It was Sunday and the day was winding down. I had been trying not to think about the cutting to much, because it just made me nervous as all get up. This was my first cutting, so I wasn't sure quite what to expect. Chef and BJ (who both have cuttings themselves) helped out alot with that area, by answering any questions I had about it. We hadn't really made a set time for when we would do the piece, we were just kind of winging it.
When I saw Keith come out with some gloves on, my stomach just dropped. He walked right by me and over to Hound, to find out about doing his branding outside. Whew They setup, and Hound and Denise got prepared for the strikes. I, unfortunatley, missed Denises brand - but had a great view of Hounds. That was the first branding I had ever witnessed. It was really amazing, every strike had the entire crowds attention, and when it was over - a loud clapping and cheering was heard. They turned out looking fabulous. And the energy level was rising, indeed.
After that was done, and they cleaned up, Keith came by and said he just wanted to wind down a bit. I said that it was fine by me, he replied with a, "About a half an hour then.". Now, this is the part where I start getting really nervous. Just kind of wondering around in a daze, talking, staring, trying to get my mind/body prepared.
Keith came out and asked, because we had originally talked about having 4 or 5 people in the room, if there could be a few more. Without hesitation, I replied, "Sure, as many people that can fit in the shop, are welcome.". I figured that it was an opportunity for me to share this experience with good friends. And also allow for people to see first hand what they might not ever see again.
So, about a half an hour goes by and Keith comes out and sez, "Les Doit.". I was actually very calm here. We went in and started to draw the design on my upper back, changing the original design slightly. Once I was happy with it...I believe the words were, "Lay down, and get comfortable.". So I hopped up on the table, laid down on my stomach, crossed my hands under my chin, crossed my legs, and closed my eyes. I started to try and get into a breathing pattern, something I do with any mod. I try and dissaccoiate my self from the inital pain, the last thing I want to do under the needle or blade is flinch. The atmosphere was overwhelmingly relaxing, unlike any other shop I've been in. The tribal music, the smell of the incense, all allowed me to focus completely on this moment. I have to admit, I really didn't even know how many people were in the room. It was really quiet enough that I didn't know anyone was in the room besides Keith and Chef.
Keith explained he would first lightly 'outline' the design with the scalpel and once he did that and was happy with the layout, he would 'open up' the design. I felt Keith's hand touch my back, I could feel his latex covered pinky finger holding up the rest of his hand - to 'prop up' the blade. He asked if I was ready, I said ,"yes" and immediatly started to exhale every ounce of air in me. As I came to the point of breathlesness, I felt some sharp pressure on the left upper part of my back. Unlike any tattoo I've ever had, I could feel right where he was on the design. Almost as if it was becoming part of me with every one of Keith's precision cuts.
At the last 'ray' of the design, on the outlining, I knew he was going to start with opening up the design. So again, I took a deep breath and exhaled as the blade came down on the first 'ray'. So far, this didn't seem to bad - the pain was very much like the outlining of a tattoo. But this next stroke was the most intense feeling I think I have ever had. I'd have to say that this cutting was the most intense mod I have ever had. But I was so in tune with the design it didn't matter. The pain could only be described as 'feeling like I was being cut by a scalpel'. For me it seemed like there was much more pain involved then a tattoo, and longer and more intense then a pierce. It was the curves in the design that hurt the worst, those outer edges.
The phrase 'open up' was so perfect for describing what he was doing. It was as if I could feel the skin seperating behind the blade with every stroke. And right as I was starting to think to myself, "Wow, there doesn't (from) what I can feel) seem to be as much blood as I thought there would be.", I felt 2 streams of blood run over both my shoulders onto my chest. That really started to put things in perspective.
Again I knew right where he was with the design, it was so much more personal then a tattoo. I delt with the pain as with every other mod, extreme concentration, patterned breathing, relaxing, focusing. And it was if my senses were hightend also. It was like, I couldn't hear the blatent noise - like the music, but I could hear someone talking across the street outside, and I heard someones keys jingle, and the noises of the 'tools' being set down on the table next to me sounded clear as a bell. It was absolootly spiritual. And the atmosphere created by Keith and all my friends around me, helped out with that also. I was getting so much positive energy from everyone that was there, I love those GoodVibes[TM].
After what seemd to me to be like an hour, but turned out to be more like a half hour, I felt Keith pour some liquid on my back. It was really cold at first, but became hot very quickly. He was wiping up the blood, touching up the design, going over a few spots, I could feel him, checking that all the rays were even. Then I felt a paper towel on my back being pressed down flat. I knew this would be my blood print, so I knew we were done.
I opened up my eyes, took some very deep breaths, was still very relaxed though. Keith showed me the blood print and then helped me off the table. As I got down, everyone started clapping, and the energy just sky rocketed. I was on a high, like I have never been on. I went right to the mirror to take a look...perfect - it was better then I ever imagend it would be. Then as I turned around, I saw people with glossy eyes and some (Andria ;) in tears. I had just shared a great moment in my life with all these great people, and they were as moved as I was by the piece. It was an inspiring moment, one that I will never forget. It was almost perfect, you see my wife wasn't there to share it with me.
After some tears, hugs, and congrats - I was as gitty as a school grrrl. Couldn't believe what I just went through. I took my body to a level it hadn't been before. It felt great too. I was waiting for some major pain, but in healing it so far - it still feels great (even through the 17 hour car ride home). Though it is a little itchy right now, but unlike my tats - I can scratch the hell out of the cutting (as I am going for the scarification and I don't keloid very well). So keeping it ajitated is a GoodThang[TM].
The reason I stated that the experience was almost perfect, except for my wife not being there to share the moment with me... Is because the piece is a dedication to my wife and I, and the decade we have been together. We met when we were 14, and were high school sweathearts. We were each others 'firsts' and 'onlys'. We got married and had a son, who was a honeymoon baby and went through open heart surgery at 2 days old (he is doing great =). With as much as the 2 of us have shared together, grown together (in many ways), been through together, this 10 year anniversary was something extremely special for me.
The design consited of 2 major parts, the infinity symbol in the middle and 10 'rays' coming out around it. There are 7 rays on top, 1 for each year we were together dating. And there are 3 on the bottom, 1 for each year we have been married. With a total of 10. And the infinty symbol is there for the everlasting love we will share with each other, as we grow old together.
It is a very meaningful piece to me and my wife (she loved it by the way!), and I am glad I was able to share it the people that were there - and share it with all of you who weren't there by writing this.
Thank you all for letting me share this with you. Thank you Chef for being a great friend and helping out Keith with my cutting. Thank you Keith for the amazing experience, and a 'better then I ever imagined' mod.
May 17, 1998 - Modern American Bodyarts: Brooklyn, NY - 'RabCon98'
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 July 1998
Artist: Keith Alexander