Divinity – I met Ron at Cuffs – it was the premier leather spot, a dark little place but not very big.It was very macho and leather, and I was drawn to that masculinity. I was just hanging out and Terry, my drag mother, it’s where he went out, so one night I went with him, and then after a while I went on my own. One night Ron came in and we met each other and started talking. We were both reading Dennis Cooper at the time.
Ari – Can you tell us about Dennis Cooper?
Divinity – Dennis Cooper was a gay writer- he did a lot of writing about being gay and how to maneuver in society and being true to yourself. He did a lot of really cool exposé on gay life. He was from California and that was interesting to me because for some strange reason I’d always found the idea of going to California really attractive. Something was always telling me to go there but I didn’t know what it was. Once I got there I realized what it was; it was a place I needed to be. All the places I’d been before like New Orleans and Michigan were conservative and moving out to California was really freeing for me. It was like, “oh, possibilities are endless out here!” It was a lot of good reading for me. I read a lot of Brion Gysin as well. A lot of people were like, “you’re black, why are you reading that?” I was like “I don’t know!” It was just really interesting to me. Continue reading →
GoPro cameras are not designed to use them like I tried to use them at this year’s APP Conference. Too shaky, audio is terrible but at least Ron Athey is ever-charming. Ron discusses the work of artist Jon John in this second clip from his walkthrough of the Body Piercing Archive’s 2018 exhibit on the intersection of Body Piercing and Performance Art.
Over the last several years, one of the biggest highlights of the annual Association of Professional Piercers Conference and Exposition has been the exhibits curated by the Body Piercing Archive; while we’re blessed to have a seemingly limitless amount of virtual space for the preservation of material documenting body modification there is something to be said for the tangible experience of seeing these reliquaries in person.
For the 2018 Conference, the BPA 1 curated an exhibit on the intersection of body piercing and performance art featuring familiar names like Ron Athey, TSD, CoRE, Genesis P-Orridge, Bob Flanagan, Stelarc, Jon John and a host of others. Ron and collaborator Divinity P. Fudge were on hand as guest docents, joining BPA’s Paul King, TSD’s Allen Falkner, CoRE’s Steve Joyner, Dr. Dominic Johnson and Dr. Julian Carter on guided tours of the Perforated Body.
This clip features Ron Athey and Darryl Carlton (Divinity P. Fudge) on their first exhibit walkthrough.
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 →
It really surprises me that in an era where we have unprecedented access to high end video recording/editing options and proliferation of tattoo conventions and suspension meetups, no one has taken the bull by the horns and started producing content by/for the body modification community with the same zeal that pioneers like Charles Gatewood, Royboy Cooper and Michael O. Stearns did back in the late 1980s/early 1990s. There’s never been a time with easier access to modified subjects to interview, high definition recording via smartphones, editing on free programs on most brands of laptop computers and outlets like Youtube, Facebook, Sacred Debris, Modblog around to host the content yet there’s still a tangible lack of content that can rival what those folks produced going on 30 years ago.
Gatewood’s Flash Video label produced some of the best content of it’s time, with documentary series like Painless Steel, the Weird titles (Thailand, which was his best seller, San Francisco, America) and Erotic Tattooing and Body Piercing as well as a pretty impressive collection of one off titles. For my money, the best of the bunch was Erotic Tattooing and Body Piercing vol V. Filmed at the Meadowlands tattoo convention in the early 1990s, it featured a collection of personalities that included Jack Yount, Wild Bill Krebs, Emil Gundelach, Mr. X and Ron Athey. Most of the restored video will be available for Sandbox members, but for those interested in the Flash documentaries I suggest checking eBay every now and again. They occasionally show up at a decent price.