Happy birthday to the almighty Gauntlet!

35 years ago today, body piercing moved out of the basements and into a proper storefront on 8720 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, California. If not for this studio, it’s founders, it’s proteges and it’s legacy in general who knows where we would be today.

gauntlet

So take a minute out of your day to reflect back on our modern history and where our community came from.  Then thank the man behind the Gauntlet who is still an active member of this community and read some of the awesome articles he has written for BME in the past.

31 Years ago today…

…..Doug Malloy died.

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Doug Malloy was the allias used by Richard Simonton. Richard Simonton was a married father of four. He was an executive with the Muzak Corporation as well as a  founding member of the American Association of Theatre Organ Enthusiasts.

As Doug Malloy, he was heavily involved with the underground  body piercing scene and was an integral part of bringing piercing to where it is today, via his many contributions to the industry.

The below text is from the BME Wiki:

As Doug Malloy, he was an instrumental supporter and patron of the early body modification scene. By 1975, he had published a short, largely fictional autobiography entitled Diary of a Piercing Freak under his assumed name, which was sold to a fetish publisher and released in softback under the title The Art of Pierced Penises and Decorative Tattoos. He had also established contacts amongst body piercing enthusiasts both in Los Angeles and on a global scale, including London tattooist Alan Oversby (better known as Mr. Sebastian), Roland Loomis (better known as Fakir Musafar), Viking Navarro, Sailor Sid Diller and Jim Ward. He was also an organizer and active member of the T&P Group, an association of tattoo and piercing enthusiasts based in Los Angeles.

The upsurge in interest in body piercing had created enough interest that Simonton advised Jim Ward, who had previously worked as a designer, that he should start a body piercing business. Simonton advanced Ward the money to start Gauntlet, originally a home based business, and Jim began to produce body piercing jewelry. Simonton’s experience as an amateur piercer formed the basis of the primitive techniques used at the time, and his network of contacts was instrumental in spreading the popularity of body piercing, especially genital piercing. By 1978 Gauntlet had a retail location and the world’s first body piercing studio was established. Doug also provided extensive notes that were ghostwritten by Ward into full articles for PFIQ, the first magazine devoted to the subject of body piercing, a Gauntlet publication.

One of Simonton’s other notable contributions to the development of body piercing in contemporary society was his pamphlet Body & Genital Piercing in Brief which is responsible for a large portion of the myths surrounding the origins of many piercings, most notably genital ones. Simonton’s personal enthusiasm for body piercing as an erotic practice and his love of the fantastic came together in this document, which is almost entirely fictional or highly speculative. Many of the theories regarding the practice and origins of various piercings historically have been distorted by the excellent circulation of this document or later documents which quote it.

If not for Doug Malloy’s enthusiasm for body piercings, we might have never had Gauntlet and without Gauntlet we might have never had professional piercing studios. So let’s take a few minutes out of our day to remember where we came from and pay respect where respect is due.

Here is a link to an old BME News article by none other than Jim Ward himself, explaining who Doug Malloy was and how he has made his mark on modern body piercing:

Who Was Doug Malloy: by Jim Ward

A visit to London and Remembering Mr. Sebastian [Running The Gauntlet - By Jim Ward]

X. A visit to London and Remembering Mr. Sebastian

In March of 1978 the ITAA put on another tattoo convention, this time in Amsterdam. Doug and I decided we would attend. While vending was not an option, it was, nonetheless, and opportunity to meet people and proselytize for our favorite form of body art. Somehow our plans evolved into a month long vacation with Sailor Sid and Elizabeth Weinzirl joining us through most of it.


Doug Malloy and Elizabeth Weinzirl at the ITAA tattoo convention in Reno, 1977

Doug Malloy and Elizabeth Weinzirl at the ITAA tattoo convention in Reno, 1977.


My lover Eric wasn’t included in the plans and wasn’t very happy about it. The fact was I didn’t have the financial resources to take him along, and he wasn’t bringing in any income of his own with which to pay his own way. By this time our relationship was already beginning to crumble.

Elizabeth Weinzirl had a reputation as the grandmother of the tattoo community. At the time of this trip she was in her mid 70s though she could easily have passed for 60. She was a widow, her husband having been dead for a number of years.

  

Gauntlet shirts are now available!
Click above to get one at BMEshop.

She was a delightful, friendly woman, very much at ease in a wide variety of surroundings. Being around gay men didn’t phase her. Truth be told I think she was a bit of a fag hag. She seemed to bask in their presence, and on this trip she had ample opportunity.

Elizabeth’s husband had been a health inspector. I probably wouldn’t even remember the fact except she told the story of his going to inspect a Chinese restaurant. When he pointed out a mass of garbage that needed to be disposed of, the chef replied indignantly, “Not garbage. Soup stock.”

When asked why she got tattooed, she said that her husband wanted a tattooed wife. She considered the options and decided to get tattooed. Some feminists might find this offensive, but it was said tongue in cheek and with a twinkle in her eye. There was never any hint that she felt coerced, and my feeling was that she shared her husband’s interest in and enthusiasm for body art. She even confessed that she had had her nipples pierced at one time, but for some reason had taken the jewelry out.

We arrived at Heathrow on Tuesday, March 7th for a week in London prior to moving on to the Continent. Our main reason for this lengthy stay was in order to spend some quality time with Alan Oversby, better know in piercing and tattoo circles as Mr. Sebastian. We also wanted to meet as many other British piercing enthusiasts as possible.

Accommodating the four of us wasn’t possible in Alan’s small apartment — or flat as he would have called it — so he had made arrangements for us to stay with different friends.


Around Alan's dinner table, left to right, Sailor Sid Diller, Alan Oversby (Mr. Sebastian), Doug Malloy, Elizabeth Weinzirl, and myself (Jim Ward).

Around Alan’s dinner table, left to right, Sid, Alan, Doug, Elizabeth, and myself.


Regardless of where we stayed, we were all treated as honored guests. Doug and I stayed with a delightful gay couple who lived in Clapham. Their names were Mike and Robin. I believe Sid stayed with Alan, but I can’t remember where Elizabeth bedded down. It’s possible one of them stayed with a client of Alan’s named Rudy Inhelder. There are some pictures of Alan’s work on Rudy on a German web site.

Not surprisingly Sid was his usual boisterous self, never missing an opportunity to joke around. While we were visiting with Alan, Sid happened to notice some folding chairs with clear plastic seats. It wasn’t long before he had instigated a photo op: getting a picture of his guiche and ass tattoo through the seat of the chair.

Doug Malloy assessing the shot.

Doug assessing the shot.
Elizabeth Weinzirl looks on.

Elizabeth looks on.

Pictures of the photo session remain, but unfortunately the snapshots themselves have disappeared.

Sadly, also missing are most of the photos that were taken at a cocktail party that was given in our honor. A dozen or more of Alan’s clients showed up. Elizabeth was the only woman present and was perfectly at ease as the clothes came off and the cameras began clicking. The few surviving photos I have are mostly closeups taken by myself or Sid or Alan.

Alan Oversby's flatmate Bjarne.

Alan’s flatmate Bjarne.
Alan Oversby, Sailor Sid, and a playmate of Alan's he called Thing.

Alan, Sid, and a playmate of Alan’s he called Thing.

My impression of Alan was of a rather private man who was a bit difficult to get to know. Not that he was particularly shy. He would casually disrobe and allow himself to be photographed, but there was always a reserved quality about his actions. He could converse with intelligence and ease, but to access the man behind the mask was a challenge.

During our stay in London I took advantage of the opportunity to interview Alan for PFIQ. Prior to becoming a tattooist Alan had worked as an art teacher. There’s no doubt his background as an artist was of great benefit when he left teaching to pursue his passions for tattooing and piercing.

