Sex and Culture — the woman added words to the sexual dictionary! — Jason Webley (Eleventh Hour) is an underground musical genius, Buffy Saint-Marie (Sky Dance) is a Native American musical powerhouse, Ariellah Darker Still (Bring Me My Ghosts) created Dark Fusion belly dance, and Master Obsidian and slave Namaste (Genuflect) are award-winning sex positive role models. They’re all amazing because they change the world by expressing who they are. I mean, if we’re talking about body-mods and self actualization, let’s talk about Billy Castro (Bonnie is Clyde). He’s a transgender porn star. He even spoke at Stanford at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

* But beyond corsets of the traditional body-reshaping clothing type, you’ve also painted the play piercing sort?

Naturally, I wanted to paint a corset piercing. At the time Robert was dating the fetish model Stembot (who’s in the painting Acceptance). She leapt off the couch and said “Let’s do it!” Next thing I know, we’re at Kala Kaiwi’s mod-shop lancing eighteen hoops into her back. That’s how I met Kala. His work is brilliant. Scarification, implants, subdermals — he can do it all and he has it all. Implants in his forehead, spikes drilled into the top of his head, tattooed eyes, knotwork patterns in his skin. Everything. About a year later Stembot moved back to the mainland and Robert met Jesi Collins (Venus Unbound). She’s also an amazing tattoo artist and a wonderful mom (Robert tattooed a lot of the work on her left leg). She and her daughter came to live with us. She has a starfish implant in the back of her hand (which you can’t see in the painting because of her pose), as well as a magnet embedded in her finger to perform magic tricks like picking up paper clips and making them spin on tables. She also has a puffer-fish tattooed on her right leg so when she bends her knee it puffs up! I guess we were one fantastic, freaky family after that. We used to go down to the cliffs in the jungle and Kala would pierce Jesi’s back with these huge meat hooks then Robert would suspend her from a tree and swing her out across the water.

rose - portrait of jesi collins

* How literal are you with your portraits?

I paint people as they are — though Koyote (in the painting Koyote) is wearing costume horns because he’s a fire performer, and I think they suit him. Sexy devil! However, people are motion, and paintings are still. What I mean by that is people, in life, transform from second to second. Every smile and frown and twitch creases the face, so the idea you have of them is an amalgam of these images — the serene, the troubled, the beautiful, the fear; all mashed together. A painting is like picking one character out of the play that is you. My painting of Kala, for example, is undoubtedly him, though only one or two aspects. Unlike photographs, paintings are more than a mere snapshot. They’re archetypes, like streamlined forms of self.

* What about with their body art? For example, do you try and be literal with their tattoos, or do you take liberties to make their tattoos match your artistic style or commentary?

I love painting tattoos because they are the literal meaning of organic art. When it comes to painting in general, I use sacred geometry like the vesica piscis or the nautilus spiral, blending and softening around the edges before bringing it in for detail. This means that certain tattoos come into focus, just as your eye would focus, while others phase out into basic shapes and color. People can’t see everything simultaneously, and that’s important to remember in portraiture. It’s one of the key differences between Classical Realism and Photo realism. An excellent tattoo painter is Shawn Barber. He focuses on the detail of tattoos.

rose - portrait of robert bennett

* What sort of response have you gotten to this series?

The response to my art has been nothing but excellent. Restraint & Revolution will be visiting the mainland U.S. within the next year before moving on to Europe. Yet we were careful about starting in Hawaii. Hawaii’s art is Hawaiiana. Dolphins and orchids and sunset “plein air” landscapes. Hawaii is so vibrant and colorful artists have to compete with nature herself to capture anything half as brilliant. My art, because it evolves out of Classical Realism, takes on more somber tones, and there’s nothing quite like these portraits out here. Our opening at the East Hawaii Cultural Center drew more people than they’d ever had at a single event! People came out in droves, and it was a mixed house. The classic Hawiianna art scene, the local island vibe, the hippies from the jungle, the fetishists from the off grid dungeons, the college students from UH Hilo, the vacationers fresh off the cruise ship — everyone wanted to see! And the truth is, people are often afraid to ask, especially about bodymods. They want to know “does it hurt?” or “why did you do that?’ or “how does that work?” or “is her hand really magnetic?” But at the same time that little voice says “don’t stare, don’t be rude.” At the art show we posted bios of each model so people could read all about these different intersecting, counterculture, underground, subculture lifestyles.

* Beyond capturing a sense of breaking sociopersonal boundaries, is there any other theme to your artwork?

I set out to paint nontraditional people in a traditional medium. Fine art can be so stiff and traditional. Masterfully skilled but thematic. Contemporary art, especially abstract art, can be so expressive that in the end there’s more message than talent or skill. I love the traditionalists, but we can’t all be Da Vinci. I love the innovators, but we can’t all be Duchamp. Fine art needs to evolve, in the same way that the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood broke the mold, and the Impressionists blurred the boundaries, and the Surrealists escaped reality. But there is a magic to fine art, an alchemy in oil paint, and a soul in composition that we’re losing to Photoshop and instantaneous art. Each portrait takes well over one hundred hours, and is infused with gold leaf, and santo paolo, and whiskey, and peyote — and in the portrait of Koyote even some of my own blood. Blood, sweat and tears. That’s Fine Art. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in instantaneous art, I believe in instantaneous expression, and I believe everyone is an artist, and everyone has a message, and that’s the truth. But which iconic images survive the test of time? Some changed the very way we saw the world. Look at Picasso and Georges Braque and Cubism. But others survived because they captured time and place. Toulouse-Lautrec immortalized Montmartre, as did Modigliani. I love to celebrate people. I love to celebrate our time, and the bodymod scene is a huge part of that. Blood, sweat and tears. That’s love. That’s dedication. And that’s art.

rose - portrait of stembot

Supradermal Cross “Implant”

This isn’t really an implant of course — it’s a cross that’s been semi-permanently mounted on the wearer’s chest using three microdermals to hold it in place. Christopher Lee Shelafoe of Marquette, MI’s Rendezvous Tattoo & Body Piercing (I recently featured an anarchy scar he did) is who installed it, said that in an ideal world he would have like to use a lighter cross, but the client specifically needed that exact cross because it had belonged to his child. So they did it as best they could, with the understanding it was an experiment. It was still in place last time he spoke with the wearer, who has since moved away. Christopher and I were talking about how he’d tackle this next time, and he’s working on having microdermals mad with magnetic ends so that the cross (or whatever) can be solidly mounted, but will pop off without injury if it gets snagged.

Biohackers: A Journey Into Cyborg America

“I just want to see how far I can push the human.”

The Verge has just posted a very fun little documentary on “Grindhouse Wetwares” and other groups working on functional implants and “scrapheap transhumanism” (love that term), as well as some great coverage of magnetic implants and things like that. It’s a bit over ten minutes long and lots of fun. Set some time aside and check it out. I have to be honest that I am not terribly impressed by what has been done so far, but these are baby steps being taken, and I hope that even if it falls far short, I’d like to think it will inspire people to go further and do it better.

The Transdermal Implants of Samppa Von Cyborg

This article is a based on the seminar notes from Samppa Von Cyborg on his transdermal implants, as prepared by Alix Fox. In this abridged form it was edited by Shannon Larratt for public presentation. While parts of this article do discuss procedural techniques, it should be emphasized that this is in no way a “how to” or training of any sort. It is being shared here to help those with an interest and passion for body modification understand the development history of transdermal implants as well as some of the medical and “wearer” issues involved.

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Influential body modification artist Steve Haworth is credited with inventing the transdermal implant, with the first instance being installed in 1996 as Joe Aylward’s famous “Metal Mohawk”. Four years later, Samppa Von Cyborg began implanting transdermals using posts of his own design. While these procedures were largely successful, the designs left much room for improvement. It is Samppa’s philosophy that even if something works reasonably well, it is crucial to keep researching, reassessing, and redeveloping designs and procedures in order to push body modification innovation forward and always strive strive for better results.


Aneta and Samppa Von Cyborg

The very first implants that Samppa used were a simple rectangular base onto which a straight post was welded. The primary fault in this style was that no matter how carefully it was made and finished, there remained a welded seam which would not just rub against and irritate the skin, but act as a potential breeding ground for bacteria. To mitigate this, these days almost all transdermals are manufactured (usually by computer controlled tools) out of a single piece of metal.

The other problem with the first style was due not to the manufacturing process, but the actual design. Although the bases were drilled with two holes intended to allow tissue to grow through and anchor the jewelry, the holes were placed several millimetres from the post, leaving a large area of solid metal around the post itself. Since tissue can not adhere to smooth, solid metal, a gap was left through which bacteria could potentially enter the body, leaving the skin irritated — red, sore, and unattractive.

Samppa’s next step was to move to an oval design which attempted to address some of these problems.

Samppa’s oval transdermal implant design.

Samppa’s oval transdermal implant design.

The first change was to add more holes in the base, four this time, to anchor this generation of implant more securely. Even though the holes were not identical, they were evenly balanced, resulting in more even growth of scar tissue. The placement of the holes closer to the post bonded the portion of the jewelry actually passing through the skin as snugly as possible, and meant that the pocket of tissue around the base of the post was much smaller and less susceptible to discharge building up inside it.

Over one hundred people had transdermals of this design implanted by Samppa, with great success rates, and these are also what Samppa currently wears in his own Metal Mohawk. Many companies manufacture their own variations and thousands of people have successfully healed transdermal implants of this design generation. Nonetheless Samppa felt there was still room for further improvement, and continued researching and seeking ways to improve healing and longevity and reduce inflammation and complications.

Various implant designs currently for sale by different vendors.

Various implant designs currently for sale by different vendors.


