Meet Marcus “The Creature” Boykin from AMC’s Freakshow Reality TV Show

Tonight (February 14, 2013) AMC will be airing a new reality TV show called “Freakshow”, all about the Venice Beach Freakshow. The cast member who may be of most interest to ModBlog readers is Marcus “The Creature” Boykin, tattooed head to toe and wearing a face-full of self-pierced metal. The name “Creature” comes with a double meaning — he’s not just a creature in the monstrous sense, but also “create-ure” in the sense of creating himself as an artistic invention, a body that is “all original, unlike anyone else’s”, in the hope that he’d be able to not just entertain, but inspire and let people know that no matter how impossible something seems, you can do it.

Here’s the official video profile of Creature from AMC. Following that is a brief chat that we had yesterday letting you know a little bit more about what makes Creature tick — but if you really want to see what he and the rest of Venice Beach Freakshow are all about, don’t miss the show, which begins tonight on AMC at 9:30, 8:30 CST.

** What made you want to move from being a kid into piercings to someone at the “freak end of the scale” — and how did your family react?

My family are hard core Christians, and my mom is still in disbelief, but my dad supports me to the fullest in the craze of body art and piercings. My inspiration came from historical pictures like the Great Omi… warriors receiving scarification, like the great Shaka Zulu, and slaves chastisement as they got whipped and scarred and burned — also Jesus Christ himself suffered out of this world piercings and was scarred beyond any recognition — it goes reallly deeeep…

creature1

Continue reading

Mr. O and Mr. R got nothin’ on this

The Monsters of Schlock, Burnaby Q. Orbax and his brother Sweet Pepper Klopek, just rigged up a tattoo machine to run on battery power and brought it onto the PNE’s big — and very shaky — wooden rollercoaster and tattooed a lizard logo onto Sweet Pepper’s leg. Photo by Syx Langemann (click to zoom), and there was lots of HD video shot so don’t be surprised if you see more that just this quick teaser video in the future on television.

Yes, yes, I know, this is an insult to everything you hold sacred. We’re all very offended.

For the first time in recorded history, a man has been tattooed on a running roller coaster. That man was none other than Sweet Pepper Klopek, one half of the world’s most extreme two man circus sideshow comedy magic extravaganza known as the Monsters of Schlock. His brother, and other half of the daredevil duo, the great Orbax, performed the tattoo. As a matter of fact it was the first time he had EVER tattooed!

The wild stunt took place at the PNE Playland fairgrounds in Vancouver BC Canada on Oct 24th 2012 on the wooden roller coaster. Two successive trips around were required, totalling in just under four minutes of track time covering a total distance of 1732 m. At points the coaster hit 47 mph, took a drop of 75 ft and pulled 2.2 g’s.

The tattoo itself was a lizard face, the logo of their long time sideshow friend and coworker, Erik Sprague, the world famous Lizardman. As the coaster hit the first incline, the five time Guinness World Record breakers proclaimed ‘One small tattoo for man, one giant leap for douchebags everywhere!’.

The Monsters of Schlock have performed skilled, daring and dangerous all over the world but this, by far, they claim to be their stupidest.

The History of Play Piercing 1885-1940

Here’s an article I never thought I’d be writing — the history of play piercing and human pin-cushions, from 1885 through 1940, as collected from archival news clippings. I have spent the better part of the day reading story after story in historical archives about both sideshow performers who did play piercing, and people who seemed to do it for fun — sometimes with hilarious results — as well as the different ways that play piercing percolated into the mainstream via fictional prose and cartoons. It has been interesting to say the least. With the exception of cartoons, which I have placed at the very end of this article, I am presenting here, in chronological order a number of stories that caught my interest. You’d be amazed how many brief mentions and repetitions I’ve skipped over. I never would have guessed at how much the media of the time loved writing about this subject. It absolutely fascinated them! For all of these stories, if you want to see more than the excerpt that I have transcribed, just click on the scanned headline that starts the story to be taken to the original news clipping.

I hope you will find comfort and enjoyment in the fact that many of these stories could easily have been published today. We often fool ourselves into thinking we are the first people to have a set of unusual experiences, but a careful examination of history shows that even the oddest seeming things repeat themselves over and over ad infinitum.

