When You Care Enough to Give Testicles

And speaking of von Hagens yesterday, we came upon this…..


“Why, yes, that is a plastinated bull testicle hanging from my neck!”

It’s not often enough you are able to utter that sentence, is it? But if you and your credit card can take a moment to swing by world-famous Gunther von “The Plastinator” Hagens’ online giftshop, your chances of accepting plastinated bull testicle compliments would be greatly increased.  If you buy one, of course.

Or if the bull testicle piece is a bit minimalist for you, perhaps these more ornate pig slice earrings would be to your liking? Not quite sure what part of the pig they are, but they don’t look much like bacon.


Still not flamboyant enough?  Not to worry!  There are countless other choices representing varying degrees baroque grotesquery in Gunther’s Consumerworld pleasure palace.

Unfortunately, the plastinated cross-sectional “Sex Act” piece below is sold.  It’s a shame too because it would have made quite a striking coffee table.


Cumming Soon! New AoB Video!


So, we’ve missed several days of blogging thanks to production on a soon-to-be-uploaded Art of Bleeding video. What’s it about, you say? Well, the above image is intended as a hint.

No, it’s not a porn video, but like the good Dr. von Hagens, we know how to get your attention. Look for the new AoB Bodyworlds-inspired video on this site sometime later next month.

And while we’re on the topic of von Hagen’s plastinated “Reverse Cowgirl”…

In response to a 2009 controversy over this particular exhibit, a sulky von Hagens told the media he would saw the bodies off at the waists, presenting the conjoined male/female organs  in more clinical isolation. He is depicted here “dispelling controversy” (?) by waving a prop saw around the couple. Unclear whether he ever actually fulfilled this threat.

Ever the showman, that von Hagens!  Hat’s off!

Gunther Saws them up

Q&A with Abram the Safety Ape

If your acquaintance with The Art of Bleeding comes primarily through this blog, you may never have seen one of our live shows or videos and therefore may be unfamiliar with Abram the Safety Ape, The Art of Bleeding’s educational mission,  0r the unusual approach to health and safety education that Abram embodies.

To remedy this, we offer a few excerpts from No-Fi Magazinne interview with Abram the Safety Ape conducted in by Rich Polysorbate 60

POLYSORBATE: Where were you before the call to safety awareness?

ABRAM: Actually, I grew up within the very bosom of safety awareness, or True Safety Consciousness (TSC), as we call it. I suppose I am very privileged in that way. I never really knew my biological parents as they were killed by poachers when I was newborn. I was rescued from the bushmeat market by the radical Austrian psychologist Dr. Abram S. Lugner in 1978 while he was touring Rwanda. Dr. Lugner actually suckled me at his breast! Of course, I was also bottle-fed at the time, but his belief in the psychological importance of the nursing experience was strong enough that he was willing to enough to endure the unkind comments of the hotel staff and other natives. He was a great man and a true visionary, and I am proud to bear his name. My rescue happened to coincide with his efforts to create a theatrical mode of communicating the principles of True Safety Consciousness through the Art Of Bleeding Foundation.

POLYSORBATE: What is the true significance of the ambulance? Exactly who really drives it? Is the patient reborn?

ABRAM: What we call the “magic ambulance” is in fact the “sweet chariot” of the gospel hymn. It “swings low” brushing the critically injured with a divine wisdom not accessible to normal consciousness. Though I’ve been given the keys to the ambulance and am technically the driver, I know nothing of the ride. The patient experiences that, taking one of two roads, the lower returning to an earthly existence enlightened by True Safety Consciousness, or the higher returning to the eternal.

POLYSORBATE: What does the logo represent? The five directions? The center?

ABRAM: It is patterned after the so-called “Star of Life,” used on ambulances throughout the country, however its meaning is substantially different. The five lower points of the Art of Bleeding Star each represent a different emotionally charged state of mind: “empathy,” “mirth,” “wonder,” “repulsion,” and “terror.” In order to dramatically impress the principles of True Safety Consciousness, we strive to induce these states within the audience. The sixth point of the star, its uppermost and central point, “insight” represents the summation of perceptions acquired in the other five states. The central snake emblem is a traditional Gnostic symbol for the attainment of insight.

POLYSORBATE: Why do the nurses wear latex nurse uniforms instead of cloth? Are they especially trained for the Art Of Bleeding?

