Category Archives: 1990s

BSTA: Collected Interviews Vol2 pre-order.

 

We’ve finally got the second collected volume of Better Safe than Ari interviews ready to be sent off to the printers; this double size black and white books features interviews with:

Mark Seitchik.
Mic Rawls.
Tom Brazda.
Scott Shatsky.
Sean McManus.
Ken Dean.
David Vidra.
Bethrah Szumski.
Curt Warren.

– and for this edition, a never before published interview with retired piercer Sean Christian.

It comes wrapped in a cover featuring a vintage Gauntlet NYC photo by iconic community photographer/documentarian Efrain Gonzalez and should be ready to ship before Christmas.

Support print media, support Sacred Debris!

Available for pre-order here: https://hexappeal.storenvy.com/products/24016416-better-safe-than-ari-collected-interviews-vol-2

Wild Bill Krebs Documentary excerpt

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.

BSTA: Darryl Carlton (Divinity P. Fudge)

Ari – Where did you first meet Ron (Athey)?

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

APP Conference 2018 Highlight: In the beginning there was Gauntlet

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:

https://www.cvent.com/events/association-of-professional-piercers-23rd-annual-conference-and-exposition/registration-4e23c3b113ef482c9f136e5bf4850686.aspx?fqp=true

BSTA: Curt Warren

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

Uncovered: In the Flesh V1

Before the 1989 release of RE/Search Publications’ seminal book Modern Primitives, body piercing/modification documentation fell on the shoulders of a very small group of people. PFIQ,  Piercing World, BODY ART– by Jim Ward/Gauntlet, Pauline Clarke/PAUK and Henry Ferguson and Lynn Proctor, respectively- were niche periodicals for a niche subculture that had incredibly limited distribution. For better or for worse, you had to know you wanted it to find it.

The tattoo magazines that ruled the mass market newsstand shelves may have occasionally featured photos of pierced tattoo collectors and artists, but they generally didn’t talk about the piercings themselves. Modern Primitives represents a pretty significant nodal point for the cultural shift of mainstreaming body piercing, suspension and even surgical modification; photos of New Zealand resident Carl Carrol’s bisected penis being available to anyone who walked into a Barnes and Noble marks a pretty major shift from the procedure’s “fringe within a fringe” past.

Inspired by the success of Modern Primitives, and no doubt an attempt to get ahead of the zeitgeist, OB Enterprises (the publishers of Outlaw Biker and Outlaw Biker Tattoo Revue 1) released the premiere issue of In the Flesh magazine in 1992. From the introduction:

A few years back Re/Search Publications printed a wonderful book entitled “Modern Primitives“. This magazine, In the Flesh, is meant to continue on where they left off. Each issue (provided you buy enough of this first issue to make it worth our while to do it all again) will explore ancient and modern body/mind modifications. Future issues will include articles on ritual and magic, Neo-Paganism, body building, strange food, cross dressing, gender bending, tattooing, scarification, virtual reality, subliminal learning, smart drugs and yes, more piercing info. Feel free to jump on in and send us your suggestions about other topics we should cover.

With gender bending, scarification, and a woman of color on the cover, the premiere issue of In the Flesh stood out among the other biker oriented tattoo magazines, no doubt as a result of editor Michelle Delio’s guidance.

The first issue featured midwest piercers (Mad)Jack and Anna Kaplan, Barbara Pierce and branding by Florice and an iconic interview with Cliff Cadaver. Further tying it to Modern Primitives, it also features an interview with, and content from, Jim Ward.

While Modern Primitives crossed over into pop culture/academic/kink territory (with a book being more highbrow, even for the lowbrow) In the Flesh had newsstand distribution and a much lower price point at $4.95 a copy, which no doubt had a democratizing affect. Ease of purchase, low cost- younger piercing fans had much quicker access to the material and among the middle school era of piercers is often mentioned as a direct influence.

Copies of In the Flesh occasionally show up on eBay close to their original cover price.

 

 

 

Notes:

  1. Though strangely, the premiere issue of In the Flesh had it presented by OB Enterprise’s Tattoos By Women.

BSTA: Bethrah Szumski

Ari – Did you feel like going through a tattoo apprenticeship, and being so enmeshed in the tattoo industry, influenced you as a piercer?

