In 2001 I traveled to Phoenix, Az to meet and record an oral history with PFIQ/Drummer artist Bud Larsen. The experience was doomed to failure and for the last 14 years I’ve considered the tape containing the history to be lost.
Late last week, while sorting and organizing tapes from that period I discovered that it wasn’t lost, just misfiled. The tape represents a very rare conversation with Bud and has been put to the head of the queue for archival and preservation. It was shot as a backup so the camera is not set up ‘interview’ style, but the content will hopefully make up for the lack of video when it’s finally ready.
Thirty-one years ago, before the piercing scene evolved into the piercing industry the term piercer had a much looser definition than it does today. Over time it's come to represent someone who's served a formal apprenticeship and has spent years honing their craft; who's taken advanced learning opportunities like Intensives and technique classes at the annual APP Conference and Expo, someone who can discuss sterility at a level that would humble a physician, and who can absorb knowledge from their peers as freely and easily as they share it with the generation of piercers who’ve come after them.
When this video was filmed, being a piercer meant you poked people with needles so they'd have shiny nipples and genitals, and tried to do it as safely as possible.
Finding a professional piercer back then was easy, since there were only a small handful in the world. But unless you lived in California (where the Gauntlet was located) or were part of a group like the Leather/SM culture, having easy access to a true professional piercer simply wasn't an option. So sometimes you had to make do.
Today's piercers would be horrified to find photo illustrated step by step instructions for an ampallang or clitoris piercing- but 30 years ago they were made readily available in PFIQ- who's PIERCE WITH A PRO feature covered almost every basic (and some advanced) piercing imaginable and went on to spawn several instructional videos.
Some knowledge was deemed to be better than none. So was the case with 'A Safe Guide to Professional Piercing' featuring piercing by Jack Yount (then going by Mr. J) and filmed by Sailor Sid Diller. Out of context this video looks like anything but professional piercing- highly sexualized, a lack of sterility and technique that will make you cringe- but one has to consider the time (gloves weren't commonly worn in 1984) it was filmed and the community that both Jack and Sid were part of (the highly sexual gay leather scene) to fully contextualize the footage.
The tape was distributed to piercers on Sid's correspondence list who were primarily working in leather shops or home studios.
As with all of our archival content, this video contains outdated piercing and aseptic technique and should not be considered a how-to.
I still haven’t heard back from the student who’s research request I helped out on so I figured I’d drop another scan that I did from the information I provided to her.
Body Art magazine was UK based publication that ran 23 issues from 1988-1996.
Unlike PFIQ (which focused almost exclusively on body piercing) or the tattoo magazines of the time, Body Art was more free-form, covering piercing, tattooing, surgical modification, hair/makeup/clothing and more.
I was putting a bunch of material together for an academic research request on ‘women in early western body modification’ this week which included this scan from PFIQ#31 (1988) featuring side art by the late Bud Larsen.
The demographics in the 70s/80s skewed towards males (primarily gay males) but going back through the old PFIQs while gathering up information, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of female representation included. Issue 31 was almost 50/50 with female and male piercing content including a wonderful photoshoot featuring Krystine Kolorful by legendary photographer Diane Mansfield.
As I told the researcher (who I’ll ask to share her final project with SD readers) the early days were much more dialed into sexuality than aesthetics, so most of the representation was (pleasantly celebrating) sex positive which made the older issues a lot more fun than the later ones in my opinion.
When the modification world was much smaller and technology not yet a common tool for instantaneous global communication, trading video tapes through the mail was one of the easiest ways to keep in touch with your modified friends. For the price of a camcorder (which in the 1980s could be as much as $900) you retained a higher level of anonymity and safety; there are some of us who still get chills up our spines thinking about taking a roll of film containing a bloody subincision or castration procedure into the local drug store, having to find a connection to develop the film for fear of exposure or worse.
They brought to life- with color and sound- the modified wonders that had appeared in magazines like PFIQ, Piercing World and Body Art and allowed a community that felt alone, spread all over the world, to feel connected.
Jack Yount and Sailor Sid Diller were both passionate about corresponding with other body modification devotees, keeping their friends the world over up to date with what was going on in the scene. These tapes were snapshots of a very specific part of the early piercing community.
This one features Jack- in a rare PG rated appearance, talking about Pauline Clarke’s newly launched Piercing World Magazine, the current issue of PFIQ and a funny conversation with some South Florida auto-mechanics.