Instagram sensation Ethan “Modboy” Bramble proudly claims to be the “world’s most modified youth.” And with more than 100,000 followers, it’s safe to say that the eye-catching 21-year-old Aussie has turned a few heads. After all, tattooed eyeballs, punched nostrils and a split tongue are just some of his striking body modifications. But what reaction did Bramble get from Instagram fans in May 2018 when he posted a “before” shot of himself? And what exactly can we conclude when we view his “after” look?
Bramble grew up in the port city of Newcastle on the Central Coast in New South Wales, Australia. The young lad became fascinated with body modification and, at the age of just 11, introduced stretchers to his earlobes to elongate his piercings. Bramble’s self-confessed obsession with inking shortly followed, and tattoo parlors became his favorite hangout throughout his teenage years.
And as the youth became increasingly involved in the subculture, Bramble’s desire to experiment with his own looks grew. Extreme body modification then proved particularly attractive to the baby-faced Bramble. It seems that he appreciated the way in which it made individuals appear so unique. So, when he was 17, the boy embarked on a life-changing journey that would dramatically alter his appearance forever.
Yes, the 17-year-old had his tongue split down the middle. Freakishly, once the flesh is sliced from the tip of the tongue to where the base joins the jaw underneath, the two halves can be moved independently of each other. Speaking to the Australian current affairs website News.com.au in May 2018, Bramble described having his tongue split as his “most intense” modification. But, as we shall see, the Newcastle boy was far from done…
The procedure itself may well have been intense, but the aftermath seems to have been pretty extreme, too. Indeed, Bramble’s ordeal continued well beyond the treatment room as he endured almost an entire week of excruciating pain. The agonized Aussie even made desperate attempts to orally ingest powdered painkillers through an infant’s syringe to find some relief. “It was five days of near-death,” Modboy admitted to News.com.au.
And the lethal risks that the dramatic cutting brought on were heightened at night. “You have to sleep upright and have a towel because you’re constantly drooling,” Bramble went on to explain. “If you lie down, you choke on your own spit and saliva and blood and die. It definitely was not a fun experience.”
However, the horror of that episode did not put our hero off. On the contrary, Bramble spent the next four years getting more than 40 adjustments made to his body. The 21-year-old also collected some 150 tattoos during this time. And he shared each inking and modification with social media users via Bramble’s online persona of Modboy. Indeed, his online followers have witnessed Modboy’s ears becoming increasingly stretched as well as cut and shaped into a point. Fans have also watched on as the young man had his eyeballs tattooed black and his bellybutton surgically removed.
Ultimately, though, Bramble “likes the way [body modification] looks” and feels it is the same as choosing to wear makeup. But what about what other people think? Modboy confessed to News.com.au, “Girls especially come up to me on the street and ask, ‘Why? Just why?’” And when you see what Bramble looked like before, you might well ask yourself the same question.
On Saturday, September 30, 2017, the modifying addict released a picture of himself before his more drastic facial adjustments. “Little sneaky before and after photo for you all,” he captioned the post. His Instagram followers instantly went wild and waves of comments flooded the feed. Many users were in awe of the sheer amount of work Modboy has had done to himself, while others were concerned that Bramble had “ruined” his natural beauty.
Some fans complimented the Australian youth on his good looks in the before picture and then probed him on his decision to change. “How could you do that you were perfect[?]!” asked one admirer, clearly horrified by the change. Meanwhile, other Instagram contributors appeared genuinely upset and concerned about Bramble’s emotional wellbeing. One challenged him, saying, “Now you’re just wearing a mask, that’s just… heartbreakingly sad.”
However, other followers branded Modboy an inspiration and applauded his bravery in defying conventional society. Moreover, some showed sympathy with Bramble’s personal belief that people should not be judged on how they look. Nonetheless, others were more keen to judge, and their verdict appeared to be wholehearted approval. “[You are] like three million times sexier now,” gushed one fan, while another admitted to loving her viral crush either way.
But regardless of what anyone else might think, Modboy maintains that he has no regrets and believes his body modifications and markings have justified all the pain. “The end product is 100 percent worth the torment, if you’re committed to it,” Bramble told News.com.au. He conceded that there have been times when his predilection for extreme procedures has terrified him, though.
Indeed, Bramble views his biggest and most frightening risk as his decision to have his eyeballs tattooed. After all, one slip of the syringe during that procedure could have resulted in the youth being blinded for life. Speaking about the hair-raising moment to News.com.au, Bramble revealed what went through his mind as the implement approached his face. “You have one person holding your eyelids open, and it’s up to you to stare at the wall at a certain spot,” he recalled.
He continued, “It’s so stressful because if you move your eyeball when there’s a syringe in there, you’ll go blind. So that’s definitely a really sketchy one.” But it was this eye-catching modification that the young man believes is most responsible for changing how others look at him.
Indeed, he told News.com.au, “People’s perceptions of you change a lot. You walk down the street, and people cross the street to get away from you or think you’re really scary or something.” Since then, Modboy has had thick black lines inked over some of his original facial tattoos, causing a layered effect, and he has also had gold implants to replace his six top front teeth.
Despite believing that first impressions count, Bramble does not seem to mind people thinking he is a “weird looking dude.” However, some public concerns over body-modifying enthusiasts have proved to be not just skin deep. In May 2018, for instance, Brendan Russell, an Australian industry “expert” known on social media as BSlice DotCom, was charged with female genital mutilation. And now, the Antipodean authorities are turning their attention to regulations governing body modification.
Furthermore, Brad Hazzard, the health minister for New South Wales, has heavily slated the alternative profession, paying particular attention to the people performing the surgery. “This so-called body modification is just plain wacko and can lead to permanent maiming,” the minister told Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph in May 2018. “My view is these people are ruthlessly opportunistic. This is up there with the worst barbarism imaginable.”
But such criticism has not swayed Bramble. In fact, he is more concerned about the outlaw methods modifiers may be forced to adopt in future to continue making adjustments to their bodies. With the level of pain caused through the most extreme procedures, Bramble believes that, should such practices be banned, it would be inconceivable to attempt them without illegal drugs.
He said as much to News.com.au. “Getting it done without any kind of local anaesthetic is borderline impossible,” he said. “Since all of this has come to light, there’s going to be a lot more regulation and rules brought in – but a lot of rules have to get broken to do these sort of things.”
Following Hazzard’s comments, the New South Wales police promptly released a statement to the press. It revealed that “there is currently no legislation for body modification in NSW. However, members of the so-called skin penetration industry are required to follow public health regulations.” In the meantime, Instagram’s Modboy continues to attract more attention as followers flock to his page in either sublime adoration or utter horror. Either way, the controversial Aussie youth has certainly made a lasting impression.