Suspension is not a crime

Sometimes it seems like you have to travel to the boundaries of the map, the sort of “here be monsters” zone where you’re likely to sail off the edge of the world, to find somewhere truly epic to suspension. That’s probably just a bit of “the grass is always greener” thinking, but when I look at this picture of Jussi Paradise (photo by Wormz) suspending in Iceland, I feel like it might as well be swapped in for the opening shots of Prometheus or something. “Suspension is not a crime”, September 17, 2012.


The Ambassadorial Value of Tattoos

You may remember a little while ago I posted a charming entry about Christopher doing Peace Corps (I’ll say it again — what’s stopping YOU from joining?) work in Namibia and how the rural kids went curious-crazy over his tattoos, something they’d never seen before to such a large and bright extent.

After seeing that post, Aaron Brink wrote me about his own time over the last two summers spent in Burundi (an African country between DR Congo and Tanzania, just south of Rwanda). Like Christopher’s experience, the people there — and not just the kids — were completely enamored with his tattoos. Everywhere he went he had crowds of people following him and gathering around him trying to get a better look at his tattoos or to touch them. Not recognizing them as tattoos, and wondering if they were some sort of body paint or drawing, many people’s first response was to try and rub them off! These first pictures are from the village of Busiga.

This actually gave him a fun way to break the ice with the kids from the “Homes of Hope Orphanage” — when they broke out the facepaints, the only thing the kids wanted was tattoos of their own on their legs!


If you are able to watch Facebook videos, here’s a clip of kids:

They got a kick out of his piercings as well — this cute little boy named Brian from the orphanage is trying to put a film canister into Aaron’s stretched lobe in this piercing. At this point it is probably more common to see young people in America with stretched lobes than in most parts of Africa, where the traditional body modification practices are limited to certain rural regions and older generations.


Finally, showing that body modification truly knows no boundaries, not just across illusory racial and cultural lines like the people Christopher and Aaron met in Namibia and Burundi respectively, but also across species lines! Aaron spent some time with a young chimpanzee named Tina at the “zoo”, and she as well was very curious about his tattoos!!! (In every single picture, it’s all she’s interested in or touching).


AND P.S. Argh! Let me start by saying I feel like a DOPE because I captioned all these photos as being from “Adam” when they are from “Aaron”… and now I’ve gone and saved them and it’s too late at night to change them and still get the rest I need. My sincerest bleary-eyed and clumsy-fingered and calcium-riddled-brain apologies to Adam Aaron.

Seeing Tattoos For The First Time

Here is a joy kids growing up in the West these days with our bod-mod-saturated media will never be able to experience (or at least remember, since it happens to them when they are babies) — seeing tattoos for the very first time! Tracy’s good friend Christopher just joined the Peace Corps and is teaching math for the next two years in Namibia. The kids reacted with complete amazement not to his white skin and blond hair like we stereotypically hear in old Victorian explorer stories, but to his colourful fully tattooed sleeves, something that just doesn’t exist in most of rural Africa, so it was a real treat for them. Rachel and I were in Windhoek, Namibia almost ten years ago, but since we never went into the rural areas other than to go on a (quite wonderful, but very touristy) safari, mostly we were being glared at by snooty wanna-be-aristocrat German expats. Christopher’s encounter is much more charming.


PS. If this entry gets you thinking, here’s a map of all the places you can go if you join the Peace Corps — — much better opportunities for international adventure than joining the Military War Corps, I would say, plus the odds of getting your limbs blown off are much lower, and you’ll be helping people, not killing and oppressing them. They’ll excitedly poke at your tattoos, rather than cowering in fear and shooting at you.

The Travelling Gnome

I’m sure most of us in North America have heard of the Travelling Gnome.  The idea is you steal someone’s garden gnome before you go on vacation, then take pictures of the gnome in places all over the world, which you send back to the person you stole the gnome from.  Then, when you return, you bring back the gnome and replace it as if it never left.  The result, you end up with a great story and experience, and the person who thought their gnome was gone for good gets a surprise in the mail (and their gnome back).  Of course over the years the gnome stories have spread all over becoming so popular that a travel booking website uses a gnome as its mascot.

