No Hand Interview
 Chop! Chop! Look Mom, no hand
The original interview appears in BME.
"NoHand" is one of the many enigmas I've met through BME. 99% of the people who claim to have the modifications that he has are simply spinning fantasy. So many of his stories and life elements are exceptional and difficult to believe, yet in the cases where the photos are the cold hard facts, the missing pieces are there to back up his story.
"NoHand" has self amputated his own fingers and then complete hand, half of his foot (since lost entirely), part of his genitals, as well as having other body modifications. Later in life he also lost his left leg below the knee (LBK) and his right above the knee (RAK) due to accident. He is happy with them all, and is a vibrant and active part of the online want2be and amputee communities, as well as being active in his own "real life" community -- they of course don't know how he lost his limbs.
"It is not just the amputation that you have to be in love with, but it is the whole dynamic of being an amputee that you need to embrace."- NoHand, 1998
WHAT TYPE OF PERSON ARE YOU? IS HARD FOR YOU TO MAKE FRIENDS BEING SO UNIQUE?
I have always been a combination of introverted and extroverted -- I love meeting people and social settings, but cherish my private time and space as well... I am a very driven Type A personality, if you haven't figured that out already.
OUTSIDE OF YOUR OBVIOUS ECCENTRICITIES, YOU SEEM LIKE AN INTELLIGENT, STABLE, WELL-EDUCATED, AND WELL-SPOKEN MAN.
Thank you. I hold a Pre-Med. B.Sc. majoring in Fine Art (medical Illustration), with a minor in Biology. My Masters degree focused on life drawing, oil painting, and mechanical sculpture, and was followed by a Ph.D. in Engineering Design. I also hold a DLJ in literary journalism. My amputations had no affect whatsoever on my schooling, partially because I was essentially out of school before the biggies were done, and also because I have never allowed my amputations to be a hindrance to me.
My favorite book is the Bible -- it is the most incredible book ever written and I taught myself Biblical Hebrew and Greek to be able to read it in the languages in which it was originally written... My interest is both religious and scholarly. However, I should point out that there is no religious component to my body modifications.
YOU'RE QUITE THE RENAISSANCE MAN.
Yes, I do consider myself a Renaissance Man. Marcel DuChamp, said: "The role of the artist is a selector of materials and techniques"... I consider myself, above all other occupations, an artist, and to a certain degree my body is the material, and modification is the technique....
I hold copyrights on lots of things from two fictional novels (one a historical novel of the American Southwest called "The Treasure of Marble Canyon" and the other a romance novel called: "Val and Protea") to dozens of designs and articles, including writing for New Yorker and Travel and Leisure magazines... I also have patents on racecar front suspensions and some prosthetic hardware. I am presently working on an anatomical, lightweight, artificial foot, and clutch lock knee design for leg braces. On designing amputee hardware, who better to design it than a user? My philosophy: "Form follows Function."
I am both self-employed and have a 9 to 5, but most of my working life I have been self-employed... actually, for more than twenty years...
DID YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS EVER WONDER WHY YOU KEPT SHOWING UP WITH LESS AND LESS BODY PARTS?
I managed to explain away the amputations and never had any probing questions asked nor have I ever received any psychiatric questioning, as everything was always carefully planned to avoid those kinds of questions. My arm I tell people was lost in wood chipper accident, and in actual racing car accident resulting in a gasoline explosion, I unexpectedly (but not unhappily) lost my leg. A vague "accident related complications" explanation umbrellas the rest. I am skin grafted from waist to ankles -- well, ankle now -- I suppose people just assume I'm very accident-prone! Of course, being accident-prone is neither a crime nor a treatable psychiatric disease...
Surprisingly, I do all of the things I did before, including riding my Harleys, with modified clutch lever, and back packing... I have stopped doing nothing I enjoyed... As far as back packing and similar activities go, I have a very good leg prosthesis, and can hike all day without discomfort. In fact, on my 9 to 5 I spend most of the day on my feet...
Unfortunately my 3,000 bottle wine cellar and my 17 Ferraris went the way of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as William Shakespeare would say -- This was not related in any way to the amputations though... I've been rich and poor a couple of times. Mae West was right -- rich is better. I've made it before and I can make it again. I look forward to more wine and more Ferraris, and have no fear of making money...
DO YOU REMEMBER ANY EARLY CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES THAT MIGHT HAVE STARTED THE INTEREST IN AMPUTATION?