ABRAM: Dr. Lugner believed that skimpy or tight-fitting latex and vinyl uniforms would help focus audience attention in ways that modest cloth uniforms cannot. There is also the practical matter of waterproof surfaces being more resistant to various liquids that often fly about in these shows. Training for our nurses is similar to that of other Art Of Bleeding staff members, and consists of workshops in phantasmagoric education, strict mind-body regimens, staged accidents, sensory immersions and a forty-day period of isolation.


Photo: Marianne Williams, halfasecondorless.com.

POLYSORBATE: Some have described the Art Of Bleeding as a modern medicine show, how do you feel about this? Is this accurate in any way?

ABRAM: Well, the big difference there is that the Art Of Bleeding isn’t selling any cure-all. Unlike the Red Cross, for instance, we do not fixate on “quick fixes” like CPR because we believe these tend to overshadow the deeper significance of the accident itself. But there may be something to the comparison in terms of the sort of freewheeling theatricality we associate with the old-time medicine show. And our performances have also have elements of the circus or vaudeville, and these are certainly cousins to the medicine show.

POLYSORBATE: What message do you hope to convey that might be lacking in the presentations of the standard health and safety presentations?

ABRAM: I believe we provide deeper insight into the truly paradoxical nature of accidents and injury. With traditional safety programs the bottom line is simply avoiding accidents and medical emergencies, but we believe this stops short of the real problem — that of a mind not yet awakened to True Safety Consciousness. Accidents themselves are not the problem. In fact, accidents can have a transformative positive aspect. The notion of the accident as a form of breakthrough is key to our teachings. When we speak of the “Art of Bleeding,” we are using in paramedical symbols to speak of this change of consciousness. Bleeding occurs when we break through the boundaries of our physical bodies, so it serves as our Foundation’s shorthand for “breakthrough.”

POLYSORBATE: Can work stress in the medical field produce mystical insight, in the same way injury to a patient can?

ABRAM: Absolutely. The stress is enormous. Gunshot wounds, stabbings, bodies burned beyond recognition. Of course, as a Safety Mascot, I don’t deal with these problems directly, but I’m constantly exposed to questions about these sorts of things from class after class of noisy uncooperative schoolchildren. All of them squirming and talking and tugging on my vest, and talking during the slideshows. Sometimes I will just stop talking and stand there like a test to see what will happen next, and I’ll stare out and see those incessantly running mouths and bodies all spastic from their breakfast sugar-rush, and the noise will just go on and on and on and on and get louder and louder. But if I let it go like that. If I really just let it get as loud as it wants and don’t try to fight it, it will happen – there will be that popping sound in the back of my head, like a speaker just broke, and then I’ll see all the mouths and commotion still going, but it will be like a movie without sound. And then I will feel the cool white fog. I am the center of the fog, and it just rolls out from the center, blanketing row after row of desks and students who suddenly grow still and quite and then just go away. But it’s never complete. I never let it finish because I am afraid to see the fog roll through that back wall of the room. I just have to close my eyes because of the feeling that if those walls go, there will be nothing but fog everywhere, an entire universe of fog with no top or bottom, and I feel like I will fall forever if I let that happen. Usually by that point, I will open my eyes and find I am back in the ambulance and someone else has taken the keys and is driving me home. I only have to work a few hours on days like those.

POLYSORBATE: Can you talk about some of the peripheral characters?

ABRAM: Yes. “Peripheral” is, of course, the key word here since I am the Foundation’s official representative. However, many of our shows now also include appearances by RT the Robot Teacher, whose soulless grasp of dry colorless facts and data provides the raw material for my warm and engaging left-brain-oriented commentary. We also occasionally feature appearances from consulting physician and amateur occultist Dr. J. Elmer Moody who is a hand-puppet, and Faceless, the Boy Who Learned Too Late. Faceless is a mysterious but lovable man-child who suffered an accident in his youth, which resulted in him now appearing in public with his face and head entirely concealed under gauze bandages. He communicates through a puppet called Fergus the Firedog.

POLYSORBATE: Did you like Bringing Out the Dead? Do you believe that the main character was generally good? Have you had similar experiences?

ABRAM: Is that a television show? We do not have television at the ranch out in Yucca Valley because Dr. Lugner believed that television is a corrupting influence. The only film or video we see are source materials for Art of Bleeding sensory bombardment experiments and those tend to be health-and-safety films produced in the 1970s or ‘80s.

POLYSORBATE: Will you ever bring the Art Of Bleeding to a large hospital like Kaiser or UCLA?

