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k was with me last night and I was able to attend the cutting/scarring demonstration that Keith Alexander presented as part of "Edge Play", this week's program at the GMSMA (Gay Male S/M Activists) here in beautiful downtown New York City.

Keith began with a concise and informative 15-minute talk, covering the safety measures (copious), legality (barely), and aesthetics of cutting. Anyone who's met Keith in person will be happy to know that he's the same confident and expert self when talking to a group as he is one-on-one. He took a few quick questions from the audience before introducing the evening's most special guest, Don, who was to receive the cutting from Keith.

Don came to the stage and took off his shirt. Keith asked him if he'd prefer to sit, lie down, or stand for the procedure; Don said he'd like to stand. Keith had a large table set up against the back wall for his tools and supplies, and as he cleaned the area of Don's chest where the cutting would be done, he began explaining each step of the process to the audience.

Don wanted a sunrise/sunset design, and allowed Keith the freedom of working without a stencil or pre-drawn image -- to do it on the fly. As Keith finished marking the area boundaries for the sun, Don looked scared. Not so much a fear that might make him back out, but -intense- anticipation. There was definitely an electricity in the air in the moments before the cutting actually began.

Don stood alone on the stage as Keith went to the table one last time to get the blades. Keith explained what kind he prefers to use and what purpose each one has, whether it's for straight or curved lines, etc. He came back to Don and stood in front of him, holding the knife in one gloved hand. He bent forward and as he first touched the knife to Don's chest, Don's eyes stayed wide open, looking straight forward. He didn't flinch. He almost seemed to -relax- a bit as the cutting began. After a few moments, as Keith stepped away for the first time, Don took a breath and looked down at his chest. His posture changed then, and he seemed -completely- calm. It was really quite incredible to see.

Keith continued cutting, and Don would occasionally look down as the design took shape. During the few moments when Keith would step away to look at the cutting or to take towels from the table, Don glanced at the audience and quickly smiled, or looked down at the blood flowing from his chest. (When someone in the audience later asked Don what it was like, what was going through his mind then, he said that one of his impulses had been to scoop up some of the blood and taste it.)

It was probably not longer than 15 or 20 minutes before Keith was finished and wiped the blood away so everyone could see the work. He quickly made a few "blood prints" of the design on paper towels and as he finished cleaning Don and dressing the area with Tegaderm, took a few more questions from the audience.

While Don said he was perfectly comfortable having this cutting done under these circumstances, Keith explained that this was really quite far from ideal. Keith prefers a gentler, quieter environment, and approaches his work on a much more personal level than can take place in front of a crowd. However, he gave a great lecture that taught one more roomful of people about his work, and demonstrated his ever-impeccable techniques. No one fainted, everyone learned something, and Don now has a beautiful sun warming his heart, thanks to Keith.

A. Wolfe


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 23 Nov. 1997
in Ritual

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