Many aspects of Samppa’s most recent transdermal implants are based on medical studies, and he emphasizes that the body modification movement needs to pay closer attention to medical research, development, and practises than it currently does. Unlike body modification artists who are rarely wealthy, a gargantuan amount of funding is allotted to medical research, and the testing undertaken is far more precise, thorough, and in-depth than the limited anecdotal results achievable by body modification artists. By paying attention to medical journals and other resources intended for surgeons, mod artists can take advantage of relevant knowledge and advances made by people who work on comparable procedures — albeit for very different reasons — but have much greater access to money and resources (and, perhaps distastefully, are able to occasionally dissect those who they have performed procedures on to examine the body’s response in otherwise impossible levels of detail).

The greatest influence on Samppa’s new transdermal implant design was a series of articles discussing amputees that had been fitted with an ITAP, or “Intraosseous Transcutaneous Amputation Prosthesis” (“intraosseous” meaning that it attached to the bone, and “transcutaneous” meaning it passed through the skin — the latter being the part that was relevant to Samppa’s work on transdermals). In short, an ITAP is a metal post that screws into the patient’s bone, then passes through the surface of the skin to the outside of the body, where a prosthetic can be firmly attached to it. ITAPs can range from small, attaching a prosthetic nose for example, or large, attaching a fake leg and capable of handling the full impact weight of the entire body. Ignoring the part of the ITAP that is screwed to the bone, and you have a device that is very similar to the transdermal implant of the body modification world, with many of the same qualities and issues. By studying advances in ITAP design, Samppa was able to extract crucial information in developing the most sophisticated transdermal implant to date.

Various ITAP implants created by the medical community.
From left to right: ITAPs used to hold a facial prosthesis in place, an ITAP in a finger, an ITAP in a femur used to mount a prosthetic leg, and a close-up of the ITAP used in an animal experiment.

Samppa’s reading revealed that the medical teams had been inspired by nature — specifically, by looking closely at the horns and antlers of animals. Like ITAPs (and transdermals), horns begin inside the body, pass through the skin, and protrude outside the body. However, animals do not suffer infections or irritation around their horns as can happen with humans with transcutaneous devices or jewelry. The researchers found that the two key factors were porosity — horns are full of many tiny holes into which a network of fine tissue fibres could grow into and root securely — and roughness — below the surface of the skin, the rough surface texture of the horn made it easier for tissue to adhere.

Samppa sought to apply these design features to his new transdermals, pictured below:


Every single element of the design was carefully considered, the result being a revolutionary new transdermal design which represents a significant step forward for the body modification industry. Some of the elements are as follow:


Much of the initial theories about transdermals were based on experience with body piercing. In body piercing, you want the jewelry to have a surface as smooth and highly polished as possible in order to move about and slide through the pierced hole without tugging — no adhesion of either the body or bacteria to its surface, which also makes it easier to clean. Without really thinking about it, at first most assumed that transdermals should have the same mirror finish, but the reality is that the last thing you want is for the base to move and slide around — you want to encourage adhesion rather than discourage it! Samppa therefore theorized that it made more sense to make the base rough, allowing tissues to get a better grip on it and anchor it in place more firmly. This is exactly like the subcutaneous part of an animal’s horn, and applies the same principle as used in the ITAP. Additionally, if you have ever seen a complete human tooth, you have probably noticed that the upper (exposed) part of it is smooth, which helps it stay clean, but the root is rough, in order to allow the gum tissues and skull to get a good grip on it and keep it held tight in your jaw.

The manufacturers of ITAPs experimented with making their implants rough by applying a textured layer of bioactive hydroxyapatite, a calcium mineral that makes up a significant percentage of bone and tooth. However, for the body modification world, this is difficult to achieve and prohibitively expensive, to say nothing of carrying with it some long-term risk of flaking off of the metal. Instead, Samppa chose to give the implant a rough textured finish using a technique similar to sandblasting.


The most visibly obvious change in Samppa’s new design is that instead of a small number of large holes, he uses a large number of small holes. The ITAP development team emulated horn by peppering their subcutaneous anchoring plates with multiple 0.7mm diameter holes. Due to a tooling constraint, Samppa uses a similar configuration but with 0.8mm holes — behind the scenes, this had to do with the difficulty in finding a manufacturer that had the complex machinery required to make these items, but was also willing to make them in small quantities at a reasonable price. Samppa is currently working with Barry Blanchard of Anatometal, one of the oldest and most experienced body jewelry manufacturers in the wold, to create the new transdermals.

These tiny holes allow tissue to grow through the plate and hold it firmly in place. Their even spacing encourages even tissue growth, resulting in implants which are held straight and true, unlikely to bend or wobble or shift if they are knocked or pushed — unlike transdermal implants of earlier generations. As with the second generation design, placing the holes as close as possible to the post creates a neat, closed “seal” around the post, preventing bacterial entry and subsequent infection. The smaller holes also result in the development of finer strands of anchoring scar tissue, which tend to lay flat rather than forming lumps or bumps which are visible as they bulge under the skin, as can be the case when bigger clumps of tissue grow through the larger holes in older implant designs. With these older transdermals it was not uncommon for the base to be visible as an obvious raised area of skin.


The base plate is only 0.6mm (22 gauge) thick, which is thick enough to be strong even when perforated with many holes, but is also thin enough to not create any visible raising of the skin.


Unlike the base of the implant, the post, which travels through the skin and outside the body, is designed to be as smooth as possible, with a mirror finish. First of all, this allows it to be cleaned easily and thoroughly. Bacteria find it difficult to adhere to such a surface, making it more hygienic, as well as more visually appealing.

Secondly, the skin around the transdermal post constantly moves up and down due to the natural swelling and contraction of the skin. Swelling does not occur just after the implant procedure — the area should be expected to swell when the wearer gets hot, after exercise, if they drink alcohol or some drugs, if they are ill, or if the implant is struck and injured. Similarly, it will contract in the cold. Giving the post a smooth mirror finish allows the skin to slide up and down the post without aggravation, chafing, or adherence.


In addition to a mirror finish being essential to the movement of the surrounding tissue, so is ensuring that the post is straight, and of a consistent diameter along its length. Some artists have designed implants with flared posts, which have a smaller diameter close to the base and gets wider as they exit. Obviously this makes motion more difficult, and can even lead to tissue becoming trapped or squeezed, resulting in discomfort or even circulatory complications. Severe swelling could even put upward strain on the base of the implant, pulling it away from the body. Flared posts can also prove more difficult to clean, trapping dirt, debris, and bacteria. Posts of this flared design also require a larger hole to be made to implant them, meaning that part of their length will initially be surrounded by an open wound, which is highly undesirable. For these reasons, Samppa’s transdermals have a post of uniform diameter.


It is crucial that transdermal posts are long enough to comfortably allow for the natural swelling and contraction of the skin. If a post is too short, flesh could swell right over the top of it, or rub uncomfortably against the rim. Samppa’s design includes posts that are available in 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm in length, even though almost all of the other transdermals currently on the market have posts that are 5mm or less. Posts need to be appropriately sized for the thickness of the skin. Using posts that are too short are unlikely to allow for successful, comfortable healing, let alone an aesthetically pleasing result, and can force a shallower placement than is appropriate. Metal Mohawks usually require 6mm posts, with other parts of the body typically being more suited to 4mm or 5mm.


At times, again extrapolating from body piercing knowledge, attempts have been made to produce “large gauge” transdermals — that is, transdermal implants with a thick diameter post. It is Samppa’s reasoning that this is a bad idea, because not only are they likely to be heavy and thus harder for the flesh to support, but they will create a larger channel for bacteria to enter the body — to say nothing of leaving a messy wound should they have to be removed. He strongly urges that if you want the “large gauge look” that you simply attach larger ends to the standard jewelry, which he manufactures with 4mm posts (6 gauge).

The reason Samppa settled on 4mm is that it is an ideal size that is both as small as possible, yet robust enough to stay in place and comfortably bear the weight of any attached jewelry. The reason smaller is better is that the smaller the post is, the smaller the potential channel for access to the inside of the body by bacteria is. History has shown that the average transdermal lasts between two and five years — after that they are removed either due to damage, scar tissue, migration, or simply the wearer tiring of them. Samppa’s Metal Mohawk is now eight years old, but it, along with some of his other older implants will be removed within days of this article’s publication, after which they will be replaced with his newer designs.


While almost all transdermals currently on the market are being made out of a single piece (to avoid seams which irritate tissue and harbour bacteria) using CNC equipment, some manufacturers are still using stainless steel. Stainless steel contains a tiny amount of nickel, which can leave a blue-coloured deposit in the skin over time, and is not as biocompatible as implant-grade titanium.


The evolution of Samppa’s transdermals, the third generation a fundamental paradigm shift.

A few of Samppa’s transdermal implant clients.


Not all problems that people have experienced with transdermals are due to design flaws — proper placement is also essential in ensuring good healing. The prevailing thinking among body modification artists has been that transdermal implants should be placed within the skin layers, as a piercing would be, but Samppa maintains (and he has used this placement from the very beginning) that the correct placement is for the base to rest completely underneath the skin. In the case of the scalp this means resting lightly against the bone of the skull — although it should be noted that the metal does not damage the bone because it there is still a layer of scar tissue between the bone and the metal, padding it — and in other areas it might mean resting lightly against the muscle. This allows for the implant to anchor properly.

One of the reasons that many artists place transdermals too shallow is due to a case in which a man with transdermal implants in his scalp suffered a life-threatening infection, resulting in erosion and loss of a significant portion of the bone in the area. At the time some maintained that this was due to the implant being placed too deep, but Samppa believes that in this case the infection was exasperated by improper implant design making it easier for bacteria to gain access to the body, coupled with inattention to the condition of the implant’s health.

