Scott Shatsky may not be the most recognizable names in piercing, but his roots run deep – from being a young man hanging around the original Gauntlet, to apprenticing under Jim Ward and being part of the original Gauntlet San Fransisco crew, Scott offers some wonderful insight into that early pivotal time. Scott remains part of that quiet faction who was more enamored with piercing as an intimate movement, and gives us some new perspective on those Gauntlet years as a client, manager, and Master Piercer.
Ari – Where does piercing start for you, Scott?
Scott – I grew up in Los Angeles, and I always had a fascination with anything other than just being white, so tattoos and piercings fell into that. I was just always very interested, so in high school and even before I was a punk rock kid I was always sticking needles in me for piercings. I don’t even remember how I found Gauntlet, but it was in West Hollywood. I walked in and I became friends with Jim (Ward) and became pretty good friends with Cross, who I share a birthday with. I was a young kid. I wasn’t even in a place where I could get pierced there, age-wise. Cross was only a couple of years older than I was at the time. I have this picture of me sitting there with Jim and his beautiful silver and purple peacock wallpaper in the piercing studio when he was piercing my cartilage. So my identity in that world started years before I was piercing. Continue reading “BSTA: Scott Shatsky”→
We’ve gotten a lot of great responses to the year end/new year reader survey; I appreciate everyone who’s taken the time to fill it out (though I selfishly wish I would have made more of the questions mandatory- dang skippers) and share their thoughts about the past, present and future direction of the project.
The data is still coming in but looking at what’s currently available it seems that folks want to see the middle school era of modern body modification given a little more attention; the early-mid 1990s were a time of incredible growth and progress for the piercing and modification community and the artists that make up that phase- which I would argue was irrevocably changed in 1995- were a fascinating and influential group who have done as much to shape the future of the body piercing industry as the pioneers that came before them. We’re going to be selectively highlighting piercers who made an impact during the 1990s, as time, materials and resources permit, so let me know (via the survey, link above, or email [email protected]) who you may be interested in seeing featured on the blog.
We’ll start with Paul King.
Piercing since 1991, trained by Elayne Angel and a veteran of three Gauntlet locations before opening his own Piercing and Tattoo Studio 1 Paul was described as a ‘piercing nerd’ by BME’s Shannon Larratt in 2003 2 and has become a ‘can’t miss’ presenter at the annual APP Conference and Exposition, focusing on historic and contemporary body modification from an academic and community point of view.
The photograph above, featuring cult actor Udo Kier and Paul, dates back to 1993 and was taken by noted celebrity photographer Greg Gorman 3 who contacted the L.A. Gauntlet looking for play piercing services for the photoshoot with Udo.
As Paul tells it, Greg thought that play piercing meant fake piercing, unaware that in the piercing community it meant temporary piercing with (usually) smaller gauge needles. Paul told told them “how embarrassing that would be…for street cred we should do real play piercing…bad ass Udo went for it! cheeks, eyebrows, the works!” and proceeded to actually pierce Udo for the photoshoot.
Again, thanks to everyone who’s shared their thoughts on the direction Sacred is going to take in the coming year, and if you haven’t completed the survey- Sacred Debris Content Survey 2015/2016.
“definitely a guy who I’d call a “piercing nerd” — someone who can go on and on about it and is interested in every little silly piece of trivia on the subject. Given that’s how I’d also describe myself, and given that it’s so hard for any one person to get a real picture of this community (so much of it is still oral history), it was wonderful to be able to assimilate his stories…” Source: BME Encyclopedia Paul King Entry. ↩
Greg Gorman (b. 1949, Kansas City, Missouri) is a renowned portrait photographer, who has shot Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Michael Jackson and many others in his signature black-and-white. “For me a photograph is most successful when it doesn’t answer all the questions,” says Gorman, “but leaves something to the imagination”. Source: Sleek-art.net. ↩
“40 years ago today Gauntlet came into existence. It’s sometimes hard to believe all that has transpired in the world of body mod in that time.”- Jim Ward, 11.17.2015
Happy anniversary to Jim Ward and The Gauntlet!
“When I opened Gauntlet in 1975, virtually no one but hardcore fetishists and sadomasochism (S/M) enthusiasts were piercing themselves below the neck. People in the mundane world failed to realize that a little piece of metal strategically inserted in certain locations of the body can significantly amplify erotic sensations in those areas and make sex even more enjoyable. It seemed so clear to me that this was something that could benefit anyone. Why should piercing be limited to a select few? With that in mind, it became my mission to let the world at large in on this amazing secret and to let it know I had the ability to make it a reality.”
Jim has been an amazing resource for piercing fans for the last four decades; The Gauntlet, PFIQ, his APP classes- read the uncensored history of the roots of the modern body piercing revival in his memoir Running the Gauntlet available here: http://www.runningthegauntlet-book.com/
This February 1982 photograph comes from Sailor Sid Diller’s collection and features Sid showing off his new stomach tattoo (possibly by Cliff Raven) on the Los Angeles, California front porch of Gauntlet/PFIQ founder Jim Ward.
Typed label and Sid’s handwritten filing code for duplicates.
Today wasn’t quite the horrific Snow Day that local meteorologists called for, but with 1/8″ of snow on the ground I used it as motivation to do a little cleaning around the house, starting with unsorted boxes in my closet. Years of correspondence were lost in one of my moves (from Florida to Philadelphia, I’d bet) but there are still a few boxes of mail that were saved from that fate so after a trip to Target to buy more Rubbermaid bins I took to the task of sorting twenty year old letters and hopefully making headway with the creating of a filing system.
