Body modification can really be anything from a pierced ear, a tattoo, a breast implant, to splitting your tongue in an attempt to look more serpent-like. Though the majority of the population nowadays has some form of body modification, they are most often socially acceptable, like ear or nose piercings, or a few covered tattoos. Even the days of more than a few facial piercings or visible tattoos being a stigma are for the most part over with. Who doesn’t know anyone without a tattoo, even a visible one? That said, there are still forms of more extreme body modification, whether via more traditional means like piercing and tattoos, or through implants, surgeries, and a mix of everything above. Some see the people on this list as trailblazers for self-expression, while others view them as insecure and mentally ill. There’s no judgment passed here at all, just a glimpse at a select few of the most heavily modified bodies on the planet.
14. Labret Spacer
Labret piercings are very common form of body art, maybe not quite as much today as in years past, but nevertheless, if you head out into a crowded bar, club or concert, you’ll catch more than a few people sporting them. What isn’t quite so common is the labret spacer. Ear spacers are all the rage, but stretching out your labret enough to actually fit an giant spacer through the piercing is pretty extreme. While some with labret spacers merely push the envelope a little, others stretch the skin beneath their lip so wide and place a hollow spacer into the hole fully exposing their teeth and their gums. A little extreme, and a little confusing as to how, or even if, that skin ever returns to normal.
13. Saline Implants (in the head)
We’ve all heard of saline injections right? After all, most breast implants, at least in part, utilize saline. But to inject saline into your forehead? That is an entirely different ballgame. Some use this form of body modification to put horn-shaped injections into their skull, while others, particularly in Japan as of late, have taken to using the saline injection to create a bagel shaped lump in their forehead. The procedure takes about two hours, and apparently the saline dissipates back into the skin after a day, but the trend has been a hot one the past few years.
12. Tentacle Implants
There is extreme, and then there is implanting circular tentacle-shaped silicone implants into your body to look like a sea creature. The Tentacle implant hasn’t necessarily caught on in a massive way, but the idea and execution is just so strange that it’s well worth mentioning. Part new wave science fiction (ever read China Mieville?), and part old school Lovecraftian Cthulhu mythos, if you decided to take a love of weird fiction, or the sea, to a whole new level, rest assured, your tentacle implants certainly won’t go unnoticed, and you’ll probably be the only one around with them. Statement made.
11. Ear Arm
Moving on from tentacles there really is just no making up what some people will implant into their bodies. For performance artist Stelarc, born Stelios Arcadious, silicone tentacles just didn’t quite cut it. Instead, he searched, for a decade, to find a surgeon willing to implant an ear into his forearm, a legitimate human ear. Grown in a lab and finally implanted into the 61-year-old back in 2007, Stelarc has also held onto hope that he’ll one day have a microphone implanted into the ear in his forearm which he plans on connecting to a Bluetooth device in order for his audiences to hear what his third ear his hearing. Fascinating, but utterly creepy as well.
10. Skull Spikes
Ever seen the film Hellraiser starring the nasty old Cenobite Pinhead? Well, some into the body modification scene have taken a page from his playbook and gone the body mod rout of implanting spikes into their head. Though none have gone to such extremes as Pinhead, they also don’t live in Clive Barker’s warped mind, though maybe they should. The trans dermal implants are, what else, implanted into the head to a degree, while the rest of the implant, a steel spike, protrudes from the top of the head. Part heavy metal, part Mad Max, and part terrifying, the trend of trans dermal steel spike implants is actually not as uncommon as you might think.
9. Most Pierced Woman in the World
When you have over 9,000 piercings, over 500 of them involving your genitalia, you would hope that you hold the distinction in the Guinness Book of World Records as most pierced person on earth. Edinburgh, Scotland resident, and Brazil native Elaine Davidson definitely owns that record. There is no place on her body that is not covered with holes, and along with her flamboyant hairstyle, Davidson, and her piercings, all 9,000 some odd of them, are a shock to the public wherever she goes.
8. Most Tattooed Woman in the World
Born with a condition that continuously made her skin blister and subsequently scar, Julia Gnuse decided, once and for all, that she wanted to cover the scars, and she did so with tattoos. Known to some as the “Illustrated Lady,” Julia is the most tattooed woman on the planet. While her skin condition, known as Porphyria, didn’t develop until she was in her 30s, Gnuse wasted little time getting to work on her body modification, as today, at age 55 she has covered roughly 90 percent of her body in ink, including her face. Sadly, the tattoos didn’t make an impact on her skin condition; she still blisters as always, but now, the damage is covered by her tattoos.