ABRAM: We haven’t approached UCLA yet, but we did apply to Kaiser Healthcare to be part of their “Festival of Wellness.” Unfortunately they wrote back saying that our performance proposal was “of questionable educational merit and potentially hazardous.” They also complained because they said that in the photos we submitted RT the Robot Teacher’s utility hose looked like a penis. It’s kind of sad, really, but perhaps once Dr. Lugner’s works are finally translated into English, there will be greater openness to our unconventional modes of presentation.

Children on Fire 2: The Dreadful Story of Pauline & the Matches


In 1955, Der Struwwepeter (“Slovenly Peter”), the startlingly grisly collection of cautionary tales for children mentioned in our last post was made into a charming technicolor fantasy film by director Fritz Genschow, who had previously directed versions of other classics familiar to German children such as Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, and other fairy tales compiled by the Brothers Grimm.  With the exception of a Christmas miracle which undoes all the  dreadful fates befalling the naughty children, the film restricts itself  to narration provided by the book’s poems.  Rather than speaking dialogue, the characters dance their way through each scene in a sort of ballet choreographed to exactly mimic the look of the book’s original illustrations.  You can read more about the production on Forces of Geek.  And be sure to check out the other YouTube Struwwelpeter clips featuring children having their thumbs cut off, rabbits shooting hunters, death by gluttony, and children carried off by wind-born umbrellas.

Caution: Children on Fire


Pictures of burning children always catch our attention. Particularly old-timey pictures of burning kids like this one from She Walks Softly. Turns out, this one is a little too good to be true, as it’s not the vintage advertisement for some the kooky product it purports to be, but the work of contemporary designer and illustrator Christian Northeast.


Even though I’d seen this marshmallow roast gone terribly wrong before, I’d assumed it was mere Photoshop trickery, so was surprised to learn these are genuine flesh-and-blood children staging a pyrotechnic stunt for reality TV show pilot. The kids are part of a family of stunt professionals headed by TK TK Dunn, and have performed in many movies including Catwoman, X-Men II, and Scary Movie, and others. No word was to whether the pilot ever sold


Cigarette cards were the bubblegum cards of their Edwardian day.  It seems fitting that a cigarette manufacture should produce instructional material on fire safety, though this was only one in a series of hundreds of unrelated to the dangers or ill-effects of smoking, so it would be a bit of a presumptuous to conclude this was offered as a sort of product warning.


The final word in burning children art would have to come from the pen of early German psychiatric pioneer Heinrich Hoffman, who in 1845 created both verse and illustration for his collection of cautionary tales for children Der Struwwelpeter, translated for American audiences by Mark Twain as Slovenly Peter.  Peter, a child whose grooming habits were wildly out of control, was one of a host counter-exemplary children, which also included the tale of naughty Pauline (pictured here) whose fascination with matches ends badly despite the best advice of her cats.


Hoffman’s “The Dreadful Story About Matches” was later republished in many editions, sometimes with different illustrations such as this one featuring an older Pauline no longer toting doll and perhaps already on the verge of puberty, a state some scholars have associated with the graphic decision to move the fire from its original location on the child’s back to the more suggestive position shown here.

British cabaret band, The Tiger Lillies retells “The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches” in their Struwelpeter-inspired album Shockheaded Peter,  which provided the soundtrack for an off-Broadway stage production of the same name.

The poem has even inspired Rammstein in their song “Hilf mir,” which loosely retells this story well known to their native German audiences.

More Bizarre Nurse Romance Novels

More nurse romance cover art today. These gems come from among the 307 volumes in the collection of Tiny Pineapple. Check them out!


“She had not expected to find romance on this assignment–but then, almost everything at the Indian Service Hospital had come as a surprise,” says the back cover.

With a waist cinched like that, can’t we assume her brain is probably in a perpetual state of circulatory distress easily confused for surprise?  She seems to be putting a good (if slightly manic) face on it though.  We hope her relationship with that Kachina is all she dreamed it would be.


“Then there was Chad and the promise of love and fame he offered Julie, sharing his roaming, exciting life as a folksinger.”

Folksinger and inveterate womanizer maybe?  Yes, glamor waits in the wings.  Some day she’ll surely join in on stage — when he barks for a replacement for his broken string.


“But could the quiet, competent nurse hope to win her man when Tina whirled, glittering, out of the spotlight and into his arms?”

Ice skating rivalry?  Sounds like someone’s in for the “Tonya Harding” treatment.


“Fascinating Clyde McLaren, a strong candidate for the moon shot, was brilliant and quite friendly. Or did he want more than friendship?”

Sounds like that uniform of hers is primed for a lift-off.


This is can’t be as bad as the cover, can it?  Is that possible?