Samppa has been using and monitoring his ITAP-inspired transdermal implants since July 2011, a number of them being done on clients with prior experience with his earlier implant designs. All have reported that the new implants heal faster, with less irritation and a lower incidence of infection. They are also much more securely anchored to the body, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand it means that they sit straight and true, are unlikely to reject, and can carry much more weight, but on the other hand, if they are struck, they will transfer much more force inward, unlike a transdermal or microdermal which sits only in the skin and thus is incapable of transferring significant force inward.


  • Getting transdermals will affect your lifestyle. For example, if you get implants in your head, you’re not going to be hitting any more soccer balls with your head, and if you ride a bike or motorcycle, you will need to adapt the helmet (you may need to use additional foam to build a recess to fit the implants into). There are many subtle and not-so-subtle ways that the implant will affect your life — due consideration and forethought is essential.
  • No matter how well placed and designed the implants are, it is not natural for your body to have a metal-filled channel providing access to microbes. Even after they are well healed, it is possible that you will find yourself getting yearly infections in the implants. These infections should not be ignored and will need to be treated.
  • It is likely that at some point in the future — most likely between five and fifteen years — you will need or choose to get the implants removed. Think about the fact that you are contemplating at least two surgical procedures.
  • It is important to be in the best possible health before your modification appointment in order to increase the likelihood of fast, trouble-free healing.
  • If your implants are visible, be prepared to have people approach you all the time. The majority will ask you the same questions over and over, and some of them will be negative. If you can’t cope with this type of public attention, transdermals may not be right for you.

(Using a Metal Mohawk to illustrate — other locations have their own similar but unique issues).

  • Immediately after your Metal Mohawk is finished, your head will be swollen and sore. You may experience headaches as the flesh tightens during healing (ibuprofen is helpful).
  • About a week later you may suffer from black eyes or puffy eyelids that feel heavy. This is due to the body producing excess lymph fluid around the implants, which drains down the face before dispersing throughout the body via the lymphatic system.
  • It is important that you change your pillowcase every two days to ensure that your head is not resting on a contaminated surface while you sleep. Until the wounds and stitches heal you may see a small amount of blood on the cloth in the morning.
  • Although most transdermals appear healed in two to four weeks, the actual internal healing process takes much longer — approximately one year. The healing can be “a bit of a roller-coaster”, with the implants looking fine one day, and bleeding for no apparent reason the next. It is extremely important that you monitor your body, be self-aware, and seek help immediately if you suspect anything is wrong. Do not forget the story of the individual who let an infection fester until it had eaten a one inch hole in his skull, exposing the brain, even though the skin above it was intact and looked normal.
  • You may experience some hypertrophic scarring during the first year, which can make the skin around the transdermal look like raw meat or a blister. Treating it with a paste made of crushed aspirin and sterile water can help reduce this.
  • During the first year of his healing, and for nearly five years afterwards, Samppa wore large, wide spikes. These were not only fashion — he believes that they helped the healing by slightly compressing the flesh to help the forming scar tissue stay flat, as well as acting as a covering that protected the point at which the transdermal passed through the skin from debris and dirt. The compression also helps to drain discharge out of the pocket around the implant.


  • As mentioned above, minor infections are not uncommon even in the best-healed transdermals that are kept scrupulously clean. Be conscious of the signs your body gives you and do not ignore them. These signs include redness, itching, heat, irritation, and puffiness. When they occur, Samppa recommends “Orange Easypiercing Spray” (a European mild anti-bacterial solution with active ingredients including alcohol, chlorhexidine digluconate, sodium hydroxide, citric acid, and BHT — similar products are available all over the world). He also screws smooth straight extension bars onto the posts in case of any swelling. If the infection has not disappeared within a week, or gets worse, a prescription for oral antibiotics should be obtained.
  • If you need to approach your doctor for antibiotics, be aware that they may never have seen transdermals before, may not understand how they work, and consequently may misinterpret the nature of your infection. There is a very good chance that may overreact and advise that the implants be removed. Alternately, they may prescribe a topical cream to treat surface irritation that will do little to deal with any deeper infection or may even make it worse. It is important that you stand your ground and insist on oral antibiotics to treat the infection. That said, if you or your doctor are seriously worried, you should be willing to go to the hospital without delay. In addition, any reputable body modification artist, whether they have worked on you or your implants or not, should be willing to advise you and give you their opinion.
  • In some cases the injectable liquid antibiotic Rifamycin can be of use. It should be applied by sliding the needle down the side of the transdermal post and injecting the solution just beneath the skin so it can act directly on the affected area. It should go without saying that this should only be done by those with appropriate experience and training.
  • When travelling abroad, it may be difficult to see a doctor if you need to (and you may incur excessive costs in doing so), yet this is precisely when an infection is most likely due both to the stress of travelling and to the fact that you are being exposed to foreign bacteria that your body is not used to defending against. When travelling you should always endeavour to bring both straight extension bars and oral antibiotics with you.
  • Wear extension bars when you fly, because the change in air pressure can cause your skin to swell. The extension bars ensure that the flesh is able to move freely and smoothly around the implants.
  • Take care to clean your transdermals thoroughly after swimming — especially in freshwater lakes which have the highest level of bacteria, but in pools and ocean as well. Sterile saline solution is best for cleaning, and this is especially true when travelling since tap water will contain local bacteria that your body has not adapted to.
  • This may sound silly, but don’t forget that a Metal Mohawk increases your height! Take care not to bang your head. Also, be vigilant around drunks, who have a tendency to grab or touch your unusual body modification — their intentions may be innocent, but an inebriated stranger whacking your implants is bad news!
  • The jewelry that threads into the implants does not enter the body, so it is not essential that it be made of implant-grade titanium like the transdermal. As long as it is not too heavy and you’re not allergic to the material, you can wear nearly anything you’d like. However, because it still comes in close contact with your skin, if you plan to wear it for a long period of time, hypoallergenic, high-grade materials are always recommended. Additionally, wearing rubber O-rings around the base of the transdermal is not recommended. Even though they may look good and seem to hide any scar tissue, rubber or plastic next to the skin increases sweating, which can attract grime and bacteria.
  • When the implants are finally removed, it is not as simple as reversing the procedure. Any incisions must be made following the skin’s Langer Lines (the direction in which the collagen fibres lay) to minimize scarring, and all scar tissue within the body needs to be excised before the wounds are sutured.

An example of custom transdermal jewelry ends made by Samppa.

An example of custom transdermal jewelry ends made by Samppa.

For more information, media requests, or to order jewelry or make an appointment to have transdermal implants done, please contact Samppa Von Cyborg c/o [email protected]


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Finally, as this article goes to print, Samppa Von Cyborg is setting out on a European Tour, offering not just transdermal implants, but magnetic implants and other implants (silicone skull implants, tiny ear implants, and more), tongue splitting, flesh stapling, ear pointing, repair of piercing scars and ear reconstruction, and all other forms of body modification — as well as educational seminars and blood painting! Again, get in touch via [email protected]

Samppa can also be found on Facebook at
The current dates for the European tour are as follows:

London, UK == 11th – 15th July
Paris, France == 15th – 18th July
Gruyere/Lausanne, Switzerland == 18th – 24th July
Lyon, France == 24th – 25th July
Freiburg, Germany == 26th July – 1st August
Mannheim, Germany == 1st – 4th August
Krakow, Poland == 5th – 15th August
Berlin, Germany == 15th – 22nd August
Hamburg, Germany == 22nd – 23rd August
Copenhagen, Denmark == 24th – 29th August
Amsterdam, Netherlands == 29th August
Haarlem, Netherlands == 30th August – 1st September
Belgium == 1st – 2nd September (not confirmed yet)
Paris, France == 2nd – 8th September
London, UK == 8th – 13th September (not confirmed yet)

After Europe, the 2012 tour continues into Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Puerto Rico, and then in 2013 heads into Australia and March.

Much of this tour is being done by car, so if you live between these cities, please get in touch because it’s easy to stop on the way, even if you live in a small town.

Blood Paintings by Samppa Von Cyborg. The painting on the left includes a self-portrait, and portraits of Lukas Zpira and Steve Haworth, two other pioneering body modification artists. The painting on the left is of Hunter S. Thompson.

Blood Paintings by Samppa Von Cyborg. The painting on the left includes a self-portrait, and portraits of Lukas Zpira and Steve Haworth, two other pioneering body modification artists. The painting on the left is of Hunter S. Thompson.

The Tongue-Drive System

(Editor’s note: This article will be published in the summer 2012 issue of The Point, the publication of the Association of Professional Piercers.  James Weber the article’s author, have given BME permission to publish this article for the continued education of professionals and body art enthusiasts. Enjoy.)

Late last February a rather curious news story made the rounds on Facebook and other social media sites and pop culture blogs. Various publications1 reported on an article2 about a project from Georgia Tech, one that enables a person with quadriplegia to control a wheelchair through the movement of the tongue by moving around a magnet worn in a tongue piercing. Piercers everywhere were sharing, reposting, and reblogging the article in a variety of places—including on my Facebook timeline. Fortunately, this was not news to me, as I’ve had the unique opportunity to be involved with the project as a consultant for several years. But after a dozen piercers forwarded me the article I realized it was time to write about my experience with the clinical trials of the Tongue Drive System.

In late October of 2009 I was contacted by Dr. Maysam Ghovanloo, Associate Professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Over the phone he explained the project that he was working on, titled in the research protocol Development and Translational Assessment of a Tongue-Based Assistive Neuro-Technology for Individuals with Severe Neurological Disorders. Simply, this is a system that allows persons with quadriplegia to perform a variety of computer-aided tasks—including operating their wheelchairs—by changing the position of a small magnet inside their mouths. The magnet’s changing position is monitored by a headpiece that looks like a double-sided, hands-free phone headset.