7. Most Tattooed Man in the World
How do you top the most tattooed woman in the world? After all, 95 percent of your body is a lot of ink. If you are New Zealander Gregory McLaren, naturally you tattoo 100 percent of your body, eyelids and all, and in black ink for extra effect. The performance artist, who goes by the name Lucky Diamond Rich, and whose act includes sword swallowing, juggling and a unicycle owns the record for the most tattooed person on the planet according to the Guinness Book of World Records. He also has white ink tattooed on top of the all-black body suit he has in order to add extra effect. It actually does look really cool.
6. The Tiger Lady
Speaking of the Enigma, how about his former wife, Katzen Hobbes, AKA the Tiger Lady? With 90 percent of her body, including her face, tattooed in tiger stripes, this performance and tattoo artist in Texas also used to wear fake whiskers that were attached to piercings in her face. She’s appeared on reality television, been the subject of many documentaries about body modification and extreme performance art, and is one of the most heavily tattooed women on earth. Apparently, it’s all been by design from an early age as well, stating: “I wanted to be covered in tiger stripes when I was young, but it wasn’t until I was 9 and living in Japan that I realized how I could do it.”
5. The Leopard Man
73-year-old Tom Leppard was once the most tattooed man on earth, thanks to the unmistakable spots tattooed all over his body. The former soldier living off the coast of Scotland dropped out of society years ago to live as the “Leopard” man, leaving his tiny shelter, with a roof made of plastic, a few times a month only to collect food and supplies and his military pension. Eventually, the hermit lifestyle in the wild caught up with Tom and in 2008, he left his home and reacquainted himself with electricity, and a bed, by moving into a retirement home.
4. The Lizard Man
One of the coolest things you may see at a party, or club, is when someone shows you their surgically split tongue. It’s shocking, but also pretty badass, in an “I probably wouldn’t go that far” kind of way. Eric Sprague, AKA “The Lizard Man,” took the idea of a snake tongue so, so much further. One of the first documented people to actually have their tongue split, I can most likely thank Sprague for the split tongue that crossed my path. Not only does Sprague have his tongue split, he is also heavily, heavily tattooed in a lizard pattern, and has also filed down his teeth into fangs, and placed Teflon into his forehead to achieve a look of horns.
3. The Enigma
Most people are aware of the Enigma, form his appearance on the X-Files to multiple reality shows and documentaries regarding body modification. Covered in tattoos of blue puzzle pieces and known for his performance art that includes acts involving swords and power drills, the Enigma also has dermal implants resembling horns in his forehead. Though he may not be the most extreme member of the body modification community anymore, the Enigma most likely was many people’s initial exposure to the world of heavy tattooing, dermal implants and even shock cabaret-styled performance art. In 2014, there are those more shocking than the Enigma, but he is also been one of the longest serving ambassadors for the community.
2. Cat Man
Dennis Avner truly does look like a tiger. The amount of facial modification the Cat Man has undergone alone has helped him achieve his goal of looking like the giant cat. Avner has endured stripes tattooed all across his face, sub dermal implants in his cheeks to change the actual shape of his face, trans dermal implants to facilitate whiskers, and extensive filing of his teeth to give the appearance of fangs, all to help him reach his goal. He had further silicone injections in his face, and split his upper lip as well in order to widen it. Also know as Stalking Cat due to his Native American heritage, Avner was active in the body modification community throughout his life. Sadly, it was reported that Dennis Avner took his own life at age 54 in November of 2012.
1. The Walking Dead
This might be the most badass capitalization on the Zombie resurgence of the past few years, or it may very well be a passing fad that Rick Genest, a young Canadian man from Montreal may regret in the not so distant future. The young man has undergone extensive tattooing in order to look like a Zombie. The Zombie look has actually been working out for him too lately, as he’s been known the world over as a side show performer, and upon being discovered by Lady Gaga’s fashion director, his extreme body modification has led to roles as an actor, model and at one point the face of Jay Z’s clothing label. So far, through his body modification, Genest has lived his dreams, and probably plenty more he may never have imagined. After all, this is the guy who stated “I thought long and hard about what I really wanted, what my passion was. And I decided I wanted to be a f**king zombie.”