In 2020, James Goss (UK), earned the title for most flesh tunnels (face) with his 14 piercings.
It was the previous record holder, Joel Miggler (Germany), who at the time counted 11 flesh tunnels, who inspired James to stretch his existing piercings and break the record.
Two years later, on the set of the fourth episode of Lo Show Dei Record (Milan), James broke his own record, jumping from 14 to 15 flesh tunnels.
At the moment, he counts several flesh tunnels:
- 2 in the nostrils
- 1 septum
- 1 philtrum (just above his upper lip)
- 2 tunnels above the corners of his top lip
- 2 tunnels at the corners of his mouth
- 2 tunnels on his cheeks
- 4 tunnels right under his bottom lip
- 1 tunnel above the frenulum of his bottom lip
The stretched piercings vary in size, with measurements between 3 mm and 18 mm.
James’ passion for body mods and tattoos began when he was younger, when he saw tattoos on other people.
"A lot of bands I listened to were tattooed, and quite a lot of people had piercings. I appreciated the way it looked on other people. It works same as anybody: you see a haircut that you like and you say, 'oh maybe this will suit me'."
He always like the modified style, and was always attracted by a more alternative look: piercing, tattoos and body modifications always fascinated him. As he says, the more he got into the culture of it, the more modifications he wanted to try.
"For me, the more I change on the outside to who I am on the inside, the more comfortable I feel. If I’m comfortable with who I am, then other people’s opinions don’t affect me.”"- James Goss
Many people ask him if it hurts, and if the process causes pain.
Although James recognizes that having the piercings done initially was quite painful - shoving a needle into your face is never pleasant, he says - he also remarks that the process of stretching the piercings shouldn’t be painful at all.
On the contrary, the skin should adapt to the stretchers.
"If you make a hole in your body and you put an object through it, the body makes the hole slightly bigger than it naturally is, so it will fall out and then it can heal over. So every time, if you keep adding something slightly bigger, it’ll heal in a slightly bigger size."
Following a safe and controlled process means that there should be little to no pain involved.
Of course, carefulness, measuring the jewellery and an eye for materials to avoid the risk of infection or lacerating the skin are all key steps to avoiding unpleasant accidents.
And, although for James "it’s as natural as getting a haircut," he is also aware of the fact that piercings and mods are much more complicated and riskier than a haircut.
He has learned through experience that safety comes first.
"There’s a lot of different processes which you can stretch piercings," he says. "And a lot of unsafe ways too."
"Like using tapers, spike-shaped objects that are smaller on one end and bigger on the other. You can cause a lot of problems like that, like scar tissue build-up, or blowouts where the inside of the wound would fold outside and doesn’t heal properly."
James broke his earlobe accidentally while he was stretching his piercings.
"The jewellery shop I was buying jewellery from accidentally sent me the wrong size. I tried to put it anyway and it got stuck."
He was told a blood vessel in his ear split and got twisted, so there was a part of his earlobe that wasn’t getting any circulation at all.
It was extremely painful, James recalls.
The experience taught him a lesson, though: patience and prudence are the best way to avoid injuries that can be, in the worst cases, irreversible. It’s also important to take some extra precautions and measure the jewellery, no matter who is selling it.
"Always measure your jewellery before you try to wear it. No matter where you bought it, no matter who sold it, no matter who says, 'this is the right size' Always measure it before you try and wear it."
"Everybody is different at the end of the day," he says, explaining that the time and ways to stretch a piercing are extremely personal and vary for each person.
"Some people might be able to stretch half a millimetre at a time with no problems, other people will have to do half that size and some people even smaller."
Not listening to his body and using unsafe procedures (such as tapers and silicon tunnels) when he was younger led James to a terrible injury, but he has learned his lesson.
Today, he only uses safe materials and works with professionals to avoid infection and pain. He also uses his experience to educate others promote safe procedures.
"You have to make sure that whoever is doing it is someone that you can trust and who will not irreversibly mutilate your face."
At the moment, James prefers to wear amber jewels and gets all his jewellery custom made from a friend's shop, Manufactum jewellery.
In general, the majority of the jewellery he wears is made from organic materials that he finds interesting from a geological perspective.
"For example, Chiapas amber is fossilised tree sap from roughly 25 million years ago in what is now South America."
His friend at his trusted Manufactum jewellery knows him and is familiar with his needs, and they take a lot of care to make sure everything is exactly the way James needs it.
Other than delivering him a record title, his flesh tunnels and body mods have allowed him to be comfortable in his skin and express himself.
"It definitely helps me be more confident and comfortable with myself."
James always tries to be a positive voice: not only spreading awareness on safe stretching procedures when it comes to piercings but, also, showing kindness to everybody.
He addresses the prejudice linked to his body modification by trying to set a positive example for the community.
"There are always a lot of people that see me and think: ‘is he going to rob me, is he going to stab me?’ I try to be as nice as I can to try and impact their perception of other people."
But overall, James has found that other people's reactions are positive.
As for those who don’t like his style, James surely doesn’t let their opinions stop him.
"If that’s something that you want to do, do it. Don’t let anybody tell you not do to it."
"There’s always going to be people who like it and people who don’t like it. At the end of the day, the only personal opinion that matters on the way that you look is your own."
Discover more body modification records from Lo Show Dei Record.