Category Archives: Better Safe than Ari

BSTA: Séan McManus


Ari – Sean, I always have everyone do a standard introduction to kick these off, so give us a brief bio.

Sean – I’m old, I’ve been everywhere. Ok, so brief history of Sean in bod-mod. Started with Sadistic Sundays at the video bar in 1990, roughly. I think it was right after high school – I was eighteen. Was doing that for a little bit, was just a Sunday night show type thing, and then left town for a while doing the hippie soul searching whatever, did Ren Fairs for a summer just to get away. When I came back Allen Falkner had moved back to Dallas and he and I became friends. I was hanging out with Allen, helping him paint his first room in his first studio when he was just renting space from a furniture store. He rented a room from them which soon turned into a piercing empire. We hung out for another couple years there in Dallas where I helped him attempt his first suspension, which was fishing line and just a ton of piercings. It was absolutely horrible. It lasted like three seconds – the fishing line started to snag and pull through because it was so thin. We look at it now like what the hell were we thinking? But you experiment, you figure shit out. At that time Fakir wasn’t as willing to share the suspension information with Allen; he did later, so until then there was a lot of us just looking at videos and guessing. Continue reading

BSTA: Scott Shatsky


Scott Shatsky may not be the most recognizable names in piercing, but his roots run deep – from being a young man hanging around the original Gauntlet, to apprenticing under Jim Ward and being part of the original Gauntlet San Fransisco crew, Scott offers some wonderful insight into that early pivotal time. Scott remains part of that quiet faction who was more enamored with piercing as an intimate movement, and gives us some new perspective on those Gauntlet years as a client, manager, and Master Piercer.


Ari – Where does piercing start for you, Scott?

Scott – I grew up in Los Angeles, and I always had a fascination with anything other than just being white, so tattoos and piercings fell into that. I was just always very interested, so in high school and even before I was a punk rock kid I was always sticking needles in me for piercings. I don’t even remember how I found Gauntlet, but it was in West Hollywood. I walked in and I became friends with Jim (Ward) and became pretty good friends with Cross, who I share a birthday with. I was a young kid. I wasn’t even in a place where I could get pierced there, age-wise. Cross was only a couple of years older than I was at the time. I have this picture of me sitting there with Jim and his beautiful silver and purple peacock wallpaper in the piercing studio when he was piercing my cartilage. So my identity in that world started years before I was piercing. Continue reading

Back to Zines

Happy New Year, everyone, and happy fourth anniversary to Sacred Debris!
It’s been a heck of a run so far, and I’m hoping that we can do fun things in 2018.

One of the best additions to the blog in 2017 were the BETTER SAFE THAN ARI interviews that Ari Pimsler has been working on; he’s managed to chat with a pretty impressive lineup of current and former body piercers so far, and our list for the new year is already shaping up to be something special. Getting these memories recorded is very much at the heart of what our goal is here at SD, and with that in mind we’re going to be rolling out a print edition of the BSTA interviews. It’s currently in the pre-order phase over at our online store (HEXAPPEAL) and should be ready in no time at all.

Volume One of the collection contains interviews with:

  • Tod Almighty
  • Dana Dinius
  • Warren Hiller
  • Paul King
  • Gregg Marchessault
  • Sean Philips
  • Jim Sens

The book is a 64 page softcover trade paperback with minimal photos; we really wanted the interviews to speak for themselves. You can preorder it here: Better Safe than Ari: Collected Sacred Debris Interviews Vol. 1. 

 

BSTA: Tom Braza

 

Blair, Dustin, Dave Vidra and Tom Brazda @ NIX. Photo courtesy of Dustin Sharrow.

How do you introduce Tom Brazda? Seriously, I’m asking you, how the fuck do you even begin to summarize a titan like him? If you pierce, you’ve at least heard his name mentioned. He’s a fucking legend. And next time you speak about him in the past tense, stop it – Tom never stopped kicking ass and taking names. He’s been gracious enough to wax intellectual with us, so y’all turn off your cell phones and read closely – Tom deserves your undivided attention.

Ari – Tom, give us a brief introduction

Tom – My name is Tom Brazda, I started piercing in an amateur way around 1989. I went professional in 1991, so 28 years of experience of watching things happen.

Ari – I would love to start earlier with some of the first experiences you had with piercing before you were a piercer. Were you getting pierced before you got into the business? Continue reading

Uncovered: Piercing World Issue 10

Earlier tonight we put up a pre-order page for volume one of the collected Better Safe than Ari interviews; while there’s been a major push in the last few years for analog books to go digital we figured we’d be contrarians and take our digital interviews to print. So if that’s your sort of thing, please check out the Hex Appeal store for more information.

These days it’s pretty rare to find piercing/modification related physical media, but back in the 1990s there were plenty of options to chose from. PFIQ from Gauntlet enterprises, Body Art and Piercing World out of the UK, In the Flesh- if you knew where to look you had some pretty great piercing publications to collect.

P.A.U.K.’s Piercing World was a favorite of Jack Yount’s, who was thrilled to appear on the cover of issue #10.

Drummer #1 Cover: Bud Larsen

In an upcoming interview from the Better Safe than Ari series, former piercer (and current tattoo artist) Ken Dean talks a little bit with Ari about the connection tattooers have with the history of their craft, and the seeming apathy that piercers have for theirs:

Ari- Tattooing is so big on history, such a prevalent part of the culture, even with shitty tattooers!  It’s such an embrace your heritage type deal, but piercing is not.  Most people don’t give a shit about any of it.  Any idea why even the bottom tier of tattooers are all know your roots, but piercers tend to be so apathetic?
Ken – I don’t know.  I mean shit, even at the tattoo museum I work at we have a huge picture of Fakir. The shops been there since 1941, like before Pearl Harbor!  I don’t know why they don’t care.  Could it be because the roots of piercing are in the gay S&M leather underground?

