Piercer: Jim Ward. 1
Location: Southern California.
Year: Early 1980s.
Collection: Sid Diller
This February 1982 photograph comes from Sailor Sid Diller’s collection and features Sid showing off his new stomach tattoo (possibly by Cliff Raven) on the Los Angeles, California front porch of Gauntlet/PFIQ founder Jim Ward.
Typed label and Sid’s handwritten filing code for duplicates.
As I mentioned in a previous post (see recommended posts below) it was fairly common in the early days of Western piercing culture to for piercees to wear a frenum loop in their frenum piercing; a ring measured to be flipped up over the coronal ridge of the glans of the penis which upon erection acts as an ad hoc cock ring.
Some men went fancy, adding beads and texture to their loop. From Jim Ward 1
One of my more colorful clients was a Hungarian doctor who showed up on my doorstep one day. I was still working out of the house at the time, and he’d been referred to me by the Pleasure Chest, a sex shop that had recently opened in West Hollywood.
Dr. C was impeccably dressed in a suit and tie and had the bearing of a European gentleman. He explained that he wanted a frenum piercing. This was accomplished without a great deal of fuss.
I must confess I was a bit more nervous that usual. Although clean, the house and furniture were shabby. He was, after all, a doctor, and I was concerned that he would be uncomfortable being pierced in such an environment. Still, I brought out a clean bath towel and spread it on the couch for him to lie on. I laid out the bagged and sterilized equipment on a stainless tray. When I was finished he complemented me my technique as well as the cleanliness that I observed. It was a particular validation coming from him.
With casual European sophistication the good doctor told me that he and his wife were no longer sexually active. He had a young girlfriend who he particularly wanted to keep satisfied. To that end he commissioned me to make a cast gold frenum ring that would incorporate two penises and a ball on top that would stimulate her clitoris during intercourse. He quipped that he wanted to penetrate her with three penises.
Dr. C was quite happy with the finished piece of jewelry. Unfortunately he didn’t feel comfortable wearing it all the time, especially at the health club. Consequently he took it on and off frequently. Eventually the post would break off, and he would bring it to me for repair. The last time this happened he brought it in and chatted amiably about what a wonderful device it was. I told him how long it would take for the repair, and everything seemed satisfactory. I never saw him again. Whatever happened to him I never found out. After holding onto the piece of jewelry for several years, I eventually sold it.
This photo was dated April 1978 and originally ran on the spcOnline site in 1995.
I was putting a bunch of material together for an academic research request on ‘women in early western body modification’ this week which included this scan from PFIQ#31 (1988) featuring side art by the late Bud Larsen.
The demographics in the 70s/80s skewed towards males (primarily gay males) but going back through the old PFIQs while gathering up information, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of female representation included. Issue 31 was almost 50/50 with female and male piercing content including a wonderful photoshoot featuring Krystine Kolorful by legendary photographer Diane Mansfield.
As I told the researcher (who I’ll ask to share her final project with SD readers) the early days were much more dialed into sexuality than aesthetics, so most of the representation was (pleasantly celebrating) sex positive which made the older issues a lot more fun than the later ones in my opinion.
In 2001, Patrick Bartholomew wrote the back cover blurb for Shannon Larratt and Philip Barbosa’s long out of print ‘ModCon- the secret world of extreme body modification’. When Shannon circulated a .pdf version of the book, the back cover was curiously missing, so I’ve included it here along with Patrick’s contact information for those of you who would like to send him a little love.
Patrick was far too humble to include his own name in the pantheon of Body Mod heroes- a mistake that I’ll proudly correct.
Patrick’s paypal address is: [email protected]
ModCon- the secret world of underground body modification back cover text:
As the new millennium gets underway we are seeing the maturity of the second renaissance in the world of body modification and it’s offshoots.
The first renaissance started with the coming together of Doug Malloy and the first group of interested parties including Jim Ward, Viking Navarro, Sailor Sid Diller, Fakir Musafar, Jim A. and later Mr. Sebastian and Jack Yount and several others. It was the wealth of Doug Malloy that allowed the founding of this movement to get off the ground, and for the coming of the first professional body modification studio- Gauntlet– to start under Jim Ward. Fakir introduced the term ‘Modern Primitive’, and this was in turn given impetus by the publishing of the book with this title by Juno & Vale in the 1980s.
