Body Art in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

December 12, 2009

The female Jedi of  Star Wars really kick ass.

While watching a recent episode of Star Wars The Clone Wars, I was struck by the abundant body art on many of the characters.  It  had me speculating on the origin and significance.

I don’t know if there is a formal ideology or more explanation for the art; but I wouldn’t be surprised–perhaps someone nerdier than me can tell me.  I can tell you that several of the characters bear obvious tattoos,  brands, body paint, or similar graphic symbols on their skin. Maybe the animators just enjoy drawing them that way.    (Yes, I do realize these are just cartoon characters.).

Barriss Offee

Sparkling like Diamonds

Diamond shaped tattoos seem to be a theme.  Barriss Offee and her mentor, Luminara Unduli, have what appear to be tribal tattoos. (There are good pics of Ashoka Tano and Luminara Unduli on this page.) Barriss has a scattering of diamond-shaped markings across her face and her hands, and Master Unduli has facial markings on her chin similar to a Maori moko. (Moko @ Wikipedia).

Ashoka Tano

Obi-Wan’s padawan, Ahsoka Tano, has very interesting facial markings, but it is unclear to me exactly what they are.  Are they organic, similar to tiger stripes?  Perhaps they are white body paint, or battle paint, but they seem to be inherent.  I wonder if that blue striped and green coiffure is cosmetic or hair or an appendage or what.  She seems to be of the long appendagy-type people like Jabbas’ lieutenant, who appeared to have filed his teeth.  (You can tell this post is really well researched, eh?)  Whether the white markings on the cheeks, above the eyes, and on the forehead are painted on or not, they are very striking.

There are other examples of this predilection for body art in the Star Wars franchse.  In the episode  I saw recently, in which Ahsoka and Barriss try to penetrate a droid factory, at least one of the male characters had a forehead marking (a brand?). Come to think of it, Princess Amidala was fond of elaborate geisha-like makeup with a ritualized markings.  And then there are the markings and horns on Darth Maul.  I haven’t seen any piercings yet on the denizens of that galaxy, but they may be out there.

My poor drawings do not do these much more talented animators justice, so be sure to check out what these characters really look like by going to the official Star Wars site. You can watch episodes of The Clone wars and see for yourself.   You’ll notice that one of the header pictures on this link is of a female character with spiral dot tattoos on her shoulder.

All these dots and diamonds remind me of these awesome dot tattoos I found on Flickr. Dotwork Tattoos by Damian. I’d say there’s a convergence between art and life!

Image above from Crave. Drawings belong to me.  Star Wars and Clone Wars belong to George Lucas.


Art from My Body

November 29, 2009

In honor of The Pierced Consumer’s one-year anniversary, I’ve been doing some cleanup and some tinkering.

I’m excited to add the Flickr widget, which will show the latest photos from myFlickr account.  It’s not very flexible, they seem to be added as I add them.  They show up on the right, under the links and stuff.

Right now I did a series of photos from my own tattoos with my iPhone.  The iPhone is notorious for having a crappy camera, but you can do some really cool things with it regardless.  I think this set came out really fantastic! Check out my Flickr stuff here:

Art from My Body by Cloud.

More Meta

–I’ve also changed my header, as  you can see.  That’s my beautiful Maya Organic “Earn Your Wings” earrings which I’ll probably feature more once I can wear them, lol!

–Edited the About Page and added new  photo of me getting pierced at the bottom.

–Overhauled the Body Piercing Basics Page, with new photos and new blurbs.

–The “Links” and sidebar were getting too cluttered, so all the links are now consolidated under “Click Here.”

–am trying out the cloud tags.  Appropriate, don’t you think?

–finally, I’ve added a widget to my delicious bookmarks.  I’m still tinkering with this!  The first one you’ll see there (right this minute) is a gallery I did of black and white body art that uses other people’s photos.  Since most of these are not using creative commons licenses, please click the link:

Gallery:  Body Art in Black and White


There’s an App for that?

