It’s hard not to romanticize the time period that made up my entry into the body piercing/modification world; there were far fewer folks piercing/making jewelry and true eccentrics like Bill Krebs, owner/piercer of New Jersey’s Pleasurable Piercing, really made an impression. He appeared (along with my mentor Jack Yount) in Charle’s Gatewood’s Erotic Tattooing and Body Piercing V as well as a line of instructional videos that PP released back in the 1990s and always stood out in a crowd.
The last time I saw Bill was in Ybor City, Florida; we closed a bar after a night of excess and martinis garnished with smoked octopus and, with a hug, parted ways. When I heard that he had passed, that was the memory that stuck with me.
Will from Pleasurable uploaded this snippet from an unfinished documentary on Bill earlier tonight; if you didn’t know Bill you missed out on a hell of a guy.
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.
In the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction, Harvey Keitel’s iconic character Winston Wolf tells Joe’s daughter Rachel (Julia Sweeny) that “Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character.”
The early days of the western body piercing revival were filled with characters; eccentrics who’s body piercings were often the least interesting thing about them, who could be in a room full of folks who marched to the beat of their own drums and still defiantly stand out.
This photo, taken in 1993 at the Pinns and Needles Convention in Tampa, Florida finds a pair of characters hamming it up for the camera; Wild Bill Krebs (left) and Jack Yount sharing a laugh and a story that would be, no doubt, too risqué to print. At the 2015 APP Conference and Expo a few of use who remember Bill decided that a yearly award should be given to people who exemplify Bill’s legacy; someone who’s heart is big and who’s capacity for getting into the best kind of trouble always ends with a whispered “you won’t believe what happened to me last night” anecdote….
Jack passed away two years or so after this photo was taken on 15th July 1995. Bill passed away July 6, 2007. Both are very much missed.