His team had, at that point, experimented with different ways to attach the magnet to the tongue with varying degrees of success. Adhesives were only effective for very short periods, and the idea of permanently implanting a magnet into the tongue was not considered a workable alternative.3 This left a third option suggested by Dr. Anne Laumann: attaching a magnet to the tongue with a tongue piercing.

He then came to the reason for his call: he asked if I would be interested in being involved in the clinical trials as a member of the Data Safety Monitoring Board. As I listened to him describe the details of my involvement, I thought about the incredible places my life as a piercer—and my job as an APP Board member—have brought me. I enthusiastically and without hesitation said “Yes!”

(Note: The article is pretty lengthy, so we’ve put a break here to same some space. Click the Read More button to continue)

For those not familiar with clinical trials (and I was not when I initially agreed to be involved with the study), the Data Safety Monitoring Board (or DSMB, alternately called a Data Monitoring Committee) is a group of experts, independent of the study researchers, who monitor test-subject safety during a clinical trial. The DSMB does this by reviewing the study protocol and evaluating the study data, and will often make recommendations to those in charge of the study concerning the continuation, modification, or termination of the trial. The inclusion of a DSMB is required in studies involving human participants as specified by the Common Rule,4 which is the baseline standard of ethics by which any government-funded research in the United States must abide. (The clinical trial is sponsored jointly by both the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health, but nearly all academic institutions hold their researchers to these statements of rights regardless of funding.)5

I was excited to be part of the project, and the following May I received the full details of the study. The clinical trial was to be performed in three phases, with three sets of participants. The first involved ten able-bodied individuals with existing tongue piercings. These participants were to test the hardware and software created by his team and to quantify the ability of those participants to operate the wheelchair with the specially-designed post6 in their tongue piercing. The second group consisted of ten able-bodied volunteers without tongue piercings. These participants were to be pierced, given time to let the piercings heal, and then monitored operating the Tongue Drive System. The third group of participants was to be a selection of thirty people with quadriplegia—without existing tongue piercings—who were to be pierced and then monitored while the piercing healed. Afterward, they were to be evaluated on their ability to operate a computer and navigate an electric wheelchair through an obstacle course using the magnetic tongue jewelry.

The study was to be conducted in two different locations: in Atlanta, at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Shepherd Center; and in Chicago, on the Northwestern Medical Center Campus and at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, with half of the participants in each phase of the study coming from each location. (Five from each city for the first two phases, fifteen from each for the last.) Drs. Maysam Ghovanloo and Michael Jones were to oversee the trials in Atlanta, and Drs. Anne Laumann and Elliot Roth were to oversee the trials in Chicago.

The DSMB charter specified the eight people who had been drafted to be part of the DSMB: The board chair is a professor of rehabilitation science and technology; one member is a director of a rehabilitation engineering research center; one a professor of rehabilitation medicine. There are two M.D.s: one a neurologist; one an associate professor of dermatology; two biostatisticians (one acting as study administrator); and me. Also included in the documents sent was the full study protocol. This document outlined the finer points of the study, including the protocol for tongue piercings to be performed by the doctors involved with the study. The email also specified the possible times of the first meeting of the DSMB, to be conducted via conference call.

As I participated in the conference call several weeks later it was hard not to feel I was out of my element. While I routinely lecture at several local universities, it’s been quite a while since I’ve been in academia. But I soon realized I was not there for my academic credentials but for my position and experience—and as a de facto authority on piercing. This I could do.

During that first meeting I expressed the concerns I had about the piercing protocol, specifically about physicians performing the piercings—physicians with little or no experience doing so. “Do any of the members on the research team have prior piercing experience?” I wrote. “Even though it is not a complicated procedure, it is better for doctors who are involved in this task to have prior experience with tongue piercing.”

I was told that the physician overseeing the piercings in Atlanta had performed at least thirty tongue piercings in his private practice. And although Dr. Laumann—who was responsible for the tongue piercings in Chicago—had no prior piercing experience, she had conducted extensive research on piercing and tattooing7 and had often observed professional piercers at work. (Furthermore, she is considered an expert among dermatologists in the field of piercing and tattooing.) While my concerns were addressed, I do remember feeling hesitant at the close of that meeting.

The second DSMB meeting was held six months later, in December of 2010. At this time the results of the first and second phases of the clinical trial were to be discussed. Before the meeting I was given information about the second study group and about the tongue piercing method performed at the Chicago location—and including images from both locations. From the images provided, I was concerned that the piercings performed by the physicians looked as if they were done by first-year piercing apprentices—which, in a way, they were.

Of the twenty-one study participants who received a tongue piercing, five were noted as complaining about the placement of the piercing, and three piercings resulted in embedded jewelry. Based on the photos I guessed this was because either the piercing had been placed too far back on the tongue or the length for initial jewelry was improper—or both. I pointed out to the committee this left only about 60% of the subjects who were both comfortable with the placement of the piercing (at least enough to not state the contrary to researchers) and who did not have problems with embedded jewelry. I stated I thought this was far too small a percentage to ensure the well-being of each research participant. Even though it was outside my role as a DSMB member, I further stated the results of the study may be affected by the improperly placed piercings, as more than a few of the study participants had taken out their jewelry and dropped out of the study within a few days of being pierced, saying they were either unhappy with the placement or found the position of the piercing uncomfortable.8

I went on to express concerns about the piercing protocols and to question whether piercers could perform these procedures instead of physicians. Unfortunately, I was told the parameters of the study, and the rules at the medical centers where the piercings were being performed, did not allow non-medical professionals to perform the piercing procedures.9

Despite my concerns, my suggestions and criticisms were well-received. Dr. Ghovanloo agreed to re-evaluate the piercing protocol and I offered him whatever help he needed. Most importantly, I got the impression the two doctors performing the piercings were somewhat humbled by the experience. While there was no doubt that these physicians have anatomical knowledge and surgical experience that far surpasses mine, they were quickly realizing this didn’t make them proficient piercers.

Several months after that conference call, I had the opportunity to finally meet Dr. Ghovanloo in person. The quarterly meeting of the APP’s board of directors was scheduled in Atlanta in February of 2010, and Dr. Ghovanloo arranged for me to meet some of the trial staff at the Shepherd Center. I had the sense he was excited as well, and he also arranged for the physician doing the piercings during the clinical trials in Atlanta to be there: Dr. Arthur Simon. As I was at a board meeting with Elayne Angel (the APP’s then-Medical Liaison, current President, and resident expert on tongue piercings), I asked about having her attend as well. He readily agreed.

When Elayne and I arrived we were greeted by Shepherd staff member and study coordinator Erica Sutton, and we were soon led to our meeting with Dr. Ghovanloo and Dr. Simon. Compared to the necessary formality of the DSMB meetings, it was a friendly and relaxed meeting. Dr. Ghovanloo and his colleagues were somewhat starstruck by Elayne (she often does that to people) especially since her book, The Piercing Bible, was used so extensively in drafting the trial piercing protocols.

As we talked about the clinical trials, it was hard to not be affected by Dr. Ghovanloo’s enthusiasm for the project. We spoke at length about the issues the doctors encountered when performing the piercings. Doctor Simon in particular was humbled after his experience. “How do you hold those little balls to screw on?” he asked at one point during the several hours we met, a little exasperated and only half joking. I can’t speak for Elayne, but I left with an immense respect for Dr. Ghovanloo, his staff, and the whole project. I also left with the impression that they had a lot more knowledge of—and a little more respect for—what we do as well.

Since that time, stage three of the clinical trials has already taken place. I’ve been informed by Dr. Ghovanloo that the third and final meeting of the DSMB will be scheduled in the coming weeks. In fact, trials are being planned using a new prototype that allows users to wear a dental retainer on the roof of their mouth embedded with sensors to control the system (instead of the headset),10 with the signals from these sensors wirelessly transmitted to an iPod or iPhone. Software installed on the iPod then determines the relative position of the magnet with respect to the array of sensors in real time, and this information is used to control the movements of a computer cursor or a powered wheelchair.

I’m looking forward to hearing when the project is out of the trial phase and more widely available to all who can use it. When that happens, I’m sure I’ll be hearing from Dr. Ghovanloo—and seeing the news again posted on Facebook.

More information about the current trials can be found on the Shepherd Center’s web site:




3 Unlike implants under the skin, the tongue has no “pockets” in which to encase a foreign object, and there was also concern about the need to remove the magnet for surgeries and MRIs.


5 The history of research ethics in the country is simultaneously fascinating and shameful. Most of the modern rules now in place concerning clinical trials in the U.S. are as a result of the public outcry over the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, a study that ran for four decades, from 1932 and 1972, in Tuskegee, Alabama. This clinical trial was conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service and was set up to study untreated syphilis in poor, rural black men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government. The study was terminated only after an article in the New York Times brought it to the attention of the public. More information about the history of research ethics can be found here:

6 In one of my early conversations with Dr. Ghovanloo I gave him the name of several manufacturers who I thought would be willing and/or able to make the jewelry needed for the trials. Barry Blanchard from Anatometal came through by manufacturing special barbells with a magnet encased in a laser-welded titanium ball fixed on top. Blue Mountain Steel also donated the barbells and piercing supplies for the initial piercings.

7 Dr. Laumann has co-written several published papers on body piercing and tattooing. The most recent is titled, “Body Piercing: Complications and Prevention of Health Risks.”

