SPC: Big Ed Fenster and the Silver Anchor


My attempts to write for Modblog- considering I’m not a real writer- will be more grounded in personal memories and oral histories. I’m giving you folks a look at the history of modern body modification through my life and perspective. These aren’t well researched footnoted clinical studies, more the fruits of a life spent in the Body Modification scene. Some details are added because the memory makes me happy. Others are omitted because it’s been 20+ years I’ve simply forgotten the whole story. Maybe that’s why writing these is so important. So that nothing gets left behind.

So thank you for taking the time to read these, please discuss them and if you’d like to read more, let me know.

Also. If you have a personal memory you’d like to share- get in touch! I’d really like to hear your stories.

Zephyrhills Florida was first incorporated as a city in 1914. According to the 2000 Census it was home to 10,833 residents, many of whom were over 65 and retired. It’s close to Tampa and to my home town of Plant City, and can boast to being the birthplace of several famous NASCAR drivers, an American Idol finalist and notorious Ghoul Carl Tanzier.

It was also, for a few years at least, the Body Modification capital of the world.

Far from the cultural meccas of the West Coast, Zephryhills was where advanced body modification pioneer Mr. Jay (Jack Yount) settled after his wife passed away and he retired from American Standard Plumbing, where his only full apprentice Mike Natali lived and where famed ‘Modification Doctor’ Ronald Brown made frequent visits for underground surgery. It  was also the home base of Big Ed Fenster and the Silver Anchor Body Jewelry Company.

At the time finding body piercing jewelry was no easy task. In the 1980s and early 1990s the companies manufacturing it were few and far between- not only was it not available at every mall or website, but even most tattoo shops didn’t have piercers to buy it from/install it for you. The Gauntlet. Spain’s Customs. Pleasurable Piercing. The Good Art Company, Toucan for gold, Wildcat in the UK and Fenster’s Silver Anchor were the big names at the time. Pre-internet. Some had catalogs while others had stapled and xeroxed price sheets, included with your order. When I first started buying from Silver Anchor they didn’t even have a retail price list since they only served wholesale clients.  The business- owned by Big Ed Fenster who was a nudist, swinger and friend of both Jack and Sailor Sid Diller shared a name with Sid’s Ft. Lauderdale tattoo studio and was located in a small house that served as the offices/Ed’s living quarters and a few satellite trailers where the jewelry was manufactured.


A jeweler at Silver Anchor, circa 1980s.

Twenty something years later I still content that Silver Anchor produced the finest quality body jewelry of all of the companies that were around back then. Open to interpretation I know, but during their “good years” with Mike Natali as GM and his partner Chuck as shop manager they put out top notch large gauge jewelry that had a mirror finish that I’ve never seen rivaled. Chuck was one of the few jewelers who, by hand, could produce a ring for a P.A. in 1/2” stock with an inner diameter of 1/2” with a threaded 5/8” ball that fit perfectly. Sure, some of their output would make a devoted APP acolyte cringe- the 00g externally threaded barbells I had made as a present to myself on my 17th birthday would likely cause a panic, but the threads were buffed for easy insertion and years later when I finally gifted them to a friend they had retained a perfect finish.

In my time visiting the shop- with Jack at first and then later to spend time with Mike and Chuck- it was always an adventure. My brother and I would meet up with Brian Skellie, Kevin Covella and Rob Moore, maybe pack a few orders (when I first started going I was 16) and be in awe that we finally found people who ‘got’ it. Sometimes we’d continue on to Jack’s house and document a modification procedure, meet some of his out of town friends or just sit in the pool or hot tub and enjoy the company. The shift was taking place quickly from an older gay demographic to younger people who were taking on modification as a culture and not a kink and Jack was grooming us to help bridge the gap. Visits to Silver Anchor had them asking us questions about making ‘earlets’ since more people were stretching their lobes and despite having made custom 1/2 question mark shaped nipple jewelry they had never seen a stretched earlobe before mine.

You have to appreciate dealing with Ed- who’s entire history was with piercing as a sexual thing being able to make some of the most complicated “u-tubes” imaginable but being completely vexed by the mechanics of a plug for stretched ear lobes. U-tubes were urethra tubes, which later went on to be universally referred to as ‘Princes Wands’ and Ed specialized in them. I remember sitting at the desk one day packing orders and seeing this MONSTER of a tube in his inbox (back when the inbox was actually a box and not an email account) that he had made for himself. At the thickest it was a full 5/8″ with 1″ balls and 4g posts for his apadravya. I remember thinking that it looked more like a billy club than a dick accessory. Ed looked at me sheepishly and said “my girlfriend likes me to wear this when I fuck her”.

My teen years were a little strange.

Emil Gundelach, Big Ed Fenster and Mev Chapman (seated)

Emil Gundelach, Big Ed Fenster and Mev Chapman (seated)

Ultimately, under Mike’s direction Silver Anchor became a powerhouse of a company. At the time it was a sellers market, and with body jewelry being as rare is at was it wasn’t uncommon to pay over $20, wholesale, for a 12g ring. When things get too big the stresses start to appear and eventually Mike and his partner moved on to start Bravo! Body Jewelry. Several of the jewelers Ed had hired did the same, and before long over saturation of a niche product flooded a small area. Tattoo shops started selling body jewelry. Tampa, Zephryhills nearest major city, saw a piercing only shop open under the name of Leather Tiger (that’s a story in and of itself- with a ‘head piercer’ who had to have PFIQ’s Pierce with a Pro open when he’d do a piercing) and once Jack Yount passed away things mostly fell apart.

