I sometimes wonder if people into piercing today have any deep appreciation of the tremendous impact Doug Malloy has had on their lives. Certainly he had predecessors and contemporaries equally as passionate about piercing as he, but what was it that made him the center from which the whole modern piercing movement sprang? ~ Jim Ward, Running the Gauntlet.
Piercing existed before Doug Malloy. We humans have a need to adorn ourselves regardless of our country of origin, devotion to a specific God or Gods or our tribes chosen or born into. The Dyak ampallang, the nathori favored by the Banjara people of India or a suburban parent taking their child to the mall for ear piercings, 1 the need is the same even if the motivation isn’t.
Look into the recent past of the western body piercing revival- 1900 on- and you’ll find examples of piercings that were performed and healed years before “we” ever thought of them. Rasmus Neilsen’s (approximately) 00g Madison piercing was displayed forty years before Madison Stone 2 was born; Jack Yount was piercing nipples in the 1950s and in South Dakota a young body ritual devotee who went on to be known as Fakir Musafar was pushing his body to the limits with piercings and ritual modifications.
So what was it about Doug that brought together the assorted leather men, modern ascetics & primitives, swingers and eccentrics that formed what became the roots of the modern piercing community? His passion and enthusiasm? His seemingly unlimited funds which allowed travel and the free time to meet the piercing devotees who were scattered all over the United States and Europe? Being at the right place at the right time and seeing the potential in the generation that came after him with people like Jim Ward and Fakir Musafar?
Every time I crack open Jim’s Running the Gauntlet I find something that inspires me to dig a little deeper, connect with younger piercing fans to remind them of the contributions of people like Doug and Jim and Jack, connect with older folks who were around during the good old days and to do my part to keep the memories alive.
You can order Jim’s book here: http://www.runningthegauntlet-book.com
So why did you get pierced? Was there a defining moment where you thought this is for me? PFIQ, Modern Primitives, In the Flesh, BME, SPC? Who was your Doug Malloy?
- Do not get your child’s ears pierced at the mall. ↩
- Madison Stone is an American tattoo artist and former adult performer who was known for her distinctive appearance which at the time included having body piercings- something the adult industry looked down on until the 2000s. A surface piercing at the base of the throat became known as a Madison due to the visibility her profession was able to offer it. https://www.instagram.com/madisontattoos ↩