The Piercing Bible

April 19, 2009


Just Get It!

Let me introduce you to the best reference a pierced consumer could have: The Piercing Bible, a book by Elayne Angel.

There’s nothing else like it out there, and no one but Angel could have written this book.  I know she has worked very hard on it, and I am bursting with pride for her.  It’s a fantastic book for everyone interested in body piercing, and I do urge everyone to pick up a copy.

In the interest of disclosure, I had a small part in the conceptualization of the project.  I knew we needed a book like this, and I’m so excited to finally have it. I’m not going to do a “review,” because I can’t be unbiased, although I plan at least one more  blog post on the book, more content-related.  For right now, allow me to introduce Ms. Elayne Angel, piercer, author, a pivotal figure in modern body piercing, and not the least to me, my friend.


Cloud: As a bibliophile, I loved your blog post about greeting your book for the first time:

I opened the box and lifted the book–hefted it really, to feel its pleasant and considerable weight. Smiling, I took a look at the front and back covers, then thumbed through the whole thing and heard the sound of the paper, then took a big whiff  of the fresh paper and ink.  I did everything but lick the thing.  I wanted (needed, even) to experience my book with every possible sense I have.  What a delight!

Cloud: Let me ask you:  Are you sure you didn’t lick it?  Just a little when no one was looking, hmm?

Angel: In all honesty, I was tempted, but I did not lick it.  At the time, I was in New Orleans, staying with friends–so I didn’t have a lot of private time with my new book.  I will admit that I took more than just a whiff, though.  I suppose it would be accurate to say that I briefly huffed the book.

Cloud: I know exactly how hard it was to find a publisher and I know how hard you  worked on this.  Are there any thoughts about the process you’d like to share?

Angel: I’m glad I never set out to make writing my “day job,” that’s for sure!  People keep asking me what I’m going to write next (as if it is a foregone conclusion I’ll write another book).  I can’t even think about that right now!  Completing this book (while meeting the harsh deadlines my publisher demanded) was one of the hardest things I’ve ever tackled in my entire life.  When I talk about “blood, sweat, and tears” being involved, I’m not speaking metaphorically.

One of the greatest challenges was dealing with the  illustrations. The artist is a wonderful woman named Jennifer Klepacki, and we’ve become fast friends through the process.  But she was in Connecticut, and I was in Mexico, so creating the drawings over that distance was pretty crazy!

Because the book’s budget limited the number of illustrations I was able to include, quite a few piercings had to be drawn on one view of anatomy–for example male genitalia with 10 different pieces of jewelry in it.  I’d send her perhaps 7 or 8 different photos of piercings that needed to be incorporated into one drawing, along with written instructions on relative jewelry sizes, piercing placements, and so on.  She’d draw up a draft, scan it, and email it to me.

Quite quickly I realized that no matter how much detail I put into writing about the way an illustration should look, words alone would not suffice.  So I started to print the drafts, and draw on them myself, and then scan them and email them back.  I am artistic in a variety of ways, but drawing has never been one of my best skills, so this really caused me to stretch my capabilities.

Sometimes we’d go back and forth dozens of times until I was satisfied.  Jennifer was fantastic about doing whatever it took to get to that point.  What a trooper! Also, as soon as we began the project, the publisher cut four weeks off of the deadline, and they wanted all 23 illustrations done in a month!  That was one of the more difficult (but ultimately rewarding) parts of the process.

Cloud: I can’t draw worth a damn, either.  We can create pictures with words, but artists are visually oriented.  These are technical drawings, which need precision, but they are quite wonderfully done.

Angel: Here’s another story: My editor Lisa and I bounced different versions of the manuscript back and forth many, many times. I can’t even count how many edits it went through.  It honestly seemed like the book would never be done.  So after months of passing it between us, I ecstatically sent Lisa the final version (on deadline).  I wrote her a thank-you note, and flew out the following day to see my family in California.  I’d gotten up at 4:00 in the morning to make my early flight, and spent a long day traveling.  I had a nice dinner with my folks and was exhausted and ready for bed.

I decided to check my email for just a moment before turning in. And there it was: my manuscript, along with a note from my editor asking me to spot-check the cross-references.  Because the material is so interrelated, there are about 143 locations where the reader is sent elsewhere in the book for more information on a subject:  “See page 47 for details.”  This is one of the last things in the process, because every edit causes page numbers to change.  But I’d already checked this once or twice, and given my corrections; I couldn’t believe I had to deal with it yet again, and while I was bleary-eyed from travel.

So, I randomly checked a cross reference and it gave the WRONG page number.  There I was, in the middle of the night, rechecking every single cross-referenced in the book.  I’m glad I did; three of them were wrong! Of course, then I started to wonder what else was still wrong.  It could drive a person crazy!  Apparently it is common that changes are made after the first print run, and errors can get corrected at that time.

Being a perfectionist is great characteristic for a piercer, but in a writer . . .

Cloud: Was there any part of the book you had to fight to include, or that gave you particular trouble?

Angel: The publisher and I wrestled over the cover quite a bit.  At one point I was so distraught, I regretted having signed the contract.  Ultimately we settled on the current cover, and I’m pretty happy with it, except that the color isn’t nearly as purple as I would have liked.

I don’t want to give a negative impression of my publisher.  Ten Speed Press is fantastic, and I feel that the whole team there worked really hard to make The Piercing Bible as good as it could possibly be, and I’m very appreciative of  everyone’s efforts.

The end-notes were a bitch or organize, because the publisher’s program doesn’t work with the formatting for automatic endnotes in the Microsoft Word program that I used.  I had to manually put in special codes for their placement.  Then, edits caused things to get swapped around and I’d hve to re-do them.  I wriestled with those damned end notes for what seemed like a lifetime!

Cloud: What do you have planned for the official debut?

Angel: The official debut is coming up at the annual conference for the Association of Professional Piercers in Las Vegas the first week in May.  We’re having it at the Tropicana this year (a change from our many years at the Riviera).  I’ll have  booth and will sell and sign books and I’ll be selling my poster there, too (pictured here).   The publisher is making some postcards for the book, and I’ll have those also.


Cloud: I hope it goes smashingly for you.  I had hoped to attend the conference this year, and perhaps volunteer, but as you know, conference can be exhausting even without being post-op!  The Tropicana better treat you guys right–it’ll be great to be down at that end of the Strip. Are you planning any other appearances at conventions or events to publicize the book?

Angel: While I’m at the APP Conference, I will discuss book signing/guest piercing opportunities with my colleagues from around the country.  So, those plans have yet to be made, but I’ll be happy to keep you and your readers posted.Following the Conference (on May 16 at 6 pm) I’ll be having a book signing in Los Angeles at an alternative gallery:  Antebellum Gallery. .

