How The Phoenix Was Born
Ok, to be perfectly honest, this is a story about how a child can become a man of his own free will. The whole thing began as a simple idea. I had thus far accumulated several piercings (only two of which I kept in the end, as being the most 'me') and two tattoos. I was happy with my body, and content with the quality of the work. Andre and John are the guys I swear by. And the idea was scarification. I was talking to a friend about different things, like suspensions and scarification. I lamented the fact that there were no real trained artists in these circles in Moncton. The original mode for the idea was to do a simple hack and slash, and see what developed. But it was obviously not in the stars! I hashed out a little plan with my friend, involving some alcohol, x-acto blades, and a little bit of time. And am I ever glad that the Universe was looking after me. I happened to bump into Andre while waiting for my friend to arrive. I told him what I was up to, and he offered to do it for me instead of my friend. He would have access to scalpels and proper sterilization! What a great turn of events. So I said I'd call him at his new shop in a few days and work something out. Now you must understand, dear reader, that at this point I began to question the original idea. A lot of 'what ifs' were flashing through my head, and I didn't want to be caught with my dick in my hand as it were. I came here to BME and examined the scarification and branding experiences, only to find a motley crew of poorly-documented (for the most part) experiences. The pictures gave me a very good idea of what to look for in terms of a finished product. Reading the experiences gave me a better idea of what to look for in a procedure. I discussed the deal with Andre over the course of several weeks. He eventually got a hold of a place to order scalpels from, and at that point, I had gone through the following thought process: 1. Do I Really Want To go Through With This? The answer, at one point, was absolutely not. The pain, the blood, the whole concept gave me shivers. But as I thought about it, it became clear that I was in fact quite capable of handling the consequences of my actions. Part of becoming a man, I suppose. 2. Why Do I Want To Go Through With This? At first, it was to make myself feel different; any change from the monotony and depression of my life was welcome. Later, as the idea developed in my head, I began to look at it as a growing experience. A way of showing myself and others that I had the self-confidence to endure. The design that I had originally spent hours working on was that of a bird. A simple outline of a head, wings, and a tail. Clean, easy to work with, symmetrical, etc. I pictured a crow, or raven. A scavenger. Much the way I saw myself at the time. When I brought the design to Andre, he liked it. He complimented me, and that made me feel good. The design was original, not copied from anything I had ever seen. I felt that I was capable of making my own destiny, no longer living in shadows. I can't exactly describe the entire spiritual experience I was looking for (and got aplenty!), that's outside the scope of my writing ability. However, as the days went by, I felt that my life needed a new direction, a purpose that was attainable. I saw the bird as a Phoenix now. Not a crow or a raven. Something that would drive me out of my misery and propel me into something good. I was 100% ready to get this design etched into my flesh by a good person and a good artist. Andre was not to disappoint... 3. The Moments of Truth! I had talked to Andre several times, and I could sense a sort of evolution surrounding this project. Each time, the subect moved away from cutting, and closer to branding. To me, this makes much more sense. You'll see why in a minute... Andre got a hold of a butane-fueled soldering/wood burning tool from a friend. While not athe most ideal implement, it certainly seemed more sensible than scalpels. The wounds would be instantly cauterized, sealed, and it also gave Andre more artistic freedom. I arrived at Chubby Chameleon at about 7:30, because my earlier plans for the evening had not panned out. Why not go hang out? We'd agreed upon an after-hours session, to eliminate the random customer walking in and smelling something bizarre and being turned away. I waited, chatted, enjoyed myself. Got comfortable. Relaxed. This was quite important, because I did not want to be tense during the branding. I was a bit cold, and was shivering a lot (although how much of this was cold and how much was adrenaline rush, I'll never know). Andre used marker to outline the design on my back, and spent a good half hour getting it aligned and symmetrical. I was shivering uncontrollably because I was nekkit from the waist up! But it was OK, and Andre got it all on there. I looked at it in the mirror, and was impressed. It took up most of my back! Gigantic! We waited for our cameraman to arrive, and I went out back and had a few smokes. Not nervous at all! Calm, collected... I'd had almost a month to prepare myself for this.
