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Don't call them freaks

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Call them "body modification artists." Building on yesterday's theme, which all started with us thinking too much about the body-modified Mayans depicted in Apocalypto, we wanted to get down to brass tacks (no, that's not a body mod) and meet a few celebrities. Of the body modification world, that is.

The Enigma

For years a part of Jim Rose's traveling circus, he's a professional freak (his own words) and musician who has covered his body in blue puzzle-shaped tattoos, sports "horn implants" and performs all manner of sideshow stunts, from sword-swallowing to fire breathing.

Katzen the Tiger Lady

A bandmate (and until recently, wife) of the Enigma, she wears full-body tattoos as well as cat whiskers attached via transdermal implants on her face. "Katzen," she'll have you know, is German for "cats."

Stalking Cat

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As catlike as Katzen may be, she doesn't hold a candle to Stalking Cat, an American Indian whose devotion to body modification and catliness is unchallenged. Reportedly beginning his body modifications after a conversation with an Indian chief who counseled him to "follow the way of the tiger," Stalking's body boasts

  • extensive tattooing, including facial tattooing
  • hairline modification
  • facial transdermal implants to allow the wearing of whiskers
  • facial subdermal implants to change the shape of the brow and forehead
  • filing and capping of his teeth to have a more feline appearance
  • wearing green contact lenses with slit irises
  • having his ears surgically pointed
  • silicone injection in the lips, cheeks, chin and other parts of his face
  • and a bifurcated upper lip.

Lucky "Diamond" Rich

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Of course, no list of celebrated body modifiers would be complete without Lucky "Diamond" Rich, who claims the Guinness Book's dubious honor of being the world's most tattooed person, with ink covering his entire body, including the inside of his mouth and ears. And despite being a blue man, as far as we know he has never been associated with the Blue Man Group.

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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