The Lizardman Frequently Asked Questions
Version 2.6
July 2013

How do you prefer to be addressed?
For various reasons, most of them related to business, I have pushed the use of Lizardman.  However, lately I have been using my given name more often - usually when performing stand-up and in most non-sideshow contexts.  I have also been using Erik 'The Lizardman' Sprague for most written credits.  Very few people refer to me as Erik, so if you are trying to get my attention on the street go with Lizardman.

Where do you live?
Austin, Texas

How old are you?
I was born June 12, 1972 (do the math).

Where did you grow up?
I grew up primarily in upstate NY (Ellenburg, Clinton County).

Do you have any siblings?
I have a younger sister (3 years) named Erin.

Are you married?
Yes. I married my wife Meghan on November 19th, 2003.

Do you have any children?
No.  I do not and will not have children.

Do you have any pets?
Meghan and I currently have five ferrets: Jezebel, Kabuki, Luna, Mojo, & Molotov   We have had a total of eleven ferrets thus far.  Dervish, Eris, Fozzie, Ginsu, Houdini, and Illoigor have all passed on after very rich and rewarding lives with us.  I also sometimes keep a north american rough green snake for use in my show as Cricket the Wonder Snake.

What is your educational background?
I was a national merit scholar finalist, attended Hartwick College (Oneonta, NY) on a full academic scholarship and received a BA with Honors in Philosophy in 1994. In 1996 I began doctoral studies in philosophy at the University at Albany (Albany, NY). I left my doctoral work (ABD) in 1999 in order to pursue career opportunities as a performance artist full time.

What do you do for a living?
I am an artist and an entertainer. I make my living performing around the world. My show typically consists of a mix of stand-up, spoken word, and sideshow stunts. I am also the front man for the band Lizard Skynard.

What does your family think?
My family has always been nothing but loving and supportive. I probably would not have managed to do this without them. While it may seem hard for people looking in to understand what I do, my family has seen me develop and grow over the course of my life and they can see it as part of an overall whole.

Why have you transformed yourself via various body modification processes?
My physical appearance is part of a transformation project I began as an undergraduate working in body based performance art.

What is the transformation project?
While in college I hit upon the idea of using body modification procedures (initially tattooing) for a body based art piece that would explore the idea of what it means to be human from a linguistic standpoint. I was working with philosophy of language and it occurred to me that some of the principles put forth by Wittgenstein in his later works offered an interesting potential for exploration in relation to the transformation ideas I had been working with in art. Broken down it goes something like this: (1) Wittgenstein suggested that one way in which we are able to apply one term to many different objects is because they share a sort of "family resemblance" (2) Focusing on how this principle related to the use of terms like 'human being', 'person', etc in the sense that people identify others as humans more based on observation of surface physical characteristics and behaviors I decided to modify those aspects of myself in manner which would significantly differentiate me from other 'human beings' (3) In order to achieve this differentiation I chose to use permanent body modification procedures because I felt that a permanent commitment to the artistic statement was preferable if not necessary.

Why a reptilian theme?
I felt I should choose something that would work well for a total body theme (fit all areas, age well) and, even more importantly, something I would like for the rest of my life. After considering several options (mazes, stories, spots, stripes) I settled on the reptilian theme because I liked the look and it made a good fit with other ideas I had for the future at the time; like my split tongue and teeth, which did come to pass.

What about the non-reptilian elements like the earlobes and 'freak' tattoo on your chest?
The nature of the project is not wholly restrictive to purely reptilian aspects. My body is still mine and I have chosen to incorporate other elements I find desirable. If you really need to nitpick then think of it as a lizard-man with stretched earlobes and tattoos on his chest and arms.

When did you start work on the project?
I began contemplating and designing aspects of it as early as 1990. The first real work I had done (my first tattoo sessions) came 4 years later in 1994 after much consideration and design work.

What body modifications have you had done?
I have undergone an estimated 650-700 hours of tattooing. I have had several piercings, of which I currently retain and wear jewelry only in my half-inch diameter septum.  Due to a severe reaction I stopped wearing jewelry in my one inch earlobes in February 2009 at which time they were unofficially the strongest pierced lobes in the world having successfully pulled cars on several occasions. As of 2012 I have begun working on building up my ears for lifting and pulling stunts once again.  I have 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.

Who performed the procedures?
I have recently (2011) begun to have work done by Adam Walsh (Triple Crown, Austin, TX).   Other artists who have worked on me include Mike Tidwell of Dallas, TX and Mad Pup of Plattsburgh, NY. I pierced and stretched my own earlobes. Keith Alexander pierced my septum and then I stretched it. My implants were performed by Steve Haworth of Phoenix, AZ. My teeth were filed by Dr. Harvey Winter in Albany, NY who I was referred to by Dr. Lawrence Busino who split my tongue. 

How much did all of this cost?
I have not kept an accurate record of the cost, as it is not a central issue to me. I have been fortunate in that much of the work has been done free or at reduced cost. An estimated cost / value for all of the work done at full price would be close to $250,000.

