Tag Archives: interview

BSTA: Paul King

Paul 1995 photo by Christine Kessler.

Masterpierce Theatre: Paul King

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

Hilary and Dana. Photo © Roger Doe 2013

Red(head) in Tooth and Claw
A night shmoozing with the sweetest hooker in the biz.

Dana and I actually talked about how nice Dana is. Renowned not just for his piercing and suspension work, but for being all around such a fucking nice guy. From his early come-ups in California to veering off into being one of the most notable suspension practitioners, taking his skills all over the world at suscons, Dana is truly one of those old heads that’s seen some dynamic shifts the industry has taken and rolled with the punches. We sat down to talk about his introduction to suspension, the ebb of ritual, and why age helps lock down the sweet spot of professionalism in the piercing room.

Ari – Let’s do the really generic usual intro, except I want you to do it for both piercing and suspension.

Dana – The beginning of my piercing career was pretty straightforward, I was able to start an apprenticeship and attend the Gauntlet beginning training seminars the second year I believe they were offered, 1993. I don’t remember if it was the second year or not. I took the Gauntlet seminars at 17. Sharrin was running the seminar, Sharrin from the NY Gauntlet, she was a real awesome old school Psychic TV head. I “never really finished my apprenticeship” according to Jerry Metzler (Shiva) but as far as all purposes were concerned I was piercing full time by myself, with Julian Ganesha in and out of the shop because he had another full time job to pay his bills. This was in Fresno at a shop called Spear of Shiva. In 1999 I made the move to San Diego to work at Superfly, and then got an offer to move up to Portland and I was there for a few years. My introduction to suspension started a little bit more in 1999/2000, when I got involved with the San Diego crew, and once I got to Portland it was really heavy, I moved to Portland, walked into doing performances once a month at Fetish Night for five or six years straight. Continue reading

King of the Hiller: A night reprocessing good memories with Warren Hiller.

Warren is undoubtedly one of the most positive people I’ve spoken with. His idealism is pretty refreshing in a field where most of us are grumpy as fuck. His insight into the community, not just in the early Toronto piercing scene but as well as the early information share boom occurring on BME, should sate any piercing geeks curiosity on the subjects. We spoke at length about what it was like to babysit 400+ piercers, the teachings of Tom Brazda, and why we all deserve our day in the sun. Continue reading

Sens and Sensibility: A romantic chat with Jim Sens



Jim Sens is one of the genuinely sweetest guys you’ll ever meet.  Like almost too sweet.  Suspiciously sweet.  Like, “Who the fuck is this guy?  Why is he so nice?  Who told him he could be so nice?”  Jim has been a notable figure on the scene for quite some time now, being a big proponent of the early surface bar movement, and also for his breakneck speed with a needle.  Jim has essentially taken the High Priestess Campus location to one of the most high volume shops in the country with his personality and skills.  We recently sat down to talk about the midwest, the surface bar, and picking glue out of his penis.Ari- Ok bud, so give ahead, give it a whirl, do the introduction.

Jim Sens- Hi, I’m Jim, I’ve been piercing for a bit over 18 years, and I’ve been working at High Priestess for the last 10.  I’ve worked at a variety of big name studios before that. I started out piercing at a studio in St Cloud, Minnesota, called Cloud 9 Tattoo.  Before that I worked counter at a studio that isn’t around anymore called The Dark Side in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Continue reading

Two piercings one barbell post: An evening with Gregg Marchessault

Gregg, in my opinion, has always been a piercer worth watching – and not just in a creepy, webcam sort of way, but in the way that an eighteen year titan with a metric fuckton of creativity can’t help but captivate anyone actually interested in piercing.  Even if they can’t pronounce his last name, piercers across the board universally appreciate his ingenuity, which in my opinion has not only influenced modern piercers but also modern jewelry.  Amidst a sea of black arms and olive debates, people who can stand out on a technical and innovative level, and continue to push the momentum of this industry are always worth paying attention to.  So I called Gregg to talk about his industrial work, working with other piercers, and why we’re all fucked once we get older.

