The Middle School Era: Udo & Paul 1993


©Greg Gorman. Courtesy of Paul King

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 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.


©1993 Greg Gorman

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.


  1. Cold Steel San Francisco
  2. “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.
  3. 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:

Shawn Porter has spent the majority of his life in the modification world. As a body modification archivist and documentarian, he has one of the most extensive collections of documents relating to the early American body modification community outside of academia. He edited the SPC website from 1995 to 2005, co-founded ModCon, was the host of ModCons 3.5 and 4, and created and hosted The Scarwars Project from 2004-2007. In 2011 Shawn launched Occult Vibrations, a blog devoted to traditional American tattoos with a focus on the occult and esoteric. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife Julia and their creepy pets Mr. Bailey Papers and L. RonBenet Ramsey.

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