Tag Archives: Jim Ward

London 1978

We arrived at Heathrow on Tuesday, March 7th for a week in London prior to moving on to the Continent. Our main reason for this lengthy stay was in order to spend some quality time with Alan Oversby, better know in piercing and tattoo circles as Mr. Sebastian. We also wanted to meet as many other British piercing enthusiasts as possible. -Jim Ward. 1

Among the piercing enthusiasts present during Jim Ward, Sailor Sid and Elizabeth Weinzirl’s 1978 visit to London, England was this gentleman. His septum was pierced but wasn’t stretched; this bone was a gaff. You can read more about Jim’s trip to London in Running the Gauntlet, available here.

Uncovered: PFIQ Issue 4

The early issues of any print publication go a long way towards defining their overall visual identity; what makes it “it” is honed by the editor’s choice in orchestrating the entire finished product which includes deciding on what you could consider is the most important aspect- the design of the front cover.

Early PFIQ issues, edited by Jim Ward, favored illustrated covers with art primarily provided by Bud Larsen, but with issue four the duties were handled by an illustrator named, simply, Ronin. I did a little digging and couldn’t really find out anything about him, but you have to appreciate Jim’s decision to feature an all female trio of cover “models” in a time where the body piercing demographic heavily skewed towards gay males. While the documentation of the early days of the western piercing scene is, by availability, often very one sided, Jim always featured as diverse a lineup as contributions would allow in PFIQ.

Issue #4 featured a “Who’s Who” article on Alan Oversby, AKA Mister Sebastian.

 

BSTA: Mic Rawls


Mic Rawls is like a portal into one of the greatest times in history. Coming in through with extraordinary beginnings, he’s a shining example that you can enjoy a hearty tenure in piercing while still radiating positivity. Mic took time away from holding down the fort at one of the best shops in the country to talk about his time with Jon Cobb, what it takes to keep your love of piercing strong, and to reminisce on the early stages of the APP conference.


Ari – I always have everyone do the introduction, give us your name and how long you’ve been working in the industry for and where you’re currently at.

Mic – My name is Mic Rawls, I am currently at Cold Steel America in San Francisco, I’ve happily been here as manager for the last ten and senior piercer for the last 18 years at this shop.  I’ve been piercing 23 years this last month, which is rad, still loving it (most days of it!). Continue reading

BSTA: Mark Seitchik

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

Experience Jim Ward

I can’t remember what the first question I ever asked Jim Ward was; I’m sure it was three in the morning and I was going through a stack of photos and needed to identify the subject in a print and saw that Jim was active online so I shot a quick message out (or any number of other “Jim, do you have a second?” scenarios that have come up since then) without really appreciating how blessed and privileged I- and we as a piercing community- was to be able to have Jim around to help bring the early years of our communal history to life.

I’m certainly appreciative of it now though. Jim is infinitely patient and engaging with those of us who are passionate about modern body piercing and it’s history. For years I’ve been an evangelist for his book RUNNING THE GAUNTLET, (which you can pick up here) because it allows folks who were too young to experience Jim’s era of piercing a window in; piercers who weren’t born when Jim hung up his needles and retired from being a professional body piercer. But the crew at 23rd Street Body Piercing have upped the ante, inviting Jim Ward to spend a few days in November at their shop, offering one on one visits with one of the most important figures in the history of body piercing. What’s more- you can also get pierced by Jim during your visit! Piercings would have to be pre-approved by Jim, but let me tell you this is an amazing opportunity. From 23rd Street Body Piercing:

 

“We are super excited to announce that Jim Ward will be doing a guest spot here at 23rd Street Body piercing this November! There are only 20 spots available. If you want to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to have 1-on-1 time with Jim you’ll be required to place a $500 non-refundable deposit all of which will go to Jim. This industry would not be what it is today without him, please show your support.
To book please click the link below. If you have any questions please email [email protected]
*The hour with Jim may be spent in what ever way you may seem fit. Your hour can be a rare chance for a good visit, and could also include getting pierced. Piercings performed in that hour must be pre-approved by Jim at the time of booking and included in the appointment notes section of the booking.”

This is a rarer than rare chance to pick Jim’s brain, maybe leave with something shiny, and show your support to a true pioneer!

Intersecting Lines

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From the background it appears to have been taken in the mid-1970s at Cliff Raven’s studio in West Hollywood at or near the completion of my first tattoo. ~ Jim Ward

It’s always a treat when piercing and tattoo history intersect; here we have The Gauntlet/PFIQ’s Jim Ward with a freshly worked on tattoo by Cliff Raven. Inspired by Japanese tattoo designs, Raven’s work was bold, clean and made to last.