Cloud: Please do keep me informed about appearances.  Every little bit helps, right? You’re probably watching the reviews pretty closely, and so far they’re great, but have you received feedback yet from other piercers?

Angel: No, the book just started shipping a matter of days ago, so I figure it will take a little more time–there are over 300 pages after all!  I’m kind of surprised that anyone had time to actually read the whole thing and post a review already.

Cloud: That’s exactly what I’m doing, and what Noah [Babcock of Evolution in ABQ] told me–you have to set aside time to read and study it because it’s so dense with information!  And yet it’s very readable at the same time.

Angel: I’m looking forward to hearing whatever feedback people have.  So far, it has all been good, but I’m sure piercers are apt to be my harshest critics (of the content, anyway).  The book IS on the conservative side, but if it wasn’t, then the non-piercing communities (like healthcare professionals, educators, legislators, etc.) wouldn’t take it seriously.  A very important goal of mine is for The Piercing Bible to be accessible and acceptable to these other types of people.  There isn’t a single other resource that has the potential to encompass and educate such diverse audiences.

Cloud: Oh, I entirely agree.  Just waiting until the nurses and health care inspectors get hold of it–they should be falling on it like mana from heaven!  When the APP does outreach to these professionals, it seems like they’re so hungry for good information.

Angel: Even though I clarify that the content is largely based on my own opinions in the book’s disclaimer, “Substantive research studies, statistical analyses, and other definitive resource materials related to modern piercing are in short supply; therefore, the information, practices, and procedures described in this book are largely based on my own extensive, clinical experience.  I’ve integrated industry standards where they exist, but there is still preciousl little that is truly standard, so my opinions are a primary component of many chapters.”  I won’t be suprised to hear from piercers who disagree with some of my perspectives.

Cloud: Me neither.  How many piercers does it take to change a light bulb?  None; the light bulb never gets changed because they can’t agree on the proper procedure!   Although piercing procedures don’t have quite the same history and mystique that tattoo procedures do, do you anticipate anyone saying you are giving away “secrets” or something?

Angel: I doubt it.  I don’t think piercing has suffered from that same affliction that has impacted tattooing.  Jim Ward always shared his information (and created a magazine to help: PFIQ), and I’ve always shared whatever information I’ve had.  Since we were part of the foundation of the industry, I think that helped to set a precedent for a more open sharing among piercers.

Cloud: There seems to be a great deal of interest in and thirst for knowledge about piercing by people in Mexico and Latin Amerca–any plans to translate the book into Spanish?

Angel: I certainly hope so! That’s part of the deal with the publisher, so hopefully the book will sell well enough in the US that they’ll decide to proceed with versions in several different languages.  Everyone can help:  buy a copy if you don’t have one already!

Cloud: I’ve bought a couple extra copies for gifts!  As I’m sure you know, my area of the border and many areas of Mexico have experienced increased amounts of horrific violence related to drug wars–have you seen any signs of unrest in your area?

Angel: No–the Yucatan is almost like another country.  We aren’t anywhere near a border, and our areas is not at all affected.  Actually, the Yucatecos don’t consider themselves “Mexicans” at all.  It is very different here.  They have their own culture, customs, cuisine, and so on–all quite different from the rest of Mexico.  in fact, people always tease us when we travel to the US:  “So, what do you want to eat?  Mexican food?  And they’ve always surprised and think we’re joking when we responde, “Yes! Please!”  We don’t get Mexican food here of the type we’re accustomed to from living in California, and we miss it!

Cloud: I’d send you some green chiles if I could.  Are you missing doing piercings?

Angel: I must be, I keep dreaming about doing piercings. In fact just last night I had a dream I was guest piercing in a studio in the UK.  My client wanted a genital piercing, but we were all together (two tattoo artists and me) in one big room.  So I was trying to position the table so my client could have as much privacy as possible given that we were in plain view of everybody.  Hmmm.

I have done some piercings when I travel, and now that the book is done, I’d like to do more.  I’m probably going to be dong some guest piercing/book signing engagements in the US and maybe elswehere.  I’ll keep in touch and let you know my plans as they develop.

Cloud: So, now that the this project is done, I’m sure you heaved a big sigh of relief.  What’s next?

Angel: Now that The Piercing Bible is available, the next phase is publicity, marketing, and promotion. I want to let everyone know about the book so that anyone who needs the information gets to read a copy.  I could spend all day, everyday, on the internet working on that!  I also help my husband with his business.  Somehow, I stay busy ALL the time, even though I don’t have what you’d call a “real job” at the moment.  I’m enjoying life very much, and I plan to keep on doing that!

While I have “the floor” so to speak, I wanted to let everyone who reads your blog know that you were totally instrumental in getting this book to happen, and that I truly appreciated all the time and effort that you put into it.  You do deserve a lot of credit and I hope you know that I freely give it to you.  Thanks, Cloud, for getting theat whole ball rolling.  Your contributions are part of what helped to make The Piercing Bible what it finally became.

Cloud: It was my pleasure to contribute in a small way. I’m not surprised at the dream, either–your empathy and sensitivity to a piercee’s needs are among the qualities that make you a great piercer, so this must be your equivalent to “naked classroom” dreams.

Thanks, Elayne, for talking to me about the book, and I wish you fantastic success with it.  Now you can literally say you “wrote the book” on body piercing!


So, there you have it–my attempt at journalistic greatness by interviewing the much greater Elayne Angel!  Go, pick up a copy of The Piercing Bible at Amazon, or ask you bookstore to carry it.  You won’t be disappointed!

Note: As I’m writing this, there’s a knock on my frontdoor.  The mailman, with a surprise delivery.  What is this?  The return address was from no one I knew, but the size and shape reminded me suspiciously of . . . The Piercing Bible!  With a special message from Angel.  Completely aside from the utility, uniqueness, and detailed content about piercing, this will always be a special book for me.  I’ll keep my other copy for reference and for mark up, but my autographed copy goes into the category of life treasures.



Piercee Profile: Michiko

January 31, 2009


I need a break from aftercare posts, so here’s an interview of a very special piercee:  Michiko!

She’s a strong, opinionated, and very sexy woman, who comes to us all the way from Hamburg, Germany (Wikipedia link).  She very kindly volunteered to answer my dumb questions.  The questions may be boring, but she certainly isn’t!

At the risk of promoting piercing egocentrism, tell me a little about what you’re currently up to.

