The Lizardman Frequently Asked Questions
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?
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 three ferrets:
Jezebel, Kabuki, & Luna. We have had a total of nine 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
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
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
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
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
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?
What is Lizard Skynard?
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
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
Do you have a blog?
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
Do you really maintain and produce this website and answer
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.