Welcome to Bizarre's series of interviews with body modification pioneers. Our first metal guru interview and shoot is with Samppa Von Cyborg, who sports his own implants and metal mohican.
BORN IN FINLAND AND based in London, Samppa Von Cyborg is one ofthe most recognisable faces in extreme body modification. As the inventor of flesh coils, flesh stapling, navel pocketing and Mad Max Bars, he’s really pushed the scene forward. Psycho Cyborg founder Samppa also designs jewellery and band merchandise, and is working on top-secret projects that’ll push the body mod envelope even further.
Want to use these pictures? Go to the Bizarre Archive picture library
When did you move from conventional mods, such as piercings, to more extreme interests?
I started piercing professionally in 1990 – I was one of the first in Finland. After a while I got bored with it because nothing was really happening with body modification. Then in 1998 the internet allowed for a greater exchange of information. I started making my own jewellery and, around 1999, I created multiple surface piercing the Mad Max Bar (a long piece of zigzag-shaped steel that weaves under the skin’s surface and out again). Actually, Brian Decker in New York was the first, but I modified the process so that it worked more efficiently.
Want to talk about body mods? Join up at alternative online community YourBizarre for free!
You also pioneered flesh stapling.
Yeah – it was a development of ‘pocketing’. Pocketing was a straight bar inserted under the surface of the skin, but it created too much pressure on the skin and would often be rejected. I decided to create a whole new fucking idea for them instead! That was in 2000.
Read about body mod ioneeer Steve Haworth here
How does flesh stapling work?
It’s basically like a staple – while jewellery used in pocketing is straight, in flesh stapling the ends of the piece of jewellery are bent and go under the skin to hold the mod in place, and the centre of the jewellery is visible above the skin. Like all piercings, if it’s done properly it should work on most body parts. The problem was, people started copying me but not doing it properly. That’s the downside of the internet. When I saw what some people were doing with flesh stapling, I was like, “Fucking hell, that looks so shit!”
Can the internet be blamed when mods go wrong?
Sometimes, because the internet is full of inaccurate information that people assume is fact. I’ve stopped posting film clips of my body work now, because I want no part in those mistakes. You know, it only takes one person to really badly fuck up doing a body modification, and it would be spoiled for all of us.
Who else do you rate in the body mod world?
Steve Haworth is the father of modern extreme body modification and a true pioneer. Brian Decker’s a very clever guy, and a responsible and amazing body artist – he’s quite famous now, but for many years was underrated. Ryan Ouelette in New Hampshire is one of the best scarification artists, while Quentin at Kalima in Worthing is a sensible, well-informed artist. Lukas Zpira really took scarification to the next level and is very clever too – like all of us old-school artists! You have to remember that when we all started out, what we were doing was deemed very uncool, very underground. Now some artists are treated like rock stars, and I’m not sure I like that.