I’m in the process of going self-employed.  My business license started with the new year.  I make soaps, bathing stuff, and natural cosmetics (no makeup though) in the wider sense.  To be honest, being my own boss and thereby being able to look however I want did play a role in my motivation, even if it wasn’t the main reason.  Other than that, I live in Hamburg, Germany.  I’m polyamorous.  Which means I have several lovers; the most important one is n the U.S. which of course makes travelling a great part of my l8ife.  And I’m somewhat involved with the local BDSM scene.  I’m 29 and I live alone with my three kitties.  But I’m not a crazy cat person, I promise.

I’m excited for your new business venture!  Do you have a sample product pic, or a website yet?

Nooo, not yet! I’m working on it, but there’s so much to work on (sigh). I hope that sometime by next month there’ll be at least a small website, a little shop, proper packaging and branding, etc.

You let me know when it all comes together, and I’ll feature you.  Every little bit helps, right?  Now, please tell me about your body art–how many piercings do you have now?  Do you have tattoos also?

Counting earwork, I have 18 active piercings.  Five of them are facial piercings, so I’m pretty clearly identified as pierced.  I retired two lobe piercings when I stretched the first pair, two surface piercings that just wouldn’t take (I did have proper surface bars in them, but luck still plays a great role I guess), a christina and a tongue piercing that was placed way too far to the front.  (Note: A christina is a female genital piercing. Here’s a link to the BME Encyclopedia for a christina, in case you don’t know what that is.  Very NSFW!)

I do have three tattoos and great plans for sleeves.  There’s a tribal on my back, morse code around my left wrist and a line or writing on the back of my head, all of which are about meaning as much as about looks.  The same is true for my scars; three long scratches down the side of my belly and braille writing around the right wrist.

For a long time, I also had dreadlocks, which of course made me look even more of a freak.  Actually, I think I’m pretty much done with piercings at this point.  I want a dermal anchor in my cleavage to replace the rejected surface piercings, and possibly maybe some more earwork, but that’s about it.  My friends identify mas as “the one with all the piercings.”  I jingle when I walk, I think that should be enough . . .

I think it’s interesting that you made that comment about “looking like a freak.”  Do you really think that?

Nah.  Actually I think I look incredibly harmless.  It’s the whole Asian thing; I have very soft and childlike features.  A lot of old ladies who hate tattoos and piercings still want to pinch my cheeks.  And of course there’s a good bit of ironic self-ironic appropriation of the term.  You once said “freak” was not a bad thing in your book, because that’s what the hippies used to call themselves.  In my world, freak pretty much means everything outside the mainstream, so most of the time that’s a compliment.

I’m amazed you remember that, but it’s quite true.  But I think “freak” is a trigger word with a lot of connotations for people. People’s reactions can be unpredictable.   A lot of piercees have trouble with their families over their body art.  How has your family reacted?

My brother has tattoos of his own.  He retired his piercings, but more because they irritated him than for aesthetic reasons.  I think my father still doesn’t quite understand what’s going on there, so he doesn’t comment either way.

My mom and I went through quite a bit of arguments, then discussions, and now wholehearted acceptance.   When I was a teenager, we had huge arguments over every new piercing.  Then she started to calm down, and when I was 21 or so, she gradually started complimenting me on individual ones.  Said the stretched lobes really suited me, or commented constructively on the combination of jewelry to get.

When I got my first tattoo at 26, she was thrilled and said she was downright envious, and since then we’ve had an exchange about these things, probably much like other people would discuss their hairstyle or clothes shopping with their mom.  She’s really cool and open-minded anyways, I think this just took her some  getting used to, because I started out early, and I guess from her perspective it was indistinguishable from plain self harming.

Do you have a  good piercer?  Or are all your piercings self-done?

I have a lot of self-done piercings.  Part of the reason is that, when I was 14 and desperately wanted a navel piercing (you wouldn’t believe how much that freaked people out 15 years ago), there simply were no pro piercers available in the German small town I grew up in.  Not that my mom would probably have signed up for it.  But either way, there were no real alternatives.  I got my first piercing advice from the punk kids in the schoolyard.

My first attempt at a navel piercing rejected and tore out, which somehow didn’t stop me from giving  it another try.  This time, it worked–the placement could probably be better, but I’m still wearing jewelry in that one.  So I kept dong my own work for quite a while.  The first piercer I had access to wasn’t exactly trustworthy either.  Only when I moved to Hamburg and suddenly had a lot more choices did I find someone I trusted to work on me. Still do.

I think before that, I didn’t even see my choices as limited, I just felt I was better off doing my own stuff.  I’d say the ration of screwed up piercings between me and the pros was pretty much balanced until I met Sasha.  Then again, complicated stuff like my eyebrow and clit hood piercings, I would never have attempted myself.

What’s your typical aftercare like?

German piercers still tend to give a rather harsh disinfectant.  It worked on some of my piercings, but I’ve switched to sea salt soaks now.  They’re much less irritating to the surrounding skin.  Sometimes, when one of my healed piercings gets irritated, I still use the disinfectant as a quick fix.  Other than that, with 18 healed piercings, checking and cleaning each one with clear water in the shower is enough work for every day.  I wash out my stretched lobes especially thoroughly, sometimes with mild soap, and always make sure I dry off the pierced bits particularly thoroughly.  I’ve found that water alone can irritate the hell out of a piercing if you just leave it soaking into the hole and probably attracting all kinds of germs.  I remember several people posting on Tribalectic that they had massive trouble and even keloid-like swelling around their navel piercings until they simply started rying them off with a q-tip after every shower.

Are you paying attention, piercees?  Drying is important!

I know that like me, your motivations for a lot of your body art and body play are closely tied to your sexuality.  Everyone always wants to know which piercings made sex better.  Are there any tips or insights about sex with piercings you’d like to share?

Haha! I don’t think there are any piercings that universally make sex better.  Doesn’t it all come down to personal preferences, compatibility and the practices you’re into?

My surface piercings made it impossible to put me into certain forms of bondage.  A triangle can get sore just as quickly as it gets you off, and I’m not sure if everybody would necessarily enjoy anal sex with someone who has a huge PA.  I think what “makes sex better” is that you generally have more to play with–and I don’t just mean genital work.  I love kissing people with lip and tongue piercings!  But more importantly, it has to do with confidence and body image.  In order to want your genitals pierced, you have to first acknolwedge their very existence; maybe their aesthetic value.  And you have to be ready and willing to take care of them and spend a lot of time staring down your own crotch.  You’re forced to get to know your own body better, and to articulate your desires and your limites more.  You get conversation starters like, “ouch, stop that, it’s pinching me.  But hey, if you do this instead, it will get me off like mad.”


I’m always fascinated with the state of piercings in the rest of the world (other than my own little part).  Can you talk about the differences between piercing attitudes and procedures between the US and Europe, or other areas of the world that you know about?

