© Mik Scarlet. First published in Pure magazine, issue 1, 1999
As the world became brighter, I began to become aware of a strange damp feeling. My eyes peeled open and I focused on a figure in clad in green, their face hidden by a white surgical mask. The room was very bright; it hurt my new borne eyes, with its white walls, white ceiling and electric lights that burnt into every surface, allowing no shadows. The figure began to make sounds … it all came rushing back to me “Michael, can you hear me? Do you know where you are? “. Now, I had no idea if I could speak, my mouth being so dry, but before I even tried, I noticed the figure had red fluid over most of the green garment she was wearing. Ah, a woman yes, a nurse, hospital, operation…. my second. I lifted my arm to touch her and…God it was blood on her dress, it was all over my arm. That was why I felt damp…the bed was soaked with blood! “Don’t worry Michael, it’s all over now. Your Mums outside to see you” SO MUCH BLOOD. “We’ve just got to roll you over to change the sheets, Michael” Another green angel assisted my nurse/butcher in rolling me onto my side, and it hit me. It was MY BLOOD. “This must be what a horror film would look like” my fifteen-year-old mind enthused as it saw just how blood soaked my bed was. “I thought you only had eight pints? ” “Nurse… could I…” No way I was going to finish that sentence, another had just begun… the pain had kicked in.
Friday, London, Beer and Speed, and GIRLS! Hey I was famous..ish. The Electric Ballroom, Goth night. I looked good and had just dumped Sturmban Fuhrer, I was FREE. With money in my pocket and my mates by my side, nothing could stop me. It wasn’t too packed, but I had spotted a couple of young gothettes that might be worth saying hi to, when something grabbed me and made me look at the side bar. Cor! Instant attraction. There at the bar stood a black haired gothy type…. You know those ex-Goths…liked Marc Almond, Virgin Prunes, but admitted to liking Madonna, SMILED without thinking about it, and didn’t care what the new wave of foreign Goths thought about how uncool they were being. She had on little black leather ankle boots with a low heel and straps, black crushed velvet leggings and a slashed up T-shirt. But her arm looked weird, it shone in the light and seemed to have patterns all over it. It almost looked like she had spent hours on some weird make up effect. Smart. Hey I was single and she was fit, in a flash I was at the bar. Her right arm looked like someone had sewn the skin out of patchwork and on her shoulder a swirl of scaring followed the contours of the muscles underneath. Truly one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. “Hello” I began.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”… ARSE! “Perfection is boring”… TRUE!
On a scene where beautiful, perfectly formed, a.b.’s (Able Bodied) see body modification as a cool way of standing out from the mainstream straights, those of us who actually have been modified through necessity find ourselves unsure what to think. On the one hand, hey the idea of the able bodied world making the deformities we have to live with a cool fashion statement, sounds great. “BOYS BREAKS SPINE TO EMULATE T.V.STAR”… a headline that would definitely say I was famous…and that my disability had become acceptable, even hip. Scars becoming beautiful, models of all sizes and shapes, no worries about weight or height, all people being judged on what they do, not what they look like. Wow, utopia. On the other hand, in a world where any form of disability makes you a second class person, who has only just got some form of equal rights legislation, and who will never be allowed to enter into the world without being considered either brave or offensive, the idea of a load of useless underground rebels trying to use designer suffering as a means of getting closer to some primitive life style that we, as a society, have grown out of (just as we grew out of cannibalism and witch trials) seems so typical of how easy it is to write off the experience of others as a designer accessory. It is the same situation as white middle class wiggers, “yo-yo”ing their way around New York, talking about “da hood”, but actually having no idea about the realities of such a life, while the youth from The Bronx spend all their time trying to educate themselves out of poverty, dreaming of having all the privileges wiggers deny they have.
All of a sudden I felt as if a knife had been thrust into my spine; the world went black, then bleached out. The agony faded and I looked around. “That bloke just kicked you, Mik?!” my mate said in stunned wonder. The pain was still living in my lower spine like an annoying burrowing creature. The blow to my back had pressed the vertebrae that gave up the ghost on 30th April 1981, on the way home from Gary Numan’s farewell gig at Wembley Arena and hadn’t done too much since. This meant nerves that hadn’t had any electrical impulses in around 7 years at that time, suddenly had a massive electrical surge, going both up and down my spine… not only does that hurt, but useless legs begin a dancing. I grabbed the braces of the jerk that thought he was hard. Trust me to grab elasticised braces. I was not going to bow out now, so I pulled harder and eventually he lowered himself to be at my eye level. “What the fuck are you playing at?” I bellowed. The argument that ensued made little sense, what excuse could there be? Most memorable comment… “If I was like you, I’d kill my self”. My reply? …. “If I was like you so would I”.
