Category Archives: Historical Figures

Uncovered: Piercing World Issue 10

Earlier tonight we put up a pre-order page for volume one of the collected Better Safe than Ari interviews; 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.

Drummer #1 Cover: Bud Larsen

In an upcoming interview from the Better Safe than Ari series, former piercer (and current tattoo artist) Ken Dean talks a little bit with Ari about the connection tattooers have with the history of their craft, and the seeming apathy that piercers have for theirs:

Ari- Tattooing is so big on history, such a prevalent part of the culture, even with shitty tattooers!  It’s such an embrace your heritage type deal, but piercing is not.  Most people don’t give a shit about any of it.  Any idea why even the bottom tier of tattooers are all know your roots, but piercers tend to be so apathetic?
Ken – I don’t know.  I mean shit, even at the tattoo museum I work at we have a huge picture of Fakir. The shops been there since 1941, like before Pearl Harbor!  I don’t know why they don’t care.  Could it be because the roots of piercing are in the gay S&M leather underground?

I certainly hope that’s not the case. The intersection of 1970s Leather Culture and the roots of the early Western body piercing industry are inexorably linked. While the makeup of the industry has changed radically since Jim Ward opened the Gauntlet forty years ago, with Leathermen with an interest in piercing being replaced by people interested in body piercing as it’s own subculture, it’s origins should still be celebrated.

When it comes to Leather culture, Drummer Magazine 1 was at the forefront of documenting (and help define archetypes for) the lifestyle. Those early issues were powerhouses of iconic content of interest to the body mod scene; erotic stories by Phil Andros (aka Phil Sparrow, aka Sam Steward) articles with Cliff Raven, illustrations by PFIQ cover artist (and Sacred Debris favorite) Bud Larsen- they’re a treasure trove of awesome. Continue reading

BSTA: Mic Rawls


Mic Rawls is like a portal into one of the greatest times in history. Coming in through with extraordinary beginnings, he’s a shining example that you can enjoy a hearty tenure in piercing while still radiating positivity. Mic took time away from holding down the fort at one of the best shops in the country to talk about his time with Jon Cobb, what it takes to keep your love of piercing strong, and to reminisce on the early stages of the APP conference.


Ari – I always have everyone do the introduction, give us your name and how long you’ve been working in the industry for and where you’re currently at.

Mic – My name is Mic Rawls, I am currently at Cold Steel America in San Francisco, I’ve happily been here as manager for the last ten and senior piercer for the last 18 years at this shop.  I’ve been piercing 23 years this last month, which is rad, still loving it (most days of it!). Continue reading

Taurus: Bud Larsen for Drummer

Dome Karukoski’s TOM OF FINLAND is currently playing in limited release in theaters across the US, exposing the erotic artwork of Touko Laaksonen to a new generation of (hopefully) adoring fans. Over the last few decades there has been a growing appreciation for Tom’s iconic pencil drawings of hunky leather men, bikers and sailors with Finland recently releasing a series of postage stamps and online retailers selling a wide variety of Tom goods including shower curtains, bedding and a wide variety of branded clothing.

While it’s great to see Tom’s work receiving so much attention, it’s heartbreaking that the art of Bud Larsen hasn’t had the same luck. His work for early PFIQ (and Drummer magazine) issues was a mixture of bold, graceful line work and erotic subject matter that helped the magazine establish it’s aesthetic.

This illustration was for Drummer Magazine, 1970s. Bud’s work often included mythological, sci-fi and astrological elements.

©Drummer.

 

A Message from the Temple

Thanks so much everyone for an amazing Black Friday/Cyber Monday show of support! Welcome to the new members, and for those of you who ordered from HEX APPEAL check your email for tracking information.

I know there’s been a lot going on, but if you’re still in the giving thanks spirit- here’s a great “Giving Tuesday” opportunity.

From the GOFUNDME campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/genesis-breyer-porridge

Industrial music legend, cut-and-paste artist, and pandrogyne Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has leukemia and needs our help.

Having canceled their upcoming tour with PTV3, they are flat broke, three months behind on rent, and undergoing chemo and constant testing. Gen is on oxygen, and unable to do much beyond getting to the hospital. Friends are visiting and contributing what we can, but the expenses keep growing.

We want Gen to be warm and fed through the winter, and focused on hopefuly healing, not finances. The drugs are experimental, but promising. With continued therapy *and* low stress, Gen does not have to die from this, but could be back performing again sometime next year.

Please help this now-broke but extraordinary and generous human being continue on with us as long as possible. Your contributions will all go to rent, food, and medicine.

BSTA: Mark Seitchik

Lauren Pine, Autumn Asbury, Mark, Denise Gianneta, Dug McDowel and Kieth Alexander. NYC 1994 photo courtesy of Mark Seitchik.

Masterpierce Theatre: Mark Seitchik

Mark is one of those piercers who I’d heard about for so long, and had been so curious about, but information always seemed relatively scarce. His years at Gauntlet are some of the most interesting times in our history, and he sat at the helm of both San Fransisco and New York studios, helping train and work alongside some of the most notable piercers in history. One of only five people ever bestowed the title of Master Piercer, his passion and humility brought him to the top of the piercing world in the early and mid 90s. Mark is an incredible person with a rich history in our community, and even decades after he’s left he is someone we need to respect, to remember, and to admire. Reading about someone and talking to them is like night and day; talking with Mark was one of the most humbling experiences in my career. I am thrilled to be able to share this. Continue reading

Experience Jim Ward

I can’t remember what the first question I ever asked Jim Ward was; I’m sure it was three in the morning and I was going through a stack of photos and needed to identify the subject in a print and saw that Jim was active online so I shot a quick message out (or any number of other “Jim, do you have a second?” scenarios that have come up since then) without really appreciating how blessed and privileged I- and we as a piercing community- was to be able to have Jim around to help bring the early years of our communal history to life.

I’m certainly appreciative of it now though. Jim is infinitely patient and engaging with those of us who are passionate about modern body piercing and it’s history. For years I’ve been an evangelist for his book RUNNING THE GAUNTLET, (which you can pick up here) because it allows folks who were too young to experience Jim’s era of piercing a window in; piercers who weren’t born when Jim hung up his needles and retired from being a professional body piercer. But the crew at 23rd Street Body Piercing have upped the ante, inviting Jim Ward to spend a few days in November at their shop, offering one on one visits with one of the most important figures in the history of body piercing. What’s more- you can also get pierced by Jim during your visit! Piercings would have to be pre-approved by Jim, but let me tell you this is an amazing opportunity. From 23rd Street Body Piercing:

 

“We are super excited to announce that Jim Ward will be doing a guest spot here at 23rd Street Body piercing this November! There are only 20 spots available. If you want to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to have 1-on-1 time with Jim you’ll be required to place a $500 non-refundable deposit all of which will go to Jim. This industry would not be what it is today without him, please show your support.
To book please click the link below. If you have any questions please email [email protected]
*The hour with Jim may be spent in what ever way you may seem fit. Your hour can be a rare chance for a good visit, and could also include getting pierced. Piercings performed in that hour must be pre-approved by Jim at the time of booking and included in the appointment notes section of the booking.”

This is a rarer than rare chance to pick Jim’s brain, maybe leave with something shiny, and show your support to a true pioneer!

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