Rochester Rufus

Jim Ward piercing a client's nipples, 1970s

Late 1970s- Jim Ward performs a vertical nipple piercing on Rochester’s Rufus Dreyer. Rufus appears occasionally in photos in my archives- his appearance distinct with a full body of dense tattooing, a grey Van Dyke beard and flipped up septum tusk- but I’ve not been able to find out anything about him other than his name.

Jim can be seen using a thimble to push assist in pushing the needle though the tissue; the needles available at the time weren’t as sharp as our modern options and every little bit helped.

(Thanks to Jim for helping me identify Rufus)

Bizarre Rituals

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-Bizarre Rituals VHS packaging. Cover Photo © Mark I. Chester

I’ve been sitting on this post for weeks; every now and then I’d go into my drafts queue and tinker with it a little bit here and there, adding new photos or blurbs from suspension practitioners that were influenced by the film but never quite finished it up. Earlier this morning, iconic photographer, anthropologist and counterculture icon Charles Gatewood- the subject of the film- passed away. Dances has taken on a life of it’s own in the suspension community but ultimately is a documentary on Gatewood’s photography and is a great snapshot of one of the most important photoanthopologists of our time. We’ve screened it several times at the Overground Cinema in Philadelphia, with each screening converting a new fan. Rest in Peace, Charles- and thank you.

Charles Gatewood, November 8th 1942-April 28th 2016.


Canadian speculative science fiction author William Gibson first introduced me to the term ‘Nodal Points’ in his 1996 novel IDORU; the book’s protagonist Colin Laney sifts through vast amounts of data looking for points of particular relevance 1 and since I’ve always wanted to be a protagonist in a cyberpunk novel I tend to use the term quite often here on SD when talking about particularly influential moments in body modification history.

For the hook suspension community, the 1985 release of Dan and Mark Jury’s Dances Sacred and Profane was one such point. A documentary on photoanthropologist Charles Gatewood, who’s Forbidden Photographs would go on to help define the Modern Primitives era of the late 1980s/early 1990s body modification scene, DS&P has gained a cult following thanks to it’s admittedly brief footage of Fakir Musafar and Jim Ward performing their interpretation of a Sun Dance ritual and Fakir’s chest suspension from a cottonwood tree.

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Fakir Musafar ©Charles Gatewood

Thirty years after it’s initial release, Dances, which was retitled Bizarre Rituals by Gorgon Video 2 in 1985 when it was release on home video, has become a classic, influencing the pioneers of the modern hook suspension revival.

I saw Dances Sacred and Profane for the first time after I had already been into suspension for some years; somebody shared a link to it online, after the second Dallas SusCon I attended in 2010. After watching it I gained a different perspective, and appreciation for not just the history of modification, but also body suspension as ritual. I suddenly felt a certain reverence for suspension, and wanted to revisit its history with this new point of view. I have always been drawn more to the artistic and technical aspects of the form, and am heavily driven by the urban roots by which I was introduced to it. With Gatewood’s coverage of all the intersecting scenes, and the climactic, crazy, deep tissue chest suspension at the end, I had the realization that ritual and art were co-dependent, and that understanding suspension’s place in other environments would be the only logical way to make progress towards something unique with this medium. I guess nobody had ever explained suspension to me in that context before. It was either science and art, as with Stelarc’s body of work; ritualistic, as with Fakir’s approach; or purely recreational, which defines the majority of the modern state of body suspension. After DSP, the consideration was there that all of these things were somewhat co-dependent, and make for a more wholesome experience. In short, DSP was the trigger for my fascination with just how far we can go with our minds and bodies, with suspension as the carrier. It made me approach suspension with more reverence, respect, and patience. I would not want to insult those that came before us. – Orb Ism, Anchors Aweigh

I was captivated by the Kavadi. As much as I love suspension, bearing Kavadi holds a special place / appeal for me. The film and Fakir where a huge inspiration for me building my 1st Kavadi around 1995- Xeon, TSD

“I was captivated by the Kavadi. As much as I love suspension, bearing Kavadi holds a special place / appeal for me. The film and Fakir where a huge inspiration for me building my 1st Kavadi around 1995”Xeon, TSD Photo © Mark I Chester.

