Professional Piercing Basics DVD Review

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of the “Professional Piercing Basics Volume 1: Above The Neck” DVD put out by Ron Garza. Over the last few months since I first viewed it, I have implemented a lot of the techniques into my daily piercing procedures and am quite impressed with what I learned.


For my no holds barred: the good, the bad and the ugly type review of this dvd as well as testimonials by several others, keep on keeping on.

This DVD, contains advanced techniques for freehand piercers (or people wanting to become freehand piercers). It is not a How To Pierce video, it assumes you already know the basics. If you don’t know the basics and the “whys” and you  are trying to learn piercing techniques purely from this (or any) video you will inevitably become an ill informed hack and a danger to your customers. For this reason, a lot of piercers have been very outspoken about their views on this video being available to the general public. I, however, think that this video should be available to ANYONE wanting to view it. For one it is a valuable tool for the informed client, or the “piercing dork” who just wants to stay abreast of the latest techniques (even if they have no desire to try them out). Also, if a DIY type piercer is going to pay the 69 bucks for this video, at least that shows some commitment to the trade. To make this a “for professionals only” video would be doing a disservice to the industry as well as the piercing community at large.

For example, YouTube is full of how to pierce videos, if someone wants to buy this DVD, full of good information, why should we stop them? Ron makes it clear this video is for the experienced piercers and it doesn’t even demonstrate the basic building blocks needed for most of the procedures performed. I, for one, fully support this sharing of knowledge and think that limiting it to professionals would be of no benefit to the piercing community.

As for the content, it’s extremely educational and inspirational. I am a professional piercer of 14 years. I stay active in most of the piercing forums and try to “talk shop” whenever possible. I am extremely happy to say I learned a few great new tricks and techniques from this video. I actually got this video a few months ago and since then I have implemented a lot of the techniques I learned from this video into my daily routine. Many have become second nature and I can safely say this lead to the single biggest  change of technique  I have made since going freehand many years ago.

Some of the techniques I don’t like, but one of the beauties of this DVD is that it’s not just Ron showing off his techniques,  Ruben Lew and Chris Glunt also show variations of several of the piercings in their own personal style. As an experienced piercer, you can pick and choose which techniques you would like to implement and which just don’t fit in with your style. If you are a professional piercer and can find one technique or trick worth implementing yourself, this dvd is well worth the cost of admission.

My only complaint with the dvd is the production. The sound is bad, and in several parts of the video background “shop noises” distract from the content. The majority of the video is shot with head cameras, and for the most part it’s not too bad. However, a few instances of  obstructed view make some of the techniques a little harder to grasp. One amusing little blooper is the word “NEEEDLES”, in one of the first segments. Modblog readers know I am no stranger to typos and grammar errors, and some of you sure like pointing them out to me, so it’s fun to take my turn as the typo nazi for once!

None of these issues are deal breakers though, this is still an excellent piercing video. I would even go as far as to say this is the best piercing video since  the Pierce With a Pro videos by Jim Ward.  I only mention the negative points in it to be honest in my review and in hopes of seeing some improvements in Volume 2.  (Editors note: Ron is more than aware of these issues and I have been reassured that Volume 2 as well as the Spanish release of this one have improved on them immensely.)

In closing, production issues aside, this video series is ground breaking and has the potential to prove a huge boom to the advancement of our industry. Watching this video opened my eyes to several new ways of doing things. In many instances I had “why the hell didn’t I think of that” moments in regards to some not-so common sense ideas presented in the video. One prime example of that is a simple needle bending technique using an eyelet. Seriously, how have I had a shop full of needles and eyelets together for 14 years and not once considered using the eyelet as a tool for the needle? I can not recommend this video highly enough. I  am so sold on it, that I plan to use it as a visual aid for teaching certain piercings to my apprentice . Needless to say,  I am extremely enthusiastic to see what volume 2  has to offer and to learn from it as well.

And now to steal a quote from Reading Rainbow: “But don’t just take my word for it…”

DVD testimonials

I (Ron) gave an advanced copy to freehand piercing pioneer and tireless champion, Pat Tidwell ,  for his thoughts on the project. This is what he had to say:

It’s outstanding! I find this video to be an amazing start toward understanding this so called ‘EXTREME PIERCING’. This DVD brings it all back to true basics and showcases the full talents of what our minds and hands are truly capable of doing !! I CAN NOT wait to work with Ron and continue this outstanding project of much needed higher education for our community!

I (Ron) also gave an advanced copy to John Johnson, who is a reputable piercing instructor in his own right with over 10 years experience, currently is on the APP board, and was recently awarded the Josh Prentice Volunteer Award by the APP in recognition of his tireless help with so much in our industry. He had this to say about Vol 1 of the DVD…

Ron’s video is thorough and well done. I’ve adjusted some of my own techniques after watching Ron, Chris, and Ruben pierce and I look forward to the rest of the series. This will help any experienced piercer take their work to the next level.

