Since I spaced on writing something special for the twentieth anniversary of ModCon last month, I figured I’d at least celebrate the anniversary of this gentleman’s birth; one of the more memorable guests of the first MC event in Toronto, Erik Sprague (then Spidergod5, now the Lizard Man) was already on his way to lizarddom with implants, a split tongue, filed teeth, and the beginnings of his scale tattoo designs.
This photo, taken by ModCon (and Scarwars) photographer Philip Barbosa, appeared on the original Modcon CD-Rom.
Ari – Let’s start this off with your introduction to Fakir.
Blake – I got a hold of the ReSearch book in 1989 and it blew me away. Obviously it was the only cultural document at the time for an emerging subculture. There’s a lot of stuff in the book I was “meh” on but Fakir’s chapter really grabbed me. I was already piercing my friends in San Diego; people would go up to LA Gauntlet and buy a needle and barbell and I’d do them up in the park under a tree. My band had finally gotten signed and I came to this crossroad where I really wanted to do something meaningful and I knew I had a lot of learning to do so I quit the band and rolled up to San Francisco. The first time I went up there there was Body Manipulations – they were the first piercing studio in the area, they opened before Gauntlet. I went up and peeked at Body M and didn’t really know who they were but I recognized that the handsome guy out front leaning on his motorcycle having a cigarette was Vaughn. I knew he was the guy from the ReSearch book. I ended up making a couple of trips to San Francisco. My folks took me to the Gauntlet in the Castro and I went in, walked upstairs, and it was the first piercing shop I had ever been in. The term “piercer” didn’t exist yet – you were just a guy who did piercings at this time. I walked up and I said, “hey, my name is Blake and I am looking for Fakir and maybe some earrings!” I got the biggest attitude from the guy behind the counter. He didn’t even have visible piercings! He says “well we don’t have any jewelry in your size, honey.” I was like, “alright, fuck you,” and I started to walk out when I hear Fakir say “excuse me young man, I can help you!” I turn around and there he is with a porcupine quill in his septum. I just looked at him and told him he was the reason I came – but that I felt like this wasn’t a very welcoming place for me. At the time this was either summer or late 1990. Fakir took me to lunch. He put his arm around me and said, “well I have never seen the likes of you, young man., Tell me your story!” At the time I had 2” earlobes with huge dreadlocks- just a jungle kid from Southern California. How weird to walk into my first piercing shop to have some guy with no visible piercings be a dick to me. I was put off from the beginning. I didn’t consider myself professional at this time – I had only done genital and septum work. I had never done a nostril or navel. The stuff I was doing on my friends was all “Genesis P-Orridge” genitalia aesthetic. Fakir and I had an immediate connection and I told him I wanted to be a piercer. The first thing he said was, “well you sure don’t want to work at the Gauntlet, trust me.” I think we ate at Cafe Du Nord and it felt like I was coming home so to speak; he was just so welcoming. This is twenty-nine years ago. He literally says, “I think you’re doing something completely unique.” I didn’t understand his historical importance yet, I just intuitively knew he was the Granddaddy and if I was going to start a career I was going to go to the source. That’s a value that doesn’t exist anymore. There is a tattoo school is Vegas that cost $40,000 and guarantees you an internet following by the time you graduate, and you’ve only done like one tattoo. It shows you how ass backwards this culture is. The thing Fakir instilled in me in our first meeting – there were no personalities then, all I was was just a jungle kid, there was Gauntlet and Body M, that’s it for the whole US; there was no measure of what other people were doing. My experience at Gauntlet was very telling- Im sure they all had 00g PAs but they didn’t have the look I wanted to be a part of or was already doing, the things my grandmother introduced me to on her world travels. Continue reading →
Ari conducted this interview at the 2018 APP Conference and Expo in Las Vegas; while speaking to Georgina, Nick Giordano popped over to say hello and joined the conversation. A rare Ari two for one! Photos will be added soon. -SP/SD
Ari – Hey Georgina, thanks so much for talking to me today. I always have everyone do the basic introduction so give us your name and where you work, etc.
Georgina – Of course! My name is Georgina Schiavelli, and I own Black Diamond Body Piercing in West Hartford, Connecticut. I have been piercing since 1997 and I’ve owned Black Diamond since we opened in 2008.
Ari – How did your apprenticeship start?