Procedures, I don’t know.  I already mentioned the disinfectant for aftercare, otherwise I can’t really tell the difference as I’ve never been pierced outside Germany.  I know most places started offering dermal anchors much later than in America.  There are the guys from Visavajara way down south who do extreme mods, but since they’re part of a very small, very international community, I can’t imagine they work very different from say, Lukas Zpira or Brian Decker.

Now for attitudes . . . I’ve only been to two big cities in the U.S., which again means I can’t really compare, but from American online friends I get the impression that it’s a much bigger deal over there to have visible piercings than over here. Granted, I live in a very tolerant, colorful part of the second biggest city in Germany.  But at least here, you see bank clerks with discreet little nostril studs–or even not-so-discrete tattoos.  In pretty much every job below a certain level of education (unless you’re selling high end cosmetics or waitressing a five star restaurant) piercings are not an issue at all; again, speaking for the big cities.  And I’ve had several experiences with professors, coaches, supervisors, etc.  who were extremely shy and self conscious about even bringing up the issue.  I think they’ve worried they might come across as uptight and conservative.

When I was working at a call center, we once got this survey in for the public transport provider, a government organization.  Since the survey required us to actually go outside and interview face to face, the supervisor called me into his office and asked me, in sort of an awkward way, if I’d mind very much, this was sort of representative after all, er, um, not that he personally had anything whatsoever against piercings or dreadlocks. He apologized about five times over and had very red ears.

On the whole I’d say that if you’re applying for a large bank loan for example, it might still be helpful to take out the piercings for the appointment.  But in everyday life, they hardly seem to get noticed.  I think Germans who grew up around and after ’68 are extremely careful about infringing upon anybody’s individual expression.

What do you think the general public should know about piercings that they do not?

That they don’t hurt after healing.  That they do not beep at the airport unless you go really big.  That yes, those rings do open and close, and that it’s no problem to eat or kiss with an oral piercing.  That their earrings are piercings too, and that should give you some pretty good pointers.

And of course that, if you have visible piercings, there won’t be a question or joke you haven’t already heard.

What do you think piercees should know that they don’t?

Probably the thing I mentioned above:  that there is no one piercing to improve sex, or your body image.  Or any one-size-fits-all placement.  IF you want an eyebrow piercing, you should make sure it really fits your face, not get one because it looked cool on someone else.  And that earwork is serious stuff.  People who flinch at a tongue piercing go and get tragus and industrial piercings because, you know, “it’s just ears.”  Well, that’s for “potential” piercees.  I hope.


The thoughtfulness, intelligence, and spunk of piercees constantly amazes me! I’ve met so many wonderful, interesting people who share my obsession, like Michiko.

I can’t thank her enough for sharing a little bit of her life with me.  Like Spock says, “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.” Rawr!

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Profile of the Week: Chuck (Part 2)

December 16, 2008


Part 2:  The History

Since Chuck has been so forthcoming in answering my questions, here’s another installment for your reading pleasure. (And sorry for making you wait, folks, but Monday is my slacker day, and I usually don’t post on Mondays.)  He and I share in interest in the history of piercings, so I asked him to talk a little about that.

Q.  I think it’s safe to say you’ve been around the piercing scene for a long time.  Can you talk about your punk days and your days as a piercer?

punk-194751023_8fe2864da9_tA.  I got my first tattoo in 1984, my first piercings in 1986.  I guess that was a long time ago, LOL.  In the punk scene in the early 80s, tattoos were pretty rare and just starting to crop up here and there.  I had something like 7 tattoos by 1985 and that was pretty extreme for the time–kind of seems ridiculous these days.  By then they had gotten a definite foothold in the scene but still not what I would call

Cover of the last Issue
Image via Wikipedia

commonplace.  Most of the work people got was really shitty, small designs–lots of hand-poked stuff, skulls, band symbols, that kind of thing.  You could probably make a very large picture book of people with the Black Flag bars tattooed on them (myself included!).  Not much high-quality or large work.  Piercings were much more common, but it was typically limited to multiple ear and ear cartilage piercings; nostrils were not unheard of but pretty hard to come by.  Only the most committed went that far!  Piercings were done with a gun at the mall or a hair salon, or a needle at your friend’s house.  You would occasionally see kids try the stereotypical “punk” stuff like pierced septums or cheeks (and sometimes even with actual safety pins, LOL) but they never lasted very long before infection and/or common sense reared their ugly heads.  when I got my first body piercing (nipple) professionally done in ’86, I could make the biggest, toughest, most hardcore punks stop dead in their tracks with fear or disgust just by lifting my shirt up. Body piercing just wasn’t known to most in that world at that time.  I have written about this extensively both at Tribalectic and Poked, but in a nutshell back then we didn’t even have tattoo magazines.  One of my only resources was the occasional “tattoo issue” of any of the various biker rags, or tattoo convention coverage in them.

It was in one of these that I saw a small ad for Gauntlet jewelry supply and PFIQ magazine.  It showed a guy with a chest panel tattoo and a pierced nipple–hooked me right the fuck in.  I guess if it weren’t for that precise image I might never have gotten pierced.  I had just finished my own chest piece and thought a nipple piercing would go well with it.  The only problem was finding someone to do it.  About the time of my awakening regarding body piercing I graduated college, started working as a professional, and moved from Atlanta to South Florida.  I knew of no one who could do body piercings (little did I know there was a very experienced piercing pioneer, plus a practitioner or two, 60 miles south of me, but hey ran in the leather underground which was completely alien to me at the time.)  The Gauntlet in LA was the only place in the world that I knew about for piercings.  I had ordered their catalog and a copy of PFIQ and that got me no closer, other than showing me the jewelry and some of the other piercings that were available.  Back then there were damn few places to get pierced, maybe a dozen or so throughout the country, and most were somewhat shady or sketchy other than Gauntlet, assuming you could even find out about them.  The only source for jewelry was Gauntlet and it was VERY expensive, although about this time Silver Anchor started making inferior quality jewelry for less money.  (One or two unscrupulous sellers were known to re-package Silver Anchor jewelry in Gauntly bags–I got bit by this once myself.)  Anyway . . back then a plain CBR, say 14 ga x 1/2 inch in stainless steel might cost $40 or more!

I finally got my piercing on a trip to New Orleans, when my then-girlfriend and I found a gay leather store in the French Quarter that both sold Gauntlet jewelry and performed piercings ($65) for the ring and the hole!).  The funny thing is I had called Gauntlet before I left on the trip and asked if there was anywhere in NOLA to get pierced, and they claimed they knew of no one!

