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.
This was originally posted to the SD Tumblr blog on 9th September 2014. Raelyn was an inspiration to many, myself included, and her presence is greatly missed in the body modification community.
To my generation, the body artists and pioneers featured in RE/Search Publications iconic MODERN PRIMITIVES are our Major Arcana. In a time where information was hard to come by we read their interviews over and over and took them as the words of our elders, helping to illuminate the path we were on and most importantly to reaffirm to us that we weren’t alone.
Raelyn Gallina was the first artist I ever heard talking about scarification. Her influence as a body modification artist is often overlooked- regrettably overlooked- but you can bet she influenced the people who’ve inspired you.
In the twenty five years that have passed since it’s publication and to my initial introduction to Raelyn I only had the pleasure of meeting her once, but I found her to be a funny, warm and spirited woman who despite dealing with her own medical problems took the time to invite me into her hotel room, tell me some stories and raise a little hell.
Raelyn passed away this weekend. My condolences to her friends and loved ones.
I met this gentleman somewhere around 1996-7 at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Tattoo Convention in Portland, ME. I’m sure I have the notes somewhere to go along with this but if my memory serves he had been cut by Raelyn Gallina and Keith Alexander- though who did what is lost in time.
It wasn’t common to see scarification at conventions back then; even displayed piercings could cause furled eyebrows and not so quiet mutterings of disapproval from some of the older biker folks, so when I spotted him from across the room I quickly made my way over to chat with him and snap a few photos. Part of the charm of the smaller community back then was having instant mutual friends; conventions were like family reunions that gave you the opportunity to meet some truly genuine characters.