For thousands of years people have been fascinated by beings different from themselves. Whether these creatures come from supernatural realms or belong to the animal kingdom, numerous cultures have expressed both reverence and fear for them through art and worship. Even today, ancient myths and folktales about creatures such as vampires, animal spirits and elves continue to shape popular culture, leading to obsessions that occasionally result in extreme behavior.
A hundred years ago, most individuals would have been content with getting a tattoo, but these days, advanced surgical procedures have made it possible to modify the human body in a number of extraordinary ways. While this usually involves enhancements such as breast implants or liposuction, a few will alter their appearances in much more radical ways. Some of the following people have spent thousands of dollars transforming themselves into various creatures, and though others might think them insane, their bizarre appearances can occasionally lead to fame.
1. Dennis Avner – Tiger
Animal lovers admire the tiger for its beauty, agility and ferocity, but Dennis Avner also believes in its spiritual power. Taking on the name of “Stalking Cat,” he has shaped his facial features to become more like the totem animal he follows. In addition to tattooing his face with orange and black stripes, he has also undergone several implant surgeries to radically reshape his cheeks and enable him to wear metal “whiskers.” Not to be outdone by the plastic surgeon, his dentist (if he has one) has filed all of his teeth into points and has implanted an impressive set of tiger fangs. When combined with a pair of cat-like contact lenses, he barely looks human.
2. Rick Genest – Zombie
Zombies have been shambling through popular culture in hordes over the past decade, which may explain why Rick Genest decided to transform himself into one of these brain eaters by covering his entire body with gruesome skeletal tattoos. Although this radical look made him a popular spectacle for the freak show crowd, he has also achieved celebrity status by appearing in the Lady Gaga video “Born This Way,” which attracted the attention of international modeling agencies. Today, he can be seen in a commercial for Dermablend, a makeup product designed to cover tattoos.
3. Eric Sprague – Lizard
While most people prefer animals of the warm-blooded and furry variety, 37–year–old Eric Sprague loves reptiles. So much, in fact, that he has tattooed and surgically altered his body to resemble a lizard. Moreover, he is credited for making tongue bifurcation – a procedure in which the tip of the tongue is surgically split into a fork – popular among body modification enthusiasts by becoming one of the first to undergo this procedure.1 The “Lizardman” also sports a series of subdermal implants under his eyebrows to produce a ridge-like effect seen with many lizard species, along with numerous green and black scale tattoos covering his face and upper body.
4. Suzie Park – Vampire
Although zombies have been making inroads when it comes to winning the title of “Most Popular Undead,” the vampire continues to hold this honor by remaining a ubiquitous presence in television, film and books. Some blame the Twilight series for this trend, but like the vampire itself, the desire to become one is a long-lived obsession. Suzie Park for instance, has lived as a vampire since her transformation in 2003; working with disabled children by day and sleeping in a coffin by night. She also wears a set of fangs that can be made cheaply by a dental assisting professional, but make sure that professional has participated in one of the many dental assistant programs that are out there. Also these fangs are not permanent alterations.
For those interested in body modification, it might be tempting to follow the lead of these individuals. Some of these procedures, however, can cause serious problems, which is why they should only be performed by professionals with sterilized equipment. Teeth filing, for instance, can increase the chance of tooth loss, which is why dentists recommend using veneers if possible. A set of vampire veneers, for instance, costs about $200 and can be removed during a quick office visit, which makes them a nice compromise for those who want a long-lasting yet impermanent solution.
Brandy Tallman is a prolific freelance writer who loves writing on the weird and wonderful.