Alan Oversby: Mr. Sebastian

Aside from any living canvases who may be alive still, I don’t know how much of his art work survives. One of my little treasures in a ceramic egg which Alan made as a gift for Doug. It is sculpted with male pecs and prominent pierced nipples and finished with a metallic glaze. Doug entrusted it to my care because he didn’t want it around the house where a family member might find it.


Ceramic egg made by Alan Oversby (Mr. Sebastian) and presented by him to Doug Malloy

Ceramic egg made by Alan and presented by him to Doug.


When Alan was in his mid to late 20s working on a sugar plantation in British Guiana, he observed a couple of field hands who were wearing little gold earrings in their nipples. This was the beginning of his fascination with body piercing. He returned to London with his own nipples pierced. Within a few years he had acquired a number of tattoos and additional piercings as well. Over time many of them were stretched to accommodate sizable jewelry.


A younger Alan Oversby (Mr. Sebastian)

A younger Alan.

On one of the days we paid a visit to Alan’s tattoo and piercing studio in Wandsworth. He shared space with a leather business called Leather Unlimited owned by a man named Alan Selby.

Alan Oversby (Mr. Sebastian) in his studio at Leather Unlimited, one of the photso I (Jim Ward) took for his interview in PFIQ.

Alan in his studio at Leather Unlimited, one of the photos I took for his interview in PFIQ.

Alan Oversby's (Mr. Sebastian) genital piercings.

Alan’s genital piercings.

Selby was one of the pioneers of fetish clothing for gay S/M enthusiasts. I recall that while I was living in Denver I had ordered a motorcycle cap from him. In 1979 he immigrated to the US and set up shop in San Francisco as Mr. S Leather. His warmth and easygoing manner endeared him to the local leather community. He worked tirelessly raising money and awareness for AIDS charities up until his death in 2004.

Mr. Sebastian’s space was meticulously clean and well organized. I would have expected no less. While we differed in our viewpoints on a number of issues, he and I shared a commitment to cleanliness and proper hygiene.


Alan Oversby's stretched nipple piercing (Mr. Sebastian).Alan Oversby's stretched nipple piercing (Mr. Sebastian).

Alan’s stretched nipple piercings.


There has been much debate over the years on the subject of using anesthetics for tattoos and piercings. The early days of the piercing movement were no exception. Early on I experimented with topical anesthetics, but found that, with the exception of the Prince Albert and other piercings involving a mucous membrane, they were not very effective and hardly worth the effort. Especially in Gauntlet’s early days there was nothing available without a prescription that was of much use.

I strongly rejected the use of injectable anesthetics. From my perspective they were too risky to be used by anyone who wasn’t a physician or at least a nurse. This sense of danger arose from a couple of concerns. For one they can pose a health risk to some people. That’s bad enough, but a far more immediate concern was that in the US their use is illegal in the hands of an unlicensed individual. Assuming I could even have obtained them, I would have been putting my fledgling business at risk of being closed down and myself at risk of arrest for practicing medicine without a license. From my perspective it simply wasn’t worth taking a chance. I also felt, and still do, that when piercings are done by a skilled piercer, the pain isn’t significantly greater than the anesthetic injection would be.

As the years went by and I observed other piercers at work, I came to the conclusion that oftentimes they used anesthetics to mask their incompetence and lack of skill. It became my firm belief that the best thing a piercer could do to minimize discomfort and pain was to master the necessary skills and be able to perform a piercing quickly and accurately. This, in my opinion, eliminates the need for anesthetics of any kind.

Even though the legality of their use in Britain was not much different than in the US, Alan never seemed to be particularly concerned. He was able to obtain anesthetics through a physician friend and had no qualms about using them.

I must be honest; I had very little opportunity to watch Alan at work. Some years later I saw a video in which he performed a Prince Albert piercing, and I was a bit surprised by his technique. The piercing was done within the context of an S/M scene, and I’ve wondered if the crudeness was for effect and to deliberately prolong the discomfort. It took an inordinate amount of fumbling and time, and seemed to be more bloody than usual for this often bloody piercing. It left me wondering if Alan’s technique could have used some refinement and if it might explain his regular use of anesthetics.


Alan Oversby (Mr. Sebastian) and a friend.

Alan and a friend.


I don’t recall if this was the video that landed him in serious trouble, but in 1987 or 1989 — depending on which account you read — the Manchester police obtained a video of what they thought were people being tortured before being killed. In fact it was of a group of heavy S/M enthusiasts at a play party. Alan was one of 16 men charged in what became known as the Spanner case, and even though everything that transpired had been consensual, the court ruled that a person doesn’t have the legal right to consent to receiving what they considered bodily harm. Thus the convictions stood. Alan was jailed for 15 months, suspended for two years.


Eddie, a client of Alan's (Oversby; Mr. Sebastian) and a co-defendant in the Spanner Case.

Eddie, a client of Alan’s and a co-defendant in the Spanner Case.


The case was appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, but Alan didn’t live long enough to hear the verdict. He died May 8, 1996. The final judgment in the Spanner case was handed down in February of 1997. In it the ECHR found that the British government had not violated the right to privacy by prosecuting the men involved.

More information on the Spanner case:
Spannerman (on BME)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Spanner
http://www.spannertrust.org/documents/spannerhistory.asp
http://vzone.virgin.net/old.whig/sadomaso.htm
http://www.modifiedmind.com/frontpage/extremebrit.html

Mr. Sebastian is considered by many — and justly so — as the father of the modern body piercing movement in Europe. Sad to say living on opposite sides of the world wasn’t conducive to our spending much time together. The Internet was still in its infancy, and with the pressures of our businesses and lives, we weren’t very good correspondents, so communication between us was minimal. Still, I am happy to have known him personally and to have shared the spotlight with him.

Jim Ward
http://www.gauntletenterprises.com/


Jim Ward is is one of the cofounders of body piercing as a public phenomena in his role both as owner of the original piercing studio Gauntlet and the original body modification magazine PFIQ, both long before BME staff had even entered highschool. He currently works as a designer in Calfornia where he lives with his partner.

Copyright © 2005 BMEzine.com LLC. Requests to publish full, edited, or shortened versions must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published July 15th, 2005 by BMEzine.com LLC in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Spreading the Word and Remembering Sailor Sid [Running The Gauntlet - By Jim Ward]


IX. Spreading the Word and Remembering Sailor Sid

A huge part of Gauntlet’s success was probably the result of the tireless effort I put into promoting, not just the business, but body piercing itself. Over the years I traveled regularly giving presentations to everything from S/M organizations to university human sexuality classes.

A lot of people take it for granted that they can go into almost any tattoo shop and get a body piercing. Believe it or not, that has not always been the case. To some of us it seemed self evident that tattooing and piercing go together like salt and pepper. But there was a time when many tattooists were outraged at such a suggestion. Having a personal interest in both and knowing many others who shared it, it seemed logical to me that the tattoo community was just waiting to embrace my efforts. It didn’t take long for me to find out otherwise.

Early in 1977 the International Tattoo Artist’s Association (ITAA) was having a convention in Reno. In an effort to reach out and spread the word amongst the tattooed, Doug suggested that I get a vendor booth there. I submitted the necessary forms and was accepted. This would be one of our first appearances in public.

Cliff Raven
Tattoo legend Cliff Raven (right) with an adoring admirer.
Tattoo Samy and his wife Ella
Tattoo Samy from Frankfort and his wife Ella.
Tattoo Samy's piercings and tattoos
Some of Samy’s tattoos and piercings.
A young Ed Hardy
A young Ed Hardy.

I made up an assortment of jewelry and gathered a selection of piercing equipment and set off with Eric and Doug for Reno. We were greeted by a number of familiar faces. Cliff Raven and his lover were in attendance as was our friend Tattoo Samy from Frankfort and his wife Ella. We also met Ed Hardy who was doing very extensive tattoo projects on a couple of members of the T&P group. Fakir was present and had been asked to provide entertainment at the banquet.

