Reggae, Amputations, and Trice by Author Jess Hagemann

I met Trice at The Absinthe House on Pearl Street. The bar doesn’t exist anymore, but when it did they had weekly reggae nights. I spotted him immediately—that woven tam cap slouching over two kind eyes, those baggy jeans swaying gracefully to the music. He asked me to dance, and I asked him what he did—proving that first impressions aren’t everything. That sometimes, the soul’s story sounds like The Wailers when it sings.

Photo credit:  Alex Holyoake  on  Unsplash

Photo credit: Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

If a girl can fall in love at first sight, I did with Trice. We’d meet again one year later in a hotel room in St. Louis, where nothing would happen except an exchange of stories.

Today, Trice lives in Jamaica. As a  a prosthetics engineer who’s dedicated his life to making prosthetic limbs more affordable, he builds custom arms and legs for kids who don’t have any. He restores electrical linemen’s missing limbs and accident victims’ dignity. He doesn’t understand why anyone would voluntarily give up a body part for reasons sexual (acrotomophilia) or otherwise (Body Integrity Identity Disorder). He still loves reggae music.

Once I decided to write a book about amputation fetishes, I knew who to call. Over the phone, I grilled him about medical amputations: the statistics, the process, etc. I had him describe, in detail, how 3D limbs get printed; how much they weigh; how much they cost. He answered all of my questions clearly and patiently, with the kind of measured grace that I’ve long associated with Trice. The kind that heals the broken things of the world.

Headcheese explores these very topics in all their uncomfortable nuance. It uses 26 fictional characters to tell as many non-fictional stories rooted in real life and research. There are human beings on this planet who don't feel whole until parts of their bodies go missing. There are human beings on this planet who get off when their bodies are mutilated. There are human beings on this planet who used to be alone in their desires, but who now (thanks to the internet) have found whole communities of like-minded peers.

It was to thank Trice for his assistance—and for inspiring the novel in the first place—that I named a character in Headcheese after him. It was to share stories, without exploiting the storytellers, that I wrote this book at all.

Who did you lock eyes with on a dance floor, only for the moment to change everything?

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Bio: Jess Hagemann is an award-winning author and accomplished biographer. She owns Cider Spoon Stories, Austin's premier ghostwriting and editing company, through which she helps seniors, veterans, and small business owners write their life stories as books. Headcheese is her first novel. You can find it on Amazon.

According to Jess, why small moments matter: Locking eyes on the dance floor can change everything.

Brave Tutu Note:  I want to bring new and fresh voices to Brave Tutu and cultivate a variety of courageous content. When I met Jess at a memoir writing class with Cider Spoon Stories, I was so impressed with how she helped others navigate their storytelling. I knew she must be talented and was eager to know about her work. Thank you, Jess for sharing the powerful inception moment of Headcheese.


Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)

-Take courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.