by Furry Girl

03.16.13

I only had a handful of online interactions with Shannon Larratt, but I admired him, and I am saddened to hear from our mutual friend Bella Vendetta that he has taken his own life after years of struggling with the pain of a degenerative medical condition.  You can read his farewell blog post here.

Shannon Larratt isn't a household name by any means, but if you're someone who knows your stuff about porn, kink, body modification, subculture, and "the extreme and weird," he was an icon.  I've been ranting a lot recently about the feminist porn and sex-positivity scenes for their self-absorbed nature, endlessly lavishing praise on themselves about how "revolutionary" they are for owning vibrators or publishing punk pinups.  Hearing of Shannon's death makes their silly claims ring all the more hollow and insulting.

Shannon wasn't a pornographer, but he was a true pioneer when it comes to explicit imagery and pushing the bounds of freedom of expression.  As the founder of BMEzine, a long-running body modification community, Shannon boldly published the most "extreme" and "shocking" imagery on the web: the "BME Hard" section of his web site contained photos of voluntary castration, cliterodectomy, nipple removals, testicles turned into pincushions, and just about everything "weird" that a person could do to their body and genitals.  (While most of what was published in the BME Hard category isn't my "thing," I fervently defend everyone's right to modify their body as they see fit, and to use their bodies as a canvas of personal expression, experimentation, connection, and sexual fulfillment.)  For his work in pushing the envelope and putting himself at risk of obscenity prosecutions, we are all in Shannon's debt, whether we are pornographers, kinksters, artists, body mod practitioners, or just people who don't believe in censorship.

When I wanted to launch one of the web's only menstruation porn sites back in 2005, EroticRed.com, Shannon was the person I looked to to answer the question, "Who the hell is going to be willing to process credit card payments for something this weird?"  (All credit card companies and intermediary banks have policies about what you are allowed to sell while using their services, which almost always prohibit porn that features blood.  So, if you're doing something banned, you hop around from sketchy startup biller to sketchy startup biller as you wait for them to get shut down by their own upstream banking providers.)  It was Shannon who connected me to a billing processor so that my site could become a reality.  While that billing processor did eventually go under, as do all the billers for "extreme" imagery, I never would have been able to get my project launched otherwise.  Shannon and I shared the frustration of credit card companies enacting censorship policies against our work, all long before WikiLeaks named and popularized the concept of a corporate "banking blockade" against material deemed socially unacceptable.

Goodbye, Shannon.  As a fellow publisher of the "extreme" and passionate believer in bodily autonomy and freedom of expression, I owe you one.  Thank you so much for everything you've contributed to the world.  To my readers: I want you to know who Shannon Larratt was, and I want you to know that if you're someone out there on the fringes, he may have helped pave the way for you.





2 Comments

  1. Comment by Trackbacks — October 23, 2014 @ 7:53 pm

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