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.


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.

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!