Continue reading

Hi, I’m New Here.

jewelry from Anatometal

jewelry from Anatometal

I’m interested in a lot of things, some of which are: permanence, metamorphosis, control, carnival history, jewelry and value.  Today, right now, right this minute, and for the rest of forever, I’m specifically interested in otherness and adornment.  For me, these things converge and make up a large portion of my identity.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this were something that was felt by most people:  feelings of alienation, due to a certain sense of self, are commonalities that many people have with one another.  But we don’t talk about it, well, not unless we know the other person feels that way.  For me, the drive to become heavily modified is an integral part to who I am as a person.  I knew this before I was old enough to understand what any of it meant.  I knew it when I was in elementary school.  I remember the precise moment that I knew, too. The person who showed me what it was, had no idea what he did. He probably didn’t even know I existed. If I saw that same punk rocker today, I know I could point him out.  He had a HUGE septum piercing.. or, what’s what it looked like at the time. I knew that was what I wanted.  Without saying a word, he told me that what I knew I needed to do was okay.  On that day, everything changed.  I knew where I was headed and I knew that there were other people out there who would understand me… I also knew that because I lived around a bunch of rich white people in the middle of suburbia, that it’d be a really long time until I was able to really find any of them.

I got into body modification a little late in the game as far as the contemporary American body modification timeline is concerned.  Hell, when The Gauntlet  started in the mid 70s, I wasn’t even born yet.  I might be taking a big leap here, but I’d identify myself as a part of the last group of people who got into this before it got trendy.  Maybe some of you who came long before my time would disagree, but, I’ll say this:  I’m fucking dedicated to this lifestyle.  My life and livelihood, much of my education and my career as a maker is rooted in this culture and this identity.  It’s not a choice, well, not for me.  Sure, it’s a choice to step into a tattoo shop.  I get that.  But the internal drive is not a choice.

A few years back I remember reading a blog post by Shannon Larratt, the creator of BMEzine.  He compared the desire to become heavily modified with being gay.  Later, I interviewed Shannon as part of my research for my MFA thesis work and he kind of turned on the statement.  He stated, “I still think there’s a place for this idea, but because of how much society has changed — I don’t think anyone ever expected things to grow this large or this mainstream – it would be a little different in nature. In some ways we are a victim of our success. The sort of people who’d want to be a part of such a commune in the past needed protection from the mainstream unmodded society — now they also need protection from the mainstream modded society! We have very much fallen prey to gentrification.”  On one hand, I agree with his statement because we have become so big.  But on the other, I know that what he said in the past is true, because I still feel it.

I question the sincerity of the masses who have joined this community (if it can be called a “community” anymore) and I wonder what happened to earning your place within it.  That’s an argument that I remember seeing often in many of the IAM/BME forums:  What is the difference between those who have manipulated their body to the point of it seriously effecting their ability to navigate through mainstream society and those who choose to only have an earlobe piercing?  They have both chosen a form of modification, so, what makes them different?  I certainly am not stating that one form of permanent or semi permanent adornment/modification is better than the other – it’s an individual choice.  However, I would argue that they are different and that the more extreme of those examples is driven by an internal force that is not felt by the masses.  I’m not sure what the line is or how to articulate precisely where it’s drawn.  What I can say for sure is that I know the line when I see it.

So, why does this question matter?  I think it matters because it all boils down to identity within our greater culture.  Adornment is a part of our individual identities – if we don’t express it in a form of modification, then it’s expressed in another way: the clothes we wear, any jewelry that we leave on and often forget about (like a wedding ring or small cross necklace), the cut and color that we choose for our hair, etc,.  This aspect of each of our lives in inescapable and because of that, we should be considering it on the daily.

So, I wanted to share the private e-mail interview that Shannon was kind enough to grant me as a part of my first post here at Sacred Debris – even when he was feeling shitty, Shannon responded to me. He hoped to contribute to the academic sphere with regard to body modification.  This was the last time I ever communicated with him.  Despite knowing each other for years, we were never the best of friends, but, it is because of him that I’m married to my husband, that I have many of the friends that I do, and so many memories of an amazing community that has since dispersed.  The community he built with us helped me to gain the confidence to do what I knew was right for me and it allowed me to find my footing.  He got one thing right for sure, we have certainly grown.

Shannon Larratt [email protected]

9/7/12

to me
 R:  How old are you?  Where were you born?
S:  I was born September 29, 1973 in Victoria, British Columbia.
R:  Where can people find you online or in other print publications?
S:  (I think that’s obvious)
R:  What made you first get into body modification?
S:  A combination of nature and nurture, I assume. Because I started expressing a body modification drive at a young age, in a rural environment, far away from any outside influences and before a body modification industry even existed, I can only assume that I’m wired for it on some level. I’m sure it helped that my mother grew up in South Africa and we had various books on African body art in our home library, and that my father had a tattoo that he’d won in the sixties in a wrestling competition.
R:  What do you think your position is in the body modification community?