Well it seems the gnome is still on the go, and it looks like his latest spot was in Italy, paying a visit to IAM: Lady_FlameThrower.  You may remember her from a ModBlog post a while back about her Watchmen scarification piece.  You can see in the photo below that the photographer Alex Hen is featuring not only the gnome, but also Lady_FlameThrower’s surface bar and dermal anchors.


So has the urge to steal a gnome ever crossed your mind?  The idea of stealing a gnome is only scratching the surface of what travelers do for fun with their photos.  I’ve seen collections of people holding up cardboard cutouts of friends, other keepsakes from houses, and more.  Well ModBlog readers, have you taken a gnome or something else on your travels to document the  journey?

This land is your land, this land is my land

What about your city do you love?  I know why I love Toronto, but I’d probably take up the entire length of the main page to go into details, so I’ll sit this discussion out.

Seriously, is there something in your city that makes you feel like it’s the best city to live in?  Or is there another city you’ve been to that you think is much better?

I’m asking these questions because it says something about a person as to what they value most in a city.  What that something is I have no clue, Sean is the pretend doctor for BME, not me (he is a shrink right?).  Think about some of the commercials for cities you’ve seen on TV.  They’re out there, although most are state driven, I can assure you that every major city has a department dedicated to promoting their city as the best place to live.  The reason for that is simple, more people = more tax dollars for the city.  While the people in the streets may be shouting to the rooftops about how overcrowded the city is, to a bureaucrat behind a desk, all he hears are the potential revenue dollars brought in by new arrivals.

All those reasons you thought of when determining if your city was a great place to live?  Well some ad agency has already gone over those and prioritized them to which demographic would be suited best by hearing specific points, while downplaying others.  Lots of schools is a great incentive to young families, but would be something that could potentially drive away singles and older couples.  It’s a delicate balancing act completely focused on one goal, making the city money.

So where do we fall into the equation?  Us modded types fall into every demographic.  Young/old, male/female, straight/queer, single/married, seniors/small children, and so many more.  What could possibly be a single point that could attract us to one city over another?

I’m going to guess most city planning departments don’t take us into account, or at least just lump us into a generic demographic without realizing that while we may be members of every possible demographic, we also consist of one of our own.  The one we choose.  The one that says to the world, we’re in control of ourselves.  So who is going to look out for us?  Make sure our needs are satisfied when deciding to relocate?  Well, for the most part, we have each other.  Part of what makes this community so strong is that we’re open with each other, we’re honest about most things (I’m talking generalities, not specific interpersonal dynamics).

Well, it looks like someone over at MSNBC decided to take a look to see if there was something that they could do to show (at least a portion of) the modded community that there are cities that could possibly be appealing.

Whether you approve of tattoos or not, some of the world’s sexiest men and women — from Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox to Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt  — sport ink. This made us wonder — where in the world do most of the tattooed bods in America live? To figure out which U.S. cities were the most tattoo-friendly, we perused chat forums and looked up every state in several public directories, including Yellow Pages, Google listings, Tattoo Yellow Pages and AAA Tattoo Directory, to find those with the most listed tattoo and permanent makeup shops. Then we looked up which cities in those states had the most shops listed per capita with populations based on latest U.S. Census numbers. We also took into consideration the city’s demographics and whether or not it hosted tattoo conventions, remembering that not all tattoo parlors were listed in the directories.

Now of course you’re wondering which cities made the top ten.  I could make you go read the full article, but instead I’ll give you just the listing of the cities.  If you’re curious as to why these cities made the top ten, head on over to MSNBC to read up on it.

So without further ado, “The Top Ten Most Tattooed Cities in America”.

  • 10.  Los Angeles, CA
  • 9.  Kansas City, MO
  • 8.  Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 7.  San Francisco, CA
  • 6.  Austin, TX
  • 5.  Portland, OR
  • 4.  Flint, MI
  • 3.  Richmond, VA
  • 2.  Las Vegas, NV

And finally, in the number one position… Miami Beach, FL!

