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Bagel Head Trend in Japan? The truth on Japanese Bagelheads forehead inflation, National Geographic Taboo.

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“Oh my sweet, buttery bagels.” We’ve gone viral.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that my TV company, La Carmina & The Pirates, did the legwork for the National Geographic Taboo episode on Japanese bagel heads. The segment aired last week, and caused an unexpected media frenzy. Major news networks ran bagel-head stories — including ABC, Fox, E! News, Daily Mail, NY Magazine, The Sun, and CNN (a funny Ridicu-list piece by Anderson Cooper!).

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Unfortunately, quite a few media reports were sensationalist, or plain old wrong. Nat Geo did a great job with the episode, but many tabloids have been reporting falsehoods about bagel-heads in Japan.

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In this post, I hope to set a few things straight.

Bagel-heads are not a Japanese trend! You’ll never see teens sporting this look in Harajuku; in fact, most Japanese have no idea bagelheads exists. Beginning around 2007-8, about 10 of these forehead saline inflations (ベーグルヘッド or 生理食塩水) are performed each year by Tokyo’s Keroppy Maeda, on special occasions such as underground fetish parties.

Only the most hard-core body modification participants (those with subdermal implants, multiple tattoos and piercings) take part in this. To call it a “crazy new Japan trend” is as accurate as calling dirty underwear vending machines a trend, when only a handful ever existed.

– A bagel head is not permanent, nor is it surgery! Maeda’s certified piercer, Asami, inserts a sterile saline drip under the forehead skin. In about an hour, a round swelling forms, which you push in to make the bagel shape. It hurts a little (headache) during the drip, but not after. In 6-24 hours, the person pees everything out and the skin returns to normal.

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– When performed properly, getting a bagelhead is not dangerous! I’ve seen Keroppy and his team perform this four times now, and they take all professional precautions. The saline fluid is hospital-grade sterile, and the equipment is 100% clean and handled carefully. Everyone uses gloves and even face-masks, and Asami is a well-regarded, certified piercer. He never leaves the participants, checking every few minutes to make sure the drip is working properly.

Don’t write off bagel-heads as “weird, crazy, wtf” before doing some thoughtful research. Tokyo’s known as a center of subcultures and personal expression, and a bagel head is only one wonderful product of the underground. Japan has a strong, supportive extreme body modification community (as you know from my alt nightlife posts). I’d best describe bagel-heads as a live art installation, or even a bonding session.

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I hope this clears the air. Our Pirate crew worked hard on the episode and had a great experience with National Geographic. Hopefully, the hoop-la dies down and results in positive interest in Japan’s alt and fetish scene!

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Thank you to The Japan Times for interviewing me about the bagel-head media distortion. You can read my thoughts above and here.

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Are you looking for a bagelhead website, or want to do a show about it? My TV company La Carmina & The Pirates arranged and cast 4 bagel-head episodes to date (for Fuel/ Discovery, Pro Sieben German, Canal + France, and Nat Geo Taboo). Please contact us {gothiccarmina att gmail} if you’d like more info or to work together. (Watch our bagel head TV clips.)

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Speaking of spooky wonders: have you noticed all the dark fashion currently in stores? ASOS has a particularly enticing collection of Gothic dresses, cross rings, spiky shoes and more. Above are three of my favorites: Wildfox crosses jumper, Thirty Four Disciples sheer maxi skirt, and Prey of London applique dress. The fall looks are elegant, with flowing sheer materials and Baroque patterns. I say yes to the dress.

Have you gotten any new Goth clothes for fall? What’s your reaction to the bagel-head stories in the news media? Please take a moment to share this post, to get the truth out.

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Filed Under J-News, Press
29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    just watched that this morning

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Hope you liked it!

  2. Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    I saw this it’s crazy !

  3. Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    so weird

  4. Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    It is a bit tiring that pop media seems to feel that anything coming out of Japan is a automatically a wacky Japanese trend. Even though sub-cultures are global, I never hear about “crazy” Bolivian, Malawian or Estonian trends. Just Japan and always Japan. That angle could retire any time and I’d be ok with it.

  5. Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Your so sweet La Carmina. Thx for being such an open minded person, your wonderful.

  6. Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    That’s very extreme body modification.

  7. Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    wheres the Philadelphia Cream cheese?….

  8. Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    OMG~

  9. Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    saw the bagel head thing on E! news.

  10. Posted October 1, 2012 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    The attack of the bagel heads! Get you cream cheese ready \(^o^)/

  11. Posted October 1, 2012 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    I really think this bagel heads are amazing I just really like it I know I’m weird for liking it but it just amazes me

  12. Posted October 1, 2012 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    I really think this bagel heads are amazing I just really like it I know I’m weird for liking it but it just amazes me

  13. Posted October 2, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    I am not a fan of this modification but at least is not permanent and I have to admit it looks funny! Thank you for clarifying things, I did not want to stay with the E-News version hahaha

  14. Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    ha bagelheads :)

  15. Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    always good Carmina

  16. Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Hell yeah!!!!

  17. Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    I’m making a new skirt with panels of thick, heavy dark red and black velvet, and loads of black and gold lace – it’s almost finished now, and I’ll be adding jewels and crosses and other embellishments this week.

  18. Posted October 4, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    More like ‘hemorrhoid-head’, ‘cervix-head’ or ‘super-cyst-head’. I’d much rather pee & poo parts or pus balls be associated with body mods of the “Pop that shit already!” variety than delicious bagels and other yummy foodstuffs. You nayusty.

  19. Posted December 3, 2012 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    Can you even call it a “Tokyo subculture” when it’s just two Japanese people and a bunch of weirdo foreigners? Come on.

  20. Posted November 27, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Once you’ve created an oh-so-kawaii saline forehead boil and have induced a massive, yet, erotic, sinus headache, gently press the center of your boil (imagine a button atop a toilet tank) and flush-out your sinus cavities. Finally, experience a forehead-orgasm like you never imagined.

  21. Posted November 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I have a few piercings. I have some ink. This? Ok let me have some salt water injected into my head so i look completely deformed for a few hours (and give myself a headache to boot) and then it goes away. Um…..I can not say the word WHY loudly enough here. Let me at least try…. WHY?!?!?!?!?

  22. Posted November 7, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    I see im a bit late to the party and am REALLY hoping this never “caught on”. Just no.

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