James Goss close up

James Goss, from Bedford, UK, has a unique style that has earned him the Guinness World Records title for the most flesh tunnels (face).

He has 14 which measure between 3mm and 18mm. 

James was inspired to start stretching all of his facial piercings after seeing the previous record holder Joel Miggler (Germany), who had a total of 11. 

"I saw what his record was and I realised that because I already had more facial piercings than that, it wouldn’t be too difficult for me to break that record," James said.

Although Joel sparked James’ interest in making his piercings record breaking, his interest in an alternative look came way before that. 

"I have always liked the way a lot of body modifications looked."

When I was a teenager, I was very interested in tattoos and piercings and stretching my earlobes. The more I saw, the more I liked them."

Previous record holder Joel Miggler (Germany)

I used to see a lot of alternative and modified people around and I always knew that was the look I wanted to go for."

"The more I got into the culture of it the more modifications I wanted."

"I don’t really feel any different, I feel more like myself the further I progress into my modification journey, and that is my motivation at the end of the day."

James received his first ever piercing aged 13 with a regular needle. 

"I didn’t particularly want lobe piercings at the time, but I had a crush on the girl and she wanted to do it so I let her!"

This set in motion a long body modification journey - which didn’t always run smoothly. 

At 14, James pierced his own lip but the piercing got infected and resulted in a trip to A&E. 

After that incident, James' mum made sure he didn't do any other piercings without a a professional involved!

"When I wanted my cheeks pierced at 15, my mum took me to get them done professionally as she was worried that I might try to do it myself."

James with his grandma before he started stretching his piercings

Once he had a few piercings, James began wondering about stretching them. 

"I started stretching my ears when I was 16 and I wasn’t doing it very safely at all, I was using tapers and silicone tunnels."

James’ inexperience with stretching led to a big mistake – and a horrible injury – when he was sent the wrong jewellery size. 

"I managed to get the jewellery in anyway, which resulted in it getting stuck and my earlobe splitting completely."

James is hoping to get both of his earlobes repaired towards the end of this year, so he can begin again with stretching them.  

"It’s your body, so as long as you’re doing it safely, what you do with it is your decision and only your feelings and opinions should matter."

He also has plans for his other piercings. 

"I am still in the process of stretching a lot of my other facial piercings but in the next year or two they should all be finished."

It can be a bit sore sometimes, especially depending on where the piercing is, what kind of tissue it’s going through, how well it has healed since the last stretch."

"If you find it hurts then you’ll need to be more patient, change jewellery type, or stretch in smaller increments."

James’ top tip for stretching piercings: Invest in a pair of digital callipers and measure everything before you try to wear it

Jewellery type is also something that is very important to James, as the wrong type of jewellery could result in pain or infection. 

"Contact a reputable artist to make sure they you have the anatomy to support the type of modification you want and to get suitable jewellery to start your stretching journey."

James at home with his pet rabbit Bert

With such prominent piercings and flesh tunnels, James goes to great lengths to ensure the jewellery he wears is not just functional, but also an artistic expression.

"The majority of the jewellery that I wear is made from organic materials and the points that I consider are the look of the material and the history."

I find some materials very interesting from a geological perspective and that often factors into my jewellery choices. For example, Chiapas amber is fossilised tree sap from roughly 25 million years ago in what is now South America."

"Zirconium and titanium are also biocompatible, and provided you have a good metalsmith with reliable sources, can make some awesome pieces with these too."

"I’m glad to have a chance to help ameliorate people’s perceptions, as well as supporting and encouraging others to modify their look to more accurately display the way they feel!"

In addition to his piercings and flesh tunnels, James had expanded his art canvas to the rest of his skin, sporting a wide array of tattoos on his body.

"I intend on getting pretty much my whole body tattooed, although I don’t feel like I will want to cover my whole face."

James plans to travel to Belgium next year to have tattoos on his back and head. He also has some empty space on his limbs and front that he has lots of ideas for. 

As you can imagine, James’ unique style can attract some interesting reactions.

James goss putting drumstick through his flesh tunnels

"Most people just say 'Wow that's so cool, I love the look you've gone for' expressing a genuine interest in how and why."

"I have had potential employers tell me they feel it shows that I am a very creative person which has helped me secure an offer for a job a few times." 

James believes that his style and form of art makes him more himself than having no modifications at all – and the addition of being a Guinness World Records title is "pretty cool" too. 

Most importantly, James wants his and other people’s forms of self-expression to be understood and accepted. 

"I am glad to have the opportunity to help others understand why modified people choose to look the way they do."

James Goss most flesh tunnels face