Elayne Angel admits she’s more conservative about piercing than many others, and as far as her new book, The Piercing Bible, is concerned, that probably works to her advantage. Over five years in the making, the book is billed as “the definitive guide to safe body piercing,” which ostensibly seems like a dicey proposition; there could be some (understandable) apprehension to an actual guide to piercing for public consumption. Angel cuts this off at the head, though, in an early section in which she states that “piercing (is) not a do-it-yourself hobby,” and that this is not meant to be a handbook for hacks or people who think they can blow off an apprenticeship. On piercing kits sold in some shops, for example, she writes, “These are no safer than a home root canal kit and must be avoided.”
What the book actually is is a user’s guide. As it methodically goes through all the necessary steps one should consider before getting pierced (choosing a good shop, advice for kids and parents, etc.), it strips away any notion of piercing as something underground and deviant. Angel explores the different motivations one may have, but places the act itself in the context of normal behavior—something so normal, in fact, that one can write a sober, conservative guide to it.
As the book progress, Angel discusses most piercings in detail: what is appropriate placement? Appropriate jewelry? Appropriate anatomy? How long will it take to heal? A long section on aftercare follows, filling in any holes that may have remained. Beyond that, many of the latter sections of the book are dedicated to piercing as an element of modern culture, whether it’s looking for work with visible piercings (and what a person’s priorities should be), dealing with prejudice and even what to do if one wants to become a piercer oneself.
It’s an incredibly thorough piece of work, but it doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming a manual. There’s enough there to help you understand each procedure and what goes into making it successful, but stops short of making you feel as if you can perform a certain procedure simply because of what you’ve read. There’s really not much bad to say about The Piercing Bible; Angel only briefly touches on subjects like microdermals, with which she has little experience, so there’s certainly room for expansion here, but as both an offering to the mainstream and a guide for the experienced, the book is certainly a success.
Visit PiercingBible.com for more information.
As well, here’s my interview with Elayne Angel, in which we discuss how the book came together, her career as a piercer and how Hurricane Katrina changed her life. Stream or download the podcast below. Enjoy!