Flawed as the book Modern Primitives may have been, it was an electrifying start to the world of body modification for many, myself included. There were attempts to ban it around the world, many successful, which to a larger extent helped to publicize it, and consequently, the body modification movement. (I remember re-binding copies of the book in the covers of children’s books and shipping them successfully to friend behind the ‘moral curtain’ in some of the countries that banned them.)
The first great leap forward of the ‘mods’ we take for granted began back in the 60s and continued through the 80s. It was in the realms of the gay leather and SM secene that the true work began. There were other individuals with their own agenda who had also contributed but no doubt we will never know about, but those who did become known went into the folklore of this fast growing group who were lumped under this ‘Modern Primitive’ umbrella.
Next came the ‘scientists’ of the mod scene. We experimented and tried new methods and materials, and gained the experience that laid the groundwork for the next new renaissance.
This blossomed with the coming of the Internet. Early web site brought to people’s private worlds and the reality of what was going on out there, and helped them come to terms with their own ‘scary desires’. The general media publicity generated by Jean Paul Gualtier’s amazing clothing collection with it’s pierced navel models, the piercings of film stars and pop icons also went hand in hand to give the mainstream a push into the daring world of body modification.
But if was the coming of Body Modification Ezine (BME) that really established what we have today. Shannon Larratt- by his own admission- was the right person at the right place at the right time. He has engineered to bring the truth of body modification to all of us. It has cost him dearly over the years that he has been bringing us the images, the stories, the facts, the contacts and the ‘big picture’ as we have it now. This labor of love has at last begun to pay off, and with the publication of this new book he has certainly set himself amongst the great heroes of body modification history. I do not believe that any one person has done more than Shannon to popularize our scene. None of it could have been done though without the massive contributions of the BME readers with their input of experiences and photographs.
Like Doug Malloy before him, Shannon, through the amazing ModCons, has brought together the greats of the bodymod world. And from these meetings has emerged this book that I believe will rightfully take over where Juno & Vale’s left off. This book is not an end in its self, it rather marks the end of our beginning.
-Patrick Bartholomew London August 2001
On Saturday, August 2nd I’m going to be having a small birthday party at the Overground Cinema in Philadelphia where we’ll be screening some classic Body Modification films. I’m still finalizing the roster, which will include a mix of professional documentaries like Dances Sacred and Profane and the Marionette alongside some of the classic homemade footage you’ve seen on Sacred Debris.
We’ll be screening them on a full sized movie theater screen. And there will be popcorn. What more can you ask for! As a thank you, anyone who’s contributed to Sacred Debris in any way- through our donate button, with providing media players or content, etc is invited to come and join the fun. Just contact me for information!
Oh. I forgot. Month to date (July) we’ve had almost 7000 viewers here on the blog. It would seem that there’s people enjoying the content we publish- and if everyone who enjoyed an article donated $1 we could easily buy the hardware we need to add new (old) content. So. If you’re feeling generous- please hit the donate button on the right. Consider it a birthday present. Feeling appreciated for what we do goes a long way to keeping the site online.
It’s such a rare thing in the Body Modification world to be able to legitimately claim to have been the inventor of anything; we take for granted that some things have no definable origins and that if someone says they were the first at anything, there is probably someone somewhere who did it years before them.
Except for Jim Ward.
While Jim didn’t invent body piercing, it’s impossible not to think of him as the architect of body piercing as an industry. Before Jim and his Gauntlet there was no such thing as Professional Body Piercing. It was an underground thing with some practitioners knowing more than others, working discretely out of people’s houses, T&P parties, hotel rooms and the back rooms of Leather shops.
Jim changed everything when he opened the Gauntlet’s first retail location in West Hollywood in November of 1978. He invented the concept of the Body Piercer as a profession. Through trial and error he and his staff which would go on to include such luminaries as Elayne Angel, Paul King, Keith Alexander (Gauntlet NYC) and Jon Cobb (Gauntlet NYC) contributed techniques and standards that would revolutionize the culture of body piercing. His PFIQ would be the blueprint for those of us who document our community (my use of Who’s Who is a direct homage to my favorite section in PFI) and his book RUNNING THE GAUNTLET has become an indispensable tome for people interested in the roots of our culture.
Jim is also a damn nice guy who is very kind and patient to the scores of people who’s influenced, always taking the time to help out when he can by answering our many questions and offering presentations at the APP conference in Las Vegas.
So happy birthday Jim, and thank you for all you’ve done for us.