Piercee Profile: Michiko

January 31, 2009

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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.”

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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.

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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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