Some of the highlights so far:
A letter from the editor of ‘Epidermal Intrusions’ which was intended to be to Modification what PFIQ was to Body Piercing. My name had been given to the editor (Rhalan) by Steve Haworth, who I wouldn’t meet in person for another year. We exchanged a few letters before the project eventually lost steam and was canceled before ever going to print.
Keith Alexander’s followup letter to the APP after sending in his membership application (circa 1995/6) with detailed counterpoints to issues raised by the fledgling organization with typical K.A. passive aggressive charm.
Open Letter to 1996 APP Conference (Orlando) attendees, possibly from Keith. It’s unsigned.
5″x7″ original print of Jack Yount from photographer Stefan Richter.
Postcard from Jack Yount from a vacation to Southern California.
Well- here I am trying to be discovered. All the do is undress me and then they faint. Such is fame. Went to the Gauntlet this A.M., Sorry but it didn’t do a lot for me. Poor rep by people I talked to in the shop. Was in Mexico, San Fran and now L.A. Will be back next week. Tell the family I said “High”. -Jack
Letters from ‘Toecutter’ written in his typical ‘stream of consciousness’ style.
UNIQUE contact list mailings.
Photos of Tom Brazda doing ‘lo-bretts’ on Shannon Larratt, mailed from Stainless Studios.
While it’s made me sad that I’ve lost so much correspondence over the years I was pleased by how much was still around; I’m going to start scanning the letters and postcards tomorrow so they’ll never be lost again.
As I mentioned in a previous post (see recommended posts below) it was fairly common in the early days of Western piercing culture to for piercees to wear a frenum loop in their frenum piercing; a ring measured to be flipped up over the coronal ridge of the glans of the penis which upon erection acts as an ad hoc cock ring.
Some men went fancy, adding beads and texture to their loop. From Jim Ward 1
One of my more colorful clients was a Hungarian doctor who showed up on my doorstep one day. I was still working out of the house at the time, and he’d been referred to me by the Pleasure Chest, a sex shop that had recently opened in West Hollywood.
Dr. C was impeccably dressed in a suit and tie and had the bearing of a European gentleman. He explained that he wanted a frenum piercing. This was accomplished without a great deal of fuss.
I must confess I was a bit more nervous that usual. Although clean, the house and furniture were shabby. He was, after all, a doctor, and I was concerned that he would be uncomfortable being pierced in such an environment. Still, I brought out a clean bath towel and spread it on the couch for him to lie on. I laid out the bagged and sterilized equipment on a stainless tray. When I was finished he complemented me my technique as well as the cleanliness that I observed. It was a particular validation coming from him.
With casual European sophistication the good doctor told me that he and his wife were no longer sexually active. He had a young girlfriend who he particularly wanted to keep satisfied. To that end he commissioned me to make a cast gold frenum ring that would incorporate two penises and a ball on top that would stimulate her clitoris during intercourse. He quipped that he wanted to penetrate her with three penises.
Dr. C was quite happy with the finished piece of jewelry. Unfortunately he didn’t feel comfortable wearing it all the time, especially at the health club. Consequently he took it on and off frequently. Eventually the post would break off, and he would bring it to me for repair. The last time this happened he brought it in and chatted amiably about what a wonderful device it was. I told him how long it would take for the repair, and everything seemed satisfactory. I never saw him again. Whatever happened to him I never found out. After holding onto the piece of jewelry for several years, I eventually sold it.
This photo was dated April 1978 and originally ran on the spcOnline site in 1995.
I was putting a bunch of material together for an academic research request on ‘women in early western body modification’ this week which included this scan from PFIQ#31 (1988) featuring side art by the late Bud Larsen.
The demographics in the 70s/80s skewed towards males (primarily gay males) but going back through the old PFIQs while gathering up information, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of female representation included. Issue 31 was almost 50/50 with female and male piercing content including a wonderful photoshoot featuring Krystine Kolorful by legendary photographer Diane Mansfield.
As I told the researcher (who I’ll ask to share her final project with SD readers) the early days were much more dialed into sexuality than aesthetics, so most of the representation was (pleasantly celebrating) sex positive which made the older issues a lot more fun than the later ones in my opinion.
A few weeks ago I posted a picture of the first PA piercing performed by piercing pioneer Jim Ward. While getting everything together for an expanded version of the purple hanky article I came across this photo…
In the spirit of ‘do you remember your first one’…
This is Fernando. He was the infamous Leatherman who’s pierced nipples were the first that Jim saw in person. According to Jim’s invaluable book RUNNING THE GAUNTLET:
“At this point in my life I had never seen or heard of anyone with pierced nipples even in the pages of National Geographic. That was soon to change. One weekend night I went to the Village to hang out at the NYMBC. Standing shirtless by the bar was a hunk of a man. Even in the subdued light there was no missing the glint of gold on his muscular chest. His nipples were pierced. I learned that his name was Fernando and that he was something of a local legend. Though I was never fortunate enough to enjoy the intimate pleasure of his company, he at least let me know that once again I was not alone.”
That feeling- of not being alone- was very powerful in the early days of Body Modification, before finding others ‘like us’ was a mouse click away.
Do you remember the first time you saw someone who was pierced/tattooed/modified it it made you feel connected to something bigger? Share the story!