My first body piercing was a bit of an ordeal for me.  I was a nightmare customer and kept passing out, multiple times.  There was a shitload of blood (I was all jacked up on caffeine, this doubtless was part of the reason why) and I found out that day the sight of blood used to put me under.  I was also very scared of the pliers the fellow needed to close the jewelry (obviously non-annealed, as was typical of the time).  As a result of this experience, it was several years before I was able to (or even wanted to) get another piercing.


About the time the landmark book Modern Primitives came out, (Cloud’s note: in 1989) I found a woman who pierced in Daytona and had her do a lorum for me.  I eventually lost that one, but the dam was broken and I started getting pierced pretty regularly after that.  This was the early 90s, and as far as I could tell, piercing was only starting to take hold then with the younger kids in the scene.  It certainly wasn’t something folks in my age group were into (late 20s, early 30s at this point).

As far as becoming a piercer, I never really wanted to do it and was basically dragged kicking and screaming into the job (a far cry from most folks in the business, LOL).  I had a friend who ran an “alternative” clothing store, and he wanted to expand his business by opening a tattoo and piercing shop along with it.  The idea was that his wife would do the piercing, he and I would help run the shop, and we’d hire tattooers.  Once I agreed to go in with them, they dropped the bomb on me of wanting me to pierce, too.  I had that little issue of passing out at the sight of blood, plus too much respect for the craft, coupled with a fear I would suck at it.  But they persisted, and I finally relented.  She got her first training at one of the Gauntlet classes, then I started learning through assisting her.  Also learned to deal with seeing blood without it affecting me with the help of a sympathetic friend who let me poke a lot of holes in her and just look at the results to get used to it.  It turns out I had a strong aptitude for the technical side of the job, and a good head for jewelry and materials, and an interest in the relentless pursuit of ever-better aftercare.  I was maybe not so strong with the actual hands-on side of things, but did better as I gained experience.

When we started our shop in the ’95–’96 time frame, things had changed dramatically from a decade prior. Piercing shops were not yet a dime-a-dozen, but they were definitely more common.  Most tattoo shops also had someone who would pierce (if not very well).  And there were many more jewelry suppliers, some of whom were very high quality and in fact continue to set the standard for quality (Anatometal, Industrial Strength).  Prices had come down quite a bit (but still had a ways to go to get to today’s levels) and Gauntlet had even lowered their prices a bit (but were still the most expensive game in town).  We eventually closed up shop in 2000 or 2001 or so, for a variety of reasons not really worth getting into.  But in that time I saw a huge amount of development and change in aftercare, and a previously unthinkable rise in popularity of piercing and subsequent increase in the number of practitioners.  I also saw the sad demise of Gauntlet and PFIQ magazine.  I still miss them both.  Also during this time, the Internet became a factor in the piercing world.  My first exposure to just how freaky it could get was when I learned of the Shawn Porter Collection (Google it, kids).  I also saw piercing change from something only the most hardcore punks and sexual freaks did, to being invited into posh homes to pierce 15-year-0ld private-school cheerleaders’ navels while their parents watched.  I was also fortunate enough to have had some opportunities to learn with some of the best pierces who have ever picked up a needle.

Q.  Modern body piercing has underpinnings of punks, gay leathermen, and teenyboppers, and here we talk about piercings so seriously–it’s a bit ludicrous, don’t you think?

A.  Heh . . . yes and no.  Remember, to each of those subgroups, their insular worlds are very serious to themselves.  I am very happy that there are people who look at piercing with truly scientific eyes, people who seriously explore material alternatives, and people who will constantly push the envelope of what is possible.  Because these people do what they do, it allows piercing to be easier and more fun to the average piercee.

Q.   We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?  What are the biggest changes you have seen?

A.  A very long way, indeed, in one sense anyway.  In another sense, things really haven’t changed much at all.  We are still using basically the same or similar jewelry and poking mostly the same holes with pretty much the same tools, with the exception of the newer arts like implants and microdermals.  Aftercare has evolved, but from 10,000 feet up it doesn’t look like much different than it did in the 80s (clean ’em and heal ’em).  The biggest changes I have seen have been in availability, and in the details.

Availability: From a time when there was only one known commercial piercing establishment, to today’s world where every town with more than, say, five or ten thousand people probably has a place you can go to get pierced by someone at least nominally claiming to be a professional is just mind-boggling to me.  The downside to this is that there has not been an equally huge increase in truly professional piercers, just a whole lot more hacks. There are only a few shops I would allow to perform piercings on me today (the two closest being a mere 3.5-hour drive away).  My all-time-favorite piercer has retired, for the moment anyway, which makes me very sad.

Details:  While many jewelry styles are essentially unchanged for the last 35 years or so, some have been subtly tweaked for better performance in certain piercings. Thoughts on appropriate gauge and sizes for initial piercings have changed.  Placements for many piercings have evolved subtly over time for better end results.  For example, once upon a time it was just accepted that navel piercings had a 50% probability of surviving.  Hopefully we are doing better today!  While the goals (successfully heal a piercing) and methods (keep it clean in support of healing) of aftercare have not changed, the methods and products are radically different.  In the early days we used Listerine for oral piercings, Betadine, Hibiclens, and BZK for others.  I can still remember the first discussions of replacing Betadine and Hibiclens with liquid Dial soap, and concerns that it “wasn’t strong enough.”  I remember how shitty it made me feel the first time I heard Hibiclens may be carcinogenic (I used it for YEARS!).  I remember the first time I heard that BZK could actually GROW bacteria, that saline solution might be enough with out soap, that perhaps we could get away without cleaning “regularly”–just doing it when truly needed.  Plus, the whole change in oral care from Listerine, to watered-down Listerine, to Gly-Oxide/Peroxyl, to saline rinses.  The changes to aftercare are definitely in the details, but it has made a world of difference in the quality of the piercing experience (my first nipple piercing took 6-7 YEARS to fully heal, owing in large part no doubt to being scrubbed daily with Hibiclens or Betadine.)  I don’t think piercing would be anywhere near as popular as it is today if it hadn’t been for all the evolutions in jewelry, placement, and aftercare, and how much easier they have made the whole process.

Chuck’s experiences are a mini-history of piercing in the more recent years, and a testament to the trial-and-error of early piercees that we are the beneficiaries of.  Thanks, Chuck, for your unique viewpoint!  I’ll post more about PFIQ, the Gauntlet, and all those early pioneers in later posts.

The “Chuck” image belongs to Wikipedia, or the network that produces the tv show.

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Profile of the Week: Chuck (Part 1)

December 14, 2008

The Bold Red Rocket Scientist!

