Saturday, March 16, 2013

A sad day for the body modification community

Shannon Larratt, the founder of BMEzine died.  I've read BME or his personal blog almost every day since I was 13 or 14.  If you're not part of the bod mod community, it's hard to explain his influence, but I'll give it a shot.  BME was built as a community - not just a website for sharing information or pictures, but as a "homebase" for people who may not have had one in real life.  BME strove to cover all aspects -> spreading accurate information, including detailed risks, while covering the cultural and fringe aspects.  It gave people a voice, and a cohesiveness that hadn't existed previously.  It was a place to browse photographs, read about new techniques for new modifications, read/listen to interviews with practitioners and the heavily modified, and fight poorly written legislation and discrimination. BME was what provided me with the information to become a body piercer, and to be the best damn body piercer I could be.

In 2000, Shannon built iamBME, a social networking page that allowed its members to form subgroups, share their photos and thoughts, and once again, served as a way to connect the community.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, but iamBME preceded all the other social networking sites like myspace and facebook by a good 3-4 years.  That's right, the freaks had it first.

His personal blog exposed me to some great things I may not have stumbled upon otherwise.  My love of earthship architecture is because of Shannon.  He's the one who really got me thinking of the advantages of off-grid living and self-sufficiency.

Whenever I emailed him, he would always reply, even though we'd never met, and he never had any obligation to me.  Whether it was 14 year old me asking about the steps necessary to break into the industry, 20 year old me asking about different piercing techniques, or last may, when he wrote me a very well-thought-out reply to my blog post on the need of modified people to be more visible in a professional capacity, he always took time to support members of the community.

Within the past few years, he started experiencing some problems.  What started out as an odd mass on his leg, eventually turned to muscle wasting, pain, difficulty walking, and eventually apnea even when he was awake.  He spoke about the difficulties getting diagnosed (finally with a rare disease called tubular aggregate myopathy), and sadly about the difficulties of getting proper pain control in a system that would rather withhold real relief for people who need it rather than risk medicating a drug seeker.

I left the body modification industry in 2009, when I quit piercing in order to work at a veterinary clinic full time.  I never left the community.  Shannon became less important to me as a representative of body modification over the past few years, and more important to me as a philosopher and fellow human being.  Even though today's news was expected, it feels like there's a gaping hole left in the world.  I'm so happy for him that he's no longer suffering, but so sad that he's gone.  Even if you're not the least bit interested in tattoos or piercings or extreme mods, it's worth clicking the link at the top of this entry and reading his last post.

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