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ArtPolitic Interview : Shannon Larratt

About Shannon Larratt:

Taken from zentastic.com

Born on a rainy island off the west coast of Canada, Shannon is the son of an insane but brilliant oil baron computer engineer and his repressive German aristocrat wife. Named after the father of information theory and modern computer science and raised on an organic farm cum high-tech think tank, Shannon has been working professionally both as a graphic designer and a computer scientist since a young age. His interests include body modification, flying, cultural revolution, spiritual freedom, and of course his main vice, exotic cars.


Shannon currently lives in rural Canada and the Carribbean with his beautiful wife Rachel and his young daughter Nefarious Freedom. He is the editor and publisher of Body Modification Ezine as well as its chief software engineer, has authored several books and numerous articles on the subject, and has appeared extensively in documentaries and papers as well. Shannon is currently producing a feature length film about the coming evolutionary shift.

The Interview

AP: So first, let me ask your name, age, and city of residence.

Shannon: Shannon Larratt, age thirty. I don't live in a city -- I live on a soybean farm in rural Canada .


AP: How long have you been into body modifications, and what got you into them?

Shannon: Well, I suppose I've been into body modifications for thirty years, since it's "who I am". I started expressing it probably at puberty and then more seriously in my later teens. As far as what got me into it, like I said, it's just "who I am" -- for whatever reason, it's how I want to express myself and explore the world.


AP: What was your reasoning behind bmezine.com? What did you think it would achieve?

Shannon: BME was started originally (in 1994) as my personal homepage. I posted pictures of my own body modifications and encouraged others to do the same. I wasn't really trying to achieve anything grand at that point -- I just wanted to share what I was doing and enjoying, and talk to and learn from others around the world doing the same.


AP: When you started it, did you think it would get the response that it did?

Shannon: At the time I wasn't really expecting massive feedback, but within a few months it was clear that there was enormous interest in the subject. In 1995 GNN ranked BME as the 24th most popular site on the internet of all subjects! Of course, the internet was a lot smaller back then -- I'm currently sitting at around 850th, which is still quite impressive I think.


AP: What political party do you follow, if one at all? (If there's not one, then describe for me some of your political views)

Shannon: Here in Canada I consistently vote Marijuana Party who are of course a single-issue party that tends to receive about 4% of the vote where they have candidates. I vote that way because I believe that legalization of marijuana is a very important first step in the securing of larger freedoms. When there's no Marijuana Party candidate in my area I vote NDP, a left wing party -- as far as a US equivalent, politicians such as Dennis Kucinich are closest to their views. It clashes a little with my libertarian ideals, but having a strong social support net (ie. education, healthcare, welfare, and so on) is very important to me.

I don't really have "political" views in so much as I have spiritual views which I try and express politically. More on those interests are on my personal website at www.zentastic.com as well as my blog at glider.bmezine.com.


AP: Do your political views differ from those of your family? (If so, can you describe what some of their political views are)

Shannon: On most issues they're relatively similar. My father leans on the libertarian side and is probably where I got those values, and my mother leans on the left wing side. Unfortunately she makes the common leftist mistake of confusing "protection" with "repression" and supports things that I find deeply offensive such as banning of piercings from the school system (she's an elementary school teacher) and so on -- I find it somewhat disturbing that she (or anyone) believes that "people like me" don't deserve an education!


AP: Facial piercing, tattoos, and ear modifications[spacers, etc] have become socially acceptable. You see them everywhere. Do you think the body modification culture is pushing the boundaries farther and farther to ensure that the movement always remains somewhat taboo or shocking to the general public?

Shannon: I'm sure there are some people who are just desperately trying to be rebellious... But to quote Ryan O'Brien who I worked with on BME/Books, "I never wanted to be different -- I just wanted to be me."

I think if someone just tries to set themselves apart for the sake of being apart that they will ultimately not be satisfied by those actions. However, if a person strives to be themselves, without compromise, I believe they will be happy -- even if the world occasionally unfairly kicks them in the gut.


AP: Why do you think people with body modifications become victim to a stereotype of being a rebel?

Shannon: I don't believe that's true. Some people might try and achieve that, after all, it's a romantic notion, but I don't believe that's the norm. Nor do I believe at this point that the average mundane sees body modification as an act of rebellion.


AP: Do you think that when employers deny jobs to those with visible modifications, that it is the same as if they would deny them employment because of race/gender?

Shannon: Well, it's not really the same thing. Race and gender are essentially immutable. There's not a whole lot you can do about it. The type of discrimination going on against body modification is more like discrimination against people over sexual orientation (ie. refusing to hire gays) or religion (ie. refusing to hire Muslims) -- you can hide your orientation or religion if you have to, but it's still an essential part of who you are that can be very personally damaging to repress.


AP: Twenty years ago, most of the “acceptable” body modifications were looked down upon. What do you think it will be like twenty years from now?

Shannon: I believe that most of the modifications that we have in common circulation today will be considered absolutely normal in twenty years. I doubt there will be significant stigma attached to them.


AP: What are some of your future plans for bmezine.com?

Shannon: BME is going in two distinct directions. The part that provides information (the experience archives, photo galleries, glossary, BME/news, and so on) I'm very happy with and will continue predictably in that direction. The only major change is that in 2004 I will probably start taking video submissions on the site as well as pictures and stories.

The other part of the site, the community aspect that's currently personified primarily by the IAM.BMEZINE.COM site, will undergo the most radical changes. I know what some of them are (they're a secret though), but many of them will be dictated by the underlying technological changes.


AP: Any last words?

Shannon: Keep on truckin'.



Web Sites

For more information on Shannon Larratt please visit his site: Zentastic.com

BME Body Modification Ezine - The biggest online bod-mod site since 1994

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