BSTA: Blake Perlingieri

Ari – Let’s start this off with your introduction to Fakir.

Blake – I got a hold of the ReSearch book in 1989 and it blew me away. Obviously it was the only cultural document at the time for an emerging subculture. There’s a lot of stuff in the book I was “meh” on but Fakir’s chapter really grabbed me. I was already piercing my friends in San Diego; people would go up to LA Gauntlet and buy a needle and barbell and I’d do them up in the park under a tree. My band had finally gotten signed and I came to this crossroad where I really wanted to do something meaningful and I knew I had a lot of learning to do so I quit the band and rolled up to San Francisco. The first time I went up there there was Body Manipulations – they were the first piercing studio in the area, they opened before Gauntlet. I went up and peeked at Body M and didn’t really know who they were but I recognized that the handsome guy out front leaning on his motorcycle having a cigarette was Vaughn. I knew he was the guy from the ReSearch book. I ended up making a couple of trips to San Francisco. My folks took me to the Gauntlet in the Castro and I went in, walked upstairs, and it was the first piercing shop I had ever been in. The term “piercer” didn’t exist yet – you were just a guy who did piercings at this time. I walked up and I said, “hey, my name is Blake and I am looking for Fakir and maybe some earrings!” I got the biggest attitude from the guy behind the counter. He didn’t even have visible piercings! He says “well we don’t have any jewelry in your size, honey.” I was like, “alright, fuck you,” and I started to walk out when I hear Fakir say “excuse me young man, I can help you!” I turn around and there he is with a porcupine quill in his septum. I just looked at him and told him he was the reason I came – but that I felt like this wasn’t a very welcoming place for me. At the time this was either summer or late 1990. Fakir took me to lunch. He put his arm around me and said, “well I have never seen the likes of you, young man., Tell me your story!” At the time I had 2” earlobes with huge dreadlocks- just a jungle kid from Southern California. How weird to walk into my first piercing shop to have some guy with no visible piercings be a dick to me. I was put off from the beginning. I didn’t consider myself professional at this time – I had only done genital and septum work. I had never done a nostril or navel. The stuff I was doing on my friends was all “Genesis P-Orridge” genitalia aesthetic. Fakir and I had an immediate connection and I told him I wanted to be a piercer. The first thing he said was, “well you sure don’t want to work at the Gauntlet, trust me.” I think we ate at Cafe Du Nord and it felt like I was coming home so to speak; he was just so welcoming. This is twenty-nine years ago. He literally says, “I think you’re doing something completely unique.” I didn’t understand his historical importance yet, I just intuitively knew he was the Granddaddy and if I was going to start a career I was going to go to the source. That’s a value that doesn’t exist anymore. There is a tattoo school is Vegas that cost $40,000 and guarantees you an internet following by the time you graduate, and you’ve only done like one tattoo. It shows you how ass backwards this culture is. The thing Fakir instilled in me in our first meeting – there were no personalities then, all I was was just a jungle kid, there was Gauntlet and Body M, that’s it for the whole US; there was no measure of what other people were doing. My experience at Gauntlet was very telling- Im sure they all had 00g PAs but they didn’t have the look I wanted to be a part of or was already doing, the things my grandmother introduced me to on her world travels. Continue reading “BSTA: Blake Perlingieri”

Atavist: Viking Navaro

Without a doubt, one of my favorite ‘personalities’ from the 1970s/80s era of the Western body modification revival was A. Viking Navaro; the “nom de kink” of a Southern California professor who’s appearance in an early issue of PFIQ, complete with photos by Fakir Musafar, was one of the earliest examples of a modern primitive.

You can see more of Viking Navaro here on Sacred Debris, and in the new SD print zine Nodal Points, available May 2019 from Hex Appeal.

Uncovered: PFIQ 12

Annie Sprinkle documented her side of Fakir Musafar’s 1982 visit to NYC in Velvet Talks magazine, with Fakir’s story to be published in issue #12 of PFIQ. With a cover provided by illustrator Bud Larsen, Fakir’s article and photographs join the first appearance of The Incredible Til of Cardiff and the Pierce with a Pro: Clitoris tutorial in issue 12.

PFIQ is © Gauntlet Enterprises.
Issue 12 can sometimes be found on eBay.

Uncovered: Velvet Talks June 1982

The Golden Age of adult cinema 1 (and it’s siblings, adult magazines) was, despite it’s often lurid and prurient content, conservative. It traded in archetype- the perky blonde, the intense brunette, the fiery redhead-all American good looks and not much in the way of self-expression. When you did see a tattoo, it was small or discrete. Performers with large tattoos were anomalous, 2 with producers fearing that it would ruin the “girl next door” fantasy that their 8mm loops (the VHS tapes) promised.

