He told CNN in 1995 that he thought his efforts to make body modification acceptable had succeeded.
“We have a whole mess of young people who have said, ‘If this isn’t sanctioned by society in general, we’ll form our own society and we’ll make our own sanctions and our own initiations and our own rituals,’” he said, “which is indeed what has happened in the subculture.”
Roland Edmund Loomis was born in Aberdeen, S.D., on Aug. 10, 1930. His father, Victor, was a mechanic, and his mother, Eva, was a homemaker. His parents, observant Lutherans, hoped he might one day become a minister.
As a child he became fascinated by articles and photographs in National Geographic and other magazines about so-called primitive cultures. He first pierced his genitals in secret in the family basement when he was 14.
An avid photographer, he told his parents that he was developing film in the basement, Ms. Dubois said, while he experimented with “tying himself, self bondage, sensory deprivation, intense sensation done with clothespins, transformation, wearing very, very tight things.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Northern State Teachers College (now Northern State University) in Aberdeen, S.D., in 1952, then served in the Army during the Korean War.
He eventually moved to Northern California and earned a master’s degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University in 1956.
Mr. Musafar worked as a dance teacher and in advertising for technology companies and was married, briefly, in the 1960s. But he mostly kept quiet about his body modification until the late 1970s.