Jim White
Jim, one of the people I pierced at the convention.
Karen after her nipple piercings
Karen after her nipple piercings.
Steve Richards
Steve Richards, a young tattooist, volunteered to have his nipples pierced at a public demonstration.

Outwardly everyone was courteous and curious. During the course of the convention a number of people made arrangements to come to our room for private piercing appointments. Among them was the girlfriend of Dale Grande who had done tattooing with Cliff Raven when he had his shop in Chicago. I was even asked to do a nipple piercing demonstration on the floor of the vendor area. A good looking young tattooist named Steve Richards volunteered to be my subject.

The demonstration went well, and many people stopped by the Gauntlet table to ask questions. On the surface it appeared we were well received. But unknown to us there was trouble brewing. A number of the big name tattooists, among them Ed Hardy, were not pleased.

“Since Ed Hardy had brought the subject of piercings up at the I.T.A.A. Reno Convention in 1977 (he felt, as did the overwhelming majority of Artists there that piercing did not belong at a Tattoo convention and should not be linked to tattooing. I.T.A.A. Members voted there and then not to have piercing at future conventions) it was decided on (by the suggestion of Bob Shaw) not to allow facial tattoos or piercings at the National Tattoo Conventions. This was to be a Convention to promote Tattooing and only Tattooing.”
  (source)

Fortunately not all tattoo organizations were as hostile as ITAA and NTA, but the Reno convention was the first and last tattoo event that I recall Gauntlet ever vending at. For years to come the applications for at least some conventions carried a statement reading in effect that, “we will not rent vendor space for piercing or anything else that might give tattooing a bad name.” This is pretty much a direct quote. What I would love to have pointed out, but never did, was that bad tattooists were far more likely than we to give tattooing a bad name.

This attitude toward piercing persisted with some tattooists for a decade or so. Then in the late 1980s when the popularity of body piercing exploded, some savvy tattoo artists realized there was money to be made doing piercing. Almost overnight there was a huge shift in attitude, and tattooists around the world began setting up shop as piercers whether they were qualified or not.

The following April another tattoo convention was to take place in Texas. Although vending was no longer an option, Doug and I planned on going to hand out business cards and meet people and promote our favorite form of body adornment.

Plans were progressing well until shortly before we were to leaving for Texas. Doug approached me and said that after giving it some thought he felt it wasn’t worthwhile and that instead we should take a vacation to Key West and then go up to Fort Lauderdale and spend a few days with an outrageous piercing and tattooing enthusiast, Sailor Sid. I took him at his word and didn’t think anything further about the change of plans. Later it came out that the real reason for the diversion was that Doug had learned his youngest son Robert would be attending the Texas convention and that he wanted to avoid running into him.

We flew into Miami, rented a car and took to the road 160 miles south to Key West. I particularly remember the series of bridges that link the chain of small gulf islands with the mainland. We passed through Key Largo, an easily forgettable place whose name at least we’ll always remember thanks to Bogart and Bacall.

It’s funny how memory plays tricks on us. When I first started writing this article it seemed like Doug and I had made only one trip to Key West. But when I began looking through photos and examining the dates stamped on slide borders, I realized that we had actually made two trips to that sunny destination.

Jim Ward and Doug Malloy on the Gulf of Mexico Jim Ward and Doug Malloy on the Gulf of Mexico
Doug and I enjoying a boat excursion on the Gulf of Mexico.

In truth much of the memory of this trip is pretty sketchy. I’ve no recollection whatsoever of the hotel where we stayed. I do recall doing many of the usual tourist things. We explored all the usual tourist traps on main street. I still have a hand made silver belt buckle we bought on this trip. We visited the home of Ernest Hemingway and lunched at some roadside shack on the beach where we ate stone crab — the first I’d ever tasted — simply prepared, fresh, and delicious. Doug also hired a boat for us to have an afternoon and sunset Gulf excursion. I still have the slides we took.

Doug had a personal connection to this Southeastern tip of the United States. He told me that the island might well have belonged to Cuba, but in 1821 an ancestor of his had purchased it thus making it part of the US.



“In 1815, Spain deeded the island to a loyal subject and St. Augustine native, Juan Pablo Salas. In 1819, all of Florida was ceded to the United States. Salas had made no improvements to the island of Key West and sold it to John Simonton, an American businessman, for $2,000. Simonton understood the potential of Cayo Hueso’s natural deep-water harbor and divided the island into four parts, selling three of them to fellow businessmen Whitehead, Fleming and Greene, and keeping one for himself. By this time, the island had been renamed Key West, probably as a result of an English language distortion of the original Spanish name.”
  (source)


Doug’s ancestor John Simonton.

One of the sites we took in was an old fort that had been turned into a museum. In one of its many rooms we came across a portrait of John Simonton.

After our Key West venture came to an end we loaded up the rental car and headed north to Fort Lauderdale to spend a few days with the self proclaimed “freak nut” who went by the name Sailor Sid Diller.

Sailor Sid Diller, 1980
Sailor Sid in a photo I took of him in 1980.

To say that Sid was a character is putting it mildly. Generally speaking I think he was a kindly and good hearted person. He could be a source of endless humor although he had a tendency to repeat the same joke or bit of business often to the point of painful irritation. I found him to be genial for the most part, but after spending some extended periods of time with him, discovered he could be quick-tempered, irritable, and occasionally petty especially where money was concerned. From my perspective he was a difficult man to get to know and warm up to. The freakish side of his persona was always on display. It was a façade that was firmly in place, and he rarely allowed anyone to see the real person behind the mask.

Sid was in his late sixties when I first met him. He had been fascinated with tattoos from the time he was preadolescent. Sid had been a member of the Coast Guard which, during World War II, was a part of the Navy. It was in those war years, the early 1940s, that he got his first piercings — ear and frenum — and tattoos. If memory serves me correctly he became an electrician after leaving the service and settled down in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where he retired.

Sid’s passions were tattooing, piercing, and very heavy S/M. He had managed to connect with a large number of other enthusiasts throughout the world and was a voracious correspondent, writing at length — on a typewriter, no less — about his experiences. Photos of his exploits and those of others were often included. No doubt BME enthusiasts would hardly find them shocking, but for their time these included some of the most extreme S/M I had ever seen documented, including extensive play piercing scenes and some involving opening the scrotum and exposing the testicles.


Doug Malloy piercing Sailor Sid Diller's ear
Doug piercing Sid’s ear.

Doug’s and my visit did not include any of these particular activities. Sid took us to a gay bar or two — pretty tame ones by LA standards. He also arranged a big piercing party at his home for various gay friends and fellow motorcycle club members so they could drop in and get pierced.

Piercing Party
The piercing party in full swing.
Sailor Sid Clowning
Sid clowning.

At this point in history the Jim Ward name didn’t mean very much in piercing circles. Sid didn’t really know me, and his assumption seemed to be that Doug would be doing a lot of the piercing. Aside from acquiescing to Sid’s desire for a piercing or two from the hands of the “Master,” Doug very graciously sang my praises as his protégé and made it clear that I would be doing whatever piercing services were required.

Doug Malloy gets pierced
Doug got his ear pierced as part of the festivities.
Doug Malloy giving Sailor Sid an apadravya
Doug giving Sid an apadravya.
Does it hurt?
The answer to the perennial question.

I pierced at least eight people that night, some having multiple piercings. Doug got into the spirit of the evening by letting me pierce his ear. Being as closeted as he was, it came as no surprise that he removed the jewelry by the time we returned to LA. Sid got his wish when Doug added another piercing to his ear and gave him an apadravya. The atmosphere was congenial and supportive, and everyone seemed to leave on an endorphin high.


