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.

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: 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!