S:  I’d always thought of myself as a sort of historian or amateur anthropologist or even just journalist, but then someone told me that my role is “catalyst”. That is, to bring about change in others. To start fires in people. I liked that a lot and thought it was quite apt, because I haven’t just documented the world of body modification and body play — I’ve also promoted it and done everything I could to help it grow, and to guide it in that growth.

R:  Why did you start BME and IAM?  When you started them, what were they?  Since you are no longer directly affiliated (please correct me if I’m incorrect here), from your perspective, are they still functioning in the same way today?

S:  I started BME because I wanted to share what I was doing, to find other people like me, and I wanted to change the world so that the things that made me an outsider became normal. I wanted to create an space where people could safely express themselves in a positive and uplifting manner. In the decade and a half that I ran BME, it never veered from that. IAM was BME’s community arm, originally started so that I and others would have a place to blog.

To be honest, the biggest changes in BME are due to culture as a whole changing.

R:  What do you think about the body modification community now?  Is it a community?  Why or why not?

S:  Yes, body modification is still a community, but in a different way than it was ten years ago, because it’s much, much larger and sits in a different — and broader — demographic space.

R:  Quite a while ago, I remember you writing about starting a modification commune where modified people could live together, almost like a tribe.  What was the fuel for this idea?  Is it still something you want to pursue?  What would be the benefits?

S:  I still think there’s a place for this idea, but because of how much society has changed — I don’t think anyone ever expected things to grow this large or this mainstream — it would be a little different in nature. In some ways we are a victim of our success. The sort of people who’d want to be a part of such a commune in the past needed protection from the mainstream unmodded society — now they also need protection from the mainstream modded society! We have very much fallen prey to gentrification.

R:  How do you think being a heavily modified individual is viewed by people who do not participate in body modification?

S:  That’s very difficult for me to answer. I have very little affinity for the “normal” person.

R:  Do you think making permanent changes to your body is significant?  Why or why not?

S:  Altering your physical form makes the statement that you control your destiny and your physical being. Redefining what you are is an essential part of the transcendent human experience.

R:  How do you think commitment plays into body modification?

S:  I think that’s different for everyone. The popularity of tattoo removal and the reversal of stretched ears and so on shows that a great many people getting involved with body modification did it with minimal foresight or understanding of the level of commitment they were signing up for.

R:  Do you believe alienation plays a role in body modification?  Either as an instigator, a result or both?

S:  Probably. But I think that focusing on things like this can distract from the larger meaning and worse, create a stereotype.

R:  Do you think people who modify themselves are looking to be seen as a spectacle?

S:  I’m sure some people are. Others aren’t. I think that reflects on the person’s individual personality rather than anything universal to body modification. And again, I think that focusing on things like this risks creating a stereotype.

R:  Quite a while ago, I remember you writing something along the lines of modification being compared to being gay or straight.  If my recollection is somewhat accurate, can you talk about this comparison?

S:  I don’t know if this is as true as it was in the past, because these days a broader set of people are drawn to body modification because of how popular it is as a fashion, but I believe that the body modification drive is as hardwired as sexuality is. There has been some research showing that there is a “cutter” gene — people who express their emotions through body play that is — and I suspect that’s the tip of the genetic iceberg on this question.

R:  You share a lot of images and stories related to body modification online.  Why do you do this?

S:  I think this is answered in your question about why I created BME.

END OF INTERVIEW

With regard to any future posts that I make here at Sacred Debris, y’all can probably expect a more academic (not to be confused with dry) approach to the posts about many of the things that I stated earlier that interest me.  I hope they interest you, too.  I don’t know how often I’ll post, but I’ll try my best to put something up as often as I can.  I really love what Shawn is doing here – I think it’s important, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

 

 


1964426_779778552052022_74016072_nRachel Timmins earned her MFA in Studio Art (Metals Concentration) in December 2012 and her BFA in Metal/Jewelry Design with a Minor in Sculpture from Buffalo State College in 2009. Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions both nationally and internationally in venues like the National Gallery of Victoria, Snyderman-Works Gallery, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, the Design Museum London and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Rachel’s work can be seen in many publications such as Unexpected Pleasures published by Rizzoli Publications, Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective published by Lark Books and Jewel Book: International Annual of Contemporary Jewel Art published by Stitchting Kunst Boek. She can be found lecturing on her work and other related topics as well as giving workshops across the United States at various institutions and universities. Rachel lives in Baltimore, MD, where she often teaches at the Maryland Institute college of art. She resides with her pug, three cats and husband, Matt. To see Rachel’s work, please visit: www.racheltimmins.com