Nipple Piercing Surprise

During our visit Doug and I also met a kinky straight friend of Sid’s named John. My impression was that John enjoyed cross-dressing or at least expressing the feminine side of his nature. Both legs were tattooed with lace stockings made up of hundreds of tiny spiders. His toenails were painted. In many of his piercings he wore jewelry of a decidedly feminine character. John was probably the first man I ever encountered who had split the head of his penis. It wasn’t difficult to understand why he and Sid were friends.


John K.
Sid’s kinky straight friend John,
perhaps the first man I ever met with a split penis head.

Our stay in Ft. Lauderdale was pleasant, and we returned to LA having made many new piercing friends.


Sailor Sid's genital piercings
A closeup of Sid’s genital piercings taken during my 1980 visit.

I visited Sid again in 1980 to interview and photograph him for PFIQ. That interview appeared in issue #10. I’ve never considered my skills as a photographer to be particularly outstanding, but I have to say the pictures I took of Sid are among the best I’ve ever done. He was relaxed and open and never camera shy. The photos I took that day always remind me of one of the most unforgettable characters it’s been my privilege to know.

Sid kept two collections of personal papers that I know of: the correspondence and photographs he’d accumulated over the years relating to tattooing and piercing. When he died May 24, 1990 — age 80 if my calculations are correct — he had already made provisions for his collections to go to people he trusted. I believe he left the tattoo papers to his good friend Jack Yount. I’ve no idea what happened to these after Jack’s death. The piercing collection Sid left to me. A few months after his death a couple of large, heavy boxes arrived for me at Gauntlet’s corporate office. In them were a number of three-ring binders filled with photos in plastic protectors, not to mention a large stack of correspondence. Not only were there many letters from his various and sundry friends, but oddly there were photocopies on thermal paper of many letters Sid had written to them.

For some time I pondered how best to preserve this unique collection and also make it accessible to interested individuals. I considered using some of the material in PFIQ, but since there were no photo releases, and I didn’t know most of the individuals pictured or how to contact them, I abandoned that idea.

As time went by my health became somewhat uncertain, and I was forced to face the fact that I might not have that many years to live. I was concerned about the future of the unique collection Sid had left in my care and felt the best thing I could do was to find a better home for it. Eventually I made the decision to donate it to the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago. It’s clear from their web site that the collection is still there. I’m assuming anyone interested in exploring this resource can make arrangements to view and study it.

Sid was one of a kind: a man who marched to a different drum and made no apologies for it. Despite any differences we might have had, I consider myself fortunate to have known him.

Jim Ward
http://www.gauntletenterprises.com/

IAM members click here to discuss this article.


Jim Ward is is one of the cofounders of body piercing as a public phenomena in his role both as owner of the original piercing studio Gauntlet and the original body modification magazine PFIQ, both long before BME staff had even entered highschool. He currently works as a designer in Calfornia where he lives with his partner.

Copyright © 2005 BMEzine.com LLC. Requests to publish full, edited, or shortened versions must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published March 29th, 2005 by BMEzine.com LLC in La Paz, BCS, Mexico.

The World’s First Piercing Magazine [Running The Gauntlet - By Jim Ward]

VIII. The World’s First Piercing Magazine

Chronologically this article should have preceded the previous one because Gauntlet had published several issues of its piercing magazine before the opening of the store. The reason for the slight detour will be explained a little later.

When I first started Gauntlet, publishing a piercing magazine couldn’t have been further from my mind. But it quickly presented itself as a very natural aspect of the work I was doing. As piercing enthusiasts began hearing about Gauntlet, a typical type of correspondence started to arrive in the mail on a regular basis.

Up to that time people who were into piercing were pretty much on their own. If they wanted a piercing they had to figure out how to do it themselves or get a sympathetic friend to assist them. There was no readily available resource for information on piercing technique or for the tools and materials to do it. In general the results were less than satisfactory. Piercing enthusiasts were also widely scattered all over the globe and for the most part very closeted.

Consequently many of the letters I received contained the same two questions: First, how do I pierce my or my girl/boyfriend’s insert name of piercing here? Second, how do I go about meeting other people into the scene? Needless to say answering these questions repeatedly made it quickly apparent that there had to be an easier, more professional way to meet the demand. The obvious solution was a magazine. Since there was clearly a growing interest in piercing, why not?

My artistic background aside, I had no knowledge or experience along this line. Perhaps if I had, I might have thought twice about pursuing the matter, but like a rushing fool I began making plans and gathering the information and resources I needed.

Early in the days of the T&P group, someone had suggested we call ourselves “Piercing Fans International.” The name never stuck in no small part because the members were pretty much people who lived in the Los Angeles area. However, when I was trying to think of a name for the magazine I remembered the suggestion. Finding enough material to put out a monthly would have been a major challenge, but a quarterly seemed within the realm of possibility. So the magazine quite naturally became Piercing Fans International Quarterly, or PFIQ for short.

Doug was an avid photographer, especially where piercing was concerned. Although he had a fine camera and some basic skill in using it, his philosophy was that if you took enough photos, some of them were bound to turn out. Consequently he spared no opportunity to take lots of pictures of piercings and pierced people whenever he had a chance. I had free access to these and figured that they would provide an ongoing source of material for the magazine.

Under Doug’s influence I also went out and bought a good camera and spent some time learning how to use it. After all, Doug wasn’t always around when a photo opportunity presented itself.

A regular contributor to the magazine was a local gay artist who went by the name of Bud. His work occupied thirteen of the first fourteen covers and after we went to color appeared regularly inside. I had seen his work in the gay S/M magazine Drummer. How we actually met and connected, I’ve forgotten. I do remember that he did some tattoo designs for some clients of Cliff Raven, a T&P group regular. Bud’s imaginative pen and ink drawings show the strong influence of both comic and early fantasy and sci-fi art.

  


Doug’s holiday card circa 1977.

Doug was very taken with Bud’s work and even commissioned him to do a watercolor Christmas card design to send out to his piercing enthusiast friends. It shows a pair of pierced cherubs playing musical instruments. Fortunately Doug left the small painting in my care otherwise it probably would have been destroyed by his wife after his death.

By September of 1977 I had managed to assemble what I thought would be enough material for the inaugural issue. It seemed only natural that this issue should contain an interview with Doug. He was, in my eyes at least, the man responsible for setting everything in motion. There was also an article about male infibulation entitled “The Story of Nils.” It was one of Doug’s stories and included photos he had taken of a T&P group member who went by the name of Viking Navaro. To round out the primary content there were about a dozen photographs by an Australian photographer named Johnny Lee. Just how Doug had obtained them I don’t know, but they were all of attractive pierced women, a couple with pierced nipples, but most with ear or nostril piercings. They had the look and feel of photos dating from the 50s.

With all the requests I’d received from people wanting to meet others into body piercing, it was clear the magazine needed classified ads. I called these “Pin Pal” ads. The original intent was just to make them part of the content, but on further consideration I realized it would be better to print them separately and mail them with the magazine, not in it. There were several reasons. Initially we allowed people to include addresses and phone numbers in their ads. But since privacy was an issue, it would have meant not being able to sell the magazine on newsstands. The other reason was one of cost. It would have been a lot more expensive to put them in the magazine and much cheaper to just print them inexpensively at a local quick-print shop.

I soon stopped accepting personal contact information in ads altogether. Why give any would-be competitor such easy access to my clientele? From then on we offered a mail forwarding service so subscribers could confidentially contact one another.

The next challenge was to get the material assembled into a magazine and printed. Through a T&P connection I was introduced to a man in San Francisco named Lee who had a small print shop. He was known in fist fucking circles as the publisher of the T.A.I.L. (Total Ass Involvement League) newsletter. At the time he undertook the printing of PFIQ, his shop was proudly printing a four-color image — four runs through a one-color press — of a muscular arm inserted into a tattooed male butt. Needless to say he wasn’t squeamish about the content of PFIQ. In addition Lee knew and introduced me to a graphic artist who was able and willing to assemble my collection of material into magazine layouts.

