The roots of freehand piercing

Another APP Conference and Expo has come and gone; after a long week in Vegas my Wife and I are finally home and trying to collect our thoughts about all of the good, the bad and the ugly that is the APP experience.

This being the 20th Anniversary of the APP there was an amazing focus on history this year with Fakir Musafar, Jim Ward, Blake Perlingieri and Paul King offering comprehensive presentations on the history of the western body piercing movement and guest docents offering interactive walkthroughs of the APP 20th Anniversary timeline exhibit.

I volunteered in the Mentor program, helping acclimate a group of first year attendees to the chaos of Conference and was able to introduce my Wife to some of my oldest friends. A few snags and slags aside, we had a great time.

One of the highlights for me was the ELDERLORE class hosted by Blake Perlingieri- It was absolutely not what I was expecting with Blake going with a stream of consciousness presentation filled with saltiness and some great old school bitching.

I recorded a short excerpt of Blake discussing the roots of freehand piercing technique. It was shot on a cellphone, so the quality is so-so, but it gives you a hint of the zingers Blake was unleashing. As someone who does their best to provide literally one of a kind content to SD readers without much feedback I could absolutely relate to Blake’s frustration that his youtube video of he and Fakir doing a walkthrough of the Nomad (Jewelry) Collection at the Portland Art Museum had only been viewed (as of this writing) 335 times in four years versus the 20k+ views on videos of hack piercers doing hack work on uneducated piercing clients.

I think I’m taking a few years off from Conference, so this was the perfect year to close that book for a while. New friends were made, old friends were hugged and stories were told. Can’t do much better than that!

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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 in existence. 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.


  1. Jack Yount told a story about how he went to visit, shared his version of freehand techniques with them, and came back and stretched his earlobes. That was a nice exchange I thought. He talked about how between us and the Nomad boys, that was enough to persuade him to stretch up after all. His big ear jewelry is in my collection now, after he passed.

      1. Especially since he was slow and gentle with stretches, until he decided to go to work on his ears. They seemed to come out rather well.

        I suppose he could rationalize chastising people our age, when he had taken time to try new things at his age.

          1. Yes, I believe that he only stretched the left ear larger than 4g. I have three that he wore in that ear in descending sizes. I have to check what sizes they were.

  2. I loved seeing Blake do this lecture! It was one of the highlights of our trip! I always appreciate his candour. It was also great to meet you finally Shawn!!

  3. Old school people gotta stick together…and educate these youngsters— I hear my dads words coming out of my mouth all the time now….”God damn kids these days”… Pop was right….

    Shawn, your work in SD is absolutely essential and priceless. Seriously. What the hell am I gonna do with all these old BODY PLAYS and PFIQ’s?? Kids today never heard of them— ya know, back when this was the new cool thing and there were actual piecing magazines??? Sheesh ?

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