August 5, 2009


I love my iPhone; I do.  But if there’s an app for everything–as the ads claim–then why isn’t there an app for keeping track of one’s piercings? I think that would be great, considering it’s so hard to keep track of stuff like:

  • –When did I get it?
  • –Where?
  • –How much did it cost?
  • –How much did my jewelry cost?
  • –What gauge? Length? Diameter? Material? Manufacturer?

It is so hard to remember that stuff, and so very necessary when it comes to jewelry changes.  However, a check of the App Store for piercing shows a dismal lack of useful applications for us.

There’s one–iLocate–Body Piercing, which touts, “There is nothing like finding a new body piercing store just when you need it.”  Right.  It’s nothing but a “find it” application, showing you the names and addresses of the nearest tattoo shops.  Okay, it has maps, but it’s the same as Google Maps, Google, Where, or other similar applications.  Oh, and it costs $0.99.

The other things that popped up were things like, “Sexy Girls,” “Perfect Girls,” and “Hot Sport Girls.”  Hmm.  Not very useful for me.

A search for “tattoo” in the app store shows once again piercing is the poorer cousin in terms of body art. There’s “Tattoo Shop” which lets you add a tattoo to any photo in your gallery.  (“Ink yourself, your grandma, even your pets!”)  “Tattoo of the Day” which lets you download new tattoos being done at New York Adorned; several wallpaper and Japanese tattoo applications; and of course, the aforementioned, Hot Girls, Sexy Babes, et al.  Still, at least some of these are a bit cooler than the iLocate one for piercings.

Get your thinking caps on!

So, I say to all you geeky modified entrepreneurs out there–here’s a golden opportunity. Make an application for a gauge card, or a jewelry keeper, or a piercing of the day; or a healing progress chart.  How about a virtual piercing app, where you could try out different piercings on a photo of your body?

Just an old-fashioned ramble

May 1, 2009


In lieu of an actual, well-thought out post (or a love song) here are some odds and ends.

Oh, CSI last night . . . body modification takes another hit.  Expect a full post on this one, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

I see Jared from One Tribe is back from his trip to Indonesia, because he’s commented.  Take a look especially at his comment on the Making Body Jewelry post, in which he talks about the company that was featured, the question of fair trade jewelry, and jewelry ethics.    I expect some great blog posts over at One Tribe, as well as some fantastic jewelry from him, as always.  Jared also posted that they are planning to open an implant grade only, piercing studio. Woo!

More blogs: Marisa from Needled has started a new tattoo blog, Needles & Sins. I don’t know what happened there, but all I can say is I wish I had a stable of contributors!  I also have come across some more body modification blogs, like this one: Multi-Colored, which has some thoughtful content, and this one, ToddBlog, which is pretty new, and doesn’t seem to have an About page yet, but might be worth checking out.

I just ran across a comment on another blog post (Absurd Body Piercings) which has me shaking my head:

I think a vaginal piercing says something negative about you. Cough cough, you’re a slut, cough. Guys are different, though. If you want your dick pierced it’s alright, but a vaginal piercing isn’t cool. It’s just the way it is. Anyone who disagrees, that’s fine. It’s my opinion!

Well, it may be your opinion, honey, but it’s an ignorant one.  Talk about a double standard!

Remember the unfortunate tattoo I highlighted in my post on Bellydancers and Body Art? Well, word finally got around to the dancer in question and she made a comment that she was embarrassed by my post.  I don’t blame her, really, since my language was pretty strong.  I wish to reiterate that this was my personal reaction and opinion, and that my intent was not to belittle her, but to point out that it’s a good idea for everyone, and especially for public figures and performers, to consider how their tattoos look to others, and from a distance.

That’s enough for now.  Let me just say that recovering from abdominal surgery Is.Not.Fun.  Although I think I’m doing okay, at 3 weeks plus now, I’m dealing with a host of minor but unpleasant, and personal symptoms.  I’d like to blame my not posting on this, but I’m really just a lazy slug.  Plus, I wanted to leave the interview with Angel about The Piercing Bible up for a while.  I hope you’ve all bought your copies!

Pic is my kitty Ivan’s nether regions.  He thinks he’s hiding.

