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The kiss of fire

I had never thought about a scarification till I saw my friend Alison come back from San Francisco with a healed cutting. It was beautiful. That's when I started doing research and found BME. But I couldn't find anyone to actually do the branding. I even went so far as to get a torch and some thin gauge stainless steel but the Mrs. changed her mind and said she wouldn't do it. Back to square one.  

A couple of weeks ago the Mrs. was in the Anaheim Outer Limits getting plugs for her ears. This girl Chrissy was filling in for our friend Johnny while he's on tour with his band. That's when my wife saw the cuttings on the back of Chrissy's neck. That's how we got Kent's name. 

I called Kent at the Costa Mesa Outer Limits and asked if we could come down and show him some designs for my wife's cutting (I'll let her tell that story) and my brand. He said that would be awesome and to come on over. I've been to three locations of Kari Barba's Outer Limits and have always been impressed with the staff. Kent was no exception. Very cool guy. He answered our questions and worked with us on the designs. We put down a deposit and set the time; Thursday, November 2nd, 9:00PM. 

I was antsy all day. I just wanted 5:00 to roll around so I could clock out, go home and get ready. As it was, we got there way early and sat around waiting for him to show up. He did my wife's cutting first. He couldn't do my brand till after hours because of the smell. I went back and forth from really excited to Zen-like calm. When 11:00 rolled around and the last of the customers left my Zen-like calm went right out the window.  

It didn't take very long to get the placement right. On the inside of my right forearm the symbol for Law, a three inch long arrow, pointing upward. On the inside of my left forearm the symbol for Chaos, eight arrows coming from a common center, like two equal armed crossed overlapped. They looked so harmless in blue ink. 

The torch, bits and vice grips looked... not so harmless. It wasn't to be single strikes but drop and drag. I lay down on the table with my left arm up and my right hand wrapped around my mala. For each bead I would say the litany against fear from Dune. My heart was still hammering in my chest. I closed my eyes. <click- whoosh> The torch was on. I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings <pop- sizzle>

I know from reading the other accounts of branding that "intense" comes up often but somehow "Yah, that smarts" just doesn't cover it. Not unbearable, like I feared, but very intense heat concentrated on a very small point. Where the point went was a flash of pain. Where the point was a second ago, nothing. I even had a brand new dog tug of war rope to squeeze and a rubber bone to bite down on like the Civil War guys did when they got a limb sawed off. Didn't even touch 'em. It was nowhere near as painful as I had psyched myself up to expect. Now the dogs have two new toys.

I know that both brands only took 30-35 minutes by the clock. When I was under the torch, though, I honestly couldn't have told you how much time had passed, how many times I said the litany in my head, or how many beads I counted. I was in a Zen-like state when he finished Chaos. I sat up, turned the other way, put my right arm up and switched the prayer beads to my left hand. I must not fear <pop- sizzle> F—k, that one stung. I think the endorphins are running out. That's why I did the big one first. Thankfully, the last leg of the journey was quick.

I sat up and looked at the brands (my eyes were closed, remember). They looked awesome. Slightly sunken, golden brown symbols etched into my arms. The area around the brands looked like the world's worst sunburn. Kent put a couple of wet paper towels on them. Oh my God, who would have thought a wet paper towel could feel that good? I sat there with a big, goofy grin on my face for a couple of minutes before the desire for a cigarette hit me.

That was when I noticed the smoke. It hung in the air throughout the whole shop but I couldn't really smell it. As the three of us stood outside smoking my legs felt really light and the misty night air felt good on my arms. Kent reminded us of the aftercare; we went inside, paid up and hit the road. I'm glad the Mrs. was driving because my legs were feeling a little rubbery. I probably would have stalled the car. I think I was still cruising on the tail of the endorphin rush and was pretty chatty the whole ride home. Hey Babe, what's that smell? Your brands. Oh.

By the time we got home they were pretty sore. I took a Darvocet and balanced an ice pack on each arm. When they stopped feeling cold I went to bed. Sleeping wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I was even able to curl up on my side with my arms bent.

Friday, they barely hurt. A little tight, a little sore and a little red. Not bad, at all. They were a little tender in a jacket but today they're okay inside a long sleeve shirt. They look about the same as yesterday, a little less red around the brand. Now I have to see if we have film for the old Minolta. Kent took some pics but I'd like to have my own.

It was a good experience all the way around. If you've been thinking about it and you're in the area give Kent a call. You won't be sorry.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 22 Nov. 2006
in Scarification

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Artist: Kent
Studio: Outer+Limits
Location: Costa+Mesa%2C+CA

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