Materials in hand I boarded an airplane for San Francisco. I’d made an appointment to spend a day with the layout artist watching, overseeing the project, and proofreading the copy while he was typing it into his professional IBM Selectric. In that one day I learned enough that when I returned home I was able to do the layout of almost every issue of the magazine that followed. The artist charged me a little under $200. It was without question one of the best deals of my life.

I’ve discussed earlier what layout was like in the days before the home computer. The magazine layouts were done on large sheets of light weight white cardboard printed with a grid of squares in pale blue ink. The film used to make the printing plates is insensitive to that particular “non-reproducing” color. Everything that was to appear had to be stuck onto the page. The artist applied a thin layer of a sticky wax to the back of the pieces. This acted as an adhesive, but made it easy to lift and reposition them if necessary. The pale blue grid made lining things up a lot easier, though it was still a time consuming process.

Wherever a photograph was to be inserted, the artist would lay down a rectangle of an adhesive backed red film called rubylith. While pale blue was invisible to the film, the red was perceived as black. Thus when the layout was photographed, on the negative that was shot there would be a clear “window” into which would be taped a negative halftone of the image. Every photo was measured, and using a special tool called a “proportion wheel,” sized so the printer would know how large to make it to fit the layout.

With the layouts complete I went to see the printer. His shop foreman took them and the photographs into the darkroom and started the process that would produce the printing plates. From there it was onto the press.



Issue 1.

  

The issue had 16 pages. Its original print run was 500 copies of the magazine and “Pin Pal” ad sheets. The cost of the job was just shy of $500. The subscription rate was $12.00 per year domestic, $14.00 overseas. The October 1977 issue was soon being put into envelopes and mailed to subscribers. Unfortunately I can’t remember how many actual subscribers we had at the time, but there were a number of copies left over. These eventually sold out over the counter and to new subscribers, and in time I had the issue reprinted.

As I mentioned earlier, this issue featured an interview with Doug. While the magazine was in production and being printed, he was out of the country. I knew that he was very closeted about his piercing activities, but as a tribute to him I still wanted to use a photo with the article. But there was no way to get ahold of him for his approval. As a solution I thought I could resolve the problem by having the printer “solarize” the image. That’s a process of making it so high contrast that it’s reduced to only a few tones, and I thought it would provide sufficient disguise so that he wouldn’t be quite so recognizable. Nowadays solarization can be done easily with a good computer program. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t even know there was a word for what I wanted much less how to describe it. The printer tried to follow my instructions as he understood them, but the result was less than satisfactory.

  


Doug’s photograph

in PFIQ issue 1.

Doug returned as I was preparing the first issues to be mailed. I proudly presented him with a copy of this history making document, but my pride and enthusiasm were short lived. He was very displeased that I had included a recognizable picture of him. Caught between hurt and anger at myself, on the verge of tears, and knowing that it was too late and too expensive to have the magazine reprinted, I went to the hardware store after Doug left and bought a can of matte black spray paint. Returning home, flushed with upset and humiliation, I took a piece of thin cardboard and cut a rectangular hole in it the same size as the photo and started obliterating the evidence of my poor judgement by placing the stencil over the images one by one and spraying a swath of black paint across Doug’s face. As soon as the paint dried the magazines were stuffed back into their envelopes. I couldn’t wait to be rid of them as quickly as possible and immediately took the first batch to the post office just down the street. It’s possible some of these copies still exist in someone’s collection today. If so, they now know why Doug’s face is obliterated.

I’ve no recollection how many copies endured this defacing, but several hours later and before I could mutilate any more, Doug called me. He apologized for overreacting and said that since the only people who would be receiving the magazine would be piercing enthusiasts, many of whom already knew him, it seemed silly to worry about. Besides, the circulation was very small. As a result the remainder of the magazines were mailed out with his face unobscured.

Collectors may be interested to know that there is a subtle but distinct difference between the first edition of issue #1 and the reissue. In the first edition purple and brown inks were used on some of the inside pages. To save money on the reissue, only the cover has purple ink.



Issue 2.

  

Issue #2 of the magazine came out in January of 1978. By this time I had become pretty good friends with Fakir Musafar. If memory serves me correctly, I met him through Doug, but it could have been my librarian friend Tom. Fakir once confessed that he didn’t like me very much the first time he met me. But somehow we managed to move past that, and he would become a regular source of both articles and photography for the magazine. From my perspecitive one of Fakir’s greatest contributions has been as one of the first documenters of people into all kinds of body modifications and what he termed “body play.” Ours was, I think, a mutually beneficial friendship. I had access to rare and unusual material to use in the magazine, and in turn the magazine helped make him well-known in body mod and kink circles and build a world-wide reputation. Gauntlet also provided him the opportunity to meet, interview, and photograph many of its more extraordinary pierced clients.

I was quite impressed with his knowledge and personal exploits. Consequently PFIQ #2 featured both an interview with him and an article by him. This issue also featured nipple piercing, the first in what would become a long running series of articles on the basic techniques used for various body piercings. The series was called “Pierce with a Pro,” a name I would later use for the three videos Gauntlet made.

Rounding out the issue were several more photos by Johnny Lee including one of Australian tattooist and piercer Cindy Ray. The source of the remaining photos I don’t recall.

Issue #2 had grown to 20 pages. The print run was only 1,000 copies. This issue was never reprinted and remains one of the most sought after by collectors.

By this time I was already having trouble keeping the publication on a regular schedule. Not only was acquiring material a challenge, but there were all the other responsibilities of the business as well. To give myself a little more latitude, issue #3 is the first to use a seasonal designation (Spring) rather than a specific month. When my printer Lee practically begged me to let him do the layout, I decided to let him.

I remember going to the Greyhound bus station in Hollywood to pick up the shipment of magazines from San Francisco. Upon seeing what Lee had done, my heart sank. Even with my comparative lack of layout experience the results were clearly amateurish.




Left: This was the layout of a main feature done by the printer.
Right: When the magazine was reprinted, I revised the layout.
The uncredited photographer was Fakir Musafar.

Although through age and experience I’ve gotten better, people who know me well know that I find it very difficult if not impossible to face confrontation. My tendency is to distance myself from the offender. Had I been willing risk a confrontation with Lee, I would have returned the magazines and insisted upon their being redone. Instead, although I let him know I wasn’t happy, I kept the shipment and sent the issues out to subscribers. When the supply ran out I had the issue reprinted by a different printer with new layouts I did myself. Collectors take note: there are two distinct editions of issue #3. The revised edition is labeled as such on the front cover.



Issue 3.

    

The 20-page issue #3 featured an interview with an Orange County couple known as the Valentines, another article by Fakir, and the second “Pierce with a Pro” feature on the Prince Albert, showing in graphic detail the extremely difficult technique in use at the time.

Practical constraints prevent me from listing the contents of all 50 issues of PFIQ. I will mention that issue #4 included an interview I personally made in London with Alan Oversby aka Mr. Sebastian. By issue #5 I got around to interviewing myself.

By the time issue #6 rolled around it had become impossible to keep the magazine on schedule. From this point on the issues carried only the number. One T&P member even quipped that we should change the name to PFIW — Piercing Fans International Whenever.

Issue #7 that came out in September of 1979 was one of the most difficult I ever had to complete. On August 22nd I was in the midst of its production when I got the call telling me that Doug had died.

  


Issue #15 was the first to include color photography. Fakir redesigned the masthead for it and provided the photograph of Star, an early piercing fan.

The first 14 issues were essentially all black and white. Finally by 1982 Gauntlet had prospered to the point that it was financially possible to add color to the magazine. Even though it was only four pages of color, it was a big step forward. For the occasion Fakir redesigned the masthead. We were now getting enough content to be able to publish a 32 page issue, but it was virtually impossible to meet any kind of schedule. We started listing subscription rates for four issues rather than a year.

