Profile of the Week: Piercer John Lopez

November 29, 2008


Talk about well-rounded!  John Lopez describes his occupation as “piercer/tattooist/painter/dad.” (That’s one of his paintings to the left.) Regardless of what hat he’s wearing, John’s professional and blunt advice on piercings and body jewelry has helped countless in-the-dark piercees.   He’s all about  professionalism and safe practices, and that’s what I like to feature!

Q.  Tell me a little about your career as a professional piercer.  Are you actively piercing now?  Is the economic slump affecting the piercing business in your area?

A. It’s been 17 years of full time piercing and I’m a little burnt out.  I’m learning to tattoo and piercing is sort of taking a back seat in my priorities.  But I am doing the piercing at the shop still.  Piercing is very slow right now and I do think some of the reason is related to the economic slump.  It’s possible that since I’m not exactly enthusiastic these days, I could be part of the reason for the slow down in piercing business.

Q.  I know what you mean.  Burn out is a problem in any profession.  You’re also performing other flesh enhancing modifications, aren’t you?  Like cutting and scarification–can you talk about that a little? What are your favorite body modifications to do?

A. I absolutely LOVE doing scarification!  It’s so artistic and intense.  I was dong quite a bit while in Seattle at Slave to the Needle, but here in Eureka, there’s not much of a market for more extreme body art.  I also enjoy doing Pearling and Implants,* but again, not much of a market lately.

Q.  I can understand that.  I’ve been to Eureka!  I have to say that as a person with a lot of natural scars, the scarification kind of disturbs me.  Maybe I’ll change my mind on that, though.

A.  I watch people look through my portfolio and I can tell when they get to the genital piercings, then the scarification.  Most people have the same sort of gasp.  It’s sort of funny.  But every once in a while someone will just get quiet when they get to the scars and I know I’ve either found a possible new customer or someone who’s just too disturbed to deal with it.


Q.  Do you design jewelry?  Do you see a lot of innovation and progress in jewelry design still being made?

A.  I designed jewelry specifically for Vertical Clit Hood piercings, which were prototyped by Industrial Strength and they were awesome.  But I.S. was very busy getting Surface Anchors produced at the time and they just didn’t have the time to invest in such a piercing-specific, small market.  I asked another company to try making them and they sort of just forgot about it.  So who knows what, if anything, will ever become of them.  I think they’re perfect for VCH piercings and would make a lot of women very happy.

I also helped I.S. in the design of Surface Anchors by doing product testing and reporting.  I was able to use a whole bunch of Anchor prototypes and help I.S. fine-tune their design.

I also hand craft Heart Shaped jewelry for Daith piercings.  The idea was originated by Nick Steinmetz (a coworker at Slave to the Needle) who asked me to make them for him.  They were so successful that they’ve already turned up in some catalogs.

Q.  If someone wanted to contact you for a custom-made piece, can they?

A.  I’m not the guy to ask for custom jewelry.  I’d suggest they contact Drew or Jason at Tribalectic to seek out a custom design.

Q.  I’m thinking about getting a surface anchor, but I’m nervous about them, because they are not removable by the piercee.  Can you address these fears?

A.  Technically, you’re right.  But at the same time, they are VERY easy to remove as long as it’s done in an aseptic manner.  While I’d never suggest someone take out their own Anchors, I’ve had customers bring in jewelry that they did remove themselves without any negative effects.

Q.  Speaking as an older person, our skin does not have as much collagen and resilience–would that mean a surface anchor is a bad idea?

A.  Part of a piercer’s job is to ensure the placement of a piercing has a significant chance to heal well.  I hesitate to answer that question with a yes or no because if you were my customer I’d want to examine the skin where you want the piercing.  Young or old, skin is different from place to place on the body.

Q. Do you have any tips for consumers on how to evaluate a piercer’s skill?

A. Unfortunately, portfolio pictures aren’t enough, because those photos are almost never of HEALED piercings.  So if it’s possible, I’d suggest observing a piercer at work.  After seeing 2 or 3 piercers at work, significant differences in style, proficiency, and skill will be very obvious.  A highly skilled piercer is really easy to spot when you compare them to a less skilled piercer.  It’s like holding and comparing an imported, cheap barbell purchased in a mall to one made by Industrial Strength or Anatometal . . . OBVIOUS quality differences that are really only obvious when compared side by side.

Q.  That makes it hard for a novice to tell, though.  There’s that learning curve again.

A.  All a novice needs to do is ask.  A shop that carries good quality jewelry always has some crap jewelry to use as a comparison.  I’ve never known of a good shop that didn’t have some “common” jewelry to use in this example.  I also think good piercers enjoy showing off their knowledge of jewelry and standards . . . especially guys.  The male ego is funny that way.

Q. Are “rock star” piercers–those with a lot of exposure in the industry, splashy portfolios, APP membership, etc., a better choice for the customer than your average street-corner piercer?

