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”
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.
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.