In time Silver Anchor closed it’s doors. I’m not sure what happened to it’s backstock or employees. I’m not even sure what happened to Ed Fenster. But I still have a handful of my Silver Anchor jewelry still in their original bags that I keep for old times sakes.

Here’s a video featuring Ed (and very little clothing, sterile or aseptic technique or gloves- remember when it was filmed) that I posted on Modblog back in 2008. It’ll hopefully give you a glimpse into the sexual nature of pre-1990s body piercing/modification: http://news.bme.com/2008/04/09/vermicious-sid/

My next piece will hopefully be on my mentor Jack. Until then…

Thanks for reading.

377714_4397120693666_450451457_nShawn has spent the majority of his ife in the modification world.
In addition to writing poorly for Modblog, he also edits the often neglected Scarwars site, the more frequently updated Occult Vibrations tattoo blog as well as his personal diary at Sacred Debris. He lives in Philadelphia with his faithful Italian Greyhound Bailey, his roommate Megh and a steadily growing Pushead collection

19 thoughts on “SPC: Big Ed Fenster and the Silver Anchor

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve written an oral history; I feel like my writing was all over the place. I’ll work on being a little more concise and linear next time.

  2. I have fond memories of Ed Fenster, Silver Anchor and still have a large amount of their jewelry. Best I have ever personally used.

  3. Really, really interesting! Please keep this up, I for one would love to read more about this kind of stuff! Also, I really like the memoir style of writing, it’s very personal and authentic. Great!

  4. This is great Sean! It’s what modblog needs and it’s totally fascinating to read. Thanks for the time and effort and I hope there will be more in the future!

  5. Yes I did. I flew into Florida for an antique bike meet (sound familiar) in 1989. I had been looking forever (it seemed, actually couple of years) for a company who could make 1/2 inch 8 GA rings for me at a decent price and quality. I met a girl there (I stayed two weeks into Daytona bike week) who told me about Ed and Silver Anchor. Prior to my meeting him in person, the price quoted as prohibitive ($60 a ring). Once I met him he agreed to reduce his price to $12 a ring. I think in part because I told him what I wanted to do with them, as in start many piercings in large GA and find a better way to heal them. He also agreed to provide me needles. gauntlet needles were comparatively dull and my other suppliers were also not the quality I wanted / needed. He mentioned Jack when I was there, wanted to know if I had ever met him. Remember, this was pre internet, so I did not know Jack’s name. I forget the name of the girl who sent me to Ed’s place. too many years now. She was a ( I think THE) Local piercer. Without Ed’s help, I would never have been able to develope my large GA piercing technique’s. In 1989, Gauntlet was unwilling to do even a 10 GA in most instances. I think the exception was a Prince Albert, although when Jim Ward did mine in 1987, he insisted on a 12 GA. At least I asked him for a further back then ‘normal’ placement so it would have enough support to stretch later. Even as a novice I had a feeling that where Jim was at was not where I wanted to be, but he was the ONLY one then (1987).

  6. Really enjoyed your blog and pictures. It was great to her of the early days of body piercing. Thanks for the pictures too. You did a great job on the blog. Fortunately buying body jewelry is so much easier. I would hate to calculate the money I have spent on mod jewelry in many shapes and gauges,,,and love it all. I currently have a PA and wear at 00 ga curved barbell ring. Have other piercings too. Look forward to the next blog. Thanks!!

  7. Definitely more of this, please. Very enjoyable. Looking back into the past like this is so often inspiring.

  8. are there any question(s) anyone would ask of me, or Shawn? Sometimes the right question can bring out the memories

  9. Thanks for sharing, I’d love to see more history on here, it was the old experience write-ups, and history that got me into BME, and SPC online way back when.

  10. Awesome article!! I also really enjoyed the video. It’s amazing to me to see how much things have changed. I couldn’t imagine piercing someone without gloves, aseptic, etc..What type of needle contraption was that anyway and how was it advised to heal a piercing then? Was people still doing saline soaks? I remember reading about an herbal aftercare Todd used. Was an herbal aftercare common?

  11. Aftercare back then was super primitive and by todays standards fairly terrifying.

  12. CHUCK!!!
    Seriously, you were hands down the best body jewelry artist I ever met. I’d go visit you guys at SA/Bravo! and you’d come out of the manufacturing room with some new piece with impossible dimensions and a shine so polished that it looked like a work of art. I miss you guys.

  13. Yea Buddy, I own a Townhome in Brandon with my partner Ken of going on 8 years and I Lease my own space at Salon Lofts in Brandon Town Center doing hair, you know I was Jack’s Hairdresser also, those curls of his were not natural, lol (I miss him), what the hell have you two guys been up to?

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