Emails from actual people who bought the DVD

I just received the Piercing DVD Vol. 1 in the mail today and have already watched it twice. I am looking forward to using some of the amazing techniques, especially the tongue and lip techniques. I learned mainly from freehand piercers and I found this video to be very educational! Thanks for spreading the knowledge. 🙂 -John T.

Got my dvd today and just finished watching it…all i can say is thank
you and amazing work!

I have been freehand piercing for about 4 years now and this was very
informative on different techniques and needle bending some of which
I have never seen , used or thought of!

Cant wait for vol 2!!!
thank you again” – Jeremy

I just got done watching your video. I got to say wow. It’s impressive!! Thanks for making this video for people like me that is trying to better their knowledge of piercing. There are things that you do that I wouldn’t have thought of.
Again thanks for this video I can’t wait tell the other ones come out.

Due to the high demand  the DVD is currently out of stock at BME shop. However, it should be back in shortly in both the English and Spanish versions!

A brief chat with John Durante of Evolve Body Jewelry

John Durante is one of those guys whom I have known of for many years. However, I don’t believe I actually had the pleasure of meeting him until the Philly Tattoo Convention early last year. Since then, I have ran into him at a few conventions and have always enjoyed talking to him, so I felt sure the modblog readers would enjoy hearing from him as well.


John is a good example of a body mod renaissance man. He is actively involved in so many facets of this industry/community that he is hard to keep up with.  Perhaps later, I will have to interview him again to dig deeper into his piercing and scarification work, as well as his extensive traveling and involvement with ancient and modern body rituals alike. This time though, we are focusing on the body jewelry company he founded, Evolve.


For the interview, keep on keeping on.

The following is from a Skype chat I had with him a while ago, combined with some of the  amazing pictures he has shared with me.

John Durante: Hey bro!!!

Sean Philips: Hi man, how’s it going?

John Durante: Good, working super hard, rearranging the Evolve office and work shop, setting up a larger work area. We finally got the rest of our stone machines set up here!!!


Sean Philips: Very cool, where is Evolve out of anyhow, your always on the road. But I assume there has to be a home base somewhere.

John Durante: We are based in Seattle, WA. Actually, right next to Laughing Buddha, the studio I work at.

Sean Philips: Awesome, that sounds extremely convenient! So I guess the best place to start the interview is with the start of Evolve. What’s the history of your company?

John Durante: Well, I moved to Seattle between 6-7 years ago. I moved here from kuala Lumpur Malaysia, where I had been working at Borneo Ink. I started the company with my business partner, Michelle Hamilton, about a year later, so about 6 years ago.

Sean Philips: …and how did you personally get your start in the production and distribution of organics?

John Durante: I have spent 13+ years extensively traveling and living all over SE Asia. I had made the connections with many carvers and material suppliers many years before I actually began my company. So when me and Michelle started Evolve we utilized many of those connections, as well as starting our own US based production on top of that.


Sean Philips: When I think of Evolve, I think of  all the road sales and traveling, what brought that about?

John Durante: I always wanted to be able to connect directly with our clientelle, learn directly what people want, what works, and what does not. Plus it’s fun, and makes the good ol’ USA a much smaller place!!! But mainly it is piercers connecting with other piercers, not just some salesman.

Sean Philips: It definitely seems to work, Evolve seems to be in most  of the shops I have visited that carry decent jewelry. I assume a lot of that is because of the easy accessability of the traveling sales people.

John Durante: We work hard at it, and I hope it makes people happy!!!

Sean Philips: Speaking of happy people, how about your carvers? How is Evolve’s relationship with them?

John Durante: They are Evolve, whether they be our carvers overseas, or our carvers here in the USA. I am happy to have been able to positively impact the lives of our carvers all over the world. I personally am friends with, and spend a good deal of time with our carvers/artists here in the US and abroad. Evolve is a big family that spans so many countries.


Sean Philips:  John, I am going to backtrack a bit, because my brain refuses to work in a congruent order…… How did you get your personal start in body mods?

John Durante: Hahaha, cool. I began my facination with piercing and body art around 92′, but did not start working full time as a professional piercer until late 94′. I can honestly say that I was in the right place at the right time living in Los Angeles, around old school Gauntlet croud as piercing was coming out of the closet so to speak, from a primarily gay and S&M subculture. Remember the Aerosmith video???  As soon as that video aired, all of a sudden piercing became mainstream!!! I started my professional piercing career at Puncture Body Piercing in 1994, and since then have worked at so many of our country’s best studios, and for that matter many of the world’s best.

