Shannon Larratt: Rest in Peace

cropshawnshan Shannon Larratt: Rest in Peace

Shannon Larratt and Shawn Porter 1998

I have so much to say right now, but the words are regrettably not coming. In time I hope to have more to say, so much more, to remember my friend but right now it’s just all memories, good and bad, flooding my brain and making me smile despite the sadness I’m feeling. I’m sorry if I’ve been less than responsive to those of you who’ve called, texted and messaged me. Losing a good friend is never easy, but it’s particularly difficult when it’s someone as enigmatic as Shannon Larratt.

It was a death that brought us together, initially, in 1995. News of the death of my mentor Jack Yount reached Shannon who’s BME was a fledgling site at the time, and he sent his condolences and asked if I’d like to write something about Jack’s passing for readers of the site. I would have never thought that I would have to do the same for Shannon. It seemed like just yesterday that those emails started, getting to know each other and geeking out about Body Modification back when everything was still so new to us. Our friendship grew, and evolved. We had so many good times, so many weird times that I couldn’t even start for fear that I’d never stop… through it all we remained honest with each other even when the things we had to say weren’t pleasant. To my mind that’s what a true friend is.

Last year he posted this:

¬†Every time I see these old pictures I am reminded of how very, very, VERY different my life (and by extension, BME, and by extension of that, a lot of other people’s lives as well) would be if I hadn’t met Shawn at exactly the right moment (perhaps five years before this photo was taken). If I’d met him earlier or later it wouldn’t have been even remotely the same — it had to be that moment for all the pieces to fit. I am proud to have been a catalyst for change and growth in a lot of people’s lives, but in this case, it was Shawn that was the catalyst in my life. On one hand it’s amazing how life-changing sequences birth from chance and coincidence, and on the other hand, duh, what else would genesis be?

And here I sit, trying to make a coherent post about his passing, and I can’t. Shannon was a mentor to me, too. Our friendship changed from student to teacher and back again. He was someone who’s passion often counteracted my bitterness and vice versa.

Shannon.. If you think I was a catalyst in your life… words can’t even express what your presence was in mine. Had I known when we last spoke that it would have been the last time…

To the friends and family I met through him- My shared condolences. Please.. share a story, a memory.. anything.


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9 thoughts on “Shannon Larratt: Rest in Peace”

  1. I cried when I first heard the news of Shannon’s death. That has turned to a smile as I accept that Shannon died as he lived, by his own terms. He is no longer in a vessel that causes him pain.
    I thank him for being him, doing the things that he did to bring us together as a community
    I am honored to have spent time and energy with him in the early days online and at the first ModCon.
    Till next time we meet, travel well.


  2. I’ve dealt with a lot of loss over the past year, which has better prepared me to handle it but also completely overwhelmed my capacity to deal with more of it. I find myself at a loss for how to face Shannon’s passing – we were never really more than acquaintances, and I don’t feel like he’s truly “mine” to grieve. But I can’t ignore the huge impact he had on my life for the better part of two decades.

    I discovered BME in 1995, when I first had access to the internet through a summer job. It was just a tiny site compared to what it became, but my eyes were opened. I found RAB through BME, and can trace some of my longest friendships back to one or the other. I can honestly say that I don’t know who I’d be if I hadn’t found BME, traded snark on RAB, joined IAM, spent countless weekends in Philly with wonderful friends during one of the toughest times of my life… I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today. It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 18 years since all of that began – over half of my life. I think, for many, Shannon was an almost mythical figure – larger than life, the father of our community, bearer of knowledge and history. (And by the end, he sort of looked the part – eerily blue-eyed and bearded like a biblical character.) But he was just a man, a generous and smart man, who had a vision and created something that changed a lot of lives.

    I’ve felt rather adrift from our community after the decline of IAM, with my friends scattered across Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook (and others disappeared entirely). And yet the community is still there, having come together again in the past 24 hours to share their grief and their stories. Even with his passing, Shannon is still a galvanizing force within our world. And that just makes me miss him even more acutely.

  3. High school wasn’t easy for me. The summer of 1997 I was sure I was going to kill myself, instead I just cut myself. It was a way I guess of externalizing internal pain, making it into something I could deal with, could watch heal.
    Sometime in that school year I discovered BME. I’d always had an interest in tattoos, but of course was underage and didn’t know where to begin really. But then I saw the scarification section. Shortly thereafter I obtained my first self done decorative scars. Of course that they were decorative not self destructive had no bearing on my parents minds and it was off to the doctors and then to a psychiatrist.
    But yet I continued on and felt better about myself, was reclaiming my body, making myself as I wanted to be. There were still those days when I thought about ending it all, but I can look back now and say this with some surety- Bme saved my life.
    I went to college and started to meet up with other bme folks in real life- yourself included. Mishel, Bob, Carmela, Haji, Sean P. And meeting some of the Canadians- Phil, Blair (who has remained, in my eyes, a soul mate of mine), and the man himself Shannon. More scars would come at the hands of a professional, implants as well.
    When I was diagnosed with cancer, I found not just my immediate friends but the entire community to be very supportive. I didn’t go through treatment by myself, but with the support of a thousand (or more) people. It was around this time that I met the woman I’ve been happily married to for almost seven years now. I met her on IAM.
    While we were never close friends, Shannon has had a profound effect on my life, and I will do my best to carry on his memory. So it goes.

