Nuts and bolts of being a piercing king

The world's most-pierced man, Rolf Buchholz, was just deported from Dubai, for fear of 'black magic', he says. But as shocking as many people find his body modifications, it is a genuine passion, our German of the Week explains. And who knows, he may just enchant you yet.

Nuts and bolts of being a piercing king
Rolf Buchholz, world's most pierced man. Photo: Caro von D Photografie
Like an iceberg, Rolf Buchholz has an awful lot going on down below too.
While the 55-year-old from Dortmund's 458 metal piercings include 127 in and around his lips, 25 in his eyebrows and 8 in his nose, a further 278 punctuate his genital area. We'll leave it to the imagination what that must look like or demand in the way of maintenance.
Add the twin horns, giant earlobe tunnels and equally prolific swathes of tattoos acquired during the past 15 years, and he makes an undeniably striking figure.
His stance towards his bristling array of decorations is simple, he told The Local: "I like my body modifications. They are a part of me.”
People like or loathe it, but few are indifferent about the appearance of the computer science graduate and employee of one of Germany’s leading telecoms companies. 
But he merely shrugs off the copious abuse and comments about “abominations” that pepper his Facebook page and other forums. 
"I’m well aware that opinion about my body mods is extremely diverse, from fans to extreme rejection,” he adds, with a pinch of salt for the aggressive haters. “It’s simple – I don’t let it get to me.”
Thankfully, none of the objections ever translated into physical attacks on him. But there can be consequences, which became clear in United Arab Emirates last Friday, when Buchholz was held at the airport while travelling for an appearance at a hotel.
While he made it through passport control and received a 30-day visa without incident, he was stopped during a customs check. His passport was taken away, and he was later put on a plane to Istanbul with no formal explanation.
But an airport worker accompanying him to the aircraft told him "the immigration thought I am black magic".
The Cirque le Soir nightclub in Dubai, which had invited him to join an array of sword swallowers and other distinctive guests at an event, said airport authorities cited “security reasons” in denying him entry.
He won't ever go back, the thwarted guest tweeted after his deportation.
Buchholz is used to being gawped at wherever he goes, but this was the first time he was ever refused entry to a country, he told Germany’s MDR radio station. 
'A normal life' – with a few complications
But in practical terms, how does this work, you may wonder, from the task of passing airport security (metal detectors) to discomfort at carrying so much weight on such sensitive body parts?
Obviously, he triggers any detector frames, and is therefore liable to more exacting body pat downs and searches than most travellers.
His bags also tend to get checked more too, he says. A common reaction of officials is, "If that's what he looks like, then he must always have drugs on him."
And Buchholz's ability to raise coins and spoons with the magnets embedded in his fingertips would certainly have struck the Dubai officials as occult-like, had he given them a full demonstration of his ‘powers’.
But the two implanted horns are purely for their unique appearance, with no Satanic meaning, he insists. Nor do his piercings cause him any particular discomfort, and are spread out enough not to cause pain.
“Lots of people have piercings and it doesn't hurt them, unless they get infected. So why should a few more hurt?” says Buchholz, who denies there is any deeper meaning or statement behind his chosen appearance.
"I do this more for fun, as a hobby. Yes, people look at me, but I lead a normal life and I go to work normally.” 
For now, at least, he has no plans to add any more piercings to the array that in 2012 secured him a double listing in the Guinness World Book of Records, as most pierced man and for most male body modifications.
“Dude, why?” was the least offensive of the non-admiring comments posted about him since his recent deportation. Others called him "very disgusting", or challenged his very right to exist on the face of the Earth.
“I have to have respect for him because he found something he was passionate about and went for it,” countered a supporter.
"I got a lot of comments the last days," Buchholz responded. "My comment: 'If everybody is a little bit more tolerant it is much simpler to live together in peace.'"

But he still has a long way to go to bag the top spot of ‘most pierced person in the world’. 
Brazilian-born Elaine Davidson has been pierced more than 9,000 times, externally and internally, with rings and studs that are estimated to weigh a total of three kilos.
You can follow Rolf Buchholz on Twitter @rolf_de

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