Michele Mancii, 28, went to university to study to become an accountant – but he quickly realised office life wasn’t for him.
Instead, he started to pursue becoming a professional piercer, inspired by the first body modifications he’d been getting since he was 15.
He’d started with getting his ears pierced and stretched but throughout his late teens and early 20s, Michele covered his body in extreme piercings and tattoos which included a one and a half inch wide lip plug, a forehead stud and 41 implants in his genitals – 19 silicone ribs and 22 beads.
He says: ‘My first direct experience with body modification was when I was fifteen years old,’ said Michele.
‘I had a girlfriend who had piercings and little stretched lobes and I was so attracted that I wanted to learn more and more about it.
‘I got my earlobes pierced and after some months I started to stretch them and then also got my septum pierced.’
Michele also has cheek, nipple and nose piercings and has also undergone a tongue splitting procedure to make it resemble that of a snake.
‘I don’t have a favourite piercing as I love everything I have done to my body.
‘Each one makes me feel more comfortable in my body and has meaning,’ he added.
Unsurprisingly, he says the most painful piercing was a piercing through his penis.
Because of his job, he was able to barter with friends to get most of the modifications done for free and he has even done some himself.
When Michele first started to change his body, his mother Filomena Lucarelli, 61, was very much against it, arguing that her son would find it difficult to get a job – but she soo came round.
‘At first, my mother was against me getting body modifications for different reasons, such as me being too young and finding it difficult to find a job when I grew up,’ he said.
‘When I was twenty-one, I started to modify myself frequently and she started to accept it.
‘Sometimes she has even helped me when I needed a hand piercing.
‘Some of my friend’s parents who remember me tell me that I’ve ruined my body, but they do it in a joking and loving way.’
When out and about, he notices people staring at him but brushes it off.
He said: ‘People stare at me most of the time, and sometimes my friends give me a nudge and tell me, “Look at how they are staring at you”.
‘But for me, it is completely normal and really doesn’t bother me.
‘Sometimes I receive messages from people who tell me how much of an inspiration I am and it’s a pleasure to be able to share my passion with them and let them also know that they are not alone.
‘I’ve had someone joke with me that I would never be able to marry their daughter and another person who said I have “the wheels of a car in my ear”.’
Despite being currently single, Michele thinks that his body modifications haven’t had a negative impact on his love life.
Michele’s ex-partner was skeptical when he told her that he was going to get gential implants, but Michele says that she fortunately found his split tongue and genital modifications attractive.
He said: ‘To anyone that wants to start a relationship with me, it is very obvious that body modifications are a big part of my life, so it’s never really been a problem.’
Since then, Michele’s extreme body mods have always been received positively by his partners who tell him they find it sexy.
He has created an Onlyfans page posting naked pictures of himself and his piercings.
Although it hasn’t earned a lot of money yet, he says that it has allowed him to buy specialist books about piercing.
For anyone planning on modifying their own body, Michele advises to think carefully about it, as you don’t want to have regrets.
But for him, life is also about expressing yourself and having fun.
‘You can never turn back, so think about what you want to do with your life because any regrets are no one’s problem but your own,’ said Michele.
‘But life is just a game so have fun as you only live once.
‘I plan to get more modifications in the future, as my entire life is centred around the discovery of my body.
‘The possibilities are infinite.’