1893-05-28-boston-daily-globe

Note: This is a very long post, so it continues after the break. I hope it will be fun for history buffs, and that I have not made too many typos.
Continue reading

Rasmus Nielsen Ripley’s Appearance

After my success yesterday in digging up some old news clippings about The Great Omi, I thought I’d do some digging for Rasmus Nielsen, an amazing tattooed strongman that performed from the early 20th century until disappearing after his 1950 retirement. While tattooed strongmen were common, Rasmus was unique because of his stretched piercings through his nipples, nose, tongue, and collar (a “Madison” piercing that rightly should be known as a “Rasmus” piercing perhaps) from which he would lift anvils weighing as much as 250 pounds. Unfortunately the extent of what I could find was the June 16, 1938 edition of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, which I hope is of interest nonetheless. For more, see his entry on The Human Marvels and The BME Encyclopedia.

rasmus-ripleys

Early news coverage of The Great Omi

One of the most famous “tattooed freaks” of the classic sideshow era — heck, of ANY ERA! — was Horace Riddler, better known as The Great Omi (read more on the BME wiki). I thought it might be interesting to share with you some of the very early news clippings about him — the very first I could discover was dated October 20th, 1934, and was printed in the Lethbridge Herald of Alberta, Canada. Since it’s more than a little hard to read (scanned from old microfiche archives), let me transcribe it:

MIRACLE OF TATTOOING GETS FINISH:The Great Omi, called the ninth wonder of the world, being completely tattooed head to foot. He designed the tattoo patterns himself and the work on his head alone took nine weeks to perfect. Prof. Burchett, shown completing this part of the job, considers it a masterpiece.

great-omi-news-clippings

A slightly later AP story expanded on those comments and was widely reprinted in papers across the nation (I happened to find it in the Galveston Daily News of April 7th, 1935). It reads:

TOTALLY TATTOOED: The Great Omi, who believes himself to be the only man in the world who is “tattooed all over,” explains it by saying, “I was penniless after the war and–well, I had to do something, so I decided it should be something never done before. It has taken me three years to be tattooed from head to foot–a dreadfully painful process. I suffered agonies. Moreover, it was meant sacrificing every social asset I had. Some people would say I look pretty terrible, but my wife has been wonderful about it. She assures me it is only a matter of getting used to it.” The Great Omi served during the world war as a major in the British army.

He quickly became the most famous sideshow performer of the time and people clamored to see him all over the world. For a time — especially in late 1934 and 1935 when his tattoo transformation was complete and his popularity exploded — his name became synonymous with tattooing, and if you were a journalist assigned to write about tattoos, odds were good you’d fill some column inches with The Great Omi’s story. For example, I was reading an interesting article about the 1934 Tokyo tattoo convention in The San Antonio Light‘s December 2nd, 1934 edition, and they actually spent more time talking about Omi than the convention itself!

Convention of Tattooed People, But the Champion Didn’t Attend

Despite the fact that it is a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment and fine, for a Japanese to have his person indelibly inscribed with the tattooer’s needle, a convention of tattooed people recently was staged in the city. The alert police did not molest the delegates to the conclave because every one of them was able to prove that he, or she, had not been tattooed within the past few years, since the ban has been in force.

As the photograph of some of the delegates shows, when an Oriental makes up his mind to get himself tattooed, he does a thorough job of it and covers himself with the sort of red and blue skin pictures that seamen carry around on their arms and chests.

But the convention was not all that it might have been because the grand champion of all tattooed men–a fellow who calls himself the Great Omi–either was unable to attend or just passed up the event as unworthy of his notice.

While the convention was in session and the human art galleries were getting their pictures in the newspapers of the Japanese capital, the Great Omi was touring the British Isles and astounding people who did not envy him in the least. Not for a million dollars would the average human being let himself be so “ornamented.”

The Great Omi is one of the few tattooed men in the world who has permitted the artists with the needle to work on his face as well as his body. As two of the photographs show, there is hardly a square inch of Omi’s head that isn’t covered with a design that makes him look stranger and more savage than the wildest of African medicine men, who go in for that sort of disfigurement.