8 Dr. Ghovanloo and the other physicians had suggestions for the reasons for the high dropout rate among healthy subjects. In response to an early draft of this article, he wrote, “We simply lost contact with a few subjects after piercing, and cannot say for sure what their motivation was in participating in the trial and consequently dropping out after receiving the piercing.” Dr. Laumann, commenting on the Chicago site, wrote, “We prescreened thirty-two volunteers. Ten of these were screened and consented. Three of these were ineligible due to a short lingual frenulum, or ‘tongue web.’ This would have made the use of the TDS impracticable and for research it would have been considered inappropriate to cut the lingual frenulum. We pierced seven subjects and—you are correct—our first subject dropped out related to embedding of the jewelry and pain on the first day. After that we were careful to measure the thickness of the tongue and insert a barbell that allowed for 6.35 mm (1/4 inch) of swelling. Otherwise drop-outs came much later during the TDS testing phase related to scheduling and unrelated medical issues. One of the subjects, a piercer herself, was particularly pleased with the procedure, the tract placement and the appearance.”

9 Though the protocols did not allow the procedure to be conducted by non-medical personnel, Gigi Gits, from Kolo, was present during one of the phase-two health subject’s piercings and Bethra Szumski, from Virtue and Vice, was able to offer advice at the first phase-three piercing session in Atlanta.

10 Dr. Laumann: “The problem with headgear is that it needs to be removed at night, which means that the disabled individual cannot do anything in the morning until the headset is replaced and the TDS recalibrated. With secure intra-oral sensors, recalibration will not be necessary in the morning, nor will the sensors slip during use, which gives the wearer a great degree of independence. Of course, a dental retainer takes up space in the mouth and this may be difficult with a barbell in place.”

Help out the youngest member of the BME family. Get a limited edition 2012 BME Classic Logo t-shirt. Read all the details here.

ModBlog News of the Week: February 24th, 2012

Another week has come and gone.  The weekend is just about here, but before it can start there’s just one more piece of business left to take care of… the news of the week.  After last week’s lengthy catch-up post, this week is is a little light on stories, but it does have some interesting ones.

First up is a story that could be considered a follow-up.  I recall a story last year about some scientists who were developing a way for people with spinal cord injuries to move around, using only a tongue stud.  Well since then they’ve created a number of test models, and they’re being used in trials right now.

The Tongue Drive System is getting less conspicuous and more capable. Tongue Drive is a wireless device that enables people with high-level spinal cord injuries to operate a computer and maneuver an electrically powered wheelchair simply by moving their tongues.  The newest prototype of the system allows users to wear an inconspicuous dental retainer embedded with sensors to control the system. The sensors track the location of a tiny magnet attached to the tongues of users. In earlier versions of the Tongue Drive System, the sensors that track the movement of the magnet on the tongue were mounted on a headset worn by the user.  “By moving the sensors inside the mouth, we have created a Tongue Drive System with increased mechanical stability and comfort that is nearly unnoticeable,” said Maysam Ghovanloo, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

In recent months, Ghovanloo and his team have recruited 11 individuals with high-level spinal cord injuries to test the headset version of the system at the Atlanta-based Shepherd Center and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Trial participants received a clinical tongue piercing and tongue stud that contained a tiny magnet embedded in the upper ball. They repeated two test sessions per week during a six-week period that assessed their ability to use the Tongue Drive System to operate a computer and navigate an electric wheelchair through an obstacle course.  “During the trials, users have been able to learn to use the system, move the computer cursor quicker and with more accuracy, and maneuver through the obstacle course faster and with fewer collisions,” said Ghovanloo. “We expect even better results in the future when trial participants begin to use the intraoral Tongue Drive System on a daily basis.”

How different is a clinical tongue piercing from a normal tongue piercing?  Also, it should be noted that Anatometal is contributing to this endeavor, which means that when they do go into production, the jewelry used for the stud will undoubtedly be high quality.

Now a weekly news roundup wouldn’t be complete without some criminal activity, and this week we’ve hit a new low.

Police said a man traded tattoos, piercings and marijuana with at least five teenage girls in exchange for nude photos.  The father of two of the girls said his daughters met Ford through a mutual friend. He told Channel 11′s Timyka Artist that Ford would leave cash under a rock for the girls after they sent him the photos. Other times he would pierce and tattoo them.  The girls’ father, who did not want to be identified, said his daughters are now being tested because he suspects that Ford reused needles.   “It was never in a professional place, always some seedy situation,” he said.

Allegheny County police said the five teenage victims are from Brentwood Middle School between the ages of 12 and 14 years old.

12-14.  Something tells me that if this guy is found guilty, he’ll have a lot of friends in prison.

Moving on, 3News from New Zealand has a story about Dr. Reverend who uses a pretty unique medium for his art..  his own blood.

Five years ago the Sydney tattooist, Dr Reverend, was getting regular blood tests because of liver problems when the inspiration to paint with blood struck him for the first time.  “The down side was I got such a kick out of it I did another one and thought ‘I wonder if I can run it through an airbrush’,” he says.  “I  could get my blood to run one of these like paint and after that there was no turning back”.

And so at the Melbourne tattoo convention the doctor took things to their logical extreme and connected an IV line and painted straight from his body.

Here’s a link to the video of the interview, which includes footage of him painting directly from his vein.

While we’re on the subject of blood, The Vancouver Sun has done an extensive feature of scarification, including a video of a scarification in progress.

Women have long gone under the knife for the sake of beauty. A growing trend in body modification, however, is now seeing them do so in the name of art.  Unlike tattoos, which use needles to create a permanent design, scarification involves carving patterns into the flesh with a scalpel. And to hear it from industry insiders, an estimated 60 to 70 per cent of those being cut aren’t countercultural thrill-seekers but rather professional women, ages 25 to 50, desiring something more understated than traditional ink.  “It can produce the same type of image as a tattoo but it’s a lot more subtle and less aggressive,” says Keith Kennedy, a Calgary scarification artist for the past eight years.

Few scarification artists advertise their services out of fear this “grey area” of body modification will be made illegal in Canada. A handful, however, are working directly with medical and health officials – Calgary’s Kennedy included – to demonstrate that, when done correctly, this unique art form is legitimate and safe.  Dr. Mariusz Sapijaszko, past president of the Canadian Society for Dermatologic Surgery, is among the doctors who’ve observed scarification firsthand.  “Based on the medical school training that I received, we viewed scarification as a form of self-mutilation rather then body art,” says Sapijaszko, who practices in Edmonton. “(But) I found the scarification artists to be extremely skilled in design, planning and execution of the scarification process. They were meticulous in their technique and obviously had tremendous experience.”

The doctor’s foremost caution is that nobody undertake the process lightly, noting the potential for infection, uneven scarring, keloids (rubbery lesions often accompanied by pain or itchiness) and social embarrassment.  “It’s critical that the artist is an expert,” says Sapijaszko. “The results, bad or good, are permanent.”

An in today’s final story, a study by dermatologists at Northwestern University has resulted in 9 steps to prepare your body for a piercing.

To stay safe, the paper describes these points to consider before getting your body pierced.

1. Know your infection risk: If you currently have an infection or an open wound, it’s a good idea to put off the piercing until you are healthy. Risk of infection is higher — especially if the piercer is poorly trained and working in an unsterile environment or using unclean equipment — or if the wound doesn’t heal properly.

2. Be aware of medical issues: If you have health problems, such as poorly controlled diabetes or other conditions that weaken your immune system, your chances of infection are higher and piercing is riskier.

3. Factor in lifestyle. A nose ring when you’re 20 may look cool, but it may not be so hip or accepted at 30 in some workplaces. If you’re planning to remove piercings frequently to conceal them at work or from your family, this may increase your chances of infection. It may also lengthen healing time of newly pierced skin. If you play a contact sport and your piercings are in an area where they might rip or the jewelry can snag on clothing, this may injure the skin.

It goes on, but you get the idea.  For most of us, it’s general knowledge (with the exception of the “coolness” factor), however for a lot of people these tips could end up being very helpful.  Ideally it’ll encourage people to stop going to mall kiosks to have their lobes pierced with a gun.

Well, that’s it for this week.  Have a great weekend, and remember to e-mail me those news stories you come across.

ModBlog News of the Week: December 16th, 2011

Alright, so the year is almost at an end and I was thinking to myself, I didn’t really do a year-end news post last year.  So this year I’m going to rectify that.  However, in order to do so, I’m going to need your help.  Take a look through the newsfeed archive for the past year, and then send me an e-mail with what you think are the top stories of the year.  It could be one, it could be more, that’s up to you.  Then, for the last news post of the year, I’ll do a re-cap of the stories that you thought were the most important ones.  Was it TLC’s failed attempt at a “Tattoo School” show?  Mike Tyson’s tattoo artist nearly preventing Hangover 2 from being released?  Rick Genest (Zombie Boy) becoming the muse to Lady Gaga’s stylist?  You tell me.  Of course, don’t forget to keep sending me those links to other stories that you think should be included in the weekly news.

Alright, let’s get things started with a bang this week.  The big story is out of Indonesia where police raided a punk concert in an effort to crack down on tattooed and pierced teenagers.

Police in Indonesia’s most conservative province raided a punk-rock concert and detained 65 fans, buzzing off their spiky mohawks and stripping away body piercings because of the perceived threat to Islamic values.  Dog-collar necklaces and chains also were taken from the youths before they were thrown in pools of water for “spiritual” cleansing, local police chief Iskandar Hasan said.  After replacing their “disgusting” clothes, he handed each a toothbrush and barked “use it.”  The crackdown marked the latest effort by authorities to promote strict moral values in Aceh, the only province in this secular but predominantly Muslim nation of 240 million to have imposed Islamic laws.

Though pierced and tattooed teens have complained for months about harassment, Saturday’s roundup at a concert attended by more than 100 people was by far the biggest and most dramatic bust yet.  Baton-wielding police scattered fans, many of whom had travelled from other parts of the sprawling archipelagic nation to attend the show.  Hasan said 59 young men and five women were loaded into vans and brought to a police detention centre 60 kilometres from the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.  They would spend 10 days getting rehabilitation, training in military-style discipline and religious classes, including Koran recitation, he said. Afterward, they’ll be sent home.