As the business and magazine in particular grew there were always new challenges. One was in finding printers willing to handle the material. Because of the unique content and the nudity, many printers wanted nothing to do with us. The first couple of printers were gay men who had no issues with the material, but their shops were only capable of handling one or two color jobs. Four color printing requires larger, more expensive equipment, so I had to look for a new printer.

Unfortunately, in those days the only places willing to handle the magazine were printers of porn. The first one we used was a sleazy man who owned a print shop in Van Nuys, an LA suburb in the San Fernando Valley. He had a gimpy leg and walked with a cane, and I had visions of some mob henchman breaking his leg for some unknown offense.

Printers weren’t the only problem. Binderies were another. These were the businesses that collated, folded and stapled the printed sheets into a finished periodical. I was never able to understand how the bindery personel who dealt daily with the raunchiest kind of porn could refuse to bind PFIQ. I remember one that agreed to do the job but only at night after their female staff had gone home.

In PFIQ’s early years there was a certain lack of focus with regard to content. Since people into body piercing are so often into other similar and related things, we regularly received requests and material submissions that weren’t exactly suitable. Tattoos were common. To a certain extent so were play piercing and S/M and a variety of other body modifications such as corseting, penis splitting, and so on.



I call this my “paranoid” issue. Almost all of the photographs inside are of ears.

    

I must confess that there were periods in Gauntlet’s history when I became a bit paranoid, fearful that some authoritarian agency might decide what we were doing was somehow criminal. Issue #24 was my paranoid issue. It was filled almost entirely with articles and images of pierced ears.

It was the mid 80s, and the government had started cracking down on S/M publications. I took a long hard look at the material I was publishing, asking myself if there was anything in PFIQ that might come under attack. After some consideration I realized that by and large permanent body piercing was easily defendable as a form of body decoration not unlike ear piercing. Play piercing, however, was not, nor did it really have anything to do with permanent body piercing. It was at this point I made the decision no longer to include play piercing material in PFIQ. The decision was also made not to include any other form of body modification unless it was accompanied by a permanent piercing. Because of Fakir’s influence we did continue the features on the various tribal rituals that included piercing, but my feeling was that they were not unlike something that might appear in National Geographic, thus defendable.

Through the years PFIQ did experience some censorship, most notably in Japan, Great Britian, Australia, and New Zealand where the magazine was regularly seized by customs agents. In 1984 New Zealand’s Indecent Publications Tribunal, not unsurprizingly, called it “indecent.” The seizure problem was sufficiently bad that we had to advise overseas subscribers we could accept no responsibility for failed delivery.

  


The last issue published before Gauntlet went out of business.

Gauntlet published a total of 50 issues of PFIQ. At the time of Gauntlet’s demise from mismanagement and deceit by key employees, issue #51 was almost ready to go to press and the material for another had been assembled. Neither ever saw the light of day.

When Gauntlet went into Chapter 7 bankruptcy in December of 1998, the bankrupcty court seized everything, including the rights to PFIQ, to be sold to pay creditors. There was nothing I could do, and, as painful as it was, I had to accept that it would probably never be mine again. My greatest fear was that the name and intellectual property would end up in the hands of someone who wouldn’t cherish and protect them.

The court broke the estate into two parts. Good Art, the Los Angeles body piercing jewelry company, purchased the inventory and equipment. The name and intellectual property went unsold perhaps because the court trustee set her financial expectations too high. The estate languished for nearly six years.

In June of 2004 the trustee finally took steps to dispose of the property and put it up for auction on eBay. On June 26 a member of the body mod community who has asked to remain anonymous stepped forward and placed the winning bid of $6,623.32 in the last five seconds of the auction.

In an email to friends prior to the auction, the winning bidder had this to say. “It brings a tear to my eye every time I think about what has happened over the years. Jim has done so much for me and others that words could never be put forth in this format… Now it’s time to give him something.”

On July 20th the estate was turned over to the winning bidder who drove it to our home in Berkeley, California and sold it to my partner Drew’s corporation, re:Ward, Inc. for the sum of $1.00. It is without question one of the most generous gifts I have ever received.

Once again we own and control the rights to Gauntlet’s name, logo, and intellectual property. This has lifted a tremendous burden off my shoulders. Now I can use images and material that appeared in PFIQ wherever I see fit and not have to worry about legal reprisals.



My partner Drew and I celebrating Gauntlet’s return,
September 25, 2004.

Drew and I are now trying to decide how best to use the generous gift that has been given us. I have no desire to return to body piercing or manufacturing body piercing jewelry. Been there; done that; got the T-shirt — literally. A number of people in the piercing industry have formed an advisory group to help us get a new start. We are considering ideas on how best to accomplish that. Thus far these include reprinting the back issues of PFIQ, possibly even restarting publication of the magazine in either print or online, reissue of the “Pierce with a Pro” videos as historical documents on DVD, updating and publishing Gauntlet’s piercer training manual, and the sale of memorabilia such as T-shirts, posters, and so on. We still need to find ways to capitalize the new endeavor. When Gauntlet went away, so did most of our income.

We have set up a new web site at http://www.gauntletenterprises.com/. If you have ideas or suggestions or would like to help, please visit the web site.

Jim Ward


Jim Ward is is one of the cofounders of body piercing as a public phenomena in his role both as owner of the original piercing studio Gauntlet and the original body modification magazine PFIQ, both long before BME staff had even entered highschool. He currently works as a designer in Calfornia where he lives with his partner.

Copyright © 2004 BMEzine.com LLC. Requests to publish full, edited, or shortened versions must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published July 31st, 2004 by BMEzine.com LLC in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The First Piercing Store Opens its Doors [Running The Gauntlet - By Jim Ward]

VII. The First Piercing Store Opens its Doors

While working from home may have been convenient, it also had its drawbacks. In essence you never leave work, so it’s hardly surprising when drunks show up on your doorstep at 3:00 in the morning wanting to get pierced. It also doesn’t help one’s credibility. For some time I realized that if piercing was ever going to be taken seriously, I’d have to move the business to a storefront.

By the middle of 1978 I was able to generate enough cash flow to be able to seriously consider looking for a suitable location. Several factors were essential. Of course the rent had to be something reasonable. West Hollywood seemed like an excellent choice. Since the majority of my clients were gay men, it seemed logical to be in the heart of the gay ghetto.

I briefly considered the Silver Lake area because a lot of leathermen lived in that neighborhood. There were also a number of leather bars. But unfortunately it lay within the jurisdiction of the rabidly homophobic Rampart Division of the LAPD under an equally homophobic police chief, Ed Davis. Notorious for his raids on the area’s gay bars, Davis made headlines and enemies on the city counsel when he squandered a sizable chunk of the police budget marshalling a large force, including helicopters, to raid one of the leather bars that was having a slave auction to raise money for charity. He reasoned they were breaking the law because slavery is illegal. Were I to locate in Silver Lake, how long, I wondered, might it take for my fledgling business to fall victim to some cop with an agenda? At least West Hollywood had a sheriff’s department which seemed to get along well with the area’s residents and business owners. Because I hated driving in LA, I was perfectly happy to find something within walking distance of home.

West Hollywood in those days before it became an anti-business incorporated city was a genial community on the Eastern edge of Beverly Hills. Then, as now, the area was liberally dotted with showrooms catering to the interior design trade.

As fall approached, fortune smiled on me. On the corner of the main thoroughfare (Santa Monica Boulevard and Huntley Drive), about three and a half blocks from home, I saw a ‘For Lease’ sign. The space was only about eight hundred square feet, but the rent was within my budget and it provided everything I needed at the time.