I started my piercing apprenticeship in the spring of 1994 and soon after read Modern Primitives, which led me to Dances Sacred and Profane. To put it lightly, I was overwhelmingly intrigued. But being from a smaller city in the midwest, where simply having a few facial piercings was enough to get you publicly ridiculed, I remember thinking that would probably be something I only ever got to read about. But the imagery and the ritual and the way the flesh looked being stretched and used to lift the human body were things that stayed with me. Fast forward to 2004 and I finally got my chance to swing from hooks. There was no ritual, no tree, no epic scenery, just me and some friends and some hooks. It was at that point that intrigue turned into a drving passion, to not only do it again, but to share it with others. In 2014 this all culminated with me getting to work with Fakir at a performance during Dallas SusCon 2014. Suspension has been nothing short of life-changing for me. Being a part of the suspension community has made me the man I am today. And I owe it all to seeing this amazing film- Mike Coons, HOOKED

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– 2004 Dances Sacred and Profane DVD main menu featuring Fakir/Kavadi photo by Mark I Chester.

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In 2004 the film was released on DVD by the Jury Brothers under the title Dances, Sacred and Profane Redux. This new digital version included footage of Fakir and Mark Jury reconnecting ten years after the completion of the film.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, visit Fakir Musafar’s site for more information: http://www.fakir.org/store/index.html

 

Notes:

  1. A nodal point is also a photographic term: noun, Optics. 1. either of two points on the axis of a lens or other optical system, determined by extending an incident oblique ray and the corresponding refracted ray to the axis for the pair of rays that are parallel outside the optical system. Also called node.- Source Dictionary.com
  2. Gorgon Video is a film production and distribution company focusing on the subgenre of extreme horror and “dark documentaries” based in the United States and Spain. The company is best known for the film Devil Doll (1964) and the Faces of Death series.- Source: Wikipedia.

FH 36A- Post Mates

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I’m not sure if I ever posted the backside of the ‘manage a trois of horns’ photo that I turned into 2015’s Sacred Debris/APP post card- I need to get better about keeping track of uploads (or hire a personal assistant to keep track for me) so assuming that I haven’t-

Backside of image FH36A- Sailor Sid Diller, Jim Ward and Bud ‘Viking’ Navaro, February 1982 from the collection of Sailor Sid Diller/Jack Yount. Regular readers know that I never pass up a chance to post septum tusk photos, so I’m including the front side as well. Also, I like that shag carpeting.

The postcards were given away at APP2015 for first year attendees.

FH-21A22: Very much in evidence

ROVEFA21a22“Friend John says that it was in 1976 that I went to a private showing of the movie TATTOO. There I met Doug Malloy and John with his magnificent squid tattoo. And there were pictures shown of tattoos and some piercings. I can’t say that the latter took hold, but my interest in tattoos was reinforced.” Louis ‘Indy’ Rove   1

I got a text message the other day from a friend asking if I knew anything about a piercer working in their home town; was he any good, could I recommend him, any horror stories or caveats – most of us who’ve been around the industry for a year or three are probably pretty used to getting that message and over the years I’ve been able to help steer folks into some good shops to be worked on by some good people. But, increasingly, I’m in the position where there are (exponentially) more piercers out there that I don’t know than those that I do. That doesn’t speak to their skill level or their commitment to safe piercing, good tattooing or ethical body modifications- just that the community that turned into an industry is now bigger than our ability to keep up with it.

it wasn’t always that way, though, and as I dig deeper into my archives I’m seeing faces and names that are cross-referenced over the decades and miles connecting the pioneers of the ‘T&P’ community, revealing a tight knit group who were connected by very few degrees. Over the last few days I’ve scanned photos at random, spanning different years, original owners and disciplines (primarily tattooing and body piercing) but when I move to the research phase almost every one of these pioneers either knew each other or were separated by one or two mutual friends.

The photos I uploaded of Dr. John Lemes, for example- John was there when T&P Party member Indy Rove met Doug Malloy; introducing him to the Southern California scene and Jim Ward (who would go on to put several dozen piercings into his penis) and Fakir Musafar (who photographed him for PFIQ #17).

This photo- FH-21A22- was taken in Louis Rove’s (misspelled on the photograph as Louis Rave) Los Angeles home on 29th January 1982 and features my favorite early bodymod pioneer Bud ‘Viking Navaro’ H in all of his tusk’d glory.

We’ve reached a point in our community/industry’s timeline where there are so many options to get a safe modification performed, but there sure was something special about a smaller more intimate scene.

 

Notes:

  1. PFIQ #17, Who’s Who: Meet Indy, Gauntlet Enterprises 1983, editor Jim Ward/Photographer Fakir Musafar.