Hasan insisted he’d done nothing wrong.  “We’re not torturing anyone,” the police chief said. “We’re not violating human rights. We’re just trying to put them back on the right moral path.”  However, Nur Kholis, a national human commissioner, deplored the detentions, saying police have to explain what kinds of criminal laws have been broken.  “Otherwise, they violated people’s right of gathering and expression,” Kholis said, promising to investigate.

It should be noted that the province where this occurred is unique in Indonesia for being strict adherents to Sharia law.  The rest of the country, while predominantly Muslim, practice a moderate form of their faith.  I’m personally a little concerned as to what they may do to those kids who are tattooed.  It’s easy to shave someone’s head and rip out piercings, it’s something else entirely to remove a tattoo.  The linked article above has a few more photos of what happened.  Now I try not to be political when it comes to the news, however this is a prime example of why the church and state need to be completely separate. And it doesn’t matter what religion it is either.  The moment one group’s religious beliefs are imposed upon another, and backed by the government, is the the same moment that things like this become acceptable. The reason I’m mentioning this is because in North America there is a strong anti-Sharia law movement taking place, which is backed by people who want their own religion put in place as the state-sponsored religion, without realizing that they’re protesting against the very thing they want.  Leave the government to the crooks and liars, and let people determine their own religious (or non-religious) beliefs.

Ok, that’s enough moralizing from me.  There’s more news to come, so keep on reading.

So while we’re still on the subject of people imposing their beliefs on others, a woman in Vietnam has gone to the police after her employer tattooed centipedes on her face and chest.

A worker at a Vietnamese cafe said the owner forced her to get centipede tattoos on her face and bosom for a suspected affair with the owner’s husband.  Police in Vung Tau City were investigating Nguyen Thuy Ngoc’s claim that Nguyen Thi Anh, who owns the Mo Neo cafe, shaved Ngoc’s head and forced her to get a centipede tattooed on her face and two others on her chest because of a suspected affair between Ngoc and Ahn’s husband, Pham The Phong, Tuoi Tre News reported.

Ngoc, 20, said Anh, 33, had asked her why she had an affair with her husband and beat her Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 at the cafe.  Ngoc said she came to Vung Tau in April 2008 to work for Anh at her cellphone shop but Anh later opened a cafe and forced her to work there.  Ngoc returned to her home in Nghe An province’s Nghi Loc district Nov. 28 and told her mother, Tran Thi Hoa, of her treatment. The mother reported it to police in Nghe An and Vung Tau.  Vung Tau police questioned Anh and Phong and the couple told police they had hired Ngoc at the cafe but she quit over conflicts between her and Anh.

Here’s what I don’t get.  It says she was beat at work on the 26th and 27th.  You’d think she wouldn’t want to go into work the next day after that happened.  This is the reason Jen and I live in different cities, I know that if we lived closer together she’d try to beat me up as often as she could.

Now it’s one thing to have your boss tattoo you, it’s another to have your boss tell you what kind of tattoos you can and can’t get.  Now if your boss is the Major League Baseball Association, that’s exactly what they just did.

The Associated Press reports the new labor deal will result in a four-day All-Star break by 2013, with the game being played on a Wednesday instead of a Tuesday, and it will allow teams in the same division to meet in the playoffs before the league championship series.

Among other new stipulations:

  • Teams must provide individual rooms during spring training for all players on the 40-man roster, instead of having some of them room together.
  • Players who want to change uniform number while on the same team will be required to give eight-months’ notification.
  • Players will not be allowed to display tattoos with corporate logos.

According to the new CBA, a copy of which was obtained by AP, “no player may have any visible markings or logos tattooed on his body” as part of the uniform regulations.  “Just trying to head something off at the pass,” said Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive vice president for labor relations.

I guess this means we won’t be seeing any Golden Palace tattoos on anyone’s forehead next summer.

It’s time now for this week’s common sense awards.  First up is a young woman who was rushed to hospital after swallowing some magnets.  The catch, the magnets are being marketed as “fake piercings“.

One of Cameron Miller’s friends recently gave her magnetic jewelry. The super magnets are often marketed to teens because they’re meant to look like piercings.  “Everybody has them at school. Everybody brings them every day and they wear them until the teacher says take them out,” Miller said.  But the 13-year-old accidently swallowed the seemingly harmless tiny pieces of metal.  “I had one on my lip and I took a drink. I forgot I had them in. I swallowed them,” she said.

Miller, a softball player, went on to play in a game later that day and didn’t give the magnets much more thought until she started to feel sick a couple days later.  Perry Miller said blood work showed her daughter developed a blood infection. Then an x-ray revealed four magnets in a row stuck together inside the teen’s intestines.  She was rushed to Cook Children’s Medical Center for surgery after two of the magnets tore a hole in her colon.

Now I remember an article a while back about kids using bucky balls to achieve the same look, and the same thing happened.  Of course instead of realizing this was pretty horrible, someone had the bright idea to start selling them as jewelry.

Our other winner this week is a man who was able to write his own headline after tattooing “No Regrets” on a 14-year-old girl.

A COURT heard yesterday a man regretted tattooing “No regrets” on a 14-year-old girl’s shoulder.  Allan Fenton had no licence to give tattoos but ran a word-of-mouth business from his home in Dundee.  The 24-year-old’s Bebo page features dozens of tattoos he has done.  Fenton, who charged the girl £25, was caught when police and council licensing bosses swooped on his home.  They found surgical tape and gloves, rolls of cling film, five tattooing machines, a tattooing table and arm rests in his bedroom.

Alan Lyle, defending, said: “The tattoo was only two inches long, but he regrets this.”

So congratulations to both the tattoo artist and the company making these magnets for piercings.  Thanks to their lack of common sense, I had two stories to include this week.

So there’s been a lot of doom and gloom this week, and I’ve got one more, but after that things take a brighter turn.

The Canadian government is searching for ways to keep up with the body modification community.  While inspectors are trying to get to every shop, they have no idea on how to handle surgical modifications, which is resulting in a lot of conflicting information.  The result is the government is contemplating following in Winnipeg’s steps and outlawing anything that isn’t piercing or tattoos.

Public health authorities across Canada are struggling to address the growing popularity of body modifications such as splitting one’s tongue like a snake’s and surgically altering ears to make them elf-like and pointy, fearing the spread of infection in an unregulated industry.  Last Wednesday, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s board of health received a report warning that one can suffer a “serious or possibly life-threatening consequence” while undergoing one of these surgical-like procedures in a “non-clinical” environment where there’s a higher threat of contracting HIV or hepatitis B and C. Scarification, which is effectively carving or branding an image into your skin, and suspension, which involves being hung from the ceiling on hooks lodged into your back, are among the more common forms of extreme body modification happening in tattoo and piercing shops across the country who often yield to squeamish health inspectors who judge before they do their work, body modifiers say.

Since the new budget came down, they’ve been able to inspect 175 of the 230 personal service settings, which include anything from body modification to acupuncture, she said — a 136% increase in inspections, which were far rarer with a smaller staff.  But even so, it’s tough to find those performing body modifications because these artists freelance or do their branding and tongue splitting after hours or at home, Ms. Kearns said. Personal service settings don’t require a license and so many inspectors depend on new establishments to tell them about any body modification they’d be doing. But that’s not required by law.  “We’d inspected a premise we’re aware of that’s low risk and then suddenly they bring in an artist who is doing more procedures and elevating the risk,” she said. “It’s very difficult, from our perspective.”

Winnipeg is one of the only places in Canada to outright ban body modification beyond tattoos and piercings. As of June 2008, the city outlawed scarification and implants after people from the industry voiced concerns about body modifiers that were alleged to have spread disease through their practices, said Pat Masterton, public health inspection coordinator for Winnipeg.  “I think the people who wanted to be reputable operators and run proper businesses carrying on sanitary processes wanted to make sure the whole industry was not going to be labelled because someone out there was doing something that was going to be causing infection,” she said.

This is an important story to read for all Canadians, not just those who get implants, scars, etc.  As you can see in the opening paragraph, they include suspension as one of the activities they’re investigating.  Without significant input from the community Canada may be facing legislation that could outlaw extreme modifications, as well as suspension.

Moving on, a study in Australia has revealed some interesting information when it comes to the tattooed population.

According to a study by La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) a greater proportion of women aged 20 to 29 are the most tattooed Australians, with almost one in three sporting a tattoo, whereas in the older age groups tattoos were more common among men.  Tattooing appears to have moved into mainstream society, with roughly one in seven Australian adults reporting having been tattooed. Despite the recent gentrification of tattooing, tattoos still appear to be associated with risk-taking behaviour in adults.

‘Having been tattooed also correlated with certain risk-taking behaviours, most notably smoking, cannabis use, and greater numbers of lifetime sexual partners. Associations between tattooing and risk-taking behaviour have also been reported in studies among adults and adolescents,’ says Professor Marian Pitts, Director of ARCSHS.  ‘Although the direction of the relationship between tattooing and risk-taking behaviour in adults is not currently known, it may be that in some groups tattooing still represents and is associated with resistance and rebellion towards more conservative parts of society.’

More recently however, in a 2007 review authors found the most common reasons mentioned in the literature related to embellishments of the body, art, fashion, and individuality.  Tattooing was popular among men who had not finished secondary school, tradesmen, and women who did not live with their partners, whereas men and women who had completed postsecondary education were less likely to have a tattoo. Similar findings relating to education attainment were also reported in the U.S. national study.  ‘Furthermore, tattooing does not appear to be confined to certain subpopulations, with men and women in every demographic reporting having tattoos,’ says Professor Pitts.

