Don't Burn The Boobies!
An unexpected peril of the undertaker's trade

Athrong of teary-eyed mourners sluggishly file into the chapel to pay their last respects to Janet. As they pass the open casket, the friends of the dearly departed notice that although her face is all rouged-up as usual, she no longer sports her pair of Hollywood hills. The embalmer not only had to drain her blood and fill her up with formaldehyde (to give her that I'm-still-alive look); he also had to remove her silicone implants. It turns out that cremation doesn't do away with plastic -- the sacks leave behind a damaging sticky goo on the walls of the incinerator.

See also...
... by Maryam Henein
... in the Scope section
... from January 20, 2000

If you were to fill out a cremation authorization form, they'd ask you whether your loved one was sporting any potentially hazardous devices. The batteries in a pacemaker, for instance, could explode if they were to remain in the body during cremation. And according to some in the dying business, silicone boobies also need to be taken out, for fear they will ruin the retorts.

Yet there are no state or environmental rules requiring crematories to remove faux tits. Each crematory creates its own policy based on the kind of cremation chamber they own, says Jack Springer of the Cremation Association of North America (CANA).

According to CANA, the implants don't really need to be removed because the silicone residue can be scraped off. "It's not a big deal. At one time we thought that there might be a problem, but now we no longer even ask families (on our authorization forms) whether or not the deceased has implants," adds Springer.

But some crematories, such as Oddfellows in Los Angeles, insist they be taken out. "It's the family's responsibility to have them removed prior to delivery for cremation. And if they haven't been taken out, we will not accept the body. We do this because the silicone reduces the life span of the brick-lined retort," says Oddfellows manager Aida Bobadilla.

The procedure, which involves reopening the original scar, can be performed by an embalmer or surgeon, explains Jay Simon, an embalmer at Stricklin-Snively Mortuary in Long Beach. The sacks are then dumped -- unless, of course, the family wants them back. "Luckily, more and more breasts are going saline."

Incidentally, females aren't the only ones with silicone sacks. Bobadilla says several male corpses with inserts in their arms and legs have also been brought in for pulverization.

A majority of crematoriums in Los Angeles have adopted a 'leave-them-in-now-scrape-the-gunk-off-later attitude, but the smart savers choose to squeeze every bit of life out of their cremation chambers.

Maryam Henein contributes to publications including Black Book, Los Angeles Magazine, and Detour.