|Birth Place||Plant City, Florida|
|Occupation||Modcon, ScarWars, BME QOD|
Shawn Porter is the body modification archivist of both his personal collection, and for lack of a better term, the curator of the Jack Yount Collection—one of the most extensive documentations of the early piercing underground in America. He edited the SPC website from 1995 to 2005, co-founded ModCon, and was the host of ModCons 3.5 and 4.
Shawn Porter was born in 1974 and raised on a cattle farm/orange grove in Plant City, Florida. Showing an early interest in the various ways humans modify their bodies, he began self-piercing at a very early age with little in the way of outside influence. His first piercings were performed in 1982; hastily piercing his own foreskin and frenum in the same year but removing the needle each time for fear of exposure.
At the age of 11 he finally convinced his Mother to allow him to get his ears pierced; in the small farming community of Plant City it was very uncommon to see males with a pierced ear much less having both done. Shawn would begin stretching the holes using self-lathed craft dowels in 1989, shortly before meeting Body Modification pioneer Jack Yount.
In Yount, Shawn (along with his older brother Robert) would find both a mentor and a surrogate Grandfather; someone who taught them not only the finer points of body modification but also how to be well rounded men. A visit to Jack’s house usually ended in a new piercing, but would often include roundtable discussions with piercing devotees three times the age of Shawn and his brother; many of whom would share their passion for classical music, travel, history, politics and more.
Through Jack, who lived an hour away, Robert and Shawn finally found people who understood them. They made the trip to Zephyrhills several times a week, often at Jack’s insistence to meet an out of town guest who was visiting. The modification scene was changing, rapidly. Jack’s generation, marked by older men who kept their modifications hidden, was coming to an end. Youth culture had discovered piercing half a decade before and had run with it. The average age of people with piercings was being cut in half; the “keep it under the collar” ethic being bulldozed by the need to show things off. Jack saw a bridge with Shawn and Robert- young people who respected the old ways but had a finger on the pulse of the emerging generation. Jack introduced them to people who had completed self done bisections in the 1950s, and they introduced him to the Enigma and Mr. Lifto. Everything was changing.
The most important lesson Jack imparted was documentation. At the time, our culture was still forming and there were very few formal documentarians. Most were members of academia, viewing body modification from a clinical perspective and while genuinely interested still outsiders looking in. Jack encouraged Shawn and his brother to document everything; from tattoos to the increasingly emerging “advanced” surgical modification scene that Jack was at the forefront of. Always carry a camera; it doesn't have to be art, it just can’t be forgotten.
By the time of Jack Yount’s passing in 1995, Shawn had firmly established himself in the body modification community as a documentarian who was also part of the scene. Through the use of contact services like UNIQUE, Shawn began getting in touch with eunuchs, amputees, the heavily tattooed or pierced, the sexually adventurous- people who enjoyed their bodies without fear of conformity. The overwhelming sense of disconnection among the modified inspired Shawn to set up “hotel parties” at the tattoo conventions he was increasingly attending; a way for people who always felt alone to meet other people who were on the same wavelength and to try and instill a sense of community. All before turning 21 years old.
In September of 1995, Shawn posted a notice to the rec.arts.bodyart group announcing the passing of Jack Yount (which had happened several months prior) and details for his delayed memorial. It outlined Jack’s life and modification accomplishments, and met with a private response from a Toronto, Canada webzine editor named Shannon Larratt.
Their friendship formed quickly, exchanging video tapes and photographs in the mail and near constant email communication. Shannon encouraged Shawn to start his own website (which became SPC) and with Shawn’s help Shannon launched BME/Extreme on the anniversary of Jack’s passing.
By 1998 the modification subculture had been taken “out of the closet” by the exposure of Larratt’s /extreme. While UNIQUE had a (somewhat excessive) subscription fee, /extreme allowed the heavily/surgically modified to have a communal meeting point, as well as exposing people who had previously never heard of subincisions/et all to a potential means of expressing themselves. By the time Porter and Larratt met in person, in 1998 at a hotel in Detroit Michigan, both decided it was time to create a meeting for the ever expanding Modification community.
The first Modcon was scheduled to be held in Brandon, Florida in 1998. Tasked with organizing the event, Shawn found a VFW Hall that was sympathetic to the local S/M scene and began setting things up. Unfortunately, it didn't work out due to some ethical disagreements and the first event was eventually moved to Toronto in 1999. It was the first large scale meeting of surgical body modification devotees in the world.
The death of SPC
Shawn ran SPConline from 1995-2005 as the sole editor. The majority of its content came from his own archives with very little outside contributions. In 2005, after starting to work on the Scarwars project, Shawn decided to retire the SPC website. It was a fun project but at the time no one really seemed to care about the history of the western body modification community and increasingly frustrated, Shawn allowed the site to be taken offline after a crash.
In 2004 Shawn began uniting scarification artists, encouraging them to network and share information. In May of 2005 he hosted the first Scarwars event in Philadelphia, PA uniting artists from three countries on two continents who worked alongside each other as well as working on collaborative pieces. February of 2006 saw the event hosted in California and had a broader range of artists, styles and techniques. The last SW event was held in Philadelphia in October of 2007. The future of the events is undecided.
In 2011, inspired by a love of Occult Symbolism and traditional American tattoos, Shawn created Occult Vibrations- a blog devoted to Occult and Esoteric tattooing. It started mutating to cover more diverse topics (including tattoo nutrition, exercise tips for tattooers and occult comic books/media) but continues on as a dedicated source of tattoo culture information.
Shawn currently lives in Philadelphia, PA with his creepy dog Bailey. He chronicles his life via his Sacred Debris blog: Sacred Debris
Every story you’ve heard about Shawn is true and there’s probably pictures to back it up.