Hot Lists Sunday, July 3rd Words by: Adam Knight, pictures by: Adam Knight / submitted by Body Mods

The man with a credit card inside his hand, and 8 other awesome ‘body modifications’ done in Hereford

Hot Lists Sunday, July 3rd

The man with a credit card inside his hand, and 8 other awesome ‘body modifications’ done in Hereford

Aaron Mullen is a 6’3 Glaswegian with a thick beard and the ability unlock doors without touching them.

Not just doors. With one swipe of his inked-up right hand he can pay for beers, deactivate car immobilisers and bring up his business card on your smart phone.

His job, to all intents and purposes, is to safely and professionally cut holes in people in a variety of ways that make them look cool.

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The catch-all term for this, ‘body modifications’ covers piercings, dermos, tunnels and a whole world of other ways of taking what God gave and giving it a little twist.

It’s also where Mullen’s wildly-successful Hereford shop – Body Mods – got its name.

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“For ‘dermos’, you have to scoop out under the skin to put the base in, then you hear that nice ‘pop’ and you know it’s in right. It’s not a ‘nice’ sound but I like it." - AM


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At the Eign Gate location – itself a cavernous masterpiece of vintage paraphernalia and medical supplies hidden away above a Superdrug – Mullen and his team of dedicated piercers can sit down in a chair and on a busy day knock out 60 piercings back-to-back.

And while there’s a sliding scale from ear studs to eyelid rings and branding, arguably the most creative mod belongs to Mullen himself.

Over a year ago, Mullen inserted a microchip in to the fleshy outer-edge of his right hand.

Using an app on his phone he can now reprogram that chip to do whatever he wants, for example, setting it up to make payments in the same way you would with a contactless bank card.

“I’ve got one, Scott [a Body Mods tattoo artist]’s got one. That’s the only people I know. It’s not a common thing,” Mullen said.

“I found out about it from another piercer. Straight away, I was like ‘I want one’. Just as a gimmick-type thing, to freak people out.”

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Despite looking more Biker Bar than David Blaine, Mullen had a past life as a close-up magician. Along with the chip he also has a magnet in his hand that allows him to pick coins and screws. And he can stop his own pulse on command.

But gimmick or not, you can see the appeal of the microchip spreading further afield than the world of body modifications. Even if the process, which involves a needle big enough to fit the chip inside it, could sound a little much for the squeamish.

“It’s really close to crossing over. You can use them for doors that lock with a keycode - you just walk up to it and put your hand on it.

“In Germany or Poland they’ve started doing it with bank employees so that they know who’s in the vault. In America they’re looking at using it for healthcare, using a chip holds all your details.

“It’s not a bad idea to use it like that. But it can be abused.”

International Body Piercing Day was last week. And so it seemed like a pretty good time to find out from Mullen and his team about some of the more interesting piercings they’ve done of late. This is what they said.

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The iPod

Like Mullen’s microchip, this is a great example how body modifications can cross over from the purely aesthetic to having real-life uses. And be an awesome party trick.

“I attached an iPod to a guy’s wrist. He just came in and said I want an iPod on my wrist.

"We used dermos [a type of piercing where a surgical ‘punch’ makes a circular incision about 1cm deep and then an anchoring piece is slipped under the skin, allowing you to mount jewels – for example – on top, while giving the impression that they are sat right in to the skin, or in the middle of a tattoo design.]

“We got the exact dots, punched them, and then we put on magnetic tops so literally you could set the iPod mini on and it would sit there on the magnets. Mental, but it worked.

“He worked on a site all day, and the idea was if he didn’t have his iPod on there he wanted to be able to chuck a couple screws on the magnets, so he could take them off his wrist and whack ‘em up when he was working.” 

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The Trident/Devil’s Pitchfork

A complicated design which the team put together for one of their recent TV appearances on Channel 4.

It involves four piercings; one in the lower part of the ear, where the ‘staff’ part of the trident goes through, and three smaller ones right at the top for each of the spiked ‘prongs’.

“Channel 4 had got in touch with us and asked if we’d been asked for any strange, bizarre piercings. I phoned up a girl I knew who had been keen to get one, and that’s how we came to doing the trident fork.

“It came up nice to be honest - I don’t mean to sound so surprised – but we get lots of people coming in with big ideas, the problem is whether it would actually work. And designs like that need a certain kind of ear to take it as well.

“A lot wouldn’t have taken it. Mine wouldn’t. But luckily enough hers would.

“Eventually we put in spikes on the top. When the cameras stopped rolling, we unscrewed it all so the four separate piercing could heal.”


The Motorcycle Chain

A sentimental piece months in the making, Mullen was approached by a young man who had been in a motorcycle accident. He worked out a way of attaching a link of motorcycle chain, from the man’s old bike, to his upper ear.