So basically it’s telling us what we already knew.  Tattoos aren’t just for sailors, bikers, and prostitutes any more.  Unless of course 1 in 3 Australian women between 20-29 are actually prostitutes.

In a nice and heart warming story, a Quebec couple has gotten matching tattoos.  That on its own wouldn’t be so special, however the tattoo is of an insulin pump, identical to the one their son has implanted in him.

Some parents get tattoos of their child’s name, but Philippe Aumond and Camille Boivin went one better.  In a show of solidarity, they each have an image of an insulin pump tattooed on their abdomens, declaring that they are “forever linked” to their son Jacob.  “It is a great thing for him, and we were thrilled just to see his smile when he saw those pumps. It made our day, that’s for sure,” said Boivin, 36, from the family’s home in La Sarre, Que.

A while back, Jacob, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 3 ½, was excited by the idea of getting an insulin pump that would replace four to five injections a day, and he figured it would be like having his own little robot working for him.  When it was delivered, he was “just like a kid on Christmas Eve with his gift,” and even slept with it before it was plugged into him, said Boivin.  Jacob is now five and in kindergarten, and he wears it 24-7.  “He adapted pretty quick, but one time he told me that he felt different and he was wondering if he was alone in the world, you know, wearing a pump,” Boivin said.

She explained to him that every child is different — some wear glasses, others are in wheelchairs, some have blue eyes, others have brown eyes.  “So he got that, but still, you know, he is a kid. He was four at the time, so he wants to be like everybody else,” Boivin explained.  “Before we had the pump, I think the way he felt is that having shots was just a little part of his day and nobody had to know. But then now, he was wearing a pump, and people could see it and people were asking questions and I think that’s what bothered him a little bit. So he felt really alone.”  She and Aumond decided to get tattoos of the pump, “because no parents want to have their child feel left out or alone.”

See.  Heart-warming.  Now, is it dusty in here, because I have something in my eye.

Alright, today’s last story is either going to be cool or horrific.  It all depends on how you react to the following photo.

As a symbol of wealth and harmony, the goldfish is a popular tattoo. But in a craze sweeping China, goldfish are themselves being inked with patterns and characters intended to being their owners good fortune. The tattoos are said to be the result of an injection which takes half a year to form. Other methods use lasers. Tattooed fish first appeared on the market in 2005 and have become very popular in the past year or two. The technique is not without its critics, however, who claim it is not only cruel, but against the laws of nature.

Like I said.  To some people, having a goldfish with a specially designed symbol on them would be pretty cool.  To others, it’s animal cruelty.  It all depends on how you feel about tattooing fish.

Well, that’s it for this week’s news.  We’ll see you back here next week for a special holiday edition, and then it’ll only be one week to go before the BME NYE Party!  Hopefully I’ll see a lot of you there.  You can find out more about the event right here.  As well as the event page on IAM.

Oh, and don’t forget to e-mail me the stories you think were the best this year.

Reach out and touch faith

Magnets!  How do they work?  It must be magic, or something else.  Remember to have faith in your body modification artist, for they can do incredible things.  You know, like make a zombie finger magnetic.

This discreet magnet implant was done by Damien Kenny from Outer Rim BodyMod in Nanimo, BC

The BMEShop is having a sale right now!


Just use the code 30offbme when you check out!

How do they work?!

Well, if the science behind magnets confuses you, Nilrem is here to help you explain just how these miracles work.

The magnets themselves are a couple of years old, but recently Nilrem went to visit Tom C from Broadway Tattoo Lounge in South Amboy, NJ to get the magnetic fields added.  What’s great is that instead of just getting black lines, he ended up getting blue UV ink.  And with UV ink comes the obligatory black light photo.

You can see how fresh they are by the little splashes of ink that haven’t been cleaned up yet.

So not only is he showing how magnets work, he’s also showing off even more sciencey goodness with the UV ink.

ModBlog News of the Week: June 10th, 2011

I’m going to start this week’s news with a story that I’m sure you’ve all heard of by now.  The reason I know most of you have read it?  I received more e-mails about this story than any other one to date.  Heck even Rachel e-mailed me about it.  Then I got an even larger number of e-mails when it was revealed that the entire story was faked.

A video of a woman having her 152 Facebook friends tattooed on her arm has been unmasked as a hoax after it became a viral hit around the world.  A woman in the Netherlands claimed to have created a permanent reminder of all her Facebook friends and posted a video YouTube that got over 1.5 million views.  But the bizarre stunt was revealed to be a fake after the supposed tattoo artist admitted it was just a temporary tattoo.

Lots of news this week, including a couple of follow-ups to previous stories, and the return of the celebrity news (well, maybe just one or two stories).

As I mentioned, today has a number of follow-up stories, and this first one is pretty big.  Over the past year I’ve linked to articles discussing Ariana Iocono.  If you recall, Ariana was the student in North Carolina who was suspended for refusing to remove a small stud from her nose on the grounds that she’s a member of the Church of Body Modification.  This week the school board finally backed off Ariana and allowed her to return to school, piercing and all.  The Washington Post summed up the full series of events, and even talked to one IAM: TrickyDick, about the church and Ariana.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Iacono and her mother in the case, said the settlement was a vindication of the family’s right to determine its own religious practice.  “We’ve believed from the beginning that the Constitution protects a parent’s right to direct his or her child’s religious upbringing,” said ACLU Legal Director Katy Parker. “We’re very happy with the settlement.”

Under the terms of the resolution, Iacono can wear the nose stud as long as she remains a member of the Church of Body Modification, a little-known religious group that claims about 3,500 adherents nationwide and considers practices like tattooing and body piercing to be elements of spiritual practice.

The Iaconos and their Raleigh-based minister, Richard Ivey, said part of the problem last fall was that school officials dismissed the Church of Body Modification faith as not a real religion.  “Obviously we’d like them to apologize, but we’ve been tied up in court with this for months now, so quite honestly, we’ll take what we can get,” Ivey said. “This was always about Ariana’s right to go to school and practice her religion, and she’s got both those things now.”

I think it’s great that the ACLU not only got on board with this, but they were able to get a resolution.  Although I’m still puzzled as to how a nostril stud somehow makes it impossible for all the students to learn something.

Last week I linked to a story from Thailand about the government’s plan to ban tourists from getting religious symbols tattooed.  This week a group of tattoo artists went before the cultural ministry and pleaded their case.

The meeting came after Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat said he would seek to ban Thai tattoo artists from using images sacred to Buddhism or any other religion in their patterns.  The tattoo artists at the meeting said they understood the problem, but urged the government to use persuasion rather than new laws to tackle the problem.  They pointed out that it is not only in Thailand that people can get tattoos featuring religious symbols, so bringing in a law in Thailand to ban such tattoos would not solve the problem of people being offended at seeing the face of the Buddha or Ghanesh tattooed on someone’s body.  They advocated cooperation between tattoo artists and the government as preferable to the imposition of controls.

The assembled tattoo artists agreed to make no religious tattoos lower than the recipient’s waist, and to make sure the customer understands the image’s significance before starting work.  Ministry man Mr Somchai agreed that legislation might not be the answer – though he did not rule it out – but said that the ministry felt it had to discuss the matter with the tattoo artists so that everyone was on the same page.  “A law might be ineffective in stopping this practice, but the artists must be ethical. They must educate their customers and not [tattoo religious images on] improper areas [of the body],” he said.  The tattoo artists also asked that the government provide them with some sort of professional licence to distinguish them from the amateurs. Mr Somchai said, “I accept your proposal and I will discuss it with the relevant authorities in the Ministry of Commerce, Public Health and Culture.”

While these artists are looking to get licensed, artists in Toronto are possibly facing the possibility of being licensed as well.  Normally I only link to one article, but because I know some of the people involved I’ve got a couple of different links for you to check out.  The first link is from the CBC, discussing the potential legislation.

Toronto Health wants to license the city’s spas and tattoo parlours.  Health Canada provides what’s called infection control guidelines and cities have to inspect all spas and tattoo parlours once a year. But outside of these annual inspections, it’s a self-regulating industry and Toronto Public Health has decided that’s not good enough.

Under the proposed licensing rule, studios and parlours would have to be registered before they can open.  Owners would also be required to post the results of their inspections inside the store, as restaurants have to do now.  Proposed licensing rules are welcome news to Ian Nicolae, owner of Black Line studio, a tattoo parlour on King Street West.  “We’ve seen a lot of fly-by-night shops that open up for the busy season such as the summertime,” he told CBC News. “There should be some sort of regulation to filtrate the bad shops from the good.”

Greg Taylor of Lucky 13 tattoos and piercings on Bloor Street said he’s hopeful the new rules are not simply intended to fill the city’s coffers.  “Are they doing it for a money grab? I hope not,” said Greg Taylor. “I hope they care that they want to do this because I think most reputable shops want to do it.”

Now the way the city handles tattoo studios presently is that they’re mandated by Health Canada to meet certain health and safety guidelines.  Each studio that is registered with Health Canada is supposed to receive an annual inspection.  What the proposed legislation does is require studios to pay an annual licensing fee.  That’s it.  Licensed studios won’t receive any further inspections beyond the Health Canada inspections.  Jesse Kline at the National Post summed up a lot of the concerns in this commentary.

Indeed, licensing schemes usually produce negative health and safety outcomes. This is because licensing standards are often arbitrary and give people a false sense of security. They also make it more costly for people to enter the industry legitimately, something we should be trying to make easier while recovering from a recession. The result is that more people end up performing services on the black market to avoid the licensing fees.

Because tattooing equipment can be obtained fairly easily and with relatively little cost, many tattoo artists already perform their craft in basements and garages. But there is a real risk of transmitting infectious diseases if tattooing is performed with unsterilized equipment. It is, therefore, far better to have them done in reputable facilities, rather than driving the industry underground by imposing new fees and standards.