Totally stylin? or Totally trashy?

March 22, 2009


I STILL Blame Barbie!

As I mentioned in my earlier post about modified dolls, a previous version of tattooed Barbie was banned in 1999 after parent outrage.   Ever willing to ride the trend winds, it seems Mattel is trying again.  Barbie is once again big news, with the opening of a huge Barbie megastore in China and the release of Totally Stylin’ Tattoo Barbie.

Once again, I’m probably the last blogger to mention this–but I need time to think and percolate the data through that spongy thing on top.  My brain, that is.  I see even BME has an article (and they got their stolen borrowed picture bigger than mine, hmm.)

The fact that the doll comes with a “tattoo gun” this time seems to bother people the most, although it’s really just a device to put the stickers on. Here’s a sampling of some of the responses:

Tattooed Barbie? Why not just call it “Tramp-Stamp Barbie” and put a bull’s eye above her ass?

With all these whiney EMO kids the next Barbie should be “I like to cut myself Barbie” and “I want to die Barbie”.

. . . a tattoo gun so instead of applying it with a wet wash cloth, 8 year-olds can simulate that milestone in every minor’s life experience of actual needles pumping permanent dye into their growing bodies.

To be honest, I can’t say that I get too upset about the “oversexualizing” of children, or age-appropriate toys; preferring to angst over failing education and  parental indifference and neglect.  I’m sure at least one of my daughters would disagree, but the best toys reflect real life.  My six grandkids (5 of them girls) all like to trace Grammy’s tattoos.  I fail to see why a doll you put stickers on will lead to a path of depravity.

So where is Totally Pierced Barbie, anyway?  I’m waiting!

And here, just for fun, is Blogger Barbie from BitchBuzz’s Photostream at Flickr. ‘Tho it really needs to be the blond version for me!


Image is from Amazon, where you can buy your very own tattooed Barbie here.  Some additional sources:  MavTV, Now Public, and Whoa Momma.

. . .

Mixed Media

March 11, 2009


If the media is the message–what message is this ad sending?

This ad appeared in a current bar magazine for lawyers, advertising asset search services for attorneys.  In case you can’t read the text off my crappy cell phone pic, it says:  “Jenny Smith seem worth suing.  Unless you know she’s also Jennifer Kaminski, the real estate heiress.”

Clearly, the first message is that anyone with tattoos is shiftless, no-good, penniless scum; not worth suing because no one with tattoos could have any money, right? I think it’s even half-way implied that she’s homeless and living in her car.

As far as I’m concerned, this is another instance of blatant stereotyping of modified people by the media.

In a way, I suppose the ad could also be interpreted to mean that not all tattooed people are, in fact, homeless bums because the woman isn’t actually judgment proof–she just looks like it.   Nevertheless, the advertisers appear to think that that no one, judging from her appearance alone, would believe she is a upstanding member of society.

Except those of us with body art, of course, because we know better!

Bellydancers and Body Art

February 22, 2009


Body Art.  That’s what dance is.

Sorry, I’ve been slacking a bit on the blog, but fresh from seeing BellyDance Superstars last night in my town, this is what you get.

I took my first belly dancing lesson in Berkeley in 1975, and I’ve been dancing for my own personal pleasure and fitness ever since. It represents and celebrates life and joy to me. Like body piercing, belly dancing in the West has risen in popularity since the 1970s.  It’s a polyglot, grassroots art form that has ricocheted around the world, from the Middle East, to the United States, and back again, and has absorbed influences from all over.  And like body piercing, much of what is being done today is new–innovative and experimental, and made up along the way.  It’s no surprise that women (and men) who express themselves with their bodies through dance would also appreciate the medium of body art.

As long as I have been involved in belly dance, body art has been a part of it. I remember taking a class in Oakland in the late 70s or early 80s, where the teacher had an enormous  snake tattoo on her abdomen.  She was extraordinarily gifted in abdominal movements, and the effect was amazing.  I also remember thinking how cool it would be if one could glue in a “navel jewel.”  Little did I know that years later it would be me with the tattoos and navel jewelry.