A.  Usually, but not always.  There are many GREAT piercers out there who will never be “known.”  And there are plenty of piercers who are members of the APP who just suck at piercing.  It’s “buyer beware” for sure!

Q.  I remember your career as a pinup boy.  Are you going to be on another Tribalectic calendar?

A. Oh boy.  I’m probably going to be pictured in a Tribalectic brochure/pamphlet pretty soon, but it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if they went with a younger, hipper, better looking piercer.  I really don’t care or need the attention.  My mouth gets me more attention than I should get anyway.

Q.  LOL!  Okay, if you could tell the pierced consumer one thing, what would it be?

A.  GIVE A SHIT! It’s your body, it’s your responsibility to keep it healthy and safe.  NOBODY else is looking out for your well-being!

Q.  I really appreciate this.

A.  Any time.  I have a feeling that your blog will end up being a good thing for the industry.  You seem to have the energy and enthusiasm I used to have.

Q.  It comes and goes, you know?  Thing is, this information IS out there–but few people care enough to do the research, until they get a fubar’d piercing.

A. Which brings the circle all the way around . . . unless customers wise up, they are at risk. Period.  No regulations or laws can change that.  It truly is up to the customer to care about more than price.  I know it sounds dickish, but I believe you get what you pay for, you get what you deserve, you get what you ask for and the “system” won’t help you.

John is currently performing body art at Instant Gratification in Eureka, California, 411 5th Street, 707-442-6736.  You can also contact him at: John tells me they’ll have a website up soon!


Thanks & Links: Tribalectic (as always); Slave to the Needle, Instant Gratification, the APP.

*You can find info on pearling and implants (as well as scarification and pretty much everything else relating to body art) at the BMEzine Encyclopedia. VERY NSFW!

Piercing Profile of the Week: Chris

November 22, 2008


Here’s a great guy who stepped right up to the bat when I was looking for guinea pigs . . . er, interviewees.  I know him as Primal on Tribalectic.

Q. You’re in school, aren’t you? What are you studying, and how’s it going?

A. Yes, I’m a senior at Marshall University.  Right now I am pursuing a Biology degree with my ultimate goal being to bet into veterinary school.  And without being too . . . shall we say arrogant, I must say I’m a pretty smart cookie.  Nerdy too, of course, but I think that’s a prerequisite for doing anything in the sciences, hah! Just to give you an idea of how nerdy I am, I will be starting a research project studying the effects of select medications on mouse sperm fertility.

Q. Mouse sperm, eh? If you find out the effects, can you reverse it? (I have mice in my kitchen.)

A. (Nerd speech here.  Sorry, I near-flunked every science class I ever had.) The research isn’t intended as a new form of critter control.

Q. Rats! Okay .  What’s your favorite piercing?

A. Well, right now I only have my nipples pierced, and I’m quite fond of them.  Unfortunately I was forced to retire my lobes when I started riding my motorcycle.  I’m also quite partial to vertical labrets, and I hope to get one sometime soon.

Q. Can you explain the trouble with the lobes and the motorcycle? How do your nipples piercings cope?

A. When I first started riding my motorcycle, I found the helmet irritated my lobes, which had never really healed anyway.  I have a big head, so my helmet is a pretty snug fit.  I’ve been considering giving it another go this winter and getting some small studs rather than CBRs.

The only issue that I have with my nipple piercings and riding a motorcycle is that my jacket is very thick, heavy leather.  Sometimes I would find after a long ride that my nipples were sore from the weight of the jacket and the unforgiving nature of the thick leather.

Q. Do you have tattoos too?  Are you into piercings more than tattoos?

A. I don’t currently have any tattoos, but I’m certainly interested in them.  However, I would have to have a really good idea for a tattoo, one that really meant something to me, if I were to ever get one.

Q. Do you see yourself growing older with piercings?

A. Oh, most certainly.  However, if my dreams do come true and I become a veterinarian, I will have to keep professionalism in mind, which unfortunately would likely exclude any visible piercings other than lobes.  But, that’s the beauty of piercings, Isn’t it?  They can easily be removed.  I find the aesthetics of piercings only one aspect of the experience . . . for me, getting piercings, especially my nipples, was more about taking control of my life and getting over the anxiety of worrying about what other people think of me.  But oh, my, I think my answer has gone beyond the bounds of the question!

Q. How long have you been on Tribalectic?  Do you have an opinion on the customer service or jewelry catalog you’d like to offer?

A. I’ve been there *counts* right at a year, I believe.  I joined shortly after getting my lobes last November.  It feels so much longer than that, though, because I’ve made so many great friends there.  The store and customer service really is top notch.  I’ve had plenty of so-so customer service experiences with other companies, but the guys over at the Tribe really are the best of the best.  They know what it takes to foster customer loyalty.

