Category Archives: Manwoman

BSTA: Paul King

Paul 1995 photo by Christine Kessler.

Masterpierce Theatre: Paul King

Paul King is so handsome it takes a continued effort not to rip the skin off my own face.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s be frank; Paul is a motherfucking national treasure. I honestly don’t know if I can write a proper introduction without it slipping into something so masturbatory that becomes unreadable, so I’ll just say that he is one of the most revered and respected people in this industry, and deserving of every bit of that. We spoke about Paul’s introduction to body piercing, some of the Master Piercers, cultural appropriation, and the Body Piercing Archives. Don’t forget after all of this to reach out and thank Paul for being who he is, saying what he says, and doing what he does. Also, while you’re at it, thank him for being really, really hot.

Ari- I always have everyone do the standard introductions, so tell us your name and how long you’ve been piercing and where you’re currently at.

Paul- My name is Paul King and I’ve been a professional body piercer since 1991. I was inspired and trained at a company called the Gauntlet; it was the first piercing shop in the Western world. I served a one-and-a-half-year apprenticeship under Elayne Angel. I then went on to manage Gauntlet Los Angeles, worked in the San Francisco store, and also managed Gauntlet New York. Gauntlet closed in 1998. In 1999, Grant Dempsey and I (Dempsey of Cold Steel International in London), opened up two tattooing and piercing shops in San Francisco called Cold Steel America (www.coldsteelpiercing.com). One was in the old San Francisco Gauntlet location, the other was in the upper Haight. We briefly attempted to do wholesale and decided to open in 2001. You can imagine how well that went. Wholesale didn’t last so long. So after that we parted ways in 2008. He was moving to Australia with his family and I was heading back to school. We let go of the Market street location, and I now have one shop on Haight street in the old Haight-Ashbury district. Continue reading

ManWoman Day

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.

 

A lucky or auspicious object

jonmanny

During it’s two decades in print, P.F.I.Q. magazine featured the work of an impressive lineup of photographers; the work of Jim Ward, Fakir Musafar, Diane Mansfield, Mark I. Chester, Michael Rosen, Charles Gatewood and Efrain John Gonzalez (alongside the wonderful submitted content) helped capture a scene when it was much smaller and more intimate.

I’m fairly sure II first met Efrain in May of 2000 at the NYC Tattoo Convention at the Roseland Ballroom, which is when this photograph was taken. On honest-to-god 35mm film. I found him to be incredibly sweet, welcoming and mischievous and over the years when our paths have crossed he’s always been armed with a smile and a camera.

I figure most readers of Sacred Debris are familiar with both of these gents- Manwoman (seated) and Jon Cobb.

Jon’s legacy in the piercing scene is as one of it’s greatest agent provocateurs and technicians, he originated (or popularized) a small handful of piercings that, though still fairly uncommon, changed the industry in ways that are still being felt. His ability to defend his techniques and placement- freehand piercing, nape piercing- set him apart from someone who just threw caution to the wind and did something new for the sake of ego.

Manwoman (February 2, 1938- November 13, 2012) was a Canadian artist, writer and musician who came to greater attention after his appearance in RE/Search Publication’s Modern Primitives in 1989. His book The Gentle Swastika documented his life’s work- The rehabilitation of the Swastika through his artwork and collection of pre-WW2 memorabilia.

I’ve been hesitant to post any Swastika related content up till now; it comes with the pretty heavy tariff of having to field complaint emails- usually from irate, uninformed and downright hostile folks who don’t know about anything other than it’s usage by the National Socialist Party or from those who feel that it’s just a tad too controversial to even bother trying to explain otherwise.

We’ll see how it goes.

You can see more of Efrain’s photos at http://hellfirepress.com