You don’t need 2″ ears and a full black bodysuit to do that. The origins of our art form is tribal so that really only need exist in your heart. And you have to honor the traditions of our collective human mythology by incorporating tribal consciousness as well as aesthetics into what we do. – Blake Perlingieri, 2004
When I first saw a photo of Blake Perlingieri in Fakir Musafar’s BODY PLAY in 1991 the majority of people I knew in the piercing scene were decades older than me. My piercing elders would gently caution me against stretching my earlobes (despite me having 1/2″ nipple piercings and a meatotomy) for fear of public exposure and most of the clients of Jack Yount I was introduced to assumed I was his grandson not his friend and mentee. Aside from my brother, Brian Skellie and a few others the idea of a young, heavily tattooed and pierced person was generally considered a novelty in my community. Blake was only a few years older than me. He had 2″ earlobes (at that point mine were probably a humble 1/2″ or so) and tattoos that weren’t off-the-wall flash jobs that were there to prove you could be tattooed while saying nothing about the person wearing them. His photos assured me that the cultural shift that Jack had been telling me about- the old guard making room for the new generation- was coming.
Sure enough the “Nomad” aesthetic championed by Blake and his business partner Kristian White had as big of an impact on piercing culture as the Gauntlet/Leather aesthetic had on the previous generation. Mega-stretched lobes, instant large labret plugs and most significantly supersized cartilage piercing.. all of that comes from the Nomad lineage.
These days it’s impossible to keep up with the flood of new piercers; bright stars with a flashy Instagram “presence” who come and go from the industry and who all to often take as much as they can without leaving anything behind, but for the Middle School era piercers- we have an obligation to put ourselves on pause and listen to what they have to say. Blake’s 2015 talk at the APP Conference in Las Vegas was a breath of fresh air for long time conference goers and this 2004 talk is a great primer for those of you who came into piercing in the 2000s.
The audio on this clip is a little problematic- I’m told that it’s better if you listen to it with headphones- but we’re working on a cleaner restoration. In the mean time, hopefully this version will give a glimpse into the mind of one of the most influential piercers of his generation.
Body Play and Modern Primitives Quarterly © Fakir Musafar.