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.
Body Play and Modern Primitives Quarterly, Volume 1 Number 3, 1992. Insight Books, Menlo Park, California. http://bodyplay.com↩
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: Séan McManus”→
During the mid 1990s I was occasionally contracted to attend tattoo conventions on behalf of bmezine.com; while content was being contributed to the website, BME’s editor Shannon Larratt figured that targeted content- particularly the kind that was often photographed in hotel rooms on a more discrete section of the modification community- would be worth the cost of plane tickets, hotel rooms and an incredibly humble per diem.
This being the age before digital cameras were in common usage, all he asked was that I try to get at least two rolls of film per event. Forty-eight images. Before it was a community driven site (a process which started with the password wall on BME/extreme and took hold with the creation of IAM.BME in 2000) the acquisition of content was king at BME; if people didn’t have dynamic images to view, they’d move along. Having strong photos to hook viewers into sticking around long enough to encourage them to share their own was a major focus of the boom-years of the site.
This photo was taken on one of those sponsored trips, on the convention floor at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Portland, Maine. At the time, facial tattoos and body piercing were frowned upon at some conventions, so a gentleman like this was a welcome sight.
Earlier today while procrastinating on the first wave of proof reading the Better Safe than Ari interview with Séan McManus, I was doing my normal mindless scroll through my Facebook timeline, hoping against hope of less mindless political bickering and more pictures of people’s pets; the lament of life in the age of social media. As I scrolled past pictures of what my friends had for dinner or check-ins at various movie theaters and restaurants I saw no less than two photos of friends hanging from hooks in their skin. The photos were peppered with comments, positive comments, from friends and family. One had a “I knew you could do it!” encouraging post from the suspendee’s mother.
None of this would be possible without the contributions of Sean McManus (director) and Allen Falkner (primary subject) of The Marionette. Sean’s film- back when films were actually shot ON film- is a nodal point in the advancement of body ritual/body art in Western Culture. And it was a by/for production; the people involved in the film were also involved in body suspension. Predatory media often sees body modification as a quick and lurid bit of exploitation. “Look at THESE freaks” is a call older than Barnum. What The Marionette achieves is the removal of the shock value of a pretty shocking process. It’s accessible. At times emotional. And always entertaining.
The suspension community has changed a lot since it’s filming, but anyone who is interested in body-as-medium owes a great debt to this film, and you should absolutely have a copy in your collection.
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 “BSTA: Scott Shatsky”→
After ending his tenure at the New York Gauntlet, Keith Alexander moved closer to home and opened Modern American Bodyarts in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. The studio was very much an extension of Keith’s personality.
He submitted these photos to the spcOnline site in the late 1990s.
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 “BSTA: Tom Braza”→
Earlier tonight we put up a pre-order page for volume one of the collected Better Safe than Ariinterviews; 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.