Happy Birthday, Jim Ward!

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It’s such a rare thing in the Body Modification world to be able to legitimately claim to have been the inventor of anything; we take for granted that some things have no definable origins and that if someone says they were the first at anything, there is probably someone somewhere who did it years before them.

Except for Jim Ward.

While Jim didn’t invent body piercing, it’s impossible not to think of him as the architect of body piercing as an industry. Before Jim and his Gauntlet there was no such thing as Professional Body Piercing. It was an underground thing with some practitioners knowing more than others, working discretely out of people’s houses, T&P parties, hotel rooms and the back rooms of Leather shops.

Jim changed everything when he opened the Gauntlet’s first retail location in West Hollywood in November of 1978. He invented the concept of the Body Piercer as a profession. Through trial and error he and his staff which would go on to include such luminaries as Elayne Angel, Paul King, Keith Alexander (Gauntlet NYC) and Jon Cobb (Gauntlet NYC) contributed techniques and standards that would revolutionize the culture of body piercing. His PFIQ would be the blueprint for those of us who document our community (my use of Who’s Who is a direct homage to my favorite section in PFI) and his book RUNNING THE GAUNTLET has become an indispensable tome for people interested in the roots of our culture.

Jim is also a damn nice guy who is very kind and patient to the scores of people who’s influenced, always taking the time to help out when he can by answering our many questions and offering presentations at the APP conference in Las Vegas.

So happy birthday Jim, and thank you for all you’ve done for us.

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Shawn Porter has spent the majority of his life in the modification world. As a body modification archivist and documentarian, he has one of the most extensive collections of documents relating to the early American body modification community in existence. He edited the SPC website from 1995 to 2005, co-founded ModCon, was the host of ModCons 3.5 and 4, and created and hosted The Scarwars Project from 2004-2007. In 2011 Shawn launched Occult Vibrations, a blog devoted to traditional American tattoos with a focus on the occult and esoteric. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his Italian Greyhound, Bailey, and his wife Julia.

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