Prof. Burchett, said to be the world’s outstanding expert in the art of tattooing, supports Omi’s claim that he is the most tattooed man in the world.

convention-of-tattooed-people

I have corrected Their Annoying Capitalization, but underneath the first photo of Omi it says, “The ‘Great Omi,’ most thoroughly tattooed of humans, who holds forth in London. He has spent most of his life decorating his skin with weird designs.” The rightmost picture of Omi reads, “The ‘Great Omi’ submitting himself to the needle to put the finishing touches to the bewildering decorations of head and face.” Finally, the central picture which is of the convention attendees reads, “Six of the many delegates to the convention of tattooed people recently held in Tokyo. These animated Japanese prints are covered with designs from their necks to their thighs but the ‘Great Omi,’ now traveling through the British Isles, found it inconvenient to attend the conclave and told spectators that he is the grand champion of all tattooed people, including the human picture galleries of the orient.”

In addition to being called “The Great Omi” proper, he was often colloquially referred to as “The Zebra Man”, and then as in now, when you become a pop culture icon, you can expect yourself to be referenced in the most unexpected places. For example, the September 17th, 1938 edition of the syndicated serial pulp comic strip “Ella Cinders” (running from 1925 through 1961), which I think is as good a place as any to end this entry. Zoom in so you can read the words clearly.

ella-cinders

Ladies and gentlemen, freaks of all sizes…

I absolutely love this portrait of Sanjula Vamana, and I’ve been meaning to share it for some time, taken by one of his favorite photographers, Mandy Dempsey, for a Circus sideshow photo project. Sanjula is a modern master of classic vaudevillian acts (and his wife is a burlesque performer), performing everything from beds of nails to swinging weights from his junk to intense skewering acts that would put the shivers into even experienced play piercers — chainsaws, whips, fire, escapology, knives, sledge hammers, pain proof, blockhead, human pincushion, stomach pump, dart board, and many other “dangerous acts of perilous danger!” Catch his show if you ever have the opportunity, and if you’re interested in booking him, you can reach Sanjula at sanjula_vamana@yahoo.com

sanjulavamana

Click to see it at full size of course.

Take that Batman, The Penguin is taking over!

I know, I know I failed to provide you guys with the much anticipated follow up to the first installation of The Cadaver Chronicles . For that, I am extremely sorry. For some odd reason BME’s wordpress site sometime’s chooses to deny me access for a few days. Then it, out of nowhere, will forgive me for whatever transgressions I may have imposed upon it, and it lets me back in. I decided to putt Cliff’s piece up Friday, and just get back on schedule with that.

However, since I managed to log in, why not post something and if I am going to post something why not some penguins? Really, after that whole March of the Penguins movie, and Bob Saget’s spoof of it, who doesn’t love these waddling little creatures?

screen-shot-2011-02-16-at-51651-pm

screen-shot-2011-02-16-at-51143-pm

I am sure some of the modblog readers are already picking these pieces apart and condemning me for even posting this quality of tattooing to Modblog. However, sometimes there is more to a tattoo then just the finished piece, sometimes who did the piece makes up for a lack of technical prowess.  For a look at the “man” responsible for these pieces, keep on keeping on….

Continue reading

They’re getting hitched!

I heard on the radio last week that christmas eve is the #1 day of the year for wedding proposals.  Sure enough, this christmas that held true and a couple of IAM members got engaged.  Now, you’ve seen Dirk and JackeeLynn on here before, most recently in their christmas photos.  Now if you don’t know these two, not only do they send in a lot of photos to BME, but they’re also part of the Local Hookers suspension crew.  Here’s a couple of photos from their last halloween bash.  (You can find a lot more in the Local Hookers gallery).

Here’s Dirk enjoying a beer after lifting a cinderblock by his neck.  He also happens to be taking a beating from some lightbulbs.

As for Jackee, she spent the night hanging out with another Local Hooker, Inhale-Exhale.

Of course the best part of getting engaged is the story behind it.  Now I wasn’t there, but from what I understand Dirk surprised her with the ring and something else in a box…

Congrats you two!  When do I get my invitation?

The penguin flys on…

Currently modblog regular, Penguin Boy, his partner Baron Von Geiger (amazing earlobe weight lifter) and the rest of The Squidling Bros. are on tour with the Coney Island Cockabilly Roadshow.

I don’t make it out to shows too much anymore, but this may be worthy of making an exception for. Hell, they are even performing with Hick’ry Hawkins, a cat I used to watch at local South Carolina venues a bunch back in the nineties.

roadshow20101

For tour dates, keep on keeping on.

Continue reading