When I asked Chuck his interview questions, his answers came back identified as “Bold Red.”  I think this is a good metaphor for him–his strong personality comes through clearly, as you will see.  He describes himself as: “45 years old, engineer/rocket scientist, living in North Alabama, heavily tattooed, currently 13 piercings, have lost/given up on about another 13 more through the years, former piercer/shop owner, tattooed for 24+ years, pierced for 22 years (26 if you count earlobes). ” (And I do!)  He’s also a thoughtful and prolific writer, so I’m splitting this interview up for ease of posting/reading.


Part 1–The Man

Q.  Where are you spending your life these days, on and off the net?  Any good body modification sites or other sites you’d like to highlight?

A.  Online–Most of my time is spent on various fora dealing with watches, knives and gadgets and guns, and on various news/current events sites and blogs.  Throw in several active email accounts and a moderately busy MySpace page and it takes up a good chunk of my evening every day.  I am also involved in a movie project, which could turn into a book project, that has periods of intense email traffic.*

The only piercing site I spend any time on anymore is Poked (which is more social than anything else), plus now I have started perusing your blog.  After devoting huge amounts of time to Tribalectic back in its early days and finally burning out . . . I just haven’t had the desire to submerge myself in the day-to-day struggle to inform the public at large about better piercing practices.  Fought that battle for years, got tired of the bloody forehead, and have turned the reins over to anyone else with the heart to continue (with my thanks!).  I never had much use for BME, so I have never really spent any time there . . . I guess I’m just not cool enough LOL.  If there are other piercing/body mod forums out there, I guess I haven’t bothered to find them.  I guess any more I’m just kind of old fashioned about the whole deal . . . I would much rather PFIQ started publishing again and I could read new issues of it every few months vs. spending time in forums and chat rooms anymore.  Yeah, I’m a piercing Luddite, LOL.

Offline–working, playing with my kid, walking in the woods, and all other fun stuff we all enjoy (hanging out with friends, going to concerts and sporting events, etc. )  Not spending nearly enough time getting tattooed or pierced these days.

Q.  I give my interviewees a choice of how they wish to be identified.  Most, like me, want to minimize public  scrutiny of  their Name+ their body art.  As Chuck puts it, with employers scrutinizing your online trail and the future being unwritten, its probably best not to put the full name.  But I’ve never had a rocket scientist before! (That’s “had” in the sense of interviewing! *koff*) So–

What’s it like being a rocket scientist with body art?

A.  Wow.  There are about 101 different ways I could approach this one.  I’ll just say that while I have been surprised at how much acceptance or at least tolerance I have encountered in my 22+ years as an engineer, I would also be lying if I said it has not damaged my career.  For every 99 professionals that don’t care about my tattoos, piercings, etc., I can find one or two who do for whatever reason.  If that one or two are in a position of any sort of power over me, then it can damage my reputation, salary, opportunities, etc.  Unfortunately, this has happened to me in the past; not enough to have me terminated, but enough to impact my earning potential for many years.  Fortunately right now it appears the folks I work for and with don’t care about my mods, at least to the extent they know about them, LOL!  I have stopped wearing short-sleeve shirts, removed my tragus jewelry, wear a glass retainer in my  nostril, retainer in my septum, and down-sized my earrings to 8 or 6 gauge (Jeez, I can’t even remember which.)

I have also learned the hard way that it is best not to talk about any specific mods below the neck with coworkers, no matter what they ask or how “cool” they seem.  That said, the professional world I work in is a whole lot more accepting of mods now than they were back in the 80s when I started.  I also refuse to play the victim and accet full responsibility for any professional repercussions any past decisions may have caused.  I have no regrets over any of the twists and turns my life has taken.

Q.  No regrets.  That’s what I like to hear!

You have a beauteous family! (Including a precious daughter adopted from China.**) Does your wife still have her septum piercing?


A.  Thank you very much . . . my family is very important to me and a source of great joy and purpose in my life.  My wife has explored the body modification world both before we met, and also along with me.  She has never had as many tattoos or piercings as me but chooses her work carefully, if infrequently.  She has chose to remove all of her below-the-neck piercings in the last few years (a few of which I was sad to see go, LOL!).  She still maintains her pierced septum and is about equally likely to wear exposed jewelry as a retainer.  In the last year or two has gotten her nostril pierced again (having lost one or two before) and has started stretching her ears after years of not wanting to (currently at 4 ga.)

My daughter, who will be 5 in January, is being raised without being sheltered in any way from tattooing, piercing, etc.  We have asked her if she wants her ears pierced when she is older and she vehemently says no! She doesn’t even notice our tattoos, and only recently once asked me, “Daddy, why do you have a earring in your hoo-hoo?” That one caught me off guard and was tough to answer intelligently.  I may have tossed out the gem, “Some people just do that sort of thing” and changed the subject quickly.   She is still at an age where privacy concerns haven’t entered into her world.  I imagine they will soon, though, and once they do the whole tattoo and piercing thing will get a lot more . . . sensitive.  My wife and I both plan to raise her as neutrally as possible regarding mods, letting her decide for herself whether she is interested, not pushing one way or the other, and we will try to be fully supportive of whatever decisions she makes whether we agree with them or not.  The only place I will be insistent is in demanding she see safe, clean practitioners.  I’ll probably also urge her to wait as long as possible to be tattooed if she goes that route.  I’ll buy the first if she follows my advice.

Q.  By the time she’s ready, it will probably be hopelessly uncool to have piercings and tattoos!

We know that people sometimes do dumb things to their piercings.  Is there something that piercees do that just makes you want to scream?

A.  I don’t know, I think I have reached a point in my life where I really don’t care what people choose to do with their piercings.  If they want to ignore the best advice and do something stupid, that’s their problem, not mine (unless it’s my advice they ignored, then they need not bother asking me again, or crying about their situation when they get into trouble over it.)

I guess the only thing that will still and always piss me off is people who know better going with poor choices in jewelry, piercers, etc. just to save a few bucks.  I have no patience or tolerance for that mentality (and its prevalence was one of the reasons I left the business).  As far as piercers go, that is where I will still get very pissed off.  I have no use for those who can’t be bothered to continually improve and be the best they can be, those who can’t be bothered to research the best aftercare for their clients, and the ones who have no business even sweeping a shop floor let alone picking up a needle, they have so little experience.

And I believe there is a special place in hell for those (fortunately rare) near-rapists who do things like insist women be aroused for genital piercings, and that they themselves must be the one to handle the task.

Q.  What’s the most important lesson about piercing that pierced consumers need to know?

A.  EDUCATE YOURSELF!!!  Know what you are getting into before you do it.  Know who is doing it to you and what makes them qualified to do it.  Know how to properly take care of it to best insure likelihood of a happy, healed piercing.

DON’T BE A CHEAP MOTHERFUCKER!  Choose your piercer based on qualification, not price.  Choose your jewelry based on sound, experienced recommendations and not price, color, or other superflous considerations.

