Category Archives: 1980s

How we learn, How we teach

Apprentice: Lynn Loheide, 2013.

A History of Apprenticeships.


“I want to be a piercer! How do I get an apprenticeship? Where do I learn to pierce?”

 This desire has been expressed by thousands of people over the recent past. What was once something barely thought of as a viable career blossomed into a huge, multifaceted industry in the last few decades. As if out of nowhere, piercing became a legitimate job one could make a comfortable living at. But the path to get there has been as ever-changing as the industry itself. You don’t go to school to become a piercer, there’s no classes or degree you can hold in body piercing. Traditionally, like many other crafts, piercing has been trained by masters, to apprentices. Someone already skilled at the craft takes a beginner under their wing and shows them the craft one on one. But how did we get there? Where did the first piercers come from? How did the apprenticeship evolve to what it is today?

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Burning Sensation II

Back in December of 2015, we posted a few photos from this series- Sailor Sid Diller tattooing a flame on the perineum of Jack Yount 1 – but this one somehow slipped through the cracks. 2

This would have been taken in the mid to late 1980s, performed at Sid’s Silver Anchor location. Jack would go on to have a urethral reroute opening in the center of the flame- “a waterhole to put out the fire” as he put it in Charle’s Gatewood’s Erotic Tattooing & Body Piercing Vol5.

 

Notes:

  1. https://sacreddebris.com/a-burning-sensation-nsfw
  2. I apologize for the dad jokes.

Dangerous Journey

 

To prepare for a recent presentation I gave for Death Party Philadelphia on the extraordinary life (and death) of Fakir Musafar, I cracked open my now thirty-plus year old copy of the seminal RE/SEARCH #12: Modern Primitives and re-read, for what was probably the first time in a few decades, what may be Vale and Juno’s most (body modification culture) nodally significant interview. Despite having been released over a decade after Fakir’s official ‘coming out’ at the 1977 Reno tattoo convention, Modern Primitives put Fakir, and his doctrine of body play, into chain bookstores, and more importantly, the hands of an audience who may have otherwise never found him.

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Uncovered: Partner DEC1980

“Dian Bailey is a maso! I can hear you all saying it, just as my horrified sister did when she saw my swollen, three day fresh navel piercing. As I endeavored to reassure her, I will you, I did not get my flesh pierced or lie on that bed of nails or that couch of meat cleavers, for that matter, for a love of carbon steel penetration. Some pain did accompany all three performances, despite his holiness, The Fakir Musafar’s, denials. But pain is just a weewee stop on the road to knowledge, as his holiness might put it, and I was anesthetized for my piercing by the vision of my perfect navel sporting a jewel that would never get lost when the Crazy Glue failed. As for the nails and cleavers, the Fakir’s to blame for making it look so easy. Fakir is a noted mystic and PARTNER’s Religion Editor, so it is easy for him. Those spikes were sharp, but I could never pass on a double-dare. Musafar claims it’s necessary to lie at least six hours on the spikes to reach nirvana, a state of unconscious bliss. I know for sure you don’t reach that state after two minutes, though the cleavers’ll make you pray for it. The true answer to maso or not, I fell, is whether, having experienced it once, you’ll climb on again. I’ll stick to old-fashioned penetrants, flesh and blood pokers and lots of spit, please.” Continue reading

Small Town Shaman, Big City Pornstar

The 80’s were an interesting time for piercing. PFIQ was going out to more readers than ever, the Gauntlet was growing busier, and piercing was reaching a larger audience every day. Countercultures in general were coming together, sharing ideas, spaces, and people. Being weird and different was becoming welcomed. In the spring of 1982, two wonderful icons of their respected subcultures were getting ready to meet for the first time. After about a year of communication, letters and chats, the sweet, shamanistic Fakir Musafar and the avid, sexy Annie Sprinkle met. They spent a whirlwind week together in New York, one of Fakir’s first times in Manhattan. The midwest shaman got a warm welcome, with pedestrians and cabbies complimenting his septum jewelry (worn on behest of Annie, who found it handsome as could be). The two were determined to turn the city on its head, and they both found great joy showing off at parties and events as Annie lead Fakir about by hooks in his deep chest piercings, or stuck her entire finger through his nipples. They were the talk of the town, answering everyones questions about “if that hurt”. Even Annie went out and about bottomless, ready to show off the fresh addition to her labia. They hosted piercing parties, Fakir adding golden rings to a myriad of members of New York’s various social scenes.  Continue reading

BSTA: Vaughn

Since it’s 1989 release, RE/Search Publications’ seminal issue #12 – Modern Primitives – has become one of, if not the most, nodally significant cultural studies of western body modification ever printed. The pantheon of influential body art figures interviewed includes Fakir Musafar, Jim Ward, Ed Hardy, Raelyn Gallina, Lyle Tuttle, Hanky Panky, Leo Zulueta – you could easily get lost following the ripples of influence from any one of them. But Modern Primitives also featured some younger personalities just getting their start in the world of body art; mostly notably Greg Kulz (a pioneer of black graphic industrial tattooing) and Bay Area piercer/tattooist Vaughn, who at the time of publication was trying to make a name in the industry. Thirty years later, and Vaughn’s legacy – the opening of Body Manipulations and the shift to a more diverse clientele – is easily worthy of inclusion with the best of the industry.

