Bodo, 31, moved to Chengdu eight years ago from Germany. He plays bass and guitar in Red Water and Gramaphonetics and survived osteomyelitis, a bone disease that infected his jaw. Known among his friends for his quirky eating habits in the past, Bodo now sticks to a diet of mainly home-cooked vegetarian dishes. As we meet up in his Zongnan apartment, Bodo receives a shipment, a new blender. "[Now] I can make all kinds of soup," he says excitedly.
So you have a reputation for eating weird stuff. For example, the non-refrigerated cardboard-box chicken burger at supermarkets.
Oh, that nice chicken burger, 4 kuai at that time. I ate a lot of those.
What made you decide to try it at first?
That's easy. The problem was, I always had diarrhea after I ate out. So I thought maybe if I get the stuff from the supermarket, it must be processed and cleaned, unlike at the restaurants.
So what was this burger?
I don't really know. But I guess it must be some processed meat. It's plastic-wrapped, with some mayonnaise inside. You eat it cold. You think that's why I got osteomyelitis? [At this point, photographer Dandoval pipes up to admit having eaten it—but that's no surprise, given that he volunteered to run the Fast Food Trials every month. Side note: He's also eaten the tinfoil Hongqi hotdogs.] A lot of my friends ate it. When we worked on the Funkysomething album at night, we would get some burgers for the night—I don't know, two burgers each.
So, what happened with the osteomyelitis?
I was in Germany for two months to have a root canal, and I came back to China with my tooth open with a temporary filling and a little plastic over it. I was supposed to take care of it in China, but four weeks passed and I didn't—and then [the osteomyelitis] hit me. The root was open, and [something got in and] caused the osteomyelitis.
In Chengdu, I spent maybe 300 to 400 kuai [for treatment], and often they were embarrassed and didn't charge me much, because they couldn't find the problem. But finally the biggest boss of Huaxi looked at it and said, "That's osteomyelitis, you better go back to Germany; here it will cost at least 30,000. If we find out that you have a tumor, it's even more, maybe 50,000" or something. Of course I couldn't afford that, so I purchased a plane ticket because in Germany I was insured. When I had the bone transplant, the doctors told me it was 90,000 Euros, so I guess the first surgery must have been something like 20 to 30,000 Euros. So altogether, you can buy a Porsche with that. And that 90,000 Euros was for nothing. They cut my bone for the transplant [points to a scar along his hipbone]. I was there for three weeks, and it didn't work out. So the taxpayers of Germany spent 90,000 Euros for nothing. If I were American, my family would be broke now.
Osteomyelitis is a very rare disease. In Bonn, Germany, an orthodontics expert said I was the third case they've seen. One cook got it and lost all his teeth. And a little girl had a scar on her leg and finally lost her leg. It makes the bone weak. If you don't stop the disease, it grinds everything. It works down slowly. Recently I saw a woman in China without a jaw [because of it]. And if you are really unlucky, if becomes chronic and starts working into your skull, and you die one day.
So now you have fake teeth. How many times have you left them behind?
Two times. Yangyang restaurant, once. And Shamrock. Thanks to the Shamrock crew for finding it. In the very bottom of the trash.
You put it back in your mouth after that?
Metal can't keep bacteria.
So your diet has since changed. Where do you get your food now?
I buy the food at Trust Mart because it's nearby. It's actually better to go to Sansheng Xiang or a place like this, a real market. The best thing about living in Sansheng Xiang was the market there. The vegetables are much better. You get some tofu. Bäng! And everything is bäng!
Sorry, everything looks fresh, and big and nice, and healthy. But who knows how they preserve the vegetables.
So do you think the osteomyelitis triggered your lifestyle change?
My lifestyle, drinking and smoking is like a roller coaster, going up and down. The main impact was that nothing in life is worth being depressed or sad about when you are healthy person. When the doctor said, "I'm sure you have a tumor, but you have to wait five days for the results," I was like in a movie, I saw my whole life passing by—I'm like Kurt Cobain, a musician who dies early or something. And then the guy came and said, "No, you don't have tumor." Two days later: "People don't get this disease often. That means you probably have an immune-system problem—that means you probably have AIDS." Without checking first! My mother was really angry at this guy. Ten days I had to wait for the results for AIDS. But when I knew I was healthy I realized being healthy is worth so much. No money can replace your health. That means sports and healthy food.