In fact, the only groups that generally benefit from professional licensing are the industries that are being licensed and the governments that are collecting the revenues. Most new licensing programs grandfather existing practitioners and serve to prevent new entrants from competing against them. It is also a nice way to get around the city’s inability to levy taxes on goods and services. “Why, it’s not a tax. It’s a license. And we’re doing it for you.”

Finally an artist I know well, George Brown from Seven Crowns Tattoo, went on CBC radio to discuss the legislation, where he talks about the incident that may have led to this sudden push for licensing, the impact it will have on clean established shots, whether this is just a cash grab by the city, and how this won’t prevent people who are already dodging inspections from being caught.  Personally I agree completely with George in his belief that this may just be a cash grab for the city.  While licensing sounds good on paper, when it comes to implementing it, what will be the conditions to receive a license?  Will artists have to provide portfolios of the quality of their work, or do they simply need to show up and state “I’m a tattoo artist”?  Will the new law increase the number of inspections (something most studios have no problem with), or will it simply be a piece of paper stating they agree to have the already mandated health inspection take place? The thing to take from this is that reputable studios are all for making things safer, they just don’t like the idea of having to pay money when there is no benefit given.

Moving on, a new Guinness record was possibly set earlier in the week.  The record Staysha Randall was aiming to break was the most number of piercings done in one sitting.  With Bill Robinson and SwingShift SideShow’s Jenn O. Cide performing the piercings, they were aiming for 3600 needles, but stopped at 3200 when Staysha finally tapped out.

For this was not the finishing touches of a tattoo for Las Vegas performer Staysha Randall but a bid to break the record for the most body piercings in a single sitting.  Staysha, 22, who performs in shows across the strip, was attempting to have 3 600 piercings in her back, arms and legs but decided enough was enough after 3 200 had been put in at Inktoxicated Tattoos in the Nevada city.  Helping in her bid was body piercer Bill “Danger” Robinson and his piercing assistant “Jenn O Cide”. The record attempt is still awaiting confirmation by the Guinness Book of Records before it becomes official.

Coincidentally (well probably not) this week was also the annual APP convention.  I’m sure the stories of debauchery are already making the rounds, as are photos of the convention making their way to the BME Galleries, but for today we look at things through the lens of the mainstream with this article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

But for many of the exhibitors at the annual Association of Professional Piercers conference at Bally’s, terms such as “upscale,” “mainstream” and even “organic” punctuated the sales pitches more often than “extreme.” The conference, with about 900 attendees, focuses many of its seminars on health issues, but also covers business issues.  The market for body jewelry has now matured to the point where vendors find a significant demand for $150 hand-carved wooden gauges — large discs used to stretch holes in the ear lobes — instead of just plain metal rings that go for $30. Other types of body jewelry have followed the trend.

Although the show focused on body piercings rather than tattoos, the two are almost synonymous to many consumers, an exhibitor said.  The sector has also started to follow the classic path of pushing up a product’s price by added aesthetics instead of just remaining plain and functional, said Sim.  Further, some of the people who started decorating themselves when they were young are now sprouting gray hair.  “The whole business has changed in the last 10 years,” said Scott Collins, who started Body Gems in Feasterville, Penn., in 1994 and has turned the business over to son, Josh.

While Vegas was a party city this week, over in the UK things were definitely not in a celebratory mood for Mike Prentice, owner of Andy Jay Tattoo Studio in Rochester.  Understandably so, as an online rumor is threatening his entire business.

A tattooist fears his business could be ruined by a smear campaign wrongly accusing his studio of infecting more than 100 people with HIV.  Worried customers of Rochester’s Andy Jay Tattoo Studios have been rushing for emergency tests at Medway Maritime Hospital as malicious rumours spread like wildfire across the Towns.  Owner Mike Prentice said trade has already begun to suffer, with people boycotting his High Street business all week.

It is not clear who started the rumours, but they appear to have begun on social networking site Facebook with claims someone working at the studio had been jailed for 10 years for infecting 102 people with HIV.  Frantic customers have prompted environmental health officers at Medway Council to issue a reassurance the rumours are false.

A Medway Council spokesman refused to comment to the Messenger, but customer service staff were freely issuing the denial to customers.  One told a Messenger reporter posing as a customer: “The rumours are competely untrue.  “We are investigating how they started, but it is safe to go to this tattooist.”

In tech news, a recent invention could change the way people see tongue studs permanently.

Researchers have tested a tongue piercing that’ll allow paralyzed people to steer their wheelchairs in any direction. All they have to do is move their tongue a specific direction and the wheelchair will follow.  The tongue piercing initiative is being run by the Northwestern University School of Medicine and they pierced the tongue of Martin Mireles, a former church youth leader who got shot in the neck. He was able to navigate his wheelchair through an obstacle course with his mouth closed (and his tongue waggling around, of course).

Basically Mireles was pierced with a magnetic stud through his tongue. In order to make the wheelchair move, he had to wear a headset with sensors that could pick up the magnetic waves from the tongue ring. To go forward, he would move his tongue to the upper left corner of his mouth. Easy enough.  Why a tongue ring? Because researcher says the tongue doesn’t tire easily and is usually not affected by a spinal cord injury because its connected to the brain through the cranial nerve. And the tongue ring is more effective than when they glued a magnet to a test subject’s tongue (which would eventually fall off). In the future, they imagine this technology could be implemented to differentiate each task by touch of a tooth. One tooth could mean opening a door, other could mean flipping on the TV.

It makes one wonder what other body modifications could be adapted in a similar manner.  Now raise your hand if you instantly thought of something genital related.

Over in China, suspensions are making headlines after an artist named Nutter held an outdoor suspension and published a video online.

A controversial body-modification process that appeared in Chengdu’s Sansheng Xiang on 14 May shocked onlookers, who described it as ‘offensive’, ‘disgusting’, ‘sick’ and ‘perverted’.  The process, called “body-piercing suspension,” involves suspending participants in mid-air with metal hooks pierced through their skin. Chengdu Economic Daily got up close with the operator and participants to find out more about their personal lives and inner thoughts.

He had been invited to Chongqing and Chengdu by local tattoo parlors which arranged the event and the venues. Then he posted the call for participants and onlookers online. Those who are willing to be hanged do not have to fork out a single cent for the service. But audience members paid RMB40 each. He said there were about 50 people watching in both cities respectively.  However, the piercer does not see body suspension as a commercial venture, because he did not make any monetary gain after deducting expenses for medical equipment, travel and other costs.  Nutter did not inform any media although they always manage to track him online. In response to comments that the activity is ‘sick’ and ‘perverted’, Nutter feels that body modification and body suspension are not meant for everybody. However, he asserts that participants are willing and have thought through their decisions and are exercising their rights over their own bodies.

The article does spend a lot of time focusing on the families of Nutter and the girls who suspended, but they do get bonus points for actually doing research on

In wedding news, Elaine Davidson, whom many know simply as the world’s most pierced woman (I’m guessing they don’t count Staysha’s play piercings) got married this week in Scotland.

Deemed as the “world’s most pierced woman,” Elaine Davidson married Douglas Watson, a conservatively-dressed, piercing-free civil servant, at a low-key wedding ceremony in Scotland, the Telegraph is reporting. The Brazilian-born Davidson, 46, opted for a flowing white dress and floral tiara, but offset the traditional look by painting her face — already studded with 192 piercings — green, blue and yellow.  At a recent count, Davidson, who lives and works in Edinburgh, had 6,925 piercings, included 1,500 that are “internal,” according to the Daily Mail. Despite his bride’s unconventional look and lifestyle, Watson, 60, couldn’t help but gush after the 35-minute ceremony. “Elaine looked astonishing,” he said. “People see the piercings, but I see the amazing personality underneath. We have known each other for a long time.”  Davidson was reportedly first certified as a Guinness World Record holder in 2000, when she had only 462 piercings. According to her website, Davidson never removes the rings and studs, which she estimates weigh a total of three kilos, and insists she is able to sleep soundly with all of her piercings in place as there is no pain involved.

Now that The Hangover: Part 2 has been in theatres for a while, the lawsuit against the studio is moving forward.  Warner Brothers, the studio behind the film, may be in the process of conceding the case by digitally altering Ed Helms’ tattoo for the dvd release.

Warner Bros. has told a Missouri judge that if it can’t resolve the ongoing legal fracas over the tattoo on display in the mega-grossing comedy by the time it comes out on home video, the studio will digitally alter the controversial mark on Helms’ face.  As you’ll recall, Warners was sued by a Missouri tattoo artist who claims he owns a copyright on the unique tattoo worn by former boxer Mike Tyson and Helms in Hangover II. The tattoo’s owner, S. Victor Whitmill, attempted to stop the film’s release but was denied a preliminary injunction. Hangover II has since grossed $350 million worldwide and counting.

The ongoing debate regarding this story is a combination of who owns the rights to the tattoo, and whether the use of the tattoo in the film constitutes “fair use” as it is a parody.  With a February court date, it may still be a while before we finally get an answer.  Unless of course the studio settles out of court.

Finally, as you may recall a few months back I mentioned that actress Rooney Mara, in preparation for her role in the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, got several piercings, including her nipples.  With this week’s release of the international movie poster, it turns out that the story was true.

Good for her.  She could have taken the easy route and just used make-up and fake piercings, but for her to go and actually get pierced means she’s taking the project very seriously, which is never a bad thing.

Now if you were looking for more celebrity news, well, that’s it.  Ok, so maybe Bieber got his ears pierced and Chris Brown got a smiley face tattoo, but I couldn’t even stomach clicking the links, let alone reading them, so you’ll just have to take my word on it.

And that’s it for this week’s news.  Keep on sending me those links, either by clicking here, or sending me an e-mail.  Have a great weekend everyone.