In honor of his birthday, BSTA’s Ari Pimsler interviewed Vaughn, along with friends, former employees, and clients for the new issue of our print project NODAL POINTS. The supporting interviews – Melissa & Joey from Body Ms, Greg Kulz, Duncan Van Luyt, and Blake Perlingieri – are available exclusively in the zine, which can be ordered here:

https://www.blurb.com/b/9773006-volume-3-nodal-points

-SP

(special thanks to Bobby Neel Adams for the amazing outtake photos from his Modern Primitives shoot with Vaughn! http://bobbyneeladams.com)


 

Ari – For an introduction let’s start with where you started piercing, be it business or just experimentation

Vaughn – Probably about 1985. I moved to San Francisco in 1984. What I wanted to do was pierce my lip and I couldn’t find any outlet to do that. I had been pierced down in LA by Jim Ward at The Gauntlet originally because I was living down there. When I got up to San Francisco there was really no one there doing anything. I wanted to pierce my lip, couldn’t find anybody to do it, so eventually I did it myself. But as far as taking on clients I would say, 1986? I just printed up business cards that said, “Vaughn” and had my phone number on it. That was it. If I saw people who had their own piercings I’d approach them like, “hey I can do noses, I can do navels, I can do this kinda deal.” I would have people over to my apartment and pierce them there. I also would set up a little portable kit and go over to peoples houses pierce people in their homes or businesses or wherever. I did that for a couple of years. I can’t remember exactly when I met Esther but she was a big influence as far as pushing me to make it happen as a business. One of the driving forces behind that was we had heard a rumor that Gauntlet was going to try and open up in San Francisco and I wanted to break away from the stigma that Gauntlet had. That stigma was very much in the West Hollywood gay community. I wanted to see piercing move out more into the underground, like the punk scene and the music scenes. That was my main drive. Esther was kind of in the same mindset that drove me – she wasn’t really oriented on the sexual aspect of it but rather the aesthetic orientation. For about three or four years I just pierced privately and did in-home visits and portable visits. In 1989 I ended up getting a little bit of inheritance. I opened Body Manipulations with seven thousand dollars. Rent on the space was like $300 a month – it was super cheap. That all worked out because I knew the tattoo people who were in the space originally – Erno tattoo. They moved upstairs and then I rented from Erno because he still had a lease on the space for a short time. We just sublet it from Erno and turned it into a piercing studio.

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Annie Sprinkle’s HERSTORY of Body Piercing, May 2019

Annie Sprinkle’s photo documentation of communities that weren’t paid attention to by the mainstream media – most notably the 42nd Street scene of the 1970s, the world of adult cinema, and the early western body piercing revival – falls very much in line with my view that subcultures should be documented internally; that participants are best suited to chronicle their own movements w/o the academic gaze.

At the 2019 Association of Professional Piercers Conference and Expo, Annie, joined by her long time friend and collaborator Veronica Vera, presented a class on her Herstory of Body Piercing and it’s intersection with early luminaries Fakir Musafar, Charles Gatewood, and Spider Webb.Annie and Veronica were as charming as could be despite the blissfully raw content they were presenting; in a class given by Jim Ward earlier that day it was pointed out that the piercing world has evolved into something that Jim (piercing as a sexual exploration) and Fakir (piercing as a spiritual conduit) could have never imagined, so Annie’s Herstory and it’s sex positive bent was a welcome return to the roots of piercing to the longer tenured piercers in attendance.Unfortunately I was only able to film for a few minutes, but I hope it’s enough to give you folks an insight into when piercing was a much different (and I’m biased in saying so) and more fun pursuit of fringe players.

Fakir in Kodachrome

The good folks over at Yellow Beak Press (who put out some of the best tattoo history books on the market) sent SD a Kodachrome slide from the collection of photographer Bob Hanson last year; taken in the 1970s or early 1980s it features Fakir Musafar performing a then rare navel piercing.

Bob’s photos of the tattoo scene of the 70s/80s are highlighted in YBP’s Lost Love 2.