Q. What other sites should piercees become familiar with, or that you’d like to recommend?

A. I can’t think of any piercing-related sites, really.  Of course, there’s BME, which is a great resource if you know what you’re getting into.  Otherwise, I would encourage piercees to do as much research as possible.  Google is your friend!  Real the articles on Tribe, read piercing experiences, and most importantly, know your rights as a customer and a piercee.  In the modern Age of Information, where anybody can waltz down to their local library and have the world at their finger tips, there is absolutely no reason to be uninformed.

A. Do you have a snappy comeback line for when people ask if it hurts?

A. I prefer the blank stare that implies something along the lines of, “Are you stupid?”

Yep, that’s a favorite of mine, too!  Suffice it to say,  I rely on Chris and others like him to interpret the science of piercing to me and others.  He’s written a helpful article on endocarditis and piercing risks, which he has kindly allowed me to re-post, so look for it on . . .

another day, bwahaha!

BTW, I’m still a nerd.  Original season classic Star Trek, a lifetime of science fiction, ran a SF convention and everything!

Piercing Profile of the Week: Josho

November 16, 2008

So, who get’s pierced?  Who are the real people behind the bling?  I’m starting a series of piercee profiles with my friend Josho.  Here, in live Q&A! Sorta . . .

Q.  So, Josho, tell me a little about yourself.



A. First,I’m a happily married, proud father of a beautiful 9 month old girl.  I’m an IT Support guro (aka: geek) at NASA, subcontracting through Lockheed Martin.  I also run my own IT contracting company, specializing in EMR system deployment for various Bay Area doctors.  Additionally, I am an Admin over at Tribelectic.  I’m a pretty busy guy! Most of my off-time is spent with my daughter and wife, playing video games, and participating in various music projects.

Q.  How did you get into body piercing?  How long ago, and why?

A. My primary interest in piercings came when I was about 15.  I wanted my tongue pierced and my mother, being the great parent she was, forbid me from doing so as long as I was under her roof.  Fortunately, I listened to her–otherwise I would have ended up being pierced at a shady shop.  I wound up become completely fascinated with not only piercing, but tattoos and body modification as well.

Q.  How many piercings do you have now?

A. I’m currently host to a set of 5/8″ lobes, a new pair of 8 gauge lobes (with intention to stretch more) and a 12 gauge vertical nipple.  I’ve retired two rooks, a set of vertical  nipples, a set of horizontal nipples, 10 gauge septum, and 8 gauge tongue.

Q.  If you could tell piercees one thing, what would it be? Piercers?

A. Do I really have only one thing? Haha.  First–research EVERYTHING.  Educate yourself on everything you can possibly find about what you want-aftercare, potential problems, what to expect in the experience.  And don’t be afraid to ask questions.

As far as piercers go–don’t be rude.  I can’t even count the number of times I have walked away from a shop because the staff and the piercers acted cocky.  Nobody wants to do business with an a-hole, seriously.  It’s a little thing called customer service.

Q.  Is there any body piercing topic or thing that is overrated or gets too much attention?

A. The idea that pierced/modded individuals are somehow freaks, or criminals, or intentionally going against the grain.  Honestly, we’re everywhere- we’re doctors, lawyers, IT people, enlisted in the military–hell, the list goes on.

Q.  You’re an admin on Tribalectic; tell me about your involvement there.

A. I spend 6 to 7 hours a day all over Tribe.  Admins help keep the peace, approve profiles and pictures.  I also work in the background by working closely with the owner to make improvements, pass on feedback, and and bounce ideas around for the site.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing (or hoping) that I’m giving something back to a community that’s given me so much.  Plus, the groupies rock!  (Just kidding!)

Q.  How have piercings impacted your life?

A. I’ve been very fortunate in my life that my piercings have been accepted and have not really negatively affected me.  My family, while not necessarily agreeing with my view on piercings, have completely accepted that what I do is my choice and that’s good enough for them.  My fascination with body modification has scared away some potential partners at times.  Ironically, my wife actually urges me to get more, instead of being the angel standing on my shoulder trying to convince me otherwise!

My piercings have really provided a positive impact in most facets of my life.  they’re something I know will be there as long as I choose, and have helped me through various experiences in my life.  It’s like having a best friend that doesn’t talk to you (most of the time.)  The body mod community, as a whole, is an amazing group to consider myself part of.  I’ve come to find that modded people are generally more down-to-earth and friendly than your average individual.  I’ve made tons of friends all over the world, and wouldn’t trade any of them.

Q.  You’ve been really great to offer this interview, Josho.  Anything else you’d like to offer?

A. I think this would really go out to anyone, not just the pierced in general.  Don’t be afraid to be you.  The one thing that makes people so great is we’re all different!  Instead of trying to hide it, or be ashamed of it–be proud of who you are!

Thanks, Josho! And, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention his very own blog:  Viva La Josho!