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Armies and Sleavies

I wanted cuffs on my forearms. I had no design, no deep metaphysical message to transmit from my wrist to my elbow. I just wanted something unusual and pretty that people would see. But what?

Now, maybe this is a common dilemma, maybe I'm a giant wuss; while I do want to subvert and overthrow the physical strictures of society and use my body as a billboard reading "Boy-howdy, none of us are 'normal'!" I am going to want a job someday. What's worse, I plan to work in television, an industry about as embracing to individuality as the US Marine Core. Sad to say, my resume notwithstanding, I'll eventually have to look the part of a palm-pilot toting, cell phone dependant, "babe"-saying pig. Granted, I have no issues with that; I'm horribly shallow. But in the mean time, while I'm young, I'd like mark my territory amongst my peers with my body and the modification there of.

I also love paisley. Don't look at me like that; it's not like I fondle ties at Lord & Taylor, I have just always been attracted to the amoeba looking, Eastern pattern that just so happens to lend itself to such fashion atrocities as sarongs and prom cummerbunds.

When I think body mods, I tend to think permanency. I am fickle and the word "permanent" chafes my in-flux sensibilities. I also know for a fact that everyone who has ever had Vegan tattooed on their chest is noshing Whitecastle Burgers before the thing heals, and the quickest way to get broken up with is to tattoo your mate's name somewhere visible. In high school, I was very close to having Bjork tattooed on my upper arm. I didn't like her last album, and if I had her on my arm, I'd have to turn her into Marianne from Gilligan's Island or something innocuous like that to avoid questioning.

These things in mind, I settled on scarring. I don't know anyone who really has an intricate one, and to be honest, I knew little about it. I knew my buddy, James, had done it on his girlfriend, and is attempting to get it instated as a service provided at the piercing shop he works at, thus needing to develop something of a portfolio. Serendipitously, I am broke! And so it happened; for twenty bucks and a pack of cigarettes, I was given a beautiful paisley number on my right forearm. It was done in less than two hours with impressive sterile technique, considering it was a house-call situation.

I had to stalk James at work and through his girlfriend, but eventually, at a drag show in a South Philly bar, I contacted him and found him completely stoked for the prospect of tearing into my flesh.

My friend, Tammy, a textiles major at Moore College of Art and one of the few people who did not cringe at the idea of me bleeding on purpose, leant me a textbook of patterns. I know that there is usually some sort of tribal, Aboriginal reference made with scarification, but I am neither tribal nor from Australia (I grew up in Massachusetts and I can't even go camping, let alone live in a hut on a pile of sand. I'd rather go sledding, but not actual sledding, like video game sledding). Forgoing tribal designs completely, I opted to create my own design out of the classic paisleys from Tammy's book. Unsure of just how clean I would scar and how difficult I was going to make this for James, I had to simplify the designs into line drawings. Cuts I've seen are typically really simple lines and geometric shapes, so I was concerned that what I was coming up with wouldn't work. When I showed James, my final designs, he just nodded and said "When?"

The "When" came out of nowhere. My boyfriend and I were bored after some stupid plans had fallen through, so I just called James. He wasn't busy, he had just gotten new scalpels, so he came over and we did it. The fore mentioned Tammy, and my roommate, Molly, armed with the camera sat in my room as Steve-O, my boyfriend drew the design on my arm while James scrubbed up.

The design that I had drawn didn't really cover as much of my forearm as I had wanted, so Steve-O freehanded the rest. Finally satisfied with the modified design, we started what I tenderly refer to as "hacking away at the old arm".

I have a high threshold for pain. I've had surface piercings, my nostril, my ears, what have you. The most painful body modification I've experienced was a bout with bulimia where I lost a good eighty pounds in four months. My body is kind of a source of contention for me and always will be. I feel like that is why having this done was so important.

We didn't stop. James had me breathing at intervals; the pain wasn't so bad that I needed much of a break. I did stop once for a smoke, but outside of that, we finished in about an hour and forty-five minutes. The blood was intense. I don't get queasy at the sight of blood, but those present had trouble looking at it. (Steve and Molly got a little sad looking at it, but were happy it had been finished). James offered to pour rubbing alcohol on the wound and set it on fire to achieve a certain scar affect, but, high on adrenaline and a tad exhausted from having my skin torn open for two hours, I passed. Steve-O helped me into the shower (I was trying not to soak anything in my apartment with blood), then we went and got food at a diner because I was getting a little loopy from the adrenaline.

The weeks following, I kept it clean with peroxide (James said this would give it a uniform inset scar, which is what I wanted). People were really skeeved by my arm as it was healing, but reaction was typically that of interest.

It has since healed into my beautiful, prominent, unusual piece of permanent art. It's subtler than a tattoo, so when I am a creative exec at VH1 or some such awful place, my hairy gorilla arms will not be noticed unless I want them to be. I'm exceedingly pleased with how it turned out, and anxious to begin my other arm. For two hours of a bit of bleeding, I am left with something that will never go on a resume. It lists my credentials as a gay-ass, tough skinned recovered bulimic who likes paisley. My people skills and clerical experience will be of importance later.

Details

submitted by: Anonymous
on: 06 June 2003
in Scarification

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Artist: James
Studio: My+home%2C+by+a+pro.
Location: Philadelphia

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