  4. I have a couple of memories. I should be working on an 8 page paper…but these memories keep floating around in my head…so I think I have to write about them before I can continue.
    The last one I have is much more recent. I contacted him in the past few months to ask him if he’d make wedding bands for our (Brian and my) wedding. He responded back that we’d need to be quick because he wasn’t sure how much time he had left, but he’d love to make at least a cast so someone with SS, gold, or some more precious metal could use it to make the rings. I didn’t forget about it, but with school being so demanding I figured I had some time to work this out. I was wrong…and I regret not pursuing this sooner.
    The other one that keeps stumbling around in my head is from a RI suscon. You had helped suspend me the year before in Vermont…as you well know…I have no words for that moment in my life. Shannon had come to that suscon event and I remember many people being so excited and in awe at his presence. Often…people viewed him as a god…and I had no desire to take part in that. While I always appreciated what he did and had done to that point, to me…he was a man of great impact…but not a god or idol. Regarding that moment, I remember you were always engrossed in conversation with always more than one girl, but this time, you stopped your conversation and came over and took my hand. You said, “I want you to meet Shannon”. I held such reservation in that…he wasn’t my friend…he was yours, and I didn’t know if we (Shannon and I) had anything in common other than a passion for modification. You introduced me and made reference to my suspension…it was a special special moment, and they were very special words (to me), I’d rather not recount them publicly…I don’t want to minimize the impact they’ve had on me all these years later. Shannon looked at me and shook my hand. He smiled and said, “really?” to you. …but the “really” was was a statement and a question at once… Shannon said it was nice to meet me…I said likewise, I then went about the rest of my weekend. It was a special moment the three of us shared..and I’m not even sure if you remember it, but it was a moment I won’t forget.
    I also remember one year in Toronto, but I won’t recant the specifics. I do remember though, Shannon’s concern and how he worked real hard to remedy a potential issue for someone he didn’t even know. I remember thinking how devoted to the modified community he was at that time…I understand the repercussions had the potential to be catastrophic; however, the genuine-ness in his voice, and the perseverance he had in getting in touch with me was amazing…and I always admired his dedication in that situation. He remained level-headed, but insisted how important it was that we consider the potential ramifications. He was always for pushing the envelope…and I didn’t always agree with him, but holy fuck…I always always respected his dedication and ability to think beyond what was normally accepted. <3 I love you Shawn, without him there would be no "us". And I treasure "us" more than I have the words to convey.

  5. The first time I met Shannon was at one of the old school BME BBQs in his backyard. I was 19 and so wet behind the ears. Nate Coons and I drove from western Mass to help with the suspensions. When I got there Shannon and I recognized who one another were from talking online and he invited me in. I immediately asked him if he had any catheters, he replied “yeah over here” this was when he ran bme shop out of his apartment. He handed me two of them and said “I don’t know what’s weirder you asking me for them or that I had them. What do you need them for?” I replied “long ride back don’t want to get out of the car.” we both laughed and that was the first time we ever spoke in person. I can’t begin to describe the impact that man had on my life or all the wonderful times we spent together over the last decade. I am fortunate and thankful to have had him be a part of my life and to be able to have called him my friend.

  6. My first time meeting Shannon was in his backyard on Augusta, after I’d driven up to Toronto, by myself, to do my first energy pull. Everyone was fanboying it up with him and discussing mods with him, which he awkwardly participated in. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a fanboy as well and rather star struck, but luckily he was wearing a “Free Dmitry” shirt, as this was just after Dmitry Skylarov’s arrest at Def-Con, so I was able to have a bit of a geek chat with him about that. That single conversation couldn’t have been more than a few exchanges, but it went a long way towards humanizing him in my eyes and allowing me to be more relaxed around him.

    I had my final conversation with him 2 weeks ago, over dinner. Much reminiscing, bullshitting, and catching up, but mostly a group of old friends participating in oral history lessons.

    Shawn, my friend, I miss you, and I thank you for all of your contributions, but mostly for being a good guy.

  7. My life would of been very different for me without him. Since 97 he has been someone I could cone to for advice or just to talk…i owe him a huge debt of gratitude for my life and the way he helped ot unfold.

  8. I’m still reeling, can’t formulate one particular memory – you knew him personally much more than I. But I can say he changed my life for the good by his existence, and the work he did. Changed my relationship with myself and my body for the better. The world is a greater place, for so many of us, for him having been with us.

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