I was chatting with Blake Perlingieri about Fakir and his impact on the body modification community; Blake is someone who very much embodies the spirit of Fakir’s Modern Primitives and we’re excited that he’s going to be spending some time with Ari for a BSTA interview soon. With that in mind, to celebrate what would have been Fakir’s 88th birthday, I thought this photo of the two of them, borrowed from Nomad’s Instagram account, would be a nice way to remember him.
We tried to do a lot of cleaning up on this video that a friend of Blake’s shot at the APP Conference in Las Vegas a few years back, but the sound just didn’t want to cooperate. Still, it’s worth checking out for those of us who want to soak up as much of our history as possible.
Strange, is it not? that of the myriads who
Before us pass’d the door of Darkness through
Not one returns to tell us of the Road,
Which to discover we must travel too.
Fakir Musafar passed away on August, 1st. There are so many things I could write about him and the lives he touched over the course of his extraordinary career, but right now all I can say is that it was my pleasure to have known him and that I’ll miss him very much.
I am grateful and honored beyond words to have known you-all of you who have been touched by my presence and followed my example-and the dizzying, fun, enlightening, and delightful experience of seeing so many embrace body piercing and body rituals. I never expected our passions and practices to grow to a global phenomenon-that my early visions of Modern Primitives would expand beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you for embracing, growing, and embodying our art, craft, and energetic ritual practices. They have changed the cultural landscape worldwide. May they serve you well in the future. – Fakir Musafar
If you read Sacred Debris often enough (and I sure hope you do) you’ve no doubt seen mentions of nodal points; points of data in a timeline that shine like beacons, who’s influence spreads out, branches and has an intrinsic impact on everything that comes after them.
I’ve also used the phrase “Major Arcana” while discussing luminaries in the body art community- people who’s presence and persona is impossible to separate from the fabric of our subculture.
These concepts intersect with Fakir Musafar; you could individually catalog every nodal point he’s left on the map of body art and each point would represent a major shift in the cultural landscape. You could talk about his early days of self documentation; his relationship with PFIQ/Gauntlet, his participation in the film Dances, Sacred & Profane, his friendship with Charles Gatewood, his connection with Modern Primitives (the book, of course, and the concept) and all of the piercers and body artists who went through the Fakir Intensives- any one of those would be an unimaginably important legacy.
Earlier today Fakir announced that he has been fighting stage four lung cancer since October of 2017 and that his time with us is coming to a close. In his farewell message, which can be read here, Fakir says that he has been honored to have known us. I think I can say with absolute certainly that the privilege has been all ours.
Ari: I always like to kick these off with an introduction, so tell us a little about you, Mama.
Vidra: My introduction to the industry was 1978. I met a gentleman by the name of Linus Herrell and he owned a store in Cleveland called Body Language and that store, how do you explain it? It’s like one of the first alternative bookstores. We didn’t sell any porn, nothing like that, but it had a rubber room and a leather room, where there were all different types of books and little novelties and stuff like that. Also, he had a piercing room. He had magazines like PFIQ, the whole nine yards and I was like, “OK, this is fascinating.” I met him when he was a bartender at one of the little leather bars in Cleveland, in fact the oldest one in Ohio. He had a huge bull’s tether in his septum, and I was just staring at him, because number one it was very attractive and number two I was like, “hmm, how did you do that? How did he get something that thick into his septum?” I asked him a couple of questions. He explained it to me, explained the process of stretching and piercing. When I asked him where do you get something like that done he said he’d gotten work done at the Gauntlet in L.A. by a gentlemen called Jim Ward. That was my first introduction to Gauntlet, and even that was through Linus. He told me about PFIQ and the new shop he’d be opening, etc etc, and then in his psychotic manner he said, “So what are you doing tonight? I get off in two hours.” I said, “eh, probably just going home” and he said, “Well let’s go home and fuck”, and I’m like, “okay.” Now realize back then I was working for a Catholic Church. I was the rectory cook, as well as directing theatre for the deaf and blind and just about any other handicap you can imagine and normal people all on the same stage. It was a lot of work, it was a lot of fun, and I loved doing it. That’s what I did for a living back then. Cooking for a church rectory for the priests and the nuns who ran the Hunger Center in a pretty impoverished area of Cleveland, but it was also the deaf and the blind center for the Diocese of Cleveland. I had worked with almost all types of disabilities really from the time I was 13. Continue reading →
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.
Body Play and Modern Primitives Quarterly, Volume 1 Number 3, 1992. Insight Books, Menlo Park, California. http://bodyplay.com↩
Ari – Sean, I always have everyone do a standard introduction to kick these off, so give us a brief bio.
Sean – I’m old, I’ve been everywhere. Ok, so brief history of Sean in bod-mod. Started with Sadistic Sundays at the video bar in 1990, roughly. I think it was right after high school – I was eighteen. Was doing that for a little bit, was just a Sunday night show type thing, and then left town for a while doing the hippie soul searching whatever, did Ren Fairs for a summer just to get away. When I came back Allen Falkner had moved back to Dallas and he and I became friends. I was hanging out with Allen, helping him paint his first room in his first studio when he was just renting space from a furniture store. He rented a room from them which soon turned into a piercing empire. We hung out for another couple years there in Dallas where I helped him attempt his first suspension, which was fishing line and just a ton of piercings. It was absolutely horrible. It lasted like three seconds – the fishing line started to snag and pull through because it was so thin. We look at it now like what the hell were we thinking? But you experiment, you figure shit out. At that time Fakir wasn’t as willing to share the suspension information with Allen; he did later, so until then there was a lot of us just looking at videos and guessing. Continue reading →
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 →
When Blake Perlingieri opened the original NOMAD location in San Francisco in the Summer of 1993 it became the go-to shop for large gauge tribal inspired body piercing. The shop’s aesthetic- from it’s decor, organic jewelry options and young piercers and the experimental work they were doing- was an explosive 180° from the established piercing culture that came before it and along with Blake’s early appearances in Body Play helped refine the Modern Primitive look.
I met Star as the tattooed lady at a San Mateo carnival 10-in-1 show back in 1975. She was also the magician’s girl in the sword box. We connected then and were friends for some 15 years afterward. We did a few shows together and also took pictures in my garage studio with my bed of nails. Stars was a “biker’s girl” and later moved to Florida. I pierced her genitals and she appears in early Gauntlet photo shoots. ~ Fakir Musafar
My buddy Scott recently discovered a few vintage photos of Fakir Musafar and his friend Star in the collection of Bob Hanson and was kind enough to send them over to Sacred Debris.
Star appeared on the cover of the inaugural color issue of PFIQ 1 photographed by Fakir.
PFIQ #15. The previous fourteen issues featured illustrated cover art, primarily by Bud Larsen. Issue #15 also contained a tribute to Ethel Granger by Fakir and an article on Carl Carroll who’s bisected penis appeared in Modern Primitives. ↩