Sean Philips: Oh yeah, Aerosmith and Alicia Silverstone set a trend that has long since became a staple of our industry in that video. God bless that big lipped bastard, and his video writers for inadvertantly setting the stage for our careers.

John Durante: Im serious, and its funny, I later had the chance to thank him myself when he came in to our studio in Los Angeles.

Sean Philips:  That’s awesome that you got to meet and thank him for that.  That video was a long time ago, you are definitely dating yourself with that reference. Hell, I got my start in ’96 and people are amazed I haven’t jumped ship or totally burned out, you have 2 years on me, what’s kept your heart in it so long?

John Durante: I have such a passion for piercing and this art, but honestly I have an equal passion for world travel and exploration. That travel is usually oriented around piercing, or jewelry, or anthropology, or better yet ethnography. So the time I give myself to travel I believe greatly saves me from burnout!!!

Sean Philips: Sounds like you got it figured out pretty well. Back to Evolve, what seperates Evolve from the countless other organic companies that have popped up in recent years? Does Evolve make any political, humanitarian, or ecological type impacts?

John Durante: L.T.D indeed!!! First, Evolve is a company founded out of an almost 2 decade passion for this industry, founded by piercers for piercers, and jewelry lovers. Not like so many popping up to simply try to exploit what some business people may see as some fad to capitalize on. I have been here, and will be here through good and bad for life. I can’t say I try to get overly political, but we do go out of our way to take care of our carvers around the world, here and abroad. Exploitation is no part of how we do business.


Sean Philips: LTD is Live the Dream, correct? I see that on a lot of Garza’s stuff as well, how did that all come about?

John Durante: Hahaha, well LTD is a crew of close friends and family who share a passion for life, and traveling the world. Myself, Ron Garza, Chris Glunt, Dave Gilstrap, Wayde Dunn, and more. One thing to add about what sets Evolve apart is how much we are focusing on our custom work here in the USA lately. We’re now producing almost any custom stone or wood right here in Seattle.

Sean Philips: Are there any custom pieces or styles you are particularly proud of?

John Durante: Alot!!! Our wood is second to none these days, produced here in Seattle with high end exotics. Our new stone production here is also coming along very nicely. Some awesome weights, labrets, conch pegs, and plugs!!! And to add to the LTD thing, essentially it’s more of a mindset!!!


Sean Philips: Ironically enough, someone is buying some Evolve  jewelry from me at this very moment. The black onyx facet cut ones, to be exact. (I do most of these interviews at work, so sometimes I have to deal with customers in the middle of them. It was cool to be talking to a customer about the Evolve plugs while also talking to John about Evolve simultaneously.)

John Durante: Hahaha, AWESOME, thats what I like to hear!!! Nice, the onyx is super clean!!!

Sean Philips: The facet cut stones really  fly off my shelves.

John Durante: We just got in a bunch of faceted opalite, smokey quartz, onyx, carnelian, and rose quartz.


Sean Philips: Very cool. Does evolve also do custom pieces?

John Durante: We do indeed, we just finished getting the last of our stone tools set up for plugs.  We have been doing custom wood for a while, now lots of custom stone labrets, conch pegs, some stone weights, and specialty materials. Much, much, more to come. We also do some teflon, we do custom for various mod procedures.

Sean Philips: I didn’t realize you did teflon, that’s good to know.

John Durante: We dont really advertise it, but sure enough!!!

Sean Philips: You should, that’s a good niche that isn’t really filled by many companies.

John Durante: Indeed I should. We do alot of things like TS (trans scrotal) plugs and such that are not so common.

Sean Philips: Are there any long term employees you want to mention and if so, what role do they fill for Evolve?

John Durante: Well Michelle Hamilton my partner, Sophia who is our manager/road manager, James Woodsmall is our head carver here, and Chris Jakubiak, who is as well one of our awesome carvers. As well as many of our road team we have out yearly.

Sean Philips: Very cool. Lets see we got some history some current how about the future?

John Durante: Well I hope to expand our production here in the USA, and getting more international distributers. We may soon open an Evolve studio for piercing and jewelry production, as well as working more with distributing some publications for tattooed kingpin, modern primitives, the Godoy brothers, and Ron Garzas LTD productions.


Sean Philips: So if any modblog readers want to contact you, what’s the best way for them to do so?

John Durante: The best way  to contact me about  Evolve is via email at [email protected], or call at 8773291834

Much thanks to John for taking the time to Skype this conversation with me and get me all of these pictures. If you see him running around a tattoo convention, a Mayan temple or anywhere else for that matter be sure to say hi. He is one of the nicest, most down to Earth and knowledgeable guys in the industry and he is always willing to talk your ear off.