And then it began. I lay face-down on a wheeled gurney, and Andre set up the tools. Isopropyl alcohol to draw heat from the burns, the actual tool itself, towels, sterile equipment. I signalled I was ready (still shivering like a fish out of water, but comforted by a little space-heater!) and he put that hot little fucker right down on my skin and started to draw it down my back. I've been burned before. Nothing as protracted as this, though. It was not pain, as I quickly discovered, that I could not overcome. I clenched my jaw, and just enjoyed it. Andre was assisted by our cameraman who provided running commentary, which I found hilarious! He said things like "Wow! Hear the flesh sizzling?" And I did. Plain as day. Each stroke with the red-hot tool was another piece of stress, another disappointment, another bad day being lifted from my soul. I took breaks whenever I felt a little overwhelmed, and Andre would dab with the alcohol to cool me down. He was fantastic! I can't say enough good things about this guy. He was professional, even though this was all a learning experience for him. He was considerate, above all. We bantered when we took a break, and he'd ask me if I was holding up allright. The guy is great. More than great. He's the only person I'd let near me with a red-hot poker. After about an hour, we were finished. Now let me lay this all out for you. The top of the head reaches the very top line of my shoulderblades. The bottom-most tail-piece reaches almost to the small of my back. The wingspan takes up my entire shoulderblade area. The Phoenix has an eye (a finishing touch, added with a different tip for the tool) and three other dots, each on the bottom tip of the middle three tail-pieces. Got a mental picture? Good. It's all burned into my flesh. The Phoenix on my back guides me, as he was born from fire. He represents the light in my life, the ability to preform acts of selflessness. He is a symbol for my passage into manhood. Can you see how a simple idea can transform and become an act that changes someone forever? The Phoenix on my back is merely a step in my spiritual journey, but a significant one. I am happy, in so many ways. I am a measure more complete than I was before. 4. What I Plan To Do With This: I have to take care of a large burn, basically. The purpose of branding or scarification is to get nice thick keloid scars developed, so that the design stands out. Some people say that infection is the quickest route to this end, but based on common sense and a little bit of reasearch here on BME, I have a good plan. I will not let the burns become infected if I can help it. I will certainly irritate the fuck out of them! But in a rather sterile way. I don't like taking chances when there's this much at stake. I'm keeping it cooled down by taking cold showers in the morning and evening. Wearing loose clothing is good as well, as it allows the burns to breathe (plus they don't get stuck to anything if they start weeping). Picking scabs is somewhat hard to do because of the positioning on my back, but I can just as easily scrub at them with a long-handled brush. And yes, every day it HURTS! And that's a Good Thing (tm) because it reminds me of the purpose. The Phoenix of legend died at sunset, only to rise from the ashes at the next sunrise. It's quite fitting, don't you think? I certainly do. When it is healed fully, I plan to exhibit it at every possible opportunity. Not as if to say "Lookit me! I'm a hardass!", but to let people know that I am committed to myself and my friends. Branding throughout history has been used a a system of marking property. I am nobody's property but my own. This is just as important as the idea behind the brand. I am marked for life! Scars may fade, but they do not go away. Tattoos can be removed, albeit not easily; I'm sure you see the difference here. 5. The End I hope that by writing of my experience, I can help anyone out there that would be tempted into branding 'because it looks cool'. It's the same with tattoos. There is a marked differene between getting a bit of flash off the wall because it looks pretty and spending the time with the artist who'll ink you designing something original and backing it up with some kind of personal meaning. In the end, all I can really say is "Just think about it, and the Universe will provide!". Props to Sana, Kayla, Andre most of all, everyone else in the shop while I was getting branded (I can't remember all your names, but we share a sort of bond now: you've inhaled my flesh.), The guys who helped Andre out (What a great learning experience, eh?), Pierre (Without whom none of this would really have come about), the Universe, and last but not least... Whofuckingever manufactures those little space heaters that Andre uses in the shop! Without them, I would be lost.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 03 March 2001