Now, there are many, many dancers with tattoos.  American Tribal Style is famous for encouraging tattoos, (including facial tattoos), bindis,  and other body art in its dancers.  Many ATS dancers, as well as Tribal Fusion dancers, are heavily tattooed.  Cabaret-style dancers sometimes have tattoos, but more often have pierced navels or nostrils. (Read about American Tribal Style dance at the FatChanceBellyDance site.)


One dancer, speaking of a heavily tattooed protege, describes  prejudice against tattoos in certain traditional audiences, and wishes that the freedom that tribal dancers have to adorn their body could be extended to the more traditional styles:

. . . the average Middle Eastern audience would not appreciate her tattoos, resulting in [her] being unsuccessful in acquiring the jobs performing for such audiences.  . . . tattooing is not a Middle Eastern tradition and the Muslims strictly disapprove of it.  It is considered equivalent to disfiguring the body. . .

The only arena of belly dance in which tattooing is accepted and even encouraged is that of American Tribal. How liberating of women! It would be fantastic to have this kind of freedome for dancers of cabaret-style belly dance. . . .  every other form of dance and professional entertainment does not tolerate less than perfect skin on a less than perfect body.  Jasmin Jahal article.

Cautionary Tale: About a beautiful bellydancer and a “Fail” tattoo:

Speaking of less-than-perfect, I admit I have a dislike for tattoos that run all together so the overall design cannot be seen.  Dense images without any white space just make a big blob, especially from a distance.  Anyone contemplating permanent body art should think carefully about the total effect, on their body, and on their life.   For a professional dancer or any kind of performance artist, extra special care should be taken.  Would it affect your career?  How will it show up on stage?

One of the dancers at the show last night, Kami Liddle, had a tattoo which was, well . . . distracting.  She’s a beautiful girl, and a talented and accomplished dancer.  She has also chosen to decorate her belly with a tattoo.  Seems logical,  if you’re a belly dancer, right?  However, I’m very, very sorry to say that the placement and composition are, to be delicate about it, infelicitous.  You can see for yourself.  Here is a photo where you can see the tattoo (at least at one stage–she may have added on to it):

(Edit: Pic Removed.  The following section of this post has been been edited, on my own initiative, as a courtesy to Ms. Liddle–Cloud)

It looks okay in that picture (which belongs to Ms. Liddle and/or BellyDance Superstars), and you can see that there’s a skull and some wing type things there, but here’s what it looks like from the audience, at a distance (and we were sitting farther away than the viewpoint of this video):


It’s a great video, by the way, but with sincere apologies to this incredible dancer,  my two companions and I left the auditorium feeling rather sorry for her.  It turns out we were all thinking the same thing: To put it as nicely as possible, the tattoo was not flattering.

That can’t be good. Kami, we suggest you either adjust your costume higher (or lower); or extend the tattoo around the back.  Or something!

More BellyDance stuff:

Here’s a fairly random selection of more belly dance links for the interested reader:

FatChanceBellyDance catalog:  Here you can buy tribal-style jewelry, including lots of hanging-style jewelry for stretched ears, henna and kohl, bindies and mung tikka (which goes on the head in the part of the hair.)

BellyDance Superstars website:  Includes info about shows and has a store.  A phenomenon is recent years, BDSS is well and heavily marketed by its brainchild, Miles Copeland (brother of Stewart Copeland of Police fame.)  Please buy something (I highly recommend the Belly Dance Superstars at the Folies Bergiere DVD) so they’ll forgive me for using the photo!  I don’t think the store part of the site works yet, but you can certainly buy their merchandise at

More pictures of Kami Liddle. A great compilation of instructional articles, reviews, and other info, which has been around the ‘net for quite some time.

YouTube: For a range of belly dance videoettes, from performances by top dancers worldwide, to instruction and drills.

What Were They Thinking. Here’s a fun/mean one–the “official home of the Goddess of Ugly Belly Dance Costumes.

Top image from Alaskan Dude’s photostream. Middle photo from Beige Albert’s photostream. Thanks, guys!

Now, excuse me.  I gotta dance!