In late August, 2018, I presented a multimedia discussion for the members of Death Party Philadelphia with the catchy title of “Where do we go when we die?” The group, some three years old now, hosts monthly events relating to death positivity 1 and death adjacent subject matter so I worked my particular niche (the presentation may have alluded to me being a one trick pony) into it by discussing human taxidermy of tattooed skin and the fluid concept of “forever” when it comes to the human body. The central focus of the discussion were photographs and video from museums and institutions that house and exhibit preserved, tattooed, human skin- the Wellcome Collection, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN), Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum and Japan’s famous Medical Pathology Museum at Tokyo University were represented alongside pop culture ephemera and some deep dives into the semiotics of tattoo culture. Continue reading “Where do we go when we die?”→
The class schedule and registration portal for the 2018 Association of Professional Piercers annual Conference and Expo has gone live, and with only four months until showtime attendees are no doubt weighing the plusses and minuses of each offering to fully maximize their time in Las Vegas.
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”→
Paul King is so handsome it takes a continued effort not to rip the skin off my own face.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s be frank; Paul is a motherfucking national treasure. I honestly don’t know if I can write a proper introduction without it slipping into something so masturbatory that becomes unreadable, so I’ll just say that he is one of the most revered and respected people in this industry, and deserving of every bit of that. We spoke about Paul’s introduction to body piercing, some of the Master Piercers, cultural appropriation, and the Body Piercing Archives. Don’t forget after all of this to reach out and thank Paul for being who he is, saying what he says, and doing what he does. Also, while you’re at it, thank him for being really, really hot.
Ari- I always have everyone do the standard introductions, so tell us your name and how long you’ve been piercing and where you’re currently at.
Paul- My name is Paul King and I’ve been a professional body piercer since 1991. I was inspired and trained at a company called the Gauntlet; it was the first piercing shop in the Western world. I served a one-and-a-half-year apprenticeship under Elayne Angel. I then went on to manage Gauntlet Los Angeles, worked in the San Francisco store, and also managed Gauntlet New York. Gauntlet closed in 1998. In 1999, Grant Dempsey and I (Dempsey of Cold Steel International in London), opened up two tattooing and piercing shops in San Francisco called Cold Steel America (www.coldsteelpiercing.com). One was in the old San Francisco Gauntlet location, the other was in the upper Haight. We briefly attempted to do wholesale and decided to open in 2001. You can imagine how well that went. Wholesale didn’t last so long. So after that we parted ways in 2008. He was moving to Australia with his family and I was heading back to school. We let go of the Market street location, and I now have one shop on Haight street in the old Haight-Ashbury district. Continue reading “BSTA: Paul King”→
We’ve gotten a lot of great responses to the year end/new year reader survey; I appreciate everyone who’s taken the time to fill it out (though I selfishly wish I would have made more of the questions mandatory- dang skippers) and share their thoughts about the past, present and future direction of the project.
The data is still coming in but looking at what’s currently available it seems that folks want to see the middle school era of modern body modification given a little more attention; the early-mid 1990s were a time of incredible growth and progress for the piercing and modification community and the artists that make up that phase- which I would argue was irrevocably changed in 1995- were a fascinating and influential group who have done as much to shape the future of the body piercing industry as the pioneers that came before them. We’re going to be selectively highlighting piercers who made an impact during the 1990s, as time, materials and resources permit, so let me know (via the survey, link above, or email [email protected]) who you may be interested in seeing featured on the blog.
We’ll start with Paul King.
Piercing since 1991, trained by Elayne Angel and a veteran of three Gauntlet locations before opening his own Piercing and Tattoo Studio 1 Paul was described as a ‘piercing nerd’ by BME’s Shannon Larratt in 2003 2 and has become a ‘can’t miss’ presenter at the annual APP Conference and Exposition, focusing on historic and contemporary body modification from an academic and community point of view.
The photograph above, featuring cult actor Udo Kier and Paul, dates back to 1993 and was taken by noted celebrity photographer Greg Gorman 3 who contacted the L.A. Gauntlet looking for play piercing services for the photoshoot with Udo.
As Paul tells it, Greg thought that play piercing meant fake piercing, unaware that in the piercing community it meant temporary piercing with (usually) smaller gauge needles. Paul told told them “how embarrassing that would be…for street cred we should do real play piercing…bad ass Udo went for it! cheeks, eyebrows, the works!” and proceeded to actually pierce Udo for the photoshoot.
Again, thanks to everyone who’s shared their thoughts on the direction Sacred is going to take in the coming year, and if you haven’t completed the survey- Sacred Debris Content Survey 2015/2016.
“definitely a guy who I’d call a “piercing nerd” — someone who can go on and on about it and is interested in every little silly piece of trivia on the subject. Given that’s how I’d also describe myself, and given that it’s so hard for any one person to get a real picture of this community (so much of it is still oral history), it was wonderful to be able to assimilate his stories…” Source: BME Encyclopedia Paul King Entry. ↩
Greg Gorman (b. 1949, Kansas City, Missouri) is a renowned portrait photographer, who has shot Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Michael Jackson and many others in his signature black-and-white. “For me a photograph is most successful when it doesn’t answer all the questions,” says Gorman, “but leaves something to the imagination”. Source: Sleek-art.net. ↩