Tag Archives: Piercing History

The Piercing Archive


Geneva, 1996. Photo © Barry Blanchard.

The mission of the recently formed PIERCING ARCHIVE is near and dear to my heart; the belief that ephemera relating to the history of our community needs to be preserved, archived and made freely available to all who have an interest in it is at the core of what we’re doing here at Sacred Debris. Historical preservation is one of the few fields where we welcome ‘competition’- every time they’re able to share a new image or video from days-gone-by you find yourself so geeked that what may be a decades old photograph of a piercing pioneer has found it’s way across the decades and miles to your laptop or iphone where you can save it and share it till your heart is content, assuring that what’s come before you will live on after you take your own step into history.
They will be be collating all of their finds and saves at the Piercing Archive website, but while they’re getting all of that set up you can find them on their Facebook and Youtoube pages (links below)

I asked Matte from the Piercing Archive to send over an introduction/mission statement. Check out the links and remember that you’re part of our community’s history, too- if you have stories, photographs and videos to share, get in touch (with SD or the BPA- as long as it gets saved we all win) and make sure that we leave a map for future generations to follow.

The mission of Body Piercing Archive is to select, collect, document, preserve, exhibit, & interpret the personal, social, and material evolving histories.
The Body Piercing Archive was started in 2014 by the Association of Professional Piercers, a non profit organization who’s focus is the dissemination of information regarding body piercing. The archive was a natural progression in that dissemination. So much of our history is being lost as time goes by. Items are getting tossed away or destroyed by entropy or, worse yet, negligence.

Now is the time to pull together. We need to preserve fragile items, digitize photographs and video, and write down the stories so that the future generations of piercers can learn about where all this originated. Our history must not be lost!
The 2015 Association of Professional Piercers conference marked our first exhibit for the archive. This was the first of many to come. The 2016 conference will showcase an exhibit of Sailor Sid Diller. This will be a co-presented exhibit from the Leather Archive and the Body Piercing Archive. Ideas are already being presented for the following years as well. Throughout the coming years, we hope to bring lots of interesting items, articles, photographs and videos to you. Some may make you laugh, some may make you cry but, at the end of the day, we hope you learn something about our collective past. Most of this, for now, will be posted on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/groups/bodypiercingarchive) and our Youtube channel (body piercing archive). Eventually, content will be moved over to our permanent website (www.bodypiercingarchive.org). Questions and comments are always welcome as well. You can message us on Facebook but, the best (most efficient way) is through email ([email protected]).

We would like to thank Shawn Porter for his support and allowing us a platform to spread the word on his blog. We would also like to thank all the past, present and future supporters who have helped share the knowledge. Please continue to read, share, like and comment.

uniquespc001 Rudy


Model: Rudy I.
Year: Early 1980s.
Tattoo Artist: Various (including Alan Mr. Sebastian Oversby)

I first met Rudy in the early/mid 1990s through the UNIQUE classified ads. A self described ‘tattoo and piercing enthusiast’, Rudy and I exchanged letters and photographs over the years, sharing stories of our own modifications and experiences. Our correspondence eventually fell off and, as is prone to happen, we lost touch with one another. I’m not sure what ever happened to him, though many of his letters are still in my collection.

Rudy is briefly mentioned in an article by Gauntlet’s Jim Ward: http://runningthegauntlet-book.com/BME/jimward/20050715.html

In 1996 Rudy sent me a photocopy of a profile on him from the NTA’s 1 magazine- what follows is a transcript. He did not provide a month/year/issue number.

My interest in tattoos became activated as a youngster in 1954 when I read a critique about Hanns Ebenstein’s book “Pierced Hearts and True Love” in a local newspaper in my native Switzerland. I wrote to Hanns, who in return put me in contact with one of the most famous British artists, Rich Mingins in London. 1955 I was sent to London for further education and then met Rich in person. The same year, probably the first national convention to place in a pub in London, organized by Rich Mingins, , Les Skuse from Bristol and Jessie Knight from Aldershot. This was also the start of my photo collection.

In 1957 I emigrated to the United States and got really involved in tattooing. My first tattoos were done by sailor Eddie Evans in Camden, New Jersey and Paul Rogers who then work with him. Work by Phil Sparrow (Chicago), (then Crazy) Philadelphia Eddie Funk, Huck Spaulding (Albany, N.Y.) and Buddy Mott (Rhode Island) followed.

I then realized that very many people are interested in tattooing, but had difficulties meeting others of the same interest. Therefore, in 1963 some friends and I in New York decided to do something about it. We found it the “Tattoo Club of America “, probably the first American Tattoo club. I collected news items related tattooing and in January 1964 published the first periodical dedicated tattoos, the “Tattoo News”. As a supplement the “History of Tattooing” was added from time to time. Tattoo tidbits and instructive news items, very much in the vein of the column now written by Lal Hardy for “Tattoo international”, where the main attraction of the publication.

On 5 October, 1964 I organized probably the first tattoo convention in the U.S.A. – and if you hadn’t already guessed it, Elizabeth Weinziril was, of course, there. That was the time when a few young artist such a sailor Jerry Collins of Honolulu started to change the style of American tattoos. The beginnings were small and the magazine only mimeographed, but it was a start. Unfortunately my job became more and more demanding so that the December 1966 issue of “Tattoo News” was the last to appear. I had nothing to do with the later magazine which took over my title.

In 1970 the cutback in the defense industry in the USA for which I worked as a physicist, forced me to look around and I went to Munich, Germany to work for a German firm. In 1973 this firm sent me to England, where George Bone and Alan Oversbyin London have mainly worked on me since. I have not missed a single convention of the TCCB be since its beginning and felt very honored when I was asked on several occasions to be on the jury of the beauty contests.

It is good to see that the Tattoo tradition continues, many more people get tattooed with better designs, more clubs are founded , more publications printed and more conventions held. It shall continue.


  1. National Tattoo Association.