(Special thanks to Ms. Phalaeo for her help in putting together this guest post. The pic above is of Badkitty (as good a piercee as anybody I know) getting a microdermal at Infinite Body Piercing in Philly–Cloud)
How to be a Good Piercee- Interacting with the studio and Piercer
Most literature written about purchasing a service or product focuses on how the establishment should act towards its patrons, not how patrons should act in an establishment. When getting pierced, there are a few actions on your behalf to consider to ensure you not only get a good piercing session, but also so you do not impede the piercer. These are guidelines only, but in my experience have made the ride smoother, a lot more fun, and helps to establish a good relationship with a studio.
Take a shower or bath. Piercing (even of an ear) is an intimate experience, and the piercer will be in close contact with your body. This seems like obvious advice for before a genital piercing, but it should really stand for all piercings. Your piercer may need to bend an ear forward to mark the back so it’s even, they may have their fingers up your nose (with gloves) to feel for the sweet spot for a septum. Most people bathe every day to every other day, so this is not a problem, but be sure to pay special attention to cleaning before going in.
Cell phones should be shut off or set to vibrate, even in the waiting room. At no time should you be on a cell phone when trying to interact with either counter staff or a piercer. There are a few reasons for this, the most obvious one being that a piercing shop can be busy and the person you are interacting with cannot give you their full attention if you are on the phone. If you must call someone to discuss whether to buy the blue or red titanium barbell, you should excuse yourself so the next person can be helped. The second reason is that while piercers as a whole are pretty unflappable, you do not want them to flinch if all of a sudden your cell phone rings just as they’re poking you.
Ask for permission before taking photos or videos including the piercer. Trust me, they know how excited you are, and most are happy to be in your photos and share your experience but it is courtesy to ask when including someone you don’t know in your photos. If they give you permission to take photos of a friend’s piercing, don’t get in the way. Nothing is worse than trying to concentrate on doing the best job possible when you have a camera in your face. The best way to avoid getting in the way is to ask the piercer “Where is the best place for me to stand so I don’t get in the way?”
Another rule of thumb for when you show up with friends is to realize that many piercing rooms do not have enough room to accommodate more than you, the piercer, and one friend comfortably. Most piercers are happy to allow one extra person in the room with you, but do not expect to be able to bring your whole party in.
Don’t even bother showing up drunk. Reputable studios will not pierce you if you’ve been drinking. Firstly, if you are impaired, it is possible that you are not making a decision that you will be happy with in the morning and the studio does not want to be liable for that. Secondly, alcohol can affect how you bleed during a piercing. Just because you are purchasing a service does not mean you have a right to it, and the studio can deny anyone at any time, for whatever reason they want to. Go back tomorrow, when you are sober.
If you are underage and interested in getting pierced, you probably know that a reputable piercer will require parental permission, and may refuse to do certain piercings (such as nipple and genital) even with parental permission. The best way to prepare once you’ve got verbal permission from your parents is to call the shop and tell them what piercing you want. Ask what type of parental permission they need- usually they will require a parent to accompany you. Ask what forms of ID they need to see. I’ve seen too many people get disappointed when they get to the studio all pumped after their parents say yes, only to be turned down because they did not have the right ID. Remember, this is parental permission and accompaniment, not your cool Aunt or your much older looking college buddy. If you are part of a blended family and do not have the same last name as the parent accompanying you (such as your stepfather), ask about that on the phone with the studio when you call.
It is custom [ETA–in the United States] and common courtesy to tip the piercer after the piercing in an amount that you decide. I would say $5-10 is a good range, but if you get a lot done or especially value the piercer’s courtesy, skill and service, you may certainly tip more. Because so many people use credit and debit cards to pay nowadays, it is a good idea to call the studio beforehand and ask if you can put the tip on your card. I’ve lucked out because I rarely carry cash and every studio I’ve been to has allowed me to tip on my card. Some studios require you pay before hand, some after. If you pay beforehand and you have put a tip on your card it is not out of line to casually mention at the end that you have put a tip on your card.
Special thanks to John Lopez (Piercer at Carl Hanes Tattoo Parlor in Eureka, CA) for his invaluable insight and for proofreading this entry.