Georgina – Like so many people back in the 90s – totally by accident! I was an enthusiast and a college student – it’s how I ended up in Connecticut after growing up on Long Island. I went to University of Hartford, which is in West Hartford, and I walked into Green Man Tattoo. I actually got pierced by one of the tattoo artists first- they didn’t have a piercer yet- the tattooer did a terrible job on my piercing in case you were wondering – it was a hideously off-center labret. Other then that I had started to become friends with one of the owners, John, who did my right sleeve. I started just popping into the shop here and there. I was really interested in tattoos and piercings.Within a few months of that Jeff Goldblatt, my mentor, started working there. He had previously worked in Millford (I believe), which is around 45 minutes away from us. I walked in and was like, “oh, who’s this guy?” and when I found out he was a piercer I thought, “oh, you’re like an actual piercer and not just a tattooer!” I got a bunch of work from him and we became very fast friends. My sheer interest in the general business of it was why he pretty much offered me an apprenticeship; I was in there almost every day. I just always wanted to hang out there and learn everything- I thought it was all so cool. He saw my passion for it, I was about 19 at the time, took me under his wing, and that was 21 years ago! Continue reading →
Finding ‘new’ artwork by iconic gay erotic illustrator BUD is always a treat; despite his connection with subculture defining periodicals 1 in the 1970s, Bud never found the kind of audience that Tom, Rex or the Hun enjoyed. Back in 1999, he submitted a six page story to Atomic Love #4 by Sina Shamsavari that featured his trademark crisp lines (before printing; zines were DIY and notoriously suffered poor production values) and erotic fantasy/sci-fi imagery.
We’re working on finding more of Sina’s collaborations with Bud and will share if located!
Bud provided cover art for the first issues of both PFIQ and Drummer. ↩
Sad news out of Texas- influential body piercer and suspension practitioner Daryl “Bear” Belmares has passed away. A mentor to some of the best piercers to come out of the 1990s Texas scene, Bear appeared in the documentaries Modify and Written on the Body and had what may be the largest documented set of stretched ear lobes at 5.5″
He will be missed.
July 10, 1956 – December 18, 2018
(excerpt from the 1990s documentary film Written on the Body)
It’s hard not to romanticize the time period that made up my entry into the body piercing/modification world; there were far fewer folks piercing/making jewelry and true eccentrics like Bill Krebs, owner/piercer of New Jersey’s Pleasurable Piercing, really made an impression. He appeared (along with my mentor Jack Yount) in Charle’s Gatewood’s Erotic Tattooing and Body Piercing V as well as a line of instructional videos that PP released back in the 1990s and always stood out in a crowd.
The last time I saw Bill was in Ybor City, Florida; we closed a bar after a night of excess and martinis garnished with smoked octopus and, with a hug, parted ways. When I heard that he had passed, that was the memory that stuck with me.
Will from Pleasurable uploaded this snippet from an unfinished documentary on Bill earlier tonight; if you didn’t know Bill you missed out on a hell of a guy.
Divinity – I met Ron at Cuffs – it was the premier leather spot, a dark little place but not very big.It was very macho and leather, and I was drawn to that masculinity. I was just hanging out and Terry, my drag mother, it’s where he went out, so one night I went with him, and then after a while I went on my own. One night Ron came in and we met each other and started talking. We were both reading Dennis Cooper at the time.
Ari – Can you tell us about Dennis Cooper?
Divinity – Dennis Cooper was a gay writer- he did a lot of writing about being gay and how to maneuver in society and being true to yourself. He did a lot of really cool exposé on gay life. He was from California and that was interesting to me because for some strange reason I’d always found the idea of going to California really attractive. Something was always telling me to go there but I didn’t know what it was. Once I got there I realized what it was; it was a place I needed to be. All the places I’d been before like New Orleans and Michigan were conservative and moving out to California was really freeing for me. It was like, “oh, possibilities are endless out here!” It was a lot of good reading for me. I read a lot of Brion Gysin as well. A lot of people were like, “you’re black, why are you reading that?” I was like “I don’t know!” It was just really interesting to me. Continue reading →
On Tuesday July 17th body piercing pioneer Jim Ward will be presenting his IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS GAUNTLET class to attendees of the annual APP Conference and Expo at the Bally’s hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jim’s classes are living, breathing history and are a guaranteed good time. If you’re going to be attending this year’s Conference you can sign up for it here:
Curt Warren and Erin Figureoa, The Piercing Elf, APP 1999.
Curt – Let me tell you a little bit about my start, I know all your interviews start with that. I grew up in Ogden, Utah, which is about forty miles outside Salt Lake City. I started having ear piercings around middle school – I got influenced by heavy metal so I thought, “fuck, I gotta have my ears pierced now!” After high school I moved to Maui, Hawaii, and while I was living over there a friend of mine got back after having spent the summer in New York. We were having coffee and she was eating soup, and I kept hearing this clank! I asked, “what the hell is that noise?” And she said, “oh, it’s my tongue piercing!” This was around 1993, and she showed it to me, and I’d never seen one, or even considered it for that matter! I became very fixated with it, fascinated by it, and decided I had to have one or else I couldn’t live anymore! The closest place for me to get one was in Honolulu on Oahu. This woman who called herself “The Piercing Elf” had a little piercing only studio there, so I flew out, rented a car, and failed to check her hours. I spent a lot of money to fly out there and hang out and fly back to Maui without a tongue piercing. So I saved up and a few months later I flew back out, made sure to check her hours first this time, and got it done. The experience for me – not being involved with the industry, not having any tattoos and only having some ear piercings – I was rather intimidated by her. She was sleeved and had a lot of piercings, but she had a great bedside manner, which made me feel comfortable. My first professional piercing experience was a piercing only studio with good jewelry and good bedside manner. Continue reading →