“When I put that bit of motorcycle chain through a lad’s ear, that was pretty wild.

“It took about four, five months to work it out. It wasn’t the kind of thing we can just fire in and do it.

“One day he came back in and I was I was ready to rock, so we done it.

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“I’ve got someone who I can send stuff away to and get pretty much anything made if I want, if a design’s not something run of the mill. [Because of the weight of the chain’s metal, part of the piercing had to be made out of the much-lighter metal titanium.]

“It was the first time we’d done anything like that.

“He didn’t have that many piercings. He didn’t seem like the kind of guy that was in to his body modifications. He just came up with the idea and said – did we fancy doing it?

“It does get a little bit tedious doing lips and bellybuttons. We like stuff that’s a bit different. It keeps you interested.”


The Migraine Cure

Less extreme in its aesthetics, but a huge part of contemporary piercing, the daith piercing is said to offer real relief to many migraine sufferers.

It represents a huge chunk of the work Mullen does, and was recently approached by a doctor in the prison system who wanted to put it to the test. She was amazed by the results.

“It works on a pressure point people have [in a piece of cartilage inside the ear]. It’s become the most popular piercing we do.

“They can’t recommend it yet on the NHS, but I had a doctor come in who works in the prison service to get one done so she could at least go to her patients say – ‘I had this done, and it helped me with migraines’.”


The Nose Bar/Nasallang piercing


A piercing whose mere mention left half the Body Mods team wincing, it involves a single bar that goes through the entire nose. The piercing is done with one punch.

“That’s one of the staff that used to work here. It’s literally a bar straight through your nose. And he’s the biggest pansy in the world. But none of us would have had it done. No way.”


The Eyelid Ring 

Not a piercing originally done by Mullen, but a customer recently came in to have the ring changed. It is exactly what it sounds like.

“Somebody else did the piercing, but I changed the jewellery on it. Partly because I wanted to. He said it doesn’t bother him at all. And the ring he had in was massive, so how he never noticed I don’t know. He said that after first few blinks it was fine. I couldn’t do that.”

The Ear Pin

Another really nice story, Mullen worked with a lady who was self-conscious about her ears – but nervous about surgery – to use piercing to pin them back by abut 10mm.

I found out about it from another piercer. I was like ‘I want one’. Just as a gimmick-type thing.

A lady came in who was self-conscious about her ears but had always been nervous about getting the surgery done. She just wanted her ears pierced so it looked a bit nicer, but we got chatting and we decided to try and pin her ears back with piercing. We went through with a massive bar, and then when it healed we replaced that with a smaller bar.

“She was well pleased. It probably pulled them back 10mm. She’s getting diamonds in it as well so she’s well happy.”

The No-Go

Is there anything you’ve had to say no to?

“Anything below the waist. Actually that doesn’t come up as often as you imagine. You’d think I’d get asked for it 24/7, but it’s once every three months or so. [One of the other piercers however insists he ‘always gets offers, honestly’.]

The Trident - for example – a lot of people who have asked for it, can’t have it because of their ear. We’ll have a bash at something though. We get people travelling down from Birmingham because they know we’ll give it a damn good go. We won’t just fire it in. We’ll have a look, go away research it, and if we can do it we’ll do it. They trust us.

“If we think the piercing is going to look s*** on them too, we don’t mind telling them.

“If someone comes in looking for something particulary chavvy we’ll try and talk them out of it.

“Not all things close up. I’ve put a bar back in a tongue after 17 years. But lips and ears usually heal pretty fast.

“Stretches in the ears – if you got to about 8-10mm it’ll close, but any bigger than that you’ll have to get them stitched back up. Or cut them. [As one of the BM tattooists had done. With a branding iron. Which he proudly displays as his draw comparisons ranging from a monster munch to a pig’s tail.]

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“We don’t really do the scarification or the branding or stuff like that. Although we have a guy that comes up now and again and does it.

“You stencil the design like you would a tattoo, but then you actually brand it on to the skin. Scarification, do the same but you cut the skin with a scalpel and then pull it away to cause a scar. It’s wild.

“There’s not much call for it here, but if you were in London or Birmingham, you’d be quite busy.

“For branding there’s not really any pain relief, but scarification you can do. [‘Did you?’ Mullen asks one of the scarified piercers. ‘F****** right.’]  

“I think most of the programmes about tattoos and piercings are trying to scaremonger people in to NOT getting tattoos and not getting piercings.

"We’ve done a few but we’ve set the rules – “If it comes forward like this then there’s going to be trouble” – and they’ve come across really well. It’s raised the profile and we’ve had people come in and said “I want to get that”.

"At the end of the day there's always going to be people going off on holiday and coming back with a daft tattoo. It's no problem. We also do tattoo removal. And we're always here and happy to help someone get rid of a misplaced Mickey Mouse."

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