Being tattooed or pierced was subversive in a subversive genre. Continue reading “Uncovered: Velvet Talks June 1982”

Notes:

  1. The Golden Age of Porn: 1969-1984. Wikipedia
  2. Stephanie Green, aka Viper.

Uncovered: In the Flesh V1

Before the 1989 release of RE/Search Publications’ seminal book Modern Primitives, body piercing/modification documentation fell on the shoulders of a very small group of people. PFIQ,  Piercing World, BODY ART– by Jim Ward/Gauntlet, Pauline Clarke/PAUK and Henry Ferguson and Lynn Proctor, respectively- were niche periodicals for a niche subculture that had incredibly limited distribution. For better or for worse, you had to know you wanted it to find it.

The tattoo magazines that ruled the mass market newsstand shelves may have occasionally featured photos of pierced tattoo collectors and artists, but they generally didn’t talk about the piercings themselves. Modern Primitives represents a pretty significant nodal point for the cultural shift of mainstreaming body piercing, suspension and even surgical modification; photos of New Zealand resident Carl Carrol’s bisected penis being available to anyone who walked into a Barnes and Noble marks a pretty major shift from the procedure’s “fringe within a fringe” past.

Inspired by the success of Modern Primitives, and no doubt an attempt to get ahead of the zeitgeist, OB Enterprises (the publishers of Outlaw Biker and Outlaw Biker Tattoo Revue 1) released the premiere issue of In the Flesh magazine in 1992. From the introduction:

A few years back Re/Search Publications printed a wonderful book entitled “Modern Primitives“. This magazine, In the Flesh, is meant to continue on where they left off. Each issue (provided you buy enough of this first issue to make it worth our while to do it all again) will explore ancient and modern body/mind modifications. Future issues will include articles on ritual and magic, Neo-Paganism, body building, strange food, cross dressing, gender bending, tattooing, scarification, virtual reality, subliminal learning, smart drugs and yes, more piercing info. Feel free to jump on in and send us your suggestions about other topics we should cover.

With gender bending, scarification, and a woman of color on the cover, the premiere issue of In the Flesh stood out among the other biker oriented tattoo magazines, no doubt as a result of editor Michelle Delio’s guidance.

The first issue featured midwest piercers (Mad)Jack and Anna Kaplan, Barbara Pierce and branding by Florice and an iconic interview with Cliff Cadaver. Further tying it to Modern Primitives, it also features an interview with, and content from, Jim Ward.

While Modern Primitives crossed over into pop culture/academic/kink territory (with a book being more highbrow, even for the lowbrow) In the Flesh had newsstand distribution and a much lower price point at $4.95 a copy, which no doubt had a democratizing affect. Ease of purchase, low cost- younger piercing fans had much quicker access to the material and among the middle school era of piercers is often mentioned as a direct influence.

Copies of In the Flesh occasionally show up on eBay close to their original cover price.

 

 

 

Notes:

  1. Though strangely, the premiere issue of In the Flesh had it presented by OB Enterprise’s Tattoos By Women.

Queen of Hearts

I first saw photos of Cathy- dubbed Queen of Hearts- in Fakir Musafar’s seminal Body Play & Modern Primitives Quarterly 1At the time of the article her laced measurements were an astounding 39″- 15″- 39″ putting her on par with the legendary Ethel Granger with her progress; in fact she would appear in that issue photographed in one of Ethel’s 15″ corsets.

She began lacing in 1959 and by by the time of publication was wearing a corset or training belt day and night without breaks.

While attending the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party tattoo event in the late 1990s I ran into Cathy and asked her if I could take a few photographs for BME; none of which came out especially well, but hey, Mapplethorpe I’m not.

Notes:

  1. Body Play and Modern Primitives Quarterly, Volume 1 Number 3, 1992. Insight Books, Menlo Park, California. http://bodyplay.com 

Uncovered: PFIQ Issue 4

The early issues of any print publication go a long way towards defining their overall visual identity; what makes it “it” is honed by the editor’s choice in orchestrating the entire finished product which includes deciding on what you could consider is the most important aspect- the design of the front cover.

Early PFIQ issues, edited by Jim Ward, favored illustrated covers with art primarily provided by Bud Larsen, but with issue four the duties were handled by an illustrator named, simply, Ronin. I did a little digging and couldn’t really find out anything about him, but you have to appreciate Jim’s decision to feature an all female trio of cover “models” in a time where the body piercing demographic heavily skewed towards gay males. While the documentation of the early days of the western piercing scene is, by availability, often very one sided, Jim always featured as diverse a lineup as contributions would allow in PFIQ.

Issue #4 featured a “Who’s Who” article on Alan Oversby, AKA Mister Sebastian.

 

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.

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.

 

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 “BSTA: Mark Seitchik”