Meet Erik - it's a freaky experience

By Nigel Benson

Erik "The Lizardman" Sprague in Mosgiel. Photo / Peter McIntosh
Erik "The Lizardman" Sprague in Mosgiel. Photo / Peter McIntosh

Erik "The Lizardman" Sprague is a colourful character. Green, to be precise.

The 41-year-old American entertainer, currently performing in Dunedin, is tattooed with lizard scales, has a split tongue and horns implanted in his head.

And, in case you still don't get it, he also has "Freak" tattooed across his chest.

Sprague began his transformation in 1994 as an art project called "The Freak Manifesto".

"I started it as a body-based conceptual performance artist. A freak is a fully self-realised individual," he said in Mosgiel yesterday before a "Freak 'n' Gash" performance there tonight.

"I liked the look of the reptilian theme and it made a good fit with other ideas I had. I've since had five Teflon horns subdermally implanted above each of my eyes to form horned ridges, four of my teeth have been filed into sharp fangs and my tongue has been bifurcated."

His party tricks include fire eating, sword swallowing, the human dartboard and pulling cars with his earlobes and he has performed around the world with acts including the Jim Rose Circus and bands such as Godsmack, Staind, Slipknot and Slayer.

"My tradition is American sideshow tattooing. The freak culture goes back thousands of years and sideshow is now recognised as an American folk art," he said.

The Freak Manifesto:

• More than 700 hours of tattooing, including green scales over his body and green lips

• Five Teflon horns implanted above each eye

• Tongue bifurcated (split by laser)

• Four teeth sharpened into fangs

• Cost (estimated): US$250,000

- Otago Daily Times

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