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Modern Primitives Excerpt: Interview with Fakir Musafar

O-Kee-PaRE/Search: Can you talk about the idea of “modern primitives”?

Fakir: The whole purpose of “modern primitive” practices is to get more and more spontaneous in the expression of pleasure with insight. Too much structuring somehow destroys any possibility of an ecstatic breakthrough in life experiences.

“Modern primitive” is a term I thought I had coined in 1967 when I met Bud “Viking” Navarro and Zapata in Los Angeles. We used the term to describe a non-tribal person who responds to primal urges and does something with the body. There is an increasing trend among certain young people now to get pierced and tattooed. Some do it as a “real” response to primal urges and some do it for “kicks”-they aren’t serious and don’t know what they’re doing. People are getting piercings in places where no one should get them! One girl got a piercing like a beauty mark above her lip, but anything she wore would get caught in her teeth. She had to give it up.

Physical difference frightens people in our culture more than anything else. You can be aberrant as hell mentally, politically, socially, but do one little thing physical-put a bone in your nose-and boy, you’re in trouble! They’ll let you do almost anything as long as it isn’t physical.

Most other cultures revere androgynous characters and people who are different-fools, midgets, nuts-as “god-like.” In this culture these people could only find a place in a carnival. but then that faded out of vogue. Now you can’t have a ten-in-one show anymore because all the freaks are in institutions or they’ve been patched up with plastic surgery or something-made more normal. Since 1945 it’s been impossible to have a freak show-I know some people who tried to find enough freaks to have one, and they couldn’t find any! It’s a helluva world: you can’t even find freaks anymore! Everyone “has” to look the same!

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