Did your city make the list?

Actually, forget that last question.  What I am really curious to know is, now that you know these rankings, would they impact your decision to move to any of those cities?

Personally, I’m staying in Toronto.  We are the center of the universe after all.

It’s time for a contest!


BME Internship 2.0

It’s been almost 5 years since BME last had interns. I’ve decided that I’d like to do something similar to the internship contest that we had. You can read more about it here. This is a much shorter version of the intern ship and instead of relocating to beautiful La Paz, Mexico, we’ll be traveling around the world.

I’m currently planning a worldwide BME tour. This will probably mean being on the road for 2-3 months. My goal is to start the tour in time to be home for the middle of June. This means we’d be hitting the road in the beginning of April. I have approximately 6 weeks to plan the trip, get sponsors, figure out the winners and then buy everyone’s tickets and book accommodations. I will also be booking the interviews that we will have scheduled. We will have at least one day off each week. This trip is all business though so if you want to do it, be prepared to take photos, talk to people and video tape interviews while we work our way around the world.

The goal of the tour is to interview as many individuals from as many different cultures and locations as possible. In each city that we stop in, I want to interview at least 5 shops and collect copies of their portfolios to add to BME. In addition to interviewing Tattoo Artists, Piercers and Body Modification Artists, I want to talk to and photograph clients as well as random people that we meet on the streets. I want to see the sites that the various places we go to have to offer (yes this means playing tourist!) as well as compile video interviews along the way.  I’d like to bring 4 people besides myself. That means our group will consist of 5 people total. We can get away with 4, including me but we may go to 6 if I can’t make a decision between a couple great candidates.

Depending how the planning process goes, the trip may end up getting split into continents, obviously it’s always fun to think big but to make it so this really happens, we may need to scale it back and make it more affordable in terms of money, time and logistics. While I’m working on the contest and putting together the team, I’ll also be working on getting sponsorships as that will help make the tour that much more viable. I may also end up having a couple openings on the trip for multiple people to fill the various roles due to the length of the trip. I feel though that you should be able to commit at least two weeks. If you can only come out for a week, it’s not enough time to get into the groove with the rest of us. I will, however, make exceptions so please send in your audition and let me know that you’re the exception that I should make!

Click through for more information!

In order to make this trip possible, I’m looking for people who are talented in a couple different areas. I’m looking to fill the following roles:

Videographer/Video Editor

In the dream scenario, each person would be capable of filling all of the roles but I understand that is a dream and not likely to happen. The main thing though is that everyone will have to be able to write. That is a requirement. I’m not saying that everyone needs to be an accomplished author but they have to have an inquisitive mind and be able to express their thoughts in writing so that we can share our travels with the readers of BME. I’m know that I am not the world’s best writer but I am capable of recounting an event or conducting an interview so if you think that you can write as least at the level that I can, then you qualify! I can also take decent photographs and keep a video camera steady. I am however really lacking in the video editing skills. I’ve been trying to get better at it but unfortunately it’s really not something that I’m good at.

If you’ve got more than one talent and can do the same, then it makes it more likely that you will be chosen to accompany me on the trip. Seeing as there are 3 roles that need to be filled and 4 spots available, this means that between the 5 of us, we should be able to fill these three rolls. When we’re in a city, we may need to split up to tackle two different locations at the same time depending on the schedule, which is why people need to be able to fill multiple roles. Being able to write relatively well, understanding lighting and Photography and also being able to properly handle a video camera (even if you can’t edit) means that we should be able to regroup at the end of the day and put our work together with ease.

Besides being able to fit a minimum of one of the above roles, there are a set of requirements that need to be met.

You must meet all of the following:

Active Interest in Body Modification –
You should be knowledgeable about and actively involved in body modification. You should be  open to all of what BME covers. If you have a problem with with anything in the BME/Extreme or BME/Hard areas then you should not apply. You don’t have to have heavy mods but you need to be okay with others having the right to modify their bodies as they see fit.