The building owner was a crotchety, middle-aged, lush named Sid. At one time he’d had a design related business on the premises, but had reached retirement age and wanted to let his property be his source of income. At the time there were three other businesses in the building. If memory serves me correctly, there was a gay-owned vintage clothing store on the corner, a pro-dom on the second floor, and, briefly, a gay sex club run by the landlord in the basement. It was certainly a colorful location for my business.

I signed the lease in September and began the process of decorating and furnishing. Although he was frequently difficult, Sid and I got along well through the years, and Gauntlet had a presence in his building until its demise in 1998. Sid died a year or so before Gauntlet.

Before starting Gauntlet I had had many years of training and experience related to the design field. I’d studied three years at the New York School of Interior Design, worked for several designers, done picture framing, and worked in a paint and wallpaper store. When it came time to decorate my own business, I was ready.

By 1978 I had pretty well established purple as the color for body piercing. This had sprung directly from another of those products of gay creativity, the bandana or hanky code.

According to my research, some trace of the hanky code dates back to Gold Rush days, when dancers in all-male mining town saloons would divvy up into “fellers” and “gals,” those taking the women’s parts wearing identifying kerchiefs wrapped around their arms. But in the hands of a few gay men, it manifested into a unique cultural phenomenon that is still with us today.


“The hanky color code originated in the early 1970s primarily to distinguish specific sexual interests when the original SM (or at least DS)-orientated leather scene was enlarging—and clothing alone didn't reveal esoteric sexual interests. The first published hanky code was done by Ron Ernst who drew one up in collaboration with Alan Selby (the original Mr S) for their San Francisco store Leather N Things; this code was published in the Bay Area Reporter in 1972.”

The color of the bandana and the pocket in which it was worn signaled one’s particular sexual interest. Worn in the left back pocket it meant you were a top or active participant; on the right, a bottom or passive partner. Over the years the list of color codes became quite long. Some have quipped that you need a color chart to decode all the subtle differences of hue and shade. In the early days the list was fairly short. Red meant you were into fist fucking, a particularly popular sport from the mid 70s until the advent of AIDS ten years later. Dark blue indicated an interest in fucking, light blue a taste for cocksucking. Black meant S/M; gray, bondage. Yellow and brown are self explanatory (more).

Drummer, a magazine for gay men into S/M that had begun about the same time as Gauntlet had published an article listing the common hanky code colors. I reasoned that piercing fans ought to have a color of their own. But what color? I didn’t have to look too far for inspiration — purple, the color associated with Jupiter, the planet associated in astrology with prosperity and good fortune; purple, the color draping Catholic and Anglican churches during Holy Week when they commemorate the day Jesus got pierced. It seemed ideal to me, and so I fired off a letter to the editor of Drummer decreeing purple as the official color for people into piercing. My letter was published, and in time, by continually reinforcing the message, it stuck.

Quite naturally purple had to be a significant element in my color scheme. While purple is quite common today in fashion and design, in 1978 it was not a particularly popular color. This presented me with a number of challenges from the start.

The business owner who’d previously occupied the store had put up a canvas awning. My original intent was to have a new awning made from purple canvas to fit the existing frame. On this would be painted the business name. Unfortunately there was no purple canvas to be had. Rather than go with another color I finally decided to have the existing awning painted and lettered instead.


The exterior of the store with its purple awning

As for decorating the interior, some friends and T&P group members thought the motif should be “early dungeon” — dark with lots of black leather and chains. While certainly sexy for some, for lots of people this would be too intimidating. It might also create an impression of sleeze and a possibly unsanitary environment. For most people getting pierced is scary enough, and less edgy surroundings can help put them at ease. I envisioned a day when piercing would become popular with more than just gay S/M enthusiasts. I wanted a look that would be inviting to anyone who walked into the store.

A stylish wallpaper, something in which purple was a major element, would certainly be a good starting place. From working in a paint and wallpaper store I was familiar with many of the wallpaper designers and what they had to offer. So I got dressed up and headed for the newly opened Design Center to play interior designer.

Finding what I wanted proved to be a bigger challenge than I had anticipated. There was almost nothing in which purple was a significant keynote. While some companies will custom color a run of paper for a design job, it’s expensive and reasonable only for a large job. I only needed a few rolls of wallpaper.

What I finally settled on was beautiful, if a little over the top. It was a foil paper with an art nouveau motif of giant peacock feathers in shades of gold, orange, rose, and russet red with purple accents. The effect was quite dramatic. Some friends said it looked like a bordello. Others thought it was a little too gay. But once applied to the walls, with the trim and ceiling painted in a complementary purple, everyone had to admit the place looked elegant.




Left: The front counter. The wallpaper was a real eyecatcher.

Right: Gordon, one of my first office assistants, at work in the newly opened store.


I really would have liked to have had purple carpet, but that was not to happen for several years. Until then we made do with the sandy beige carpet that covered the floor when I took occupancy. At one point a carpet dyeing service was called in to dye the carpet purple, but after they did a small, inconspicuous test area, the idea was scrapped. The best they were able to come up with was a sickly lavender which was not acceptable.




At my desk. Notice the jewelry making area directly behind me.
The vertical blinds could be closed to provide privacy when I was piercing.

The back half of the store was to serve double duty. There was to be an area where I would make jewelry and another screened off area where I would do the piercing. The back wall was covered with a mottled silver and white wallpaper. The remaining walls were painted white. Good lighting was important, and the white gave the area a clean reassuring feel.




Making jewelry

As the decorating proceeded, plans for the grand opening were taking shape simultaneously. I designed invitations and had them printed. Fakir graciously provided a photo of his enlarged nipple piercing which appeared on the front. Well over a hundred invitations were sent out to enthusiasts all over the world.



The grand opening invitation. Fakir Musafar provided the photo of his nipple.


The grand opening was scheduled for November 17, Gauntlet’s third anniversary. There was a whirlwind of activity in preparation. Refreshments had to be purchased, champagne iced, everything put in order. A local photographer named Charlie Airwaves was hired to take photographs. It was one of the biggest days of my life.

Guests began arriving around eight o’clock. My lover Eric and Doug were on hand to help me welcome them. Doug was in his element. For him this was the manifestation of a long-held dream.



Left: Doug holding forth with members of the T&P group.
Right: My lover Eric chatting with Alayne, my bookkeeper.
(Both photos by Charlie Airwaves)

Throughout the evening over a hundred people attended the festivities. It was a historical event. I wonder if that many piercing enthusiasts had ever congregated in one location at the same time before. Among the many guests were my pal Rod, and Tom the librarian who had been so fatefully instrumental in bringing it all into being.




Among the guests was Tom the librarian (right facing forward)
who was responsible for bringing Doug and me together.
(Photo by Charlie Airwaves)

Members of the T&P group were out in force, among them Bud who would become known to the piercing world as Viking Navaro. From Orange County, pro-dom Mistress Antoinette showed up and was photographed with both Doug and I.




L-R:
1. Members of the T&P group in conversation
(photo by Charlie Airwaves).
2. Decked out in Gauntlet-made septum tusks, Bud, AKA Viking Navaro,
converses with fellow enthusiasts (photo by Charlie Airwaves).
3. Doug caught in mid-yawn or mid-sentence with pro-dom Mistress Antoinette.
4. Mistress Antoinette and I catching a photo op.

So the opening night of the first store in the world devoted exclusively to body piercing came to an end. It was an event I will never forget. Who would have dreamed that in less than three decades there would be thousands of piercing establishments around the world following in its footsteps?

Next: The World’s First Piercing Magazine


Jim Ward is is one of the cofounders of body piercing as a public phenomena in his role both as owner of the original piercing studio Gauntlet and the original body modification magazine PFIQ, both long before BME staff had even entered highschool. He currently works as a designer in Calfornia where he lives with his partner.