TIP WELL, YOUR PIERCER IS WORTH IT!  If they aren’t why are you even bothering with them?

All great advice from a man who has helped me more than he knows over the years.  Tune in to part 2, in which we discuss a bit of piercing history with someone who’s been there and done that!.

*Here are some links to the movie/book project mentioned: (music warning!); paypal warning!

and here’s Chuck’s MySpace page, but you have to let him know who you are; random people won’t be “friended.” (Isn’t social networking just lovely?)

**For more info about Chinese adoptions, you can peruse Mr. and Mrs. Chuck’s blog, and see their wonderful little girl, Morgan, here.

Resource Spotlight: BME

December 10, 2008

The Big Daddy


What can I say about BME?  BME is the biggest, baddest, and oldest body modification website around.  It is now a gigantic repository of stories, photos, knowledge, and bodymodcrackstuff. It’s an “enter at your own risk” site, but an essential one for everyone curious, fascinated, or even appalled at the things people do to their bodies in the name of art.

(Note: BME has a very strict policy on not using their images, so I’m really not supposed to post any pictures from there, including this t-shirt, but I hope this giant plug will make them forgive me! Mea Culpa, Rachel!)

BME is ancient in terms of internet sites–you can even tell by the awkward name of the site–it was an “ezine” — a new concept back in 1994 when it started by Shannon Larratt, a Canadian programmer and media and bodymod guru.  Eventually the publishers expanded into a team including Rachel Larratt (his now ex-wife) and many other contributors.  It was started as a way to document the growing passion for body modification practiced around the world, to provide a site where people post pictures and experiences about their tattoos, piercings, and other body art, and to provide a clearinghouse of information on body modification to debunk myths about it.  As far as I’m concerned, it’ s succeeded at all those things, and more.

Among the areas to explore:

BME Encyclopedia:

An alphabetical listing of every term you can think of relating to piercings, tattoos, scarification, suspension, and more extreme acts of self-improvement.  This started as a list of risks, but has evolved into a comprehensive glossary and now a wiki which can be added to as new terms and practices develop.

IAM BME: The Body Modification Community.

A “social networking” site way before that term existed, this is an area for individual modified member pages (i.e.,  “blogs”).  People post pictures of their own modifications, hook up with other, like minded individuals, talk on forums and generally get to know modified people from all over the globe.  Still going strong.

BME News:

Find out what’s happening! Formerly “ModBlog, this is the main page for news about body modification, whether reported on, or made by the community members themselves.  It’s the source for the news feed widgety thing to the right in my blog.

There’s just too much other stuff to highlight in detail here, among them a place to get your questions answered, a scholarship offering, a place for academics to post scholarly surveys, a place for erotic stories featuring body modification, a studio directory, event organization,  a retail outlet, and of course, amazing photos of every body modification you can think of, and a lot you can’t!

Words of warning: There is some seriously extreme content on BME.  It’s a big “free speech” and “free act” kind of place, giving people the opportunity to express themselves on the internet in ways that could turn your stomach.  Tattoos on every inch of skin (and I mean every inch); world-record number of piercings, tongue-splitting, stigmatophilia (my new favorite word!), implants, castration, subincision, sounding, CBT,  amputation . . .   You should proceed at your own risk, and I am not kidding.  I once saw Shannon Larratt give a video presentation on extreme modifications that made a room full of the most experienced body modification artists in the world blanche. You can find the general info and warnings page here, and I suggest you take it to heart.

Membership in BME has always been purchased through member participation, by submitting quality photos of modifications or written experiences.  I’ve always found the membership process/interface is a bit clunky and confusing, but worth it, and you always have the option to purchase membership outright.  The membership page is here.

BME has gone through some changes in the past year, with Shannon no longer at the helm, but it’s still the go-to site for anyone looking for information on body modification.  Us tattoed, pierced, and otherwise decorated people consider ourselves part of a worldwide community, and BME is a big reason for that.  Thanks, BME!

I think I’ll go buy that t-shirt now . . .

Profile of the Week: BadKiTtY

December 6, 2008

Ginger Kid Beach Nut!

This week I’m profiling a wonderful piercee and friend, Ms. BadKiTtY.  (And that’s the last time I’m typing that funky capitalization, my friend–so, hereinafter “BadKitty.”)  She’s, fun, sexy, and no-nonsense, and shares similar views on the importance of thinking before you get pierced. She also likes the male of the species, which should count themselves pretty lucky–as you can see:


She shares similar views on thinking before you get pierced.  Here’s an excerpt from an article on that very subject:

“We research the cars we buy before walking onto the lot, so why not take the same consideration when we plan on implanting metal into our bodies as well?  . . . Getting pierced is like getting a puppy.  You have to be prepared to care for it when it is being bad as well as when it is being good.”

Here’s the link to the full article: Know What You Are Getting Into. Now, on to the interview:

Q.  You’re working and going to school?  That’s quite a busy schedule.

A.  Some people think I’m nuts.  I’ve worked full time since I was 16 and have supported myself since 18.  It’s all I know.  I like being busy.

Q.  Why did you get involved in body art?  Are you into tattoos as well as piercings?

A. My best friend and I “competed” to have more lobe piercings than one another. One day I decided I wanted a navel piercing, but was worried it would be a cop-out since (at the time) navel piercings meant you wanted to emulate Britney Spears.  After I got that done, it was like eating chips.  I wanted more.    I had wanted tattoos since I was 12, but was a good girl and waited until I was 18 and put lots of thought into it. I currently have 6 tattoos and 22 piercings.

Q.  Ms. Spears has a lot to answer for! Let’s talk about the learning curve.  How much research did you do the first time?  The second?

A.  BIG learning curve! I knew next to nothing when I got my navel.  I got pierced at the Jersey shore.  Ew! It is so disgusting that I can’t believe they are still open.  Anywho–the second time (my nostril) is when I found Tribalectic.   I knew a bit about the jewelry and how needles were the way to go and found a nice shop nearby to do it.  Since joining Tribe I learn SOOO much more and continue to learn.

Q.  I know that you always try to help piercees when they have questions.  How did you acquire your piercing know-how?

A.  I am an internet junkie.  I have been active on Tribe for . . . ready?  Just about 6 years! I keep an open mind and listen to different sides of the story when people post and enjoy putting in my $.02 when I can relate it to a personal experience.

Q.  Since you are an education student, how do you fit that in with your interest in body art?

A.  I have to be very careful with placement of piercings and tattoos because they will prevent me from dressing a certain way and I hate to feel that I am restricting myself when there are other options for placement.  I previously worked in a preschool and the kids got a kick out of counting my earrings and trying to “wipe off” my ankle tattoo.

