As we hurtle towards a high-tech future where everything seems possible, a growing number of people are choosing to correct what they're convinced was nature's big mistake. They're asking, "Why be human when you know you're not."
They're pushing the boundaries of body modification and challenging nature's limits carving and covering their flesh, trying to escape their human prison, trying to free the animal within.
In a house just outside of San Diego lived a cat with another cat unlike any other cat you've ever seen. Dennis Avner was a Native American man who went by the name Cat Man, or to his friends just plain Cat. Cat's life dream was to transform himself into a tiger and he was well on the way.
He was a cat his entire life. He was always related to cats. He always had a close relationship with cats. He could walk into somebody's house that had cats and go right up to their cats and they were becoming instant friends, and that also worked with wildcats, tigers, and other animals. He had a very strong instant relationship with them.
Cat had 12 operations and his latest was the implanted metal studs just above his upper lip to hold nylon whiskers. It was taking him a half hour to put them in, and a half hour or more to take them back out. They looked great, but it was a major pain to do it very often.
Cat began transforming himself with tattoos, then with surgery. The first modification he did was the ears. They actually had been done three times, three different procedures to get to the point. The teeth were going to be done as caps, but they had ended up done as dentures because his teeth were in pretty bad shape.
And he did the implant in the bridge of his nose to change the profile to make it more catlike, and along with that he cleft the lip to make it more catlike, and there was silicone injected in his upper lip, and his cheeks, and his chin to change the shape of his face a little more, and he had to get that done in Mexico because that's illegal in the United States.
Cat had a well-paying job as a computer technician. Most of what he earned he spent on becoming more tiger-like. He really didn't want to know how much he spent on all that because it was a lot of money. He had better things to do than keep track how much he spent. He was moving forward. He didn't care about what's behind him.
But Cat wasn't transforming his body in a plastic surgery clinic. No plastic surgeon he contacted would even consider working on him. The man who was turning Cat into a Tiger works in Phoenix, but he isn't a doctor.
His background is medical device design, medical instrument manufacturing, implants manufacturing, implant design, and stuff like that. In 1999, the Guinness Book of World Records cited Steve Haworth as the most successful body modification artist in the world.
He's done probably 95% of the extreme modification that's walking around. He's modified people to look like fairies, elves, pixies, cats, and reptiles. Cat was at the extreme end of the scale. He had taken his modifications to the point that he was almost not of this world. It was so extreme and so nonhuman-like that you couldn't expect people to not be completely shocked, and floored, and in awe at what they saw.