Body Modification: Religion or Mutilation

The practice of body modification has pervaded religion, science, and art in cultures across the world since ancient times. Though in a country driven by image, there is an importance placed on appearances, which some Americans defy by pushing the limits of what is acceptable, and what many might consider, taboo.  In San Diego, California a church congregation proves that they are hooked on God, while in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a band of inventors are compelled by a magnetic interest in hacking their own bodies.  In Flagstaff, Arizona a group of women stretch their artistic canvas, while in Austin, Texas one man shows his wild side, inside and out. Get the inside scoop on tonight’s episode of Taboo USA: Inked, Pierced & Hooked TUE JUL 9 10PM ET

Taboo USA: episode 9: Body Modifications NGCUS Ep Code: 9802 NGCI IBMS Code: 041964

Corset Piercing Blog

When we heard we were doing a story about Corset Piercing, a lot of squeamishness appeared on the faces of the crew.  No one was really up for seeing someone get 30 piercings in their back and have lace pulled through the rings.  It was going to be something!

We arrived at Tat-Fu and were greeted with the gleeful members of tattoo/piercing facility.  Everyone welcomed us with open arms and smile, which made some of our crew forget about what we were here to film.

After a day of spending time with the Tat-Fu crew, the photo shoot began, which meant the piercings have begun.  Girl after girl filed in and out of the chair and each one had the same painful expressions displayed through the entire process.  Just painful.

Finally, the last girl entered, who was to get the full corset piercing.  After marking the body, the crew laid her down and began poking her with needles.  Every stick brought pain not only to the model but to the crew.  At any time you could find any one of us closing our eyes and shaking our heads, thinking “Why?  Why would you do this?”  Pulling skin, blood flowing; the process was far from pretty.

But after 3 hours of stopping and starting (the model almost passed out a couple times), the process was complete and it looked stunning.  We all kind of realized why someone would put themselves through this process; no one on the crew would ever do it themselves… but at least we could now see why someone would.

By Nathan Bunker, Associate Producer, Taboo USA


Taboo USA: episode 9: Body Modifications NGCUS Ep Code: 9802 NGCI IBMS Code: 041964Body Hacking

The one thing that stuck with me in the body hacking segment was the idea of citizen science.  Both Shawn and Tim pushed this idea and believed in it, and it is something that I have ever thought very little about.  As a psychology major in college and grad school, I performed experiments and recorded results and formed hypothesies – the whole nine yards.  But since graduating, I have not even thought about actually doing any research.  This is because it feels like there is no place for conducting research in the real world or in my world as a non-psychologist, not associated with a university.  But this segment made me realize this is ridiculous.  This concept of “professional” science/social science has only really been around for 100 years or so, and it is rather disappointing that in our country, experimentation is not encouraged more.  It is relegated to the movies in characters like “Doc” from Back to the Future, but it’s not seriously ever promoted in our society.  In fact, the people that do real experiments and research on their own are considered “hackers” and looked down upon for not having real degrees or jobs.  No one in high school, college, or grad school ever tried to promote the idea that you should go in your basement and have fun.  Put chemicals together and see what happens.  Maybe that has changed a little today with the internet, but I doubt it.  I hope there is a generation out there, with so much information at their fingertips, that is going to try to gain more information and take matters into their own hands if there is something they want to build or create.  It’s happened in the arts and cinema with bedroom filmmaking and music recording.  Why can’t bedroom science be next?

By Bryan Johnson, Producer, Taboo USA


Taboo USA: episode 9: Body Modifications NGCUS Ep Code: 9802 NGCI IBMS Code: 041964The Church of Body Modification

Upon coming to this story I did not really know what to think. Religious topics are always difficult to deal with on many levels. Because this religion is so new it was hard for me to understand the religion. There is not a lot of information on the internet and most of the information about the religion rest in blog sites and discussion forums. Once I met with some of the members they were more than happy to answer any question I had and did not judge me for my ignorance on the subject. I found that most of the members formally belonged to other religions in the past and brought some of the values of that religion to the Church of Body Mod. With the influence of all religions coming into play it seems as though they use what they can to be as happy and positive as possible. The body modification part of it serves as ritual and helps the individual get closer to a higher power. All in all there is still a lot up for debate but at the end of the day if it makes them happy I feel they should keep doing whatever they want to get to where they want to be.

By Jamaal Avery, Segment Producer, Taboo USA


Taboo USA:episode 9: Body ModificationsNGCUS Ep Code: 9802NGCI IBMS Code: 041964Manimal

Never in a million years would I think that someone would take a tattoo gun and tattoo themselves, but Larry has, Oh boy has he…

While interviewing Larry for his segment he was very candid about his tattoos and told me about how he not only tattooed his legs, but he tattooed his own penis. Having a couple tattoos myself I remember the pain I felt when that needle hit the skin. With that being said NEVER EVER EVER would I subject myself to that pain in the tenderest part of the body.

Hearing Larry’s story of tattooing his own genitals was hardly the most shocking thing that happened during our three-day shoot.  On the last day we followed Larry to tattoo parlor that his friend ran out of her house. Larry needed to get some of the spots on his neck touched up. We watched while Larry’s friend Camille tattooed his neck. It was easy to see Larry was in pain, but the pain didn’t stop Larry

After getting a few of the spots on his neck touched up Larry and Camille started talking about finishing the spots on Larry’s nose. The tip of Larry’s nose was one of the few spots on Larry’s body that had never been tattooed. Larry and Camille thought this was the perfect time and they started debating about the size and placement of Larry’s new spots. Before I knew what was happening Camille was tattooing Larry’s face right in front of me.

After about 15 minutes Larry’s nose was filled in, but he still wasn’t happy. Next thing you know Larry picks up the tattoo gun and starts tattooing his own face in the mirror. When I saw this my jaw dropped. I kept thinking to myself, “this is the money shot!” Then I started thinking, “Holy crap this guy is crazy he is tattooing his own face!”

Having worked in reality television for almost 15 years I thought I’ve seen and heard just about everything, until today. Watching a man tattoo his face in the mirror is something I will never forget…

By JP Gilbert, Producer, Taboo USA