21+ years old preferred, 18+ Required –
I’m asking for proof of a passport so I will be verifying your age. There are places outside of the USA that require you to be 21 to gain access so I don’t want to leave anyone in the hotel room because we’re going to an event at a 21+ location. Having everyone above 21 makes this a non issue. If you are under 21, apply anyway. I may make an exception for the right applicant BUT keep in mind that preference goes to those that are 21+

Valid Passport – You must hold or be able to acquire and provide proof of a valid passport two weeks prior to the time that I purchase our airline tickets. If you do not have one by this time, you will lose your spot. I cannot risk putting out the money for our non refundable travel arrangements and then find out that you can’t get a passport. There are no citizenship requirements. As long as you meet the other requirements, you are welcome to apply!

No Felony Convictions/No Arrest Record/Anything that prevents you from traveling freely
– This is a requirement because, like the  passport issue, I do not want to have the tour ruined by someone who gets blocked access from entering a country. Some countries will not allow convicted felons or someone who has even been arrested to gain entry to the country. It could potentially ruin the tour all together if someone in our group was denied entry and that made it so the rest of us were denied entry. Anything that prevents you from freely traveling, entering various countries or getting back into your own country will prevent you from being selected. I have decided that if you can get clearance to travel by filling out the appropriate paperwork and going to the required consulates and get yourself authorized to travel (with a criminal record) I will waive this requirement for the right applicant!

No Drug/Alcohol Abuse Issues –
As we will be traveling in foreign countries, I do not want to deal with any issues relating to drug problems. We may visit countries that have serious penalties with foreigners that are caught with illegal substances. If you break this rule and are caught, there is little that we will be able to do to help you.

Good Health – I will get Medical Travel Insurance for all of us in case of emergency but if you are not in good health and cannot carry your own luggage or backpack, this is not the tour for you. We are going to have to schlep our own bags. We’re not rock stars, we’re people out to do something cool on a limited budget. We’re basically seeing the world on a shoestring budget (unless I score major sponsorship) and we need to make sure we meet out goals. If you are on medication that you take daily, that’s fine but it cannot interfere with our abilities to get from point A to B and do what we need to do while we are there. I am hoping to make it so that I am the only one with a chronic illness on the trip. In addition to doing our interviews, going to events and working almost every day of the trip, we will be site seeing. Depending on the country, this could include a lot of hiking.

Drivers License –
You should have a valid drivers license, but it’s not required. Preference does go to someone with a license in the event of a close call. It does not need to be a full license if you’re in a country with a rated system like Canada. I don’t want to end up being the only one who can drive though!

Availability –
You must be able to commit to staying on the tour for at least TWO WEEKS. Any less than that and it will disrupt the tour. It will take a lot of time to get into a grove and figure out how everything works and to streamline our entire process. If people come and go too often, the harder it will be to become an efficient touring machine! Preference will be given to those who are able to commit more time.

Computer Experience
–  This is a no brainer. You need to be able to write and post photos on the web. If you only have a desktop computer and you are selected, I should be able to provide you with a laptop.  This will need to be returned back to me at the end of the trip. You must have a working knowledge of wordpress, basic photo editing capabilities (ie color correcting, watermarking, resizing photographs),  as well as basic HTML skills. Extended knowledge is always a plus and as always, preference will be given to those with the most variety of talents and skills.

A Positive Attitude
– Sometimes shit happens, especially when you travel. Are you going to be able to keep a smile on your face when we get to a hotel and it’s oversold and they gave away our rooms because we didn’t get there until 1am due to our flight being stuck on the runway for 3 hours? Are you going to be okay with sleeping at the airport when our flights are canceled and we can’t get a hotel until morning? Or are you going to be a diva and whine and cry about it? If so, this isn’t for you!