The pretty young tourist who had been staying as a guest in my flat had left. The whole scene had got a bit scary for her. It was getting a bit scary for me…but I trusted my Angel…thanks to her scars, she understood pain, she understood how sometimes the only way too beat the constant pain was too inflict more. As she closed the door to my bedroom, I fought from my bound position to turn my head. There in the doorway she stood, clad in the shiniest p.v.c., looking as if she had beamed straight out my wildest fantasies, and whispered “You are in such trouble!”
A Vulcan mind meld. That’s the answer. That would make me the ultimate Master. You want pain; I’ll give you pain. Thirty seconds, a minute max. That’s all you could take. No hot wax, no play piercing, canning, whipping, spanking…ha! Muscle spasm, permanently dislocated hip, ball joint worn away, trapped nerves sending phantom pain to dead muscles, badly twisted spinal muscles in cramp. Thirty seconds, a minute max.
Don’t ever think life my life is grim. I don’t want to be normal. Before I became Mik Scarlet, before 30th April 1981, I was very unhappy. I was too good, too clever, too swatty, too busy pleasing Mum and Dad. Homework was more important than a life. Being told, “You’re going to die” means you evaluate your life, and mine was a huge list of “if only’s” and “I wish I had’s”. I WAS A VIRGIN. I WAS GOING TO DIE! But I survived. I SURVIVED. I swore that if I got out of hospital at 16, I would never think “what if” again, rather “why not”. Trust me this is freedom. Pain and scars set me free. I now have my own life. I make my own luck. I make my own mistakes. Most of all, I live for today, regret nothing. The weak fall at the wayside, the strong join up for the ride. Boy it’s a great ride!
I thought it was love. She was tall, beautiful, buxom, mad, fun, oh, you know, what you’re after if you’re a man. A “page three girl” who worked in an office. She was sexy. Men wanted her. I’d got her. How the hell did that happen? Men asked that too. Normally while I was with Her. Right in front of me. She would laugh. Take the compliment. Destroy any confidence I did have. It kept me in my place. Kept me from seeing Her. I said nothing. She was never wrong. Or so I was told. In an instant (thanks to T.V.) things changed. Suddenly women felt they could come up to see if I was single, right in front of Her. I had people saying how sexy I was. Oh, and the same men that looked on me as sexless and of no threat, now looked at her differently. She was no longer the sexy looking trophy they wanted, but a money grabbing tart who must only be shagging the cripple to see what she could get. They wanted none of it. Great. I broke her heart. I broke another. I didn’t understand yet that the beautiful people are just too weak for me. I needed an Angel. A fellow broken Angel.
To hold her tight. To kiss her lips. To lick her skin. To smell her smell. To become one with her. To make her smile. To make her cry. To make her beg me to stop. To make her beg me not to stop. To feel her lose control. To forgive her. To seek her forgiveness. To hear her scream in ecstasy. To hear her scream in ecstasy again. To fantasise about her. To get turned on writing this. Just to know her. It ‘s all been worth it, just to know her.
I know I was asked me to write an article on scars and scarification. I haven’t really succeeded. However you do maybe get the strange contradiction that this modern primitive thing truly is. Pain and body modification were rites of passage to primitive man, experiences thrust upon them, unavoidable due to cultural forces. Experiences that marked a change in their standing in their tribe, a shared moment that marked they’re joining of the adults, their ability to shoulder responsibility. At no time did a young tribesman wander into the local piercing hut and ask to be branded, look through a book of designs, pick a cool/pretty one, and then get someone (who they probably know from night-clubs anyway) to use a totally hygienic device to give them their designer scar…. and then to pay them. No. An equivalent rite of passage is, through either accident or illness, being opened up by a group of white-coated magicians, held in great status by our society. Having them enter your body, removing the bad flesh, reorganising the broken flesh, and finally changing your appearance forever, giving you the marks that show to your peers you have changed and have been through a process that means you have joined the select few. The only reason that once out them other end, those of us who have experience the ritual called “Medicine” are not held in great regard is fear. The perfect skinned, perfect-bodied people’s fear that it might happen to them. That they might become scarred, deformed, disabled. The fear of rejection by their peers, the fear that they could not cope.
HA, HA! Well “Perfects”, WAKE UP! It WILL happen to you. Your perfection is only fleeting, and beauty does fade. The terror that one-day you’ll be old or ugly or a cripple or worse is a valid one. You’ll crack, you’ll lose. We, the imperfect, will survive. We have already survived. WE WILL BECOME PERFECT. We are already strong enough to equal you in a world run by and for you, so be afraid, be very afraid. We are your future; you are just us waiting to happen. Will you cope, or would you “rather be dead”? We’ll soon know. Watch the clock, hear its tick. That’s time passing. Any second now. We are the Future. We are the New Flesh. Trust us…RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!
God sometimes I’m such a cheerful sod!