Bethrah – Oh yeah, it influenced the entire piercing community in some really interesting ways that people don’t know. I think they’re really different sensibilities – I think there are some interesting up and down sides of both disciplines. The downside of tattooing is you’re judged exclusively for your capacity to make really beautiful art, or really interesting art, and how well you’re applying it to the skin. But you’re not necessarily critiqued on other aspects of what you do like health and safety and general sanitation; the burden of you as a professional isn’t placed on that. You can do amazing art and just be the most dirty, grimy tattoo artist and people aren’t going to worry about it very much. You won’t get blasted for it in the community. I see that in tattoo shops – I can’t even tell you how many times the owner has been super proud and their shop is really beautiful, but the biohazard is in a closet on the way to the bathroom where from a health and safety perspective it’s like, “Oh this place is horrible! I would never get tattooed here.” – but they’re famous! Granted these are sweeping generalizations, and not always the case. There are plenty of tattoo artists who are amazing who are super clean and conscientious and have well thought out studios in all aspects of what they’re doing. It’s just a pitfall based on what’s considered a value. It’s almost the opposite on the piercing end. People are so heavily critiqued on their method that the aesthetic of what they’re doing is almost completely under-addressed. Does it look straight or does it seem even can be addressed at times but whether or not it’s on the right place in the body falls by the wayside. I had this discussion with a guy from Russia – is it art or is it technique? – and I said it’s both. If you don’t know about art or understand color theory and don’t understand spacial perception and composition, it shows in your work. It’s clear in your work if you don’t have these things. Continue reading

BSTA: David Vidra


Ari: I always like to kick these off with an introduction, so tell us a little about you, Mama. 

Vidra: My introduction to the industry was 1978. I met a gentleman by the name of Linus Herrell and he owned a store in Cleveland called Body Language and that store, how do you explain it? It’s like one of the first alternative bookstores.  We didn’t sell any porn, nothing like that, but it had a rubber room and a leather room, where there were all different types of books and little novelties and stuff like that. Also, he had a piercing room. He had magazines like PFIQ, the whole nine yards and I was like, “OK, this is fascinating.” I met him when he was a bartender at one of the little leather bars in Cleveland, in fact the oldest one in Ohio. He had a huge bull’s tether in his septum, and I was just staring at him, because number one it was very attractive and number two I was like, “hmm, how did you do that? How did he get something that thick into his septum?”  I asked him a couple of questions. He explained it to me, explained the process of stretching and piercing.  When I asked him where do you get something like that done he said he’d gotten work done at the Gauntlet in L.A. by a gentlemen called Jim Ward. That was my first introduction to Gauntlet, and even that was through Linus.  He told me about PFIQ and the new shop he’d be opening, etc etc, and then in his psychotic manner he said, “So what are you doing tonight? I get off in two hours.” I said, “eh, probably just going home” and he said, “Well let’s go home and fuck”, and I’m like, “okay.” Now realize back then I was working for a Catholic Church.  I was the rectory cook, as well as directing theatre for the deaf and blind and just about any other handicap you can imagine and normal people all on the same stage.  It was a lot of work, it was a lot of fun, and I loved doing it.  That’s what I did for a living back then. Cooking for a church rectory for the priests and the nuns who ran the Hunger Center in a pretty impoverished area of Cleveland, but it was also the deaf and the blind center for the Diocese of Cleveland. I had worked with almost all types of disabilities really from the time I was 13. Continue reading

BSTA: Ken Dean

Ari – Ken, where are you currently located?

Ken – I just moved to Seattle Tattoo Emporium. All these dudes have been there thirty fucking years, like Jimmy the Saint, it’s crazy. It’s also a tattoo museum so they’ve got all this really old shit. Lyle Tuttle will just stop by like, “hey whats up guys?” Old school legendary shit. I don’t really make a lot of money there, but for the experience alone it’s fuckin worth it. I’m not having that bad of a time. I can come and go as I please, I only have a small set schedule. No drama. So many times it’s just stupid shit, but you know how the business is, it’s a constant barrage of bullshit that I would rather not deal with on any level. That’s why I love where I’m working now, because there’s none. These dudes are my fuckin age, they don’t wanna do anything besides go to work, be happy, and come home, and I love this! No drama, no shit, no nothing, I’m good with it. I talk to friends who are really young in the business and it’s all he did this, she did that, blah blah blah, I just don’t fucking care, I couldn’t care less to hear about piercing/tattoo shop drama, it’s just endless. I can’t even go out to a bar without someone coming up and going “Are you a tattoo artist? Let me tell you what I want!” Continue reading

Queen of Hearts

I first saw photos of Cathy- dubbed Queen of Hearts- in Fakir Musafar’s seminal Body Play & Modern Primitives Quarterly 1At the time of the article her laced measurements were an astounding 39″- 15″- 39″ putting her on par with the legendary Ethel Granger with her progress; in fact she would appear in that issue photographed in one of Ethel’s 15″ corsets.

She began lacing in 1959 and by by the time of publication was wearing a corset or training belt day and night without breaks.

While attending the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party tattoo event in the late 1990s I ran into Cathy and asked her if I could take a few photographs for BME; none of which came out especially well, but hey, Mapplethorpe I’m not.

Notes:

  1. Body Play and Modern Primitives Quarterly, Volume 1 Number 3, 1992. Insight Books, Menlo Park, California. http://bodyplay.com