Saturday, November 16, 2013

Living ‘mummy’ in quirky series

(Published Nov. 7, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“To become immobilized, all wrapped up, is a very comforting, nice and exciting feeling for me,” said American mummification enthusiast Mumman Mark, one of many people with uncommon interests featured in the Discovery miniseries “Forbidden.”

During a teleconference with Asian journalists, Mark described the shooting period as a positive experience and said the “Forbidden” production people were sensitive to his requirements.

“I was very excited about the four-day shoot [at] my house. It was a lot of fun for the most part,” he said. “Sometimes, it was tedious to do things over and over, but to be able to show a large audience like the Discovery Channel [viewers] across the world some of my interests [is great].

He found enjoyment in being wrapped all over with duct tape, deprived of sensations for hours. A salesman and grandfather of eight, Mark admitted to having difficulty finding people who understood his “forbidden” pleasure, at first. But his second wife and, eventually, friends who were into the same thing, helped him celebrate the unusual hobby.

During the making of the episode “Double Lives,” he revealed his obsession to his family. “It’s not a regular everyday activity, although I do think there are millions of people around the world who are into mummification to some extent or another,” he said. “And I think that with the openness of the Internet, and the various things that are more open than they used to be, there’s more of an acceptance now.”

He explains himself to naysayers from time to time. “I explain by simply saying I’ve been this way since childhood,” he said. “I’ve had thoughts of doing this type of thing … and that it’s not an aberration or something that should make anyone feel that he’s so different from other people.”
Mark and his friends take turns “mummifying” each other, but emphasize the importance of safety. “We see how long we can go,” said Mark, “but we always are very safe about it.  That must be stressed … we always monitor and watch each other very carefully, because it could be dangerous if you leave somebody alone—he [might] have a breathing issue or develop a cramp!”

Still, Mark described mummification as “a fun activity,” and pointed out that among the cultures that practiced it, he identified most with the Egyptians. “Of course it was done on deceased bodies, but they went about it in a very methodical, very thorough way. I think there’s also something that went back, in many cultures, to the bundling up of an infant in the crib. I think it became like a universal thing, that it was comforting to people in general.”

Other “Forbidden” episodes will center on people with distinctly different interests, including those who eat “freaky food,” dress up in animal costumes and worship Argentine soccer icon Diego Maradona.

(“Forbidden” premieres Nov. 21, 10 p.m. on Discovery Channel.)

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