Be Social/Outgoing
– You don’t need to be a party animal but you have to be willing to talk to strangers. We are going to interview, photograph and film people that we don’t know. You have to want to get to know them, or at least do a damn good job faking it, which is what makes a good interview. You also have to be willing to have your photo taken and appear on CAMERA. Obviously some people will want to spend more time in front of the camera and that’s fine with me. I hate having my picture taken or being on video but I know that it needs to be done. You should know this too and be willing to get over your fears.

These things are major bonuses:

Travel Experience is a plus – Do  you know what I mean when I say we’re going LAX-LHR? Do you determine your travel route based on the amount of air miles you’re going to accrue? Do you know what to do when you’re in line at airport security? Do you pack everything into a tiny carry on bag so you don’t have to check it and in that bag are things sorted so you can pull out your liquids so you don’t get a secondary screening? If you’re a travel pro, that’s a big bonus. If my 6 year old knows more about travel procedures than you do, chances are we might not get along! If you have airline/hotel/rental car elite status, that is also a HUGE bonus because I will be booking flights based on AA/OneWorld Alliances and hotels based on Priority Club alliances. I have EVIP’s which need to be used by the end of February or they expire. If you know what this means, make sure you include it in your application. If you’re adept at public transportation, include this on your application as well. We don’t want to get lost and we don’t want to kill our budget on taxis! Obviously safety first but we’ll be in a group so we will be fine.

Multi-Lingual – Do you speak more than one language? Great! Do you understand other cultures because you have experience with them? Awesome! Do you know people who can put up the 5 of us for the night? Even better!

Hotel/Airline/Sponsors Connections – That’s a no brainer. Do you have any hook ups and you want to help us out? Please contact me!

What’s covered and what isn’t?

Now that you’ve been selected, what do you get? Unless I find a couple other sponsors, we’re going to pull this off on a limited budget. It means that we’ll likely be flying economy (this is where having travel experience and frequent flyer status comes in handy! You can upgrade, I won’t hold it against you!), staying in low end Hotels/Hostels/Friends Couches where we can and taking full advantage of Continental Breakfasts offered at the hotels/hostels that we stay in. We’ll try and take public transportation to keep costs down as taxis can be very expensive. I will be covering the basics. Unfortunately this isn’t a paid tour but all of the costs will be taken care of so you’ll be able to take a trip you may otherwise not be able to afford. This is a great opportunity to see the world as well as build up a huge archive of content for your resume. Not to mention it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Plane tickets/Ground Transportation – You will need to get yourself to our starting point, if you happen to be closer to our first destination, you can meet us there. Due to the nature of our tour, it makes sense that we all travel together. The only exception is if it doesn’t make sense for you to go to the start point if you’re closer to the first destination. For example, if we’re all starting off in Los Angeles and our first destination is Londan, England and you live in Paris, it makes more sense to have you meet up with us in London. In that scenario, I’ll cover getting you to London from Paris but I can’t cover getting you from Podunk, IA to Los Angeles.


– We will be staying in hotels/hostels or friends couches (this will be a very rare occurrence and most likely won’t happen, mostly due to the fact that most people don’t have room to accommodate 5 people). We will be sharing hotel rooms. Since there are 5 of us, we will be splitting two rooms (taking turns with who gets the cot!). In the event we take on an additional person, we will be splitting 3 rooms. 2 persons to a room.

Meals – 3 meals a day. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. This does not include alcohol or tobacco.

Medical/Travel Insurance
– I will make sure that each of us has medical/travel insurance for the duration of the tour.

The Application Process!

Now that you know what the tour is about, who I’m looking for, what the requirements are and what you get out of it, it’s time to apply! As I’ve described at the beginning, I’m looking for “Jack-of-all-trades”. If you can write, take photos and hold a video camera, then this is definitely an opportunity that you qualify for. I’ve also got a position open for someone who doesn’t really excel at any one skill out of all three. Everyone needs to submit the same application, however, if you’re looking to be assigned one role specifically above the others, then you’ll need to submit additional material to support that request.