Q.  How about your experience in a jewelry store?  Do you find much correlation between standard jewelry and body piercing jewelry?

A. Hardly at all!  Sometimes I am asked to bend the tiny diamond stud earrings into nostril screws for customers, but can only think of a handful of people who even ask about body jewelry.  We custom-made 1 bananabell that I can think of.  I really wish that jewelry stores would make a line of body jewelry in gold and platinum with genuine gemstones because there are customers out there who would buy it if it were easily accessible.

Q.  Affordability is a problem though.  I know of at least one high-end jewelry manufacturer who makes awesome stuff, and I’m always drooling over it:  Bodyvision.

Can you talk about “evil mall piercing places?”

A. I worked for one of the popular accessory shops.  35% of our business one year was in ear piercing with those horrid guns.  That is $700,000 in one year! I wouldn’t let my staff pierce unless they were good at it, but you still get the occasional mother of a 12 year old putting up a fuss because we refused to pierce a kid’s cartilage.  I had an incident with a women who did not read the waiver and signed in FOUR places acknowledging something and came back and swore at and threatened me when she messed it up.  I had a piercer friend nearby when I worked there and would send him a ton of business.  I got some freebies out of him for that.

Q.  $700,000 in one year?  That’s why the mainstream jewelry industry can afford to lobby the legislators to keep those guns in use.

What’s your typical aftercare like?

A.  I LOOOVE LITHA (Leave It The Hell Alone).  I might use Provon soap or do hot sea salt soaks for a few weeks, but once the piercing seems settled I just rinse it well in the shower and dry it.  Works fine for me.  Our bodies are healing machines!  For tattoos I wash with a soft cloth and soap and apply unscented lotion to keep it moist until it heals.

Q. What’s your best advice for the pierced consumer?

A.  DO YOUR RESEARCH! If you do not know the name of the body part, look it up.  I cannot tell you how annoyed I get to see people pointing at their bodies and asking to have a hole put in something, but they don’t actually know what it is.  That tells me that they know nothing about the piercing and really should look into it before getting it so they can make the best desicions possible.  Knowledge is power.

A.  Great tip!  Thanks, BadKitty!


BadKitty has a point about the research, but I feel it’s always wise to point anyway, because piercing nomenclature can vary and you don’t want the piercer to make a mistake!

Thanks to Tribalectic (as always), Steel Navel, and Bodyvision Los Angeles.

Pigskins in Podunk

December 4, 2008


Yeah, I live in a podunk town.  It’s not really all that small, but it’s poor.  There are a lot of uneducated people around.  I suppose that’s true everywhere, and there are certainly a lot of people which are uneducated about body piercing!  Even if you travel to find a great piercer, sometimes you do need to find someone local that’s compatible; that can help you out in an emergency, and perform routine tasks like changing jewelry and stretching if you are uncomfortable doing those yourself.

How do you find a piercer?  You call, you visit, you ask questions.  Last weekend, I talked to Angel at Renegade Tattoos. Renegade  is a well-established local body art studio, with a good reputation in town.  Here’s a run down of our conversation.

Experience: Angel has only been piercing for two years, and said that he basically learned because he was an EMT (or received EMT training at least), and was comfortable with needles.  It didn’t appear to me that he served an apprenticeship.  He showed me his bloodborne pathogen certificate, but didn’t show me his spore tests (although I asked twice).   He also showed me his portfolio, which had pictures of piercings he’d done, but no healed piercings.  When asked, he said he normally did not have people come back unless they had unusual piercings, like anchors.

Aftercare: We also discussed his recommended aftercare at some length.  He basically recommended cleaning with Dial soap and that’s all.  I asked him why he didn’t recommend Satin or Provon (specialty antimicrobial soaps) or sea salt soaks.  His response was that the soaps were difficult to get (but why couldn’t the shop sell them?) and that salt dries the piercings.  Furthermore, he said he no longer provided written aftercare sheets because people had just been throwing them away outside the studio.

Now this makes me a little crazy.  First, sea salt soaks are supposed to dry out the wound–the whole purpose of the salt is to draw out the lymph and other material from inside in order to promote healing.  Second, a piercee has the right to have a written aftercare sheet, because who can remember all that in the excitement of getting a piercing?  (See A Piercee’s Bill of Rights) Written aftercare also serves to protect the studio and the piercer in case something goes wrong.  Lastly, the Dial soap thing–well, it’s readily available, and that’s about the best thing I can say about it.

Best Practices: When I pressed him a little about the aftercare, he talked about how he had to adjust his recommendations “for the culture.”  Meaning the unsophisticated town we live in.  This isn’t Seattle, where you get all sorts of people really into extreme body modifications.  True dat, but I wonder about the wisdom of catering to the lowest common denominator.  Just as it’s a responsible piercee’s job to protect his or her own health, it’s a responsible piercer’s job to educate his clients about best practices, not just minimal ones.

I understand, okay?  I really do.  It’s one of the reasons the APP has propounded a standardized aftercare regime.  By proposing a minimum standard, it unifies the industry as a whole, presenting a common face to legislators, health care workers, and the public, and benefits piercees.  But best practices will never be implemented, and piercees will never be educated, if we don’t pay attention to this.

I do sympathize with piercers who have to deal with piercees who just don’t care.  Even the most professional piercer, who does everything right, and goes over aftercare carefully, gets blindsided by the dumb things people do to their piercings.

Angel told me a story about a 25-year old woman on whom he performed cheek piercings.  I could tell he was proud of the beautiful job he did on them.  He had carefully explained the aftercare, and warned the young woman to eat sparingly of easy-to-eat foods.  The next day, she came in with her mother to complain, wanting a refund.  She was in pain!  That’s what happens when you eat chicharrones and red chili with fresh oral piercings!  Ouch!


Angel is a good sport who took the time to sit down with this crazy old lady and b.s. about piercings, which I appreciated very much.  I was impressed with his sincerity, openness, and bedside manner.  He really t0ok pride in his studio and his work, and talked about the educational and promotional opportunities his studio took part in.  I would wish for a little more awareness and education, however.  For instance, he waved off going to the APP convention and taking part in the educational opportunities there as unimportant, seemed surprised by my niobium CBRs with nitrile beads, and had never heard of his namesake, Elayne Angel, one of the most prominent piercers in the world.  Nevertheless, for my town, this is probably as good as it gets.  I think he would be a good choice for some people, and a good choice for me for routine piercing tasks.  Hope he’s still a good sport when he sees this!

Yeah, I’m a piercing snob, I admit it.  You should be too!

Renegade Tattoo’s MySpace

If you don’t know what chicharrones are–take a look.

Thanks to Body Art Forms.

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