Meet The Man Who Cut Off His Nipple At The Gathering Of The Juggalos (NSFW)
By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 15, 2013 4:15PM
For the past couple years, photographer Jim Kiernan has traveled to the Gathering of the Juggalos and shared his accounts and photographs with Chicagoist. Here is arguably Jim's most extreme story yet. (Discretion advised.) —Chuck Sudo
It’s daytime at the Gathering of the Juggalos and I’m walking around the midway where the free carnival rides are located. Near a cotton candy concession I see a man with a heavily tattooed face and a broad smile. Of course, I go right up to him and begin talking. He has a tribal design tattoo that covers the entire expanse of his face and a huge crescent-shaped, heavy-gauge septum piercing. His chest is covered in dollar bills that have been pinned to his flesh with a staple gun he’s holding in his left hand. He offers to let me punch a bill onto his torso. I demur.
I do, however take his picture.
While I’m doing so, with a big grin and a gleam in his eye he points to his chest. Another tattoo? A piercing perhaps? Sub-dermal implant or scarification. Nope, it’s child’s play compared to what this guy has to show me. There is a small black-edged circle roughly the size of a dime on his chest. He calmly states that he cut his nipple off last week.
Yes. He. Cut. His. Nipple. Off. Last. Week.
“Holy shit!”, I exclaim as I wince and grab my own chest, “What did THAT feel like?!?”
“Like cutting your nipple off!” He replies with a laugh.
“Oh yeah—OBVIOUSLY!” I reply. But whoa, the mind reels. What the hell?!?! Before I can ask him more about it, he says to me, as if he’s reading a fortune cookie “I’m cutting the other one off tomorrow, here at the Gathering.”
“Wait, so you’re really going to cut your other nipple off?” I’m still in disbelief that he offed the left one and even more surprised that he’s going to do it yet again. Has he learned nothing from the last time?
So, he must be a circus freak I’m thinking. “Are you with the Freakshow?” (yes, there is an actual Freakshow on the grounds this weekend).
“Are you serious?!? When are you doing this?”
“I don’t know yet. It’s up to the dude who’s buying it.”
Now I know I’m being put on. I’m just a civilian, an outsider, here to shoot photos and he’s sized me up as a mark and he’s messing with me.
“C’mon, are you serious? Are you really going to do this?”
“Oh yeah, I just don’t know when, it’s up to him. Probably tomorrow afternoon. He’s going to sew it onto his hat.”
We part ways and I walk off wondering if he is serious and is really going to go through with it. It sure looked like he cut of his left nipple and he does have a full face tattoo so maybe, just maybe, he’s serious.
The next afternoon I’m shooting when I remember that he was going to do this today. I go looking for him but I’m not able to track him down right away. As I’m asking around I bump into Buddha from the band/lifestyle Wolfpac. “Hey man, did you hear about this dude who was going to cut his nipple off?” Buddha, being the worldly sort, tells me that he not only heard about this but actually witnessed the de-nippling. Buddha is beyond reproach so I now know that this has actually happened. Good Lord! That is super gnar.
I continue looking for my tribal-face tattooed buddy and finally come across him a few hours later. He has a bloody piece of gauze taped to his chest, on his right side.
“You did it?” I ask him.
“Yeah, a couple of hours ago.”
I don’t really know what to say or ask at this point. Really though, what is the appropriate etiquette when discussing the elective removal of body parts in a remote campground. Hell if I know.
I see him again the next day and he proudly pulls his tank top to the side to show me his now bandage-less right errr former nipple area. It’s red and raw looking and can’t be very sanitary given that it’s rubbing up against his shirt. He pokes it a few times with his dirty bare finger and doesn’t react. Once again - whoa.
“Did some guy really buy it? Where is he?”
“Yeah, c’mon, I’ll show you. He’s got it in his fridge.”
He brings me to meet this dude and said dude confirms that yes, in fact, he not only bought the nipple but he was the one who actually cut it off.
“How much did you pay him for this?”
“One hundred dollars.”
“Can I see the nipple?” I ask, instantly curious as to whether this is still some long con. In order to view it, I’ll have to pay apparently. I’m basically cash-free and tell him this. He says “give me five bucks and I’ll get it.” I don’t have five bucks and tell him so.
“What do you have?”
“Man, I’m broke.”
“Give me something. Give me a dollar and I’ll go get it.” I reach into to my pocket and pull out one of my three remaining dollars and hand it over. He springs up and takes off up a hill. My face-tatted friend hurries after him. A guy sitting in the dirt by the side of the road yells out “Hey, No Nips!” as we pass by.
I follow them up the hill and across a field. We approach a large custom RV and the guy who has my dollar ducks inside. He returns seconds later with a cold plastic baggie, true to his word. And there, in a Ziploc bag is the nipple. It is a real nipple, the same size, shape and texture of the guy who sold it. My now nipple-free amigo holds it up next to his chest, a reunion of sorts, if you will. He hands me the bag and it is cold and there is some fluid inside of it along with what was yesterday part of his body. I turn it over and the bottom side is a ringer for the wound on his chest. It is not a con, it is reality - his ex-nipple in a bag in another guy’s fridge. The new owner points to a spot on his hat and says “this is where I’m going to sew it onto my hat.”
So the whole story checks out. Once again the Gathering of the Juggalos has gone far, far beyond my wildest imagination into the realm of the otherworldly.
“Hey man, can you send me the photos?” ask my freshly nipple-free pal. I figure that it’s the least I can do given his generosity of spirit and open nature. I ask for his contact information and it turns out that his real name is Josh but that he goes by the name of Juggalo Fuk Stik. Josh fulfilled his end of the bargain and I will fulfill mine.
Published with permission.