I certainly hope that’s not the case. The intersection of 1970s Leather Culture and the roots of the early Western body piercing industry are inexorably linked. While the makeup of the industry has changed radically since Jim Ward opened the Gauntlet forty years ago, with Leathermen with an interest in piercing being replaced by people interested in body piercing as it’s own subculture, it’s origins should still be celebrated.

When it comes to Leather culture, Drummer Magazine 1 was at the forefront of documenting (and help define archetypes for) the lifestyle. Those early issues were powerhouses of iconic content of interest to the body mod scene; erotic stories by Phil Andros (aka Phil Sparrow, aka Sam Steward) articles with Cliff Raven, illustrations by PFIQ cover artist (and Sacred Debris favorite) Bud Larsen- they’re a treasure trove of awesome. Continue reading

BSTA: Mic Rawls


Mic Rawls is like a portal into one of the greatest times in history. Coming in through with extraordinary beginnings, he’s a shining example that you can enjoy a hearty tenure in piercing while still radiating positivity. Mic took time away from holding down the fort at one of the best shops in the country to talk about his time with Jon Cobb, what it takes to keep your love of piercing strong, and to reminisce on the early stages of the APP conference.


Ari – I always have everyone do the introduction, give us your name and how long you’ve been working in the industry for and where you’re currently at.

Mic – My name is Mic Rawls, I am currently at Cold Steel America in San Francisco, I’ve happily been here as manager for the last ten and senior piercer for the last 18 years at this shop.  I’ve been piercing 23 years this last month, which is rad, still loving it (most days of it!). Continue reading

BSTA: Mark Seitchik

Lauren Pine, Autumn Asbury, Mark, Denise Gianneta, Dug McDowel and Kieth Alexander. NYC 1994 photo courtesy of Mark Seitchik.

Masterpierce Theatre: Mark Seitchik

Mark is one of those piercers who I’d heard about for so long, and had been so curious about, but information always seemed relatively scarce. His years at Gauntlet are some of the most interesting times in our history, and he sat at the helm of both San Fransisco and New York studios, helping train and work alongside some of the most notable piercers in history. One of only five people ever bestowed the title of Master Piercer, his passion and humility brought him to the top of the piercing world in the early and mid 90s. Mark is an incredible person with a rich history in our community, and even decades after he’s left he is someone we need to respect, to remember, and to admire. Reading about someone and talking to them is like night and day; talking with Mark was one of the most humbling experiences in my career. I am thrilled to be able to share this. Continue reading

BSTA: Paul King

Paul 1995 photo by Christine Kessler.

Masterpierce Theatre: Paul King

Paul King is so handsome it takes a continued effort not to rip the skin off my own face.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s be frank; Paul is a motherfucking national treasure. I honestly don’t know if I can write a proper introduction without it slipping into something so masturbatory that becomes unreadable, so I’ll just say that he is one of the most revered and respected people in this industry, and deserving of every bit of that. We spoke about Paul’s introduction to body piercing, some of the Master Piercers, cultural appropriation, and the Body Piercing Archives. Don’t forget after all of this to reach out and thank Paul for being who he is, saying what he says, and doing what he does. Also, while you’re at it, thank him for being really, really hot.

Ari- I always have everyone do the standard introductions, so tell us your name and how long you’ve been piercing and where you’re currently at.

Paul- My name is Paul King and I’ve been a professional body piercer since 1991. I was inspired and trained at a company called the Gauntlet; it was the first piercing shop in the Western world. I served a one-and-a-half-year apprenticeship under Elayne Angel. I then went on to manage Gauntlet Los Angeles, worked in the San Francisco store, and also managed Gauntlet New York. Gauntlet closed in 1998. In 1999, Grant Dempsey and I (Dempsey of Cold Steel International in London), opened up two tattooing and piercing shops in San Francisco called Cold Steel America (www.coldsteelpiercing.com). One was in the old San Francisco Gauntlet location, the other was in the upper Haight. We briefly attempted to do wholesale and decided to open in 2001. You can imagine how well that went. Wholesale didn’t last so long. So after that we parted ways in 2008. He was moving to Australia with his family and I was heading back to school. We let go of the Market street location, and I now have one shop on Haight street in the old Haight-Ashbury district. Continue reading

BMEFEST 2005, La Paz Mexico. ©Sacred Debris

The Todfather: A night of gently touching tips with Tod Almighty

Tod Almighty is hands down one of the most magnetic personalities in piercing. Forthcoming, charming, hilarious – it’s easy to get lost in the seduction rather then realize that he’s been a force to be reckoned with for over two decades. Coming in under the tutelage of Allen Falkner, working his way through California, teaching with the Fakir intensives, being one of the mainstays at Anatometal -that’s some serious shit right there. So we got high and decided to talk about his roots in piercing, how multi-faceted our industry has become, and why one day we might all have to wear a suit and tie. Oh, and there’s a story in here that proves Tod’s balls are bigger then any of ours. Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself.

Ari – Alright Tod, give us a little introduction

Tod – I’m Tod Almighty, and I’ve been with Anatometal for 14 years now. I started piercing in 1992 after I apprenticed under Allen Falkner in Dallas, Texas. I’ve worked out of Santa Barbara, LA, San Jose, and Dallas, a lot of places I suppose. I’ve been an instructor with the Fakir Intensives since 1997, so twenty years now – I do both basic and advanced courses with them. I took them in 1992 as well. I like long walks on the beach, I’m a dog person not a cat person, I prefer length to girth, and I have no gag reflex! Continue reading