Ari: I always like to kick these off with an introduction, so tell us a little about you, Mama.
Vidra: My introduction to the industry was 1978. I met a gentleman by the name of Linus Herrell and he owned a store in Cleveland called Body Language and that store, how do you explain it? It’s like one of the first alternative bookstores. We didn’t sell any porn, nothing like that, but it had a rubber room and a leather room, where there were all different types of books and little novelties and stuff like that. Also, he had a piercing room. He had magazines like PFIQ, the whole nine yards and I was like, “OK, this is fascinating.” I met him when he was a bartender at one of the little leather bars in Cleveland, in fact the oldest one in Ohio. He had a huge bull’s tether in his septum, and I was just staring at him, because number one it was very attractive and number two I was like, “hmm, how did you do that? How did he get something that thick into his septum?” I asked him a couple of questions. He explained it to me, explained the process of stretching and piercing. When I asked him where do you get something like that done he said he’d gotten work done at the Gauntlet in L.A. by a gentlemen called Jim Ward. That was my first introduction to Gauntlet, and even that was through Linus. He told me about PFIQ and the new shop he’d be opening, etc etc, and then in his psychotic manner he said, “So what are you doing tonight? I get off in two hours.” I said, “eh, probably just going home” and he said, “Well let’s go home and fuck”, and I’m like, “okay.” Now realize back then I was working for a Catholic Church. I was the rectory cook, as well as directing theatre for the deaf and blind and just about any other handicap you can imagine and normal people all on the same stage. It was a lot of work, it was a lot of fun, and I loved doing it. That’s what I did for a living back then. Cooking for a church rectory for the priests and the nuns who ran the Hunger Center in a pretty impoverished area of Cleveland, but it was also the deaf and the blind center for the Diocese of Cleveland. I had worked with almost all types of disabilities really from the time I was 13. Continue reading “BSTA: David Vidra”
Ari – Ken, where are you currently located?
Ken – I just moved to Seattle Tattoo Emporium. All these dudes have been there thirty fucking years, like Jimmy the Saint, it’s crazy. It’s also a tattoo museum so they’ve got all this really old shit. Lyle Tuttle will just stop by like, “hey whats up guys?” Old school legendary shit. I don’t really make a lot of money there, but for the experience alone it’s fuckin worth it. I’m not having that bad of a time. I can come and go as I please, I only have a small set schedule. No drama. So many times it’s just stupid shit, but you know how the business is, it’s a constant barrage of bullshit that I would rather not deal with on any level. That’s why I love where I’m working now, because there’s none. These dudes are my fuckin age, they don’t wanna do anything besides go to work, be happy, and come home, and I love this! No drama, no shit, no nothing, I’m good with it. I talk to friends who are really young in the business and it’s all he did this, she did that, blah blah blah, I just don’t fucking care, I couldn’t care less to hear about piercing/tattoo shop drama, it’s just endless. I can’t even go out to a bar without someone coming up and going “Are you a tattoo artist? Let me tell you what I want!” Continue reading “BSTA: Ken Dean”
Late 1970s- Jim Ward performs a vertical nipple piercing on Rochester’s Rufus Dreyer. Rufus appears occasionally in photos in my archives- his appearance distinct with a full body of dense tattooing, a grey Van Dyke beard and flipped up septum tusk- but I’ve not been able to find out anything about him other than his name.
Jim can be seen using a thimble to push assist in pushing the needle though the tissue; the needles available at the time weren’t as sharp as our modern options and every little bit helped.
(Thanks to Jim for helping me identify Rufus)
One of these days I’ll finish up the article I started on the Gay Leather roots of the modern body piercing community; like a lot of things I work on it’s a quarter finished, sitting in a notepad waiting for me dive back into it, but until then…
Every time I flip though old issues Drummer Magazine I come across so much amazing content. This ad from a 1975/6 issue reminds us that there has always been a market for people wanting blinged-out TIT STUDS.
“40 years ago today Gauntlet came into existence. It’s sometimes hard to believe all that has transpired in the world of body mod in that time.”- Jim Ward, 11.17.2015
Happy anniversary to Jim Ward and The Gauntlet!
“When I opened Gauntlet in 1975, virtually no one but hardcore fetishists and sadomasochism (S/M) enthusiasts were piercing themselves below the neck. People in the mundane world failed to realize that a little piece of metal strategically inserted in certain locations of the body can significantly amplify erotic sensations in those areas and make sex even more enjoyable. It seemed so clear to me that this was something that could benefit anyone. Why should piercing be limited to a select few? With that in mind, it became my mission to let the world at large in on this amazing secret and to let it know I had the ability to make it a reality.”
Jim has been an amazing resource for piercing fans for the last four decades; The Gauntlet, PFIQ, his APP classes- read the uncensored history of the roots of the modern body piercing revival in his memoir Running the Gauntlet available here: http://www.runningthegauntlet-book.com/
In the 1980s, the concept of a professional body piercer was a bit of a rarity. The Gauntlet had introduced the idea in the late 70s, but outside of a very small handful of lucky folks who had worked for Jim Ward, making a living solely on piercing/body jewelry was a true rarity.
When Jack Yount made the decision to start piercing more formally- as a resident at D.C. Leather shops as opposed to at T&P parties on the east coast- he was still working as an executive at a major plumbing supply company and protecting his identity was a concern. Taking his initials- J.A.Y. he christened himself “Mr. Jay” (sometimes shortened to Mr. J) and was able to live discretely in both worlds until his retirement from corporate life.
This photograph- which is uncredited- was taken in the early 1990s and features Jack’s signature septum tusk (two piece threaded) from Ed Fenster’s Silver Anchor Body Jewelry.
Model: Jim A.
Piercer: Jim Ward.
Piercing: Guiche, Scrotum.
Year: February 1979.
A few weeks ago I went off on a (good natured) rant about the recent trend in the piercing community to have custom gold threaded jewelry made, often at considerable expense, in designs as varied as slices of pizza, Harry Potter iconography and Jersey shore tattoo classics like infinity symbols, feathers and Playboy bunnies.
Since there’s really nothing new under the sun, I instantly thought of early piercing personality Jim A. (who’s been featured on SD several times) and his amazing guiche weight that was made to resemble Gauntlet’s iconic logo. In the early days of western piercing the guiche weight was a fairly popular item, but as far as originality and style goes- no one really beat Jim.
Edit: Jim Ward shared this: “Thank you for the kind words. Jim Anderson was a great guy who died too early probably from AIDS. I personally sculpted that fist weight. It was cast in silver, not gold.”
Jim may be inclined to recast these weights if there’s an interest- and there should be!
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)
Location: Crystal Springs, Florida.
Year: Approximately 1988.
A selection of Silver Anchor Body Jewelry fresh from the buffing station.
Items include tapered insertion pins, captive ball rings, barbells, screw on ball rings, stainless steel shackles and guiche weights.