Jim Sens is one of the genuinely sweetest guys you’ll ever meet. Like almost too sweet. Suspiciously sweet. Like, “Who the fuck is this guy? Why is he so nice? Who told him he could be so nice?” Jim has been a notable figure on the scene for quite some time now, being a big proponent of the early surface bar movement, and also for his breakneck speed with a needle. Jim has essentially taken the High Priestess Campus location to one of the most high volume shops in the country with his personality and skills. We recently sat down to talk about the midwest, the surface bar, and picking glue out of his penis.Ari- Ok bud, so give ahead, give it a whirl, do the introduction.
Jim Sens- Hi, I’m Jim, I’ve been piercing for a bit over 18 years, and I’ve been working at High Priestess for the last 10. I’ve worked at a variety of big name studios before that. I started out piercing at a studio in St Cloud, Minnesota, called Cloud 9 Tattoo. Before that I worked counter at a studio that isn’t around anymore called The Dark Side in Honolulu, Hawaii.
When Blake Perlingieri opened the original NOMAD location in San Francisco in the Summer of 1993 it became the go-to shop for large gauge tribal inspired body piercing. The shop’s aesthetic- from it’s decor, organic jewelry options and young piercers and the experimental work they were doing- was an explosive 180° from the established piercing culture that came before it and along with Blake’s early appearances in Body Play helped refine the Modern Primitive look.
This weekend marked the ninth anniversary of the third and final Scarwars event. I was going to wait for the tenth before putting a post up, but sentimentality got the best of me and I grabbed a backup drive and pulled over a few of the thousands of photos taken that weekend to share with you folks here on SD.
On September 1st 2015 I recorded a free-form oral history with retired tattoo artist and T.R.A.S.H. editor JD. Recorded during lunch, JD and I shared a pizza and discussed the last days of Sailor Sid Diller, gay erotic artist REX (famous for his MINESHAFT logo design), TRASH magazine and the gentrification of NYC. He was a very charming gentleman, like myself a bit of a rascal and a wonderful connection to days gone by.
The full story of my meeting with JD can be found in Issue #2 of Best Intentions Magazine and you can find archival footage of JD tattooing here: http://sacreddebris.com/ovxsd-j-d-at-sailor-sids-silver-anchor/
This post originally appeared on my Occult Vibrations blog on 11/13/12.
In the years since his passing, friends and fans of Manny and his crusade to ‘take back the swastika’ have dubbed November 13th ‘Manwoman Day’- I think he’d get a chuckle out of that.
In 1989 I lied about my age and ordered a copy of RE/Search Publications now classic “Modern Primitives”. At the time I had already started getting tattooed, pierced and modified but the book showed me that there was a community of people interested in the same things I was. I read it cover to cover, time and time again.
One of the folks featured was a Canadian artist named ManWoman who’s mission was to reclaim the Swastika from it’s misuse from Hitler and the Third Reich, and to reintroduce it to the world as the ancient and loving symbol it is. To that end, Manny had both arms tattooed symmetrically with Swastikas from all over the world. Hundreds of them. Big ones and small, each mirrored on the opposite arm. I didn’t know what to make of it, or him for that matter.
Years later, wandering around the NYC Tattoo Convention at the Roseland Ballroom, an older gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and introduced himself. “Shawn? I’m ManWoman. I’m glad to meet you.”
We chatted for almost an hour and I found him to be a sweet, caring man passionate about defending and reclaiming the Swastika for sure; but also passionate about art and human advancement. Before we finally parted ways, Manny reached into his bag, pulled out a copy of ‘The Gentle Swastika’ and handed it to me as a gift between two new friends. I pull it out from time to time, to show folks who don’t quite understand the Swastika’s history and I always remember Manny with a smile.
Earlier this year when my life was turbulent and unstable, I got a message on Google+ from Manny. He could sense that I wasn’t really in a good place, and he sent me a Happy Swastika image with a note telling me to cheer up. We chatted back and forth and I ended up with a goofy grin on my face, knowing that somewhere in Canada Manny took some time out of his day to cheer up someone he had only met face to face once.
Manny lost his fight against cancer today. His light and legacy will live on in everyone who’s life he touched.
Thank you, Manny, and rest in peace.
It must have been about 1991 when I first met Mike Natali; two decades later and we’ve taken to calling our first meeting ‘guiche day’ as both of us were at Jack Yount’s Zephyrhills Florida house to have ours pierced when were introduced and became fast friends, with Mike becoming an older brother/uncle figure to my brother and I. Under his leadership, Ed Fenster’s SILVER ANCHOR body jewelry company experienced massive growth and his own Bravo! Body Jewelry set a high bar for the companies that followed.
In late August I traveled down to Tampa to reconnect with Mike and to record an oral history with him about his introduction to Jack and Ed Fenster, his time at SA and Bravo and his career as a body piercer. The videos need to be edited and a transcript made, but it was really great to spend the afternoon with him and get his story told.
While in Florida I was also lucky enough to spend the afternoon with retired tattoo artist and legendary gay porn author JD, who proved to be a really nice gent who was full of stories which he was gracious enough to allow me to record. JD was a friend of Sailor Sid Diller and would often tattoo at Sid’s South Florida shop. I archived video a few months back and put a call out for SD/OV readers to help me identify the artist in the tape. Through my new friend Brian I found out that the tattooer was none other than John Daigon, who was not only still around, but was willing to talk to us body modification nerds about the glory days. The audio on that recording is pretty beat due to some technical/location issues, but once I get Mike’s history transcribed I’ll put the footage into Final Cut and see if I can clean it up enough to make a transcript.
Late summer 2015 has been super busy for me and I’ve been ignoring Sacred and OV but as fall approaches I have some really amazing content for you folks. Thanks to everyone who’s supported the site and restorations over the last few months- you’re keeping the wheels moving and I appreciate it.
(photo of Mike and I ©2015 Jay Nolan)