Motivation for the bod-mod is from internal wiring I believe, not outside influence -- the first amputees I ever had contact with scared me and made me uncomfortable. A one-armed schoolteacher friend of my parents terrified me. Seeing the schoolteacher made me directly confront my personal desires which were there from early childhood, long before sex was a component. The fact that I had these desires for so long negates for me anyway the assumption that these are purely sexual issues -- though as an adult there is of course a sexual component to body modification... which I enjoy...
TELL ME ABOUT REMOVING YOUR OWN HAND.
I began with my fingers in my my 20's, and when in my 30's I designed and built a guillotine device -- a vertical frame of two-by-fours, with concrete block weights on the bottom and three concrete blocks which could drop about four feet inside the frame, striking a razor sharp ice spud when a prop was pulled. Very effective: I tested it on a broom handle first... I had no doubt it would work, and as you can see, I no longer have a hand.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR MODIFICATIONS?
I like all of my amputations and love my stumps, regardless of origin... I also like using my prostheses. However I do not feel the process modification is totally completed for me at this time. I do not believe that I suffer from dysmorphophobia. While I am in a state of transformation, my body is an evolving work of art, which at some point will be definitive.
I really admire other people's feet, but not necessarily my own, and I think that area is in transition too. I'm not satisfied totally with the look of my right foot; it seems undefined to me somehow... just musing... By the way, the scars you see on my foot are from "exploratory surgery".
The genital thing is relatively new, and I think that has become a new area of exploration. I don't think I want to complete the castration, but maybe have my remaining testicle buried and scrotum removed, and a urethral relocation to complete the body modification in this area. I think I'll find a practitioner to do this -- Although I probably could, I'd rather not do this to myself.
HOW CAN A PERSON TELL IF THEY REALLY "NEED" AN ELECTIVE AMPUTATION?
That is a very difficult question. Let's approach it from several perspectives. If you are into amputation from a body modification point of view, you are probably looking for one or more of the following: a personal statement, an antisocial statement, or group identification. All of which are determined by a desired "look". The look is the driving factor here, not the "need" for an amputation. These are probably going to be small limb (finger and toe) amputations rather than major. They have cosmetic value, but unless they are numerous probably don't carry much functional loss. Category two is the "wannabe", and amputation is the focus, usually major, and usually with a site- specific amputation in mind as: LBE, etc.. Very, very few wannabes actually make the transition to major amputees, as most only fantasize the amputation as a desired thing, but actually don't have a true understanding of what it is to be an amputee, nor do they have the required mental, and physical determination to safely get there...
Someone who really needs to be an amputee will probably actually become a major limb amputee. Bill S. who manages the wannabe mailing list on the Internet says he knows 6, and he feels there may be as few as 50 or 60 major limb voluntary amputees in the world. I think his estimate is low, but I also believe him to be an expert on the subject.
I am absolutely sure you are wired for amputation in the same way as in sexual preference issues... And it is as surely applicable and valid an explanation as it is for the other community. I have no more choice to love amputations than a homosexual does to love men. In neither case is it wrong: it is simply the way we are.
DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS ABOUT YOUR LIFESTYLE?
I have really never met anyone else with as diverse a range of modifications as myself. I was also into genital piercing (all self-done) and tattoos -- I have two tattoos, one good sized shoulder piece... Unfortunately, they were difficult for me to get at the time I was exploring them. If I hadn't had to drive 150 miles for them I might have gotten many more. Since I am an artist, I have often thought of getting the equipment and doing myself... which I may....
For me the experiences have all been very positive, the only negative has been no one to share the experiences, or results with, who understands the idea of the process, and could or would be participatory or supportive. Perhaps a woman with similar drives and interests will read this and contact me, though this may be nearly impossible...
I would not change who I am in any way; however, I have ended up with a LBK and RAK which were not in the original equation. On the day to day, it's a pain in the blank -- just getting into and out of the tub is difficult. You have to take your legs off to change your pants, driving problems -- there are a million things you either never think about prior to making the transition, or that you think won't be a problem, but will turn out to be a major obstacle. Also, there is no predicting the outcome of surgery. You can end up with edema or phantom pain that can make prosthetic fitting impossible and wheelchair or crutch use mandatory, which may not have been in your original plan. Now you have to do this for the rest of your life. Prosthetic and ambulatory devices are expensive -- my new RAK leg is 15,000.00 -- and typically your insurance company will only buy you one in your lifetime. Five years from now when you need a new one, where are you going to get the money? It is not just the amputation that you have to be in love with, but it is the whole dynamic of being an amputee that you need to embrace.
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