For many, spending $40,000 on elective cosmetic surgery is an absurdly exorbitant price tag, but Marvel fans are a different breed of human. For some hardcore fans who take cosplay to otherworldly levels, it's business as usual. This was the case for Henry (Rodriguez) Damon, whose extreme body modification transformed him into the Marvel supervillain, Red Skull.
The world of extreme body modification is one that many people don't understand, but those who partake in the controversial practice turn heads for better or worse. Some choose to snip their ears for perfect Lord of the Rings elf-approved features, and others strive to look as demonic as possible. Their reasons are always different, but they're usually rooted in self-expression.
Overall, people who want to look like fictional characters are nothing new; the world is filled with young girls who'd do just about anything to look like Disney princesses. But it's not every day that someone is so enamored by the likes of an evil Nazi that they cut off their nose to achieve the character's facial structure. So, why did Henry Damon do it? Here's a look inside the mind of a living, breathing Marvel supervillain, who also happens to be a doting father.
Surgically removing nasal tissue is typically done to excise cancerous tumors. Even then, most surgeons opt for endoscopic surgery, which doesn't require cutting through the skin. Though nose jobs are a common cosmetic procedure, Damon opted for the most extreme version - he had his nose chopped off. He left part of the bridge in tact but removed his nostrils and some of his septum.
The end result looks almost identical to the Red Skull's skeletal nose. It was by far Damon's most extreme surgery, but he didn't stop there.
Subdermal implants are actually a wildly popular method of extreme body modification. In fact, a temporary implant went viral in 2012. This bizarre Japanese beauty trend was dubbed the "Bagel Head," and the saline injection that created a bagel-shaped bump dissolved in about 16 hours. Even Lady Gaga wore fake subdermal implants for an appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
Of course, Damon didn't opt for a 16-hour, temporary modification. He acquired several permanent subdermal implants on his forehead. According to Everyday Health, subdermal implants are one of the most dangerous extreme body modifications you can get. The molds are usually made from silicone, metal, or Teflon and sometimes have a metal extension for jewelry.
Damon also tattooed most of his face a vibrant red to match Red Skull's fiery skin. This type of tattoo is among the most painful a person can get, although it probably doesn't hold a candle to sticking a tattoo needle in your eyeball.
Plastic surgery horror stories exist all over the net, and they're terrifying. For this reason, most people do some pretty heavy research and don't skimp when it comes to modifying their body. This wasn't the case for Damon, who didn't seem to mind that his plastic surgeon lacked the technical qualifications needed to actually perform surgery.
Emilio Gonzalez is the man behind Damon's Red Skull transformation, but he dropped out of medical school before completing his degree. That hasn't stopped the surgeon from performing a number of body modification procedures on a bevy of customers. Gonzalez is also a tattoo artist, which definitely helped when transforming Damon's face from his natural skin tone to a bright shade of red as well as tattooing his eyeballs.
It's a natural reaction to shy away from the terrifying idea of needles going anywhere near your eyeballs, but that was the price of beauty for Damon. The father-of-one utilized his pseudo-surgeon's skills as a tattoo artist to color both of his eyes permanently black (even though Red Skull didn't have black eyes in the films).
Tattooing the eyes, also known as Sclera tattooing, isn't easy, and most ophthalmologists advise against it. Philip Rizzuto, the spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, disapproves of the experimental procedure, which involves injecting ink right below the whites of the eyes.
"I would strongly recommend against it," he told USA Today, stating it could cause blindness or eye loss. "Putting any kind of needle on the eye is very dangerous," he continued. "We do that all the time, but we're trained for 12 to 18 years on how to go about treating the eye."
Even Luna Cobra, a body modification artist who started tattooing eyes in the mid-90s, thinks the practice should be banned for anyone who isn't a licensed surgeon, including himself: "I think the art is beautiful, and it should continue, but I think it should continue in a safe manner."