Please submit the following:

Send an email to [email protected]. Please make sure to include the following in your email:
Birthday & Age:
IAM Page Name:
Role you’re applying for:
Drivers License:
Criminal Record Y/N, if Y, what?:
How long can you commit to the tour? Please note priority may be given to those who can commit more time to the tour:
Are there any time periods where you will need to briefly leave the tour?:
Email addresses used for any BME submissions. If there are contributions to BME or this community you’ve made that won’t show up under those email addresses, please include details about them.
Link to Audition Video (You must create a video audition and include it with your application – see below for hints!):
Links to writing:
Links to Photography:
Links to Videos:

I’ve explained the application specifics for the Audition video and the links to your writing, photos and videos below! If you don’t submit these things your application won’t be considered!

A Video Audition Make sure to state your name, your age, where you live and which role you’re applying for. Since I’m potentially spending weeks on end with you, I want to get to know you as well as possible through your audition tape. I wasn’t sure what to ask for in the audition video so I googled “how to make an audition tape” and got tons of answers. Check out those sites as well as this one to see how to make the best audition tape possible. If you’re saying “I don’t have a video camera, how can I make a video?!” Don’t forget that most digital point and shoot cameras have a video mode. You can also use the webcam built into your computer to record an audition tape. Most things that you audition for put 3 minute limits on the audition tapes. I’m giving you 10 minutes to work with. You don’t need to use all of it but I’m giving you a lot of time to let me get to know you. Tell me who you are. Tell me why you think you’d be good for this. Tell me why you want to do it. Be honest. Tell me your deepest darkest secrets and everything else you want me to know. Are you afraid of the dark? Let me know. Give me a look into your life and what it would be like living together on the road for 6 weeks to 3 months! Upload your video to  youtube and send the link along with your application email.

Examples of your writing
– As I said, everyone must be able to write at LEAST at the same level as myself. This means you can express yourself clearly and intelligently via the internet. You need have a basic grasp of proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. Your examples of writing can be anything from a link to your IAM page, another blog and articles or interviews you’ve written. If you’re interested in being selected as “The Writer” then make sure you submit more examples of these.

Photography – Everyone needs to be able to take photos. Please send a link to examples of the photos you’ve taken. A link to your BME submissions, IAM page, online photo hosting page or something similar is fine. We will all have pocket size digital cameras. If you’re interested in being “The Photographer” please send links to your portfolio to back your selection for this role. You will need to know how to light the shops that we are shooting in.

Videos you’ve Edited – Everybody needs to be able to use a video camera.  Please send links to videos you’ve uploaded to youtube etc. It’s okay if you don’t have any if you’re applying for one of the other roles. Your application video will suffice. If you’re applying for the “Videographer/Video Editor” role, please send a link to your portfolio of films/videos that you’ve edited.  To snag this role, you’ll need to prove that you can edit video!

I haven’t decided if I’ll be posting the video auditions on Modblog so that I can get BME readers to help me choose the winners. Submit your videos under the impression that I will be. This is going to be a kick ass trip and I think we’re all going to have an awesome time! Get those applications in asap! The application process will be closed on February 20th and winners announced on the 1st of March. We should be able to have a finalist round where I’ll post the video auditions that made it to the finals and we’ll do a group vote. I want to see who can really market themselves and get people to BME to vote for them, since that’s kind of what a part of this tour is about! I will have the final vote on who goes on the trip though. If everything goes according to plan, we will be leaving in the first week of April. Good Luck!

BMEfest and the TTC

Everyone travelling to Toronto and taking the TTC:

If you are planning on doing a lot of travelling within one day, are travelling in groups or are only here for our (Canadian) long weekend it might be a good idea to pick up a day pass for the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission).

A day pass costs $8.50, is from start of service (which I believe is 6am) to 5:30am the next morning.

On Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays (i.e. Monday, July the 2nd) you can have two adults travel with one pass (two adults and up to four people under 19 yrs of age, or one adult and up to five people under 19). This is only on the days mentioned in this paragraph, don’t forget!

So, if anyone plans on acting like pack animals, this is probably your safest and cheapest bet for travel within the city over the weekend.

A full list of schedules, subway and streetcar maps can be found here in PDF format.