How long has it taken to get it all done?
I have been actively getting work done since 1994. My work and travel schedule greatly restricts how much time I can spend getting procedures and healing but the progress continues.

Are you finished? Will you ever be finished?
I am not finished but I do hope someday to complete my tattooing and other planned procedures. I won't say absolutely that I will be finished though; as new technology and ideas may arise that I can incorporate into my own work.

Does it hurt?
Yes. It all hurts and if someone says it doesn't then they likely have a problem with their nervous system. The very nature of what is done during these procedures (needles in skin et al) means they should hurt but pain is no reason not to do something. Lots of things hurt but they are worth it - childbirth for instance, or so I am told anyway.

What about when you are older? What if you regret it?
My work has been done by some of the best and the design has good potential for aging. Given the risks I take professionally I will be more than happy to live long enough to become a wrinkled and faded old Lizardman. Regret is always a possibility for everyone, you could say the same to someone joining the army or going to law school. I have done my best to consider and plan for the eventualities that could cause me to regret my decisions - further, in fact, than many people I know went in considering far larger decisions like having children. I do not think that I will regret this; if I did I would not have done it.

What acts/stunts do you perform in your show?
I choose from a variety of acts I have learned since starting with fire manipulation around 1990, my full repertoire consists of dozens of acts with many variations of each. I am also constantly inventing, researching, and training in order to expand my repertoire.  Over the last few years I have concentrated more and more on stand up comedy but sideshow acts will always be a part of what I do.

Do you perform suspensions?
Yes, I do suspensions. I have worked with Allen Falkner, T.S.D., & C.o.R.E. among others, and I am a contributing author to the BME Suspension F.A.Q.

How long have you been performing?
I have been performing my current style of show for over fifteen years. Previous to this, I was actively involved in more traditional theatre and other forms of performance art.

Does performing the stunts hurt? Are they dangerous?
Many of the stunts and acts involve some pain or discomfort even when done correctly and almost all of them are dangerous if not potentially fatal. No one should attempt to mimic or otherwise perform such feats without proper training and instruction.

Where did you learn the stunts you perform?
Through careful research and training I was able to teach myself the majority of the acts I perform today. The rest were shared with me by other performers.

Will you teach me? Where can I learn?
I do occasionally do small seminars and workshops for performance or theatre groups but for the most part I do not teach acts or stunts. Those wishing to learn should seriously consider the danger and seek out qualified professional training (it would have saved me many years and scars). The sideshow school at Coney Island is an excellent start and is run by friends of mine.

Where have you performed and with whom?
I have performed all over the world and toured the US nationally several times.  From 2003-2008 I was the host of the Jagermeister Music Tour. Besides working as a solo act I have appeared with The Jim Rose Circus, Sideshows by the Seashore (Coney Island), Todd Robbins Carnival Knowledge, Brothers Grim, and Hellzapoppin at various times. Some of the bands I have toured and performed with include Godsmack, Staind, Breaking Benjamin, Hinder, Hatebreed, Type O Negative,  3 Inches of Blood, Hed (PE), Saliva, Chimaira, Fear Factory, Slipknot, Mastodon, Killswitch Engage, Corrosion of Conformity, Disturbed & Slayer.

How often do you perform?
My schedule varies a great deal but generally keeps me on the road for nine or ten months out of the year (aggregate).

How can I see you perform?
Dates and venues are posted on the main page.

How can I book a performance?
Contact me with the details and we'll work from there.

Do you have any videos for sale?
I do not have any plans to release my show as a DVD. Performances are meant to be experienced as live entertainment.

Have you been on TV?
I have appeared on hundreds of television programs worldwide. Many people recognize me from Ripley's Believe It or Not and their ad campaign that included NYC Billboard images of me. I have also done several programs for TLC, Discovery, National Geographic and appeared on a number of talk shows. 

Have you been in newspapers and magazines or on the radio?
Yes. For the past several years I have made and I continue to make several such appearances every year usually to promote live events.

Have you ever been in a movie?
I appear in the movie Modify and have a cameo role in the film Boxboarders.

Are there any books about you?
I am mentioned, discussed, and/or referenced in several books including the annual scholastic press Ripley's books and some college level textbooks.

Have you written any books?
Yes, my first book is available via print on demand here  - http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/once-more-through-the-modified-looking-glass/6140027

What is Lizard Skynard?
Lizard Skynard is my band.  In March 2010 we recorded at Electrical Audio in Chicago and in October 2010 we released our first album.  Lizard Skynard
Are you religious or spiritual?
No. I do not adhere to or believe in any faith or supernatural views of reality and I would rather not hear about yours, thank you.

Do you really maintain and produce this website and answer emails yourself?
Yes, I do all the work myself - which should go a long way to explain the very basic html approach, typos, and slow updates. When you send mail to thelizardman23@gmail.com it goes directly to me and no one else. Maybe someday I will be big enough and have enough money to get underlings for these duties but I doubt it. Besides, I actually often enjoy it.