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Branding: A Trek Thru Beautiful Pain

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The "kiss of fire", or branding, has been around for millinia in mostly tribal, non-western cultures as a form of body modification. Only relatively recently has it become available more widely to the urban primitive. Branding is, compared to tattooing and piercing, seen by many as a more extreme form of body art. Even some people who are heavily tattooed or pierced look at branding with disgust and loathing. People say; "How can you do that to yourself? Why would you choose to burn your own flesh like that?" It was a very personal choice; branding is something I felt I needed to do for myself.

When I tell most people that I got branded they ask; "You mean, like cattle?" Well... Yeah, I guess. The difference is, though, I chose to be branded- cattle have no choice in the matter. I choose to manipulate and scar my flesh; I am master. I think I felt I had to do it because wished to "conquer" my physical body in some way. And sitting through that pain gave me a great sense of accomplishment. For me, it was like summmiting a great mountain.

I got branded at the end of March. It was amazing! I thoroughly enjoyed the pain and endorphine rush. At first, when I saw the blowtorch, I had second thoughts. But I decided to suck it up and trek onward. I'm so glad I continued. The rush I get from tattooing just isn't enough, anymore. I needed something new. It's probably like going from coffee to crack for a better high.

I had been talking to Kat at Body Shock in Dayton about branding me for about a year. We talked about designs, & she invited me to watch someone else get branded. When I saw the smoke & smelled burning flesh I said; "Fuck that! I'll stick to tattooing." That was a year ago and now I have a brand. The stench of burning flesh, seeing smoke, and watching the glowing hot metal being touched to the flesh made me have second thoughts.

I have to say that I never had a rush like that. It was an experience I'll never forget. I finally decided on the 'symbol of infinity' for my brand. It's simple enough for a good brand, but means a lot to me. I thought it would go nicely with my mostly Buddhist type tattoos. And, if I say so myself, it does; it's a wonderful addition. I decided to have it placed on my right forearm just below my elbow. I have a tattoo on my forearm that is Japanese script with flames around it. I wanted to place the brand just above the tattoo to run them together. My hope was to make it appear as though the brand was burned in by the flames.

I finally, after more than a year, got up the balls to go through with it. Like I said before it was the most incredible rush I've ever experienced. Now that I'm drug free I've become an endorphine junky. I've never done another drug that even comes close to the rush I experienced through branding. After Kat had finished I was incredibly, naturally high on my own endorphines. It was far better than any other drug I could ever do.

Kat had drawn up and mapped out the design and had cut the metal. A guy there was asked to hold the blowwtorch to the metal. He heated the metal until it was glowing red. The metal was so hot that I could feel the heat coming off the piece before she struck it to my arm. At this point I was sweating like a hog I was so nervous. I took a deep breath and stated, in a shaky whisper, that I was ready.

I went with my friend Stacy. She wanted to be there to see me squirm. And I'm glad she went; it means a lot to me. Anyway, we rolled in there for the kiss of fire. I asked Kat how many strikes it would take. She told me five and I started trembling. The first time she hit me I jerked my arm back and it didn't take. After that, she told me not to watch, and Stacy held me down so I wouldn't jump out of my wheelchair. The whole process took about fifteen minutes. I have no regrets. Thanks Kat and Stacy.

A week after I got the "kiss of fire" was Easter weekend and my dad and step-mom came in from St. Louis to visit me. We all went out to dinner Saturday night, they then came over Sunday morning. I tried to hide my brand the whole time; I wore a long sleeve shirt to dinner and Sunday I didn't wear a shirt so I just tried to conceal it. My dad's cool about my tattoos and pierces, but I didn't think he'd quite understand the brand. I was right.

He saw it as an act of self mutilation. In a way I can see his point. The tattooing and piercing are clearly a beautiful art- form, but scarification through branding takes body art to an entirely new level. This is why it took me so long to finally decide to go through with the branding. That and the pain involved. For me, scarification is a big step.

A real sense of self-pride developed from my branding experience. I felt like if could tolerate the pain involved in branding I could tolerate anything. The experience truly instilled in me a sense of empowerment. Because of my disability I feel that I am enslaved by my physical body, but choosing to subject myself to the intense pain of branding made me feel like I conquered my body. Even if temporarily.

Adam Cline

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 June 1999
in Scarification

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