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.
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.
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.