Your Lips Rewrite History

If there’s one thing for which Chris Glunt is good (and there is, of course, more than one thing!), it’s having the vision necessary to pull off some incredibly beautiful and difficult suspensions. It was earlier this year that he suspended for six hours, and there’s no shortage of other impressive efforts in his repertoire. This time around, he, Josh and BBB headed to an abandoned gold mine:

[It] had some pretty breathtaking views to do a few suspensions. It was a four-and-a-half-mile uphill hike to get to the mine, but it was definitely worth it. Once we arrived, we took a good look around and began to rig. Fortunately, the place was very well-suited for suspensions, thanks to a large metal I-beam structure left behind from the gold mining days. Once we got it all worked out, we made our way into the mine to do the piercings. Piercing a mile or so inside the earth was an interesting experience and definitely added to the experience as a whole. Once we made our way in pretty far and found a nice spot that wasn’t wet, we set up an impromptu piercing area near one of the caved-in tunnels. Piercing with only the help of a few dim flashlights and nothing to mark with made it even more intense. Once we were finished we made our way out of the mountain and lifted Triple-B up and onto the rig facing the sheer couple hundred-foot drop. The added anxiety from thinking you could die any moment overlooking that drop off surely heightened the suspension.

Tattoo Hollywood, BME’s first tattoo convention, is coming to Los Angeles from August 21-23, featuring contests, prizes and some of the best artists from around the world! Click here for more information.

See more in Ritual Events (Suspension Teams and Bonus Galleries)

BME Podcast #1: Allen Falkner Talks Suspension

Holy crap, it worked! Welcome, friends, to the inaugural BME Podcast. Isn’t this exciting? We figured it was time to revive the old BME Radio format and spruce it up a bit with all sorts of Web 2.0 nonsense, and so here we are. As I mention on the show, this is very much still in the experimental stages, so any and all feedback is very much appreciated, both in terms of the sound quality and technical aspects, as well as guests you’d like to hear and topics and issues you’d like to be discussed. If things go well, you could be hearing a whole lot more of my deep and manly timbre.

On today’s podcast, our guest is Allen Falkner, who joins us to discuss the upcoming SusCon he’s organizing, Nevada’s current attempt to ban suspension, the six-hour suspension Chris Glunt just performed, and more. (Also, visit him at Fade Fast for all your tattoo removal needs!)

Stream or download the show below:


Right-click and “Save Target/Link As” to download the .mp3 directly

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Music featured:

Capital H – Global Food Shortage
Drive-By Truckers – Where the Devil Don’t Stay
The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound

Six-Hour Suspension

It’s not infrequent that we touch on the subject of how difficult it is to do something in the arena of suspension that’s truly unique, which says more about the popularity of the act than the creativity of the people involved in it, but nonetheless. Well, Chris Glunt (who, we should mention, is very experienced with suspension) recently undertook a suspension that was low on theatrics, but which relied on a rare sort of dedication. On his blog, Allen Falkner writes:

Believe it or not, his goal was not to tie, or even break the record. Although he did, his real goal was to attain a new experience. Prior to hanging he did a week long fast and then deprived himself of sleep for a night. Chris did fall asleep for 45 minutes 3 hours before suspending and really I’m not sure what effect that may have had on his whole experience.

I know one of his goals was to pass out, sleep or possibly leave his normal mental state. Did he accomplish it? By his own account, no. However, I feel that he is still processing the whole experience. As someone that has done both fasting and sleep deprivation experiments, I can honestly say that it takes a bit of time to put it all in perspective. The experiences are exhausting and draining by themselves. Combine a 6+-hour suspension in with that and the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual change can and will take some time to fully comprehend.

A few more shots, after the jump.

Chris Glunt’s Six Hour Suspension [Hooker Life]

Getting Shit Dunn!

This fantastic five hour scarification piece is on Eric and by Wayde Dunn (more). It completes what they started at Scarwars3 last year in Philadelphia!

I’ll keep you posted on how it heals! Finally, Wayde also asked me to mention that from the 23rd of August 2008 until the 23rd of September he will be working from Laughing Buddha in Seattle, WA as a guest body piercer plus he will be taking appointments for scarification! You can contact him at [email protected].

From there – Himself, Chris Glunt, Ron Garza, John Durante and Dave Gillstrap (collectively known as the LTD Crew) are heading to South East Asia, so keep your eyes peeled for them!

LTD Crew Cliff Suspension

Ron Garza, John Durante, and Chris Glunt have been exploring the world, and recently found themselves at San Marcos on Lake Atitaln in Guatemala — $10 a night accommodations — and after doing some 50ft cliff dives, already high on adrenaline, Chris suspended with two 6ga hooks and rigging tied to a boulder. Looks like an amazing experience — continue reading for more photos, and add their pages to your reading list to follow their adventures of course.





And some random travel photos as well… What’s stopping you from being in pictures like these?