The Lizardman’s split tongue, in 1997 and in 2004.
“Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character had abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigour, and courage which it contained.”Eight years ago, in July 1997 (on the 18th to be exact), I walked into the office of Dr. Lawrence Busino with one tongue and emerged under an hour later with two. There was no media coverage and apart from a couple emails and a posting on rec.arts.bodyart not many people even knew this was happening. Of course, this would all change and an amazing and unforeseeable chain of events would be set into motion.
I was not the first person to have my tongue split, anyone who has paid attention to my comments about it will have noticed that I refer to myself as ‘one of the first’. My best guess is that I was probably the third bifurcation but the first to be done surgically using a biopsy laser. In fact, the first actual split tongue that I knew of was on BME just prior to my own procedure in 1997. An Italian man sent in notes and then pictures of his split created by cutting and silver nitrate cauterization. The notes can be found here, there are also six images early in the gallery with a June 1997 date stamp (for time received and posted, not taken).
The first known pictures of a modern tongue splitting (Italy, 1996/7)
Up until this time, modern tongue splitting was all but a myth. There were theories and vague references but no one could provide any documentation — it was always a friend of friend saw this guy/girl, etc. BME included a theoretical method reference for stretching multiple center tongue piercings and then cutting between them but this was just speculative. Some people made historical references but again the documentation was questionable. Even some of the more reliable sources citing a cutting the tongue in half do not specify a bifurcation and strong arguments could be made that they are talking about an amputation cutting in half as punishment or torture from side to side rather than from the tip back. The BME Tongue Splitting FAQ contains references to some of these historical practices. Personally, I find these less than compelling but I do not entirely dismiss the possibility since it only seems even more unlikely that someone had not tried it before. What can be said with good authority is that the idea and image of the split tongue is a powerful one that has played a major role across cultures and around the world. With the advent of modern tongue splitting, it was poised to do so again.
Dustin’s self-split tongue
Early tongue splits on Shannon Larratt (left, center),
and Essie (right, one of the many people hosted by the Lizardman and introduced to Dr. Busino).
At the 2000 Modcon a number of split tongues were present. Online, BME was seeing a significant increase in photos and experiences. Due to my unabashed media whoring, my own tongues had appeared in Time magazine, on several television shows (such as Ripley’s), and even on a billboard in NYC. Split tongues were suddenly very visible. An increasing number of practitioners were offering the procedure and it became much easier for people to find someone near them to do it. Also, a number of people performed the procedure themselves. However, there would be a cost for this visibility.
Early tongue splitting on Tim Cridland (The Torture King), Allen Falkner, and by Patrick Bartholomew.
By 2001 split tongues were common as surgical modifications go, being one of, if not the, most popular ‘heavy’ modification. Keep in mind that’s not really common at all in terms of the world population or even just the US. In fact more people in the US get their ears pierced each day by underpaid, under trained employees in unhygienic mall stores often improperly using equipment and jewelry that even when used properly is at best barely adequate for the job than the entire collected world population of split tongues. Or to put it another way, if you had a dollar for every split tongue in the world you would not have enough money to buy a decent used car or pay the yearly rent on slum apartment in most cities for a year. Even though it sometimes seems like they are common within our modified community, they are still rare in the world.
More recently done tongue splittings.
Due largely to these laws and the unwillingness of most doctors to perform the procedure a significant number of split tongues are now self done. The method of choice for them and the limited number of practitioners offering the procedure is scalpeling. Scalpeling the tongue is quite bloody, as many of the photos on BME will attest. However, it is at once the simplest and probably best method available. In my observations and from talking to subjects, it appears that scalpeling is on par with laser surgery for speed, if not faster, and results in far less swelling due to the lack of cauterization. When combined with proper suturing it results in some of the best looking, fastest healing splits with the least amount of re-growth between the forks. The only significant problem being that people doing it themselves or even having it done by most practitioners do not have the benefits at hand in case of problems or emergency that would be available in a professional surgical setting.
To date, the modern history of tongue splitting is an overall positive one. We have come to discover that it is not only possible but than many of the anticipated dangers or consequences such as difficulty speaking or eating are complete myths. Contrary to expectations the real problem seems to lay with reversing the procedure. This has happened once, to my knowledge, and was not voluntary or the result of any complication or dissatisfaction. No, the story of the only reversal is far darker and can be found on BME here. In fact, I do not, nor has anyone else I have spoken with know of anyone voluntarily reversing their split. It is this case that I think now points to the direction for the future.
Forced tongue split reversal
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