Copyright © 2004 BMEzine.com LLC. Requests to publish full, edited, or shortened versions must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published July 31st, 2004 by BMEzine.com LLC in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Gauntlet’s Jewelry Design Legacy [Running The Gauntlet - By Jim Ward]

Gauntlet’s Jewelry Design Legacy


1970s Gauntlet Sunburst Nipple Shield

When Janet Jackson flashed her breast at the 2004 SuperBowl creating a firestorm of controversy, she was wearing a Gauntlet nipple shield. The sunburst design was one I created in the mid 70s.

When you pay a visit to your local piercer and look at the tremendous variety of jewelry in their display case, it’s easy to assume it’s always been that way. What’s difficult to believe is that before Gauntlet, piercing enthusiasts were making do with earrings and all kinds of improvised contrivances. Although I’m always reluctant to blow my own horn, the truth is that I was personally responsible for many of the jewelry designs and piercing innovations most people take for granted.

Gauntlet Jewelry Brochure Gauntlet Jewelry Brochure Gauntlet Jewelry Brochure Gauntlet Jewelry Brochure Gauntlet Jewelry Brochure Gauntlet Jewelry Brochure Gauntlet Jewelry Brochure Gauntlet Jewelry Brochure
Gauntlet’s first jewelry brochure.

Although Gauntlet officially became a business in November of 1975, it took nearly nine months before things began to come together enough for me to issue Gauntlet’s first jewelry “Folio.” To call it a catalog would be stretching things. It was simply a legal sized piece of heavy paper printed on both sides and folded into quarters. But to the best of my knowledge it was the first time any collection of body jewelry designs had ever been offered for sale to the public.

Despite Doug’s financial help, my budget was still very lean. I had little knowledge of photography, especially taking pictures of jewelry, which is an art unto itself. Since I couldn’t afford to hire a professional photographer and printing photographs would have been more costly, I chose to illustrate the first brochure myself with line drawings.

In these days of desktop publishing, younger people have no concept of what was involved to produce printed materials before the advent of the home computer. The process was in constant evolution, but in the mid 70s a common way was to take the copy to a local printer. There someone would type it into a special IBM Selectric typewriter — anyone remember typewriters? — equipped with memory. At the push of a button the text would then be printed onto special paper that would later be cut up and pasted by hand into the final layout. All very primitive by today’s standards. Headlines were often produced separately using fonts that were on a strip of film. Each letter was exposed onto light sensitive paper and when finished, processed in photo chemicals. As an alternative you could do as I did and use rubdown lettering for headlines.

I was still groping my way. It took time to design and “test drive” the nearly dozen items that appeared in the first brochure. As mentioned in an earlier column, my first design was the nipple retainer. The bead ring, a scaled up version of a fairly common earring design, followed this.

In the months and years to come, jewelry designs were always being developed and refined. Some became classics that are still being reproduced today; some were consigned almost immediately to history. Others lasted for a while, eventually fading into obscurity for lack of interest by customers. Still others ended up on the scrap heap because experience proved a particular design was no longer appropriate. Regardless of their longevity, many of them have an interesting story.

For a great many years the standard bead ring with the attached ball was Gauntlet’s bread and butter. But some members of the T&P group, and others, wanted a design that appeared to be continuous. Had it been practical they would have been quite happy to have the rings permanently soldered shut.

One of Gauntlet’s early competitors was a short-lived business called Whatever Rings. It was run by a couple of gay guys who were heavy S/M players. They operated out of their West Hollywood apartment and solicited business through ads in the local gay press. The business was primarily a means for them to entice men into an S/M scene.

The “jewelry” sold by Whatever Rings consisted of gold wire formed into simple gold rings. There was no closure. While they might look nice, I personally considered them impractical if not dangerous. From experiments I had done I knew it was difficult to get the ends to line up perfectly, particularly after the ring had been inserted into a piercing. This could mean discomfort if the gap rotated inside the piercing. The gap, no matter how small, could also trap debris and quickly become a breeding ground for germs that could lead to infection in a fresh piercing.


seamless ring
The “Seamless” Ring.

Still, some people liked the look and insisted they wanted it. So I tried to make something at least a little more practical. I called it a “Seamless” Ring. It still had the small gap, but I perfected a way of crafting a pin coupling which, if nothing else would keep the ends in alignment. To minimize the risk of infection, I insisted that customers wait until their piercings had healed before wearing this type of jewelry.

Unfortunately one of my customers discovered the shortcomings of the design not long after I’d inserted them into his nipple piercings. His name was Alden, and he was part of the T&P group. He also enjoyed rough sex play. Early one Monday morning he showed up on my doorstep. It was obvious something was wrong. Apparently he’d gotten into some pretty heavy action on Saturday night. Someone he was playing with got a little too rough with his nipple rings and one of them had sprung open inside the piercing. He couldn’t rotate the ring or remove it and was in great discomfort. I had to open the ring with a pair of ring expanding pliers in order to remove it. After that he understood the benefits of wearing a ring with a closure especially if he planned on a rough night.


Body piercing locks
Handcrafted jewelry locks


The S/M B/D community were a significant component of my early clientele. A very common request was for a piece of jewelry that could be permanently installed. For most people this was nothing more than a fantasy. They still wanted something that could be removed whenever they wished it. So I set out to see what I could do with locks.

Back when I’d lived in Denver I’d wanted to put a lock in my ear piercing. In the early 70s it was uncommon for a man to have an ear piercing at all, and stretched piercings were something you only saw in National Geographic. There was no way I could see to get a lock through my ear.

I had some basic jewelry making tools and was easily able to get some silver sheet and wire. Using these I constructed a crude working lock. This design with its broken shackle and another with a solid one, made their way into my first jewelry brochure.

Unfortunately these handcrafted locks were never practical. If worn on any semi-permanent basis, they would soon become bound up with disgusting gunk and nearly impossible to open. I attempted unsuccessfully to remedy the situation by replacing the tiny spring with a pad of silicone rubber. Making the locks became a job I dreaded. They involved a lot of work that seemed wasted because of the inherent problems. By the time I issued my second brochure I’d dropped the design with the broken shackle replacing it with a simulated lock that needed no key and had no mechanism to get fowled up. Eventually I discontinued locks altogether.


guiche jewelry
A jewelry prototype that never made it into production.

Other attempts at permanently installable jewelry were made, such as a triangular ring that had two eyes, one threaded, that could be closed with a small lock. Since they weren’t waterproof, even commercially manufactured locks weren’t practical for long term wear.

There were a few hardcore souls who seriously did want something permanent. Soldering, of course, was out of the question. I did find one successful solution. The balls on our standard bead ring were hollow. I would cut a groove around the end of the ring that went inside the ball and fill it with epoxy. When the ring was closed the cement would be forced into the groove where it would set and make the ring impossible to open.


arrow of eros jewelry
Arrow of Eros


I’ve written previously about the early development of barbells. Once I’d mastered the manufacturing problems it seemed natural to design some variations. The first was what I called the Arrow of Eros. To maximize comfort I didn’t want the head to be sharp, so I modified the shape to something like a Native American arrowhead. The two ends were forged out of metal. These were then taken to an engraver who cut the details. From there rubber molds were made so that the pieces could be cast. Though never a best selling design it nonetheless remained in the Gauntlet line for over twenty years.

body piercing barbells
Some of the many barbell variations offered by Gauntlet.


Other barbell variations followed. The second brochure included what I called Jeweled Studs. These had semiprecious stone beads set in pronged pearl settings. They were never very popular and in time disappeared from the line.

Over the years many other variations were introduced. None of them were ever as popular as the initial one with round balls which made it much more versatile.


nipple shield design
An early nipple shield design.

To the best of my knowledge the concept of the nipple shield was original with Gauntlet. The idea was to offer a design that was more decorative and would appeal especially (though not exclusively) to women. As a gay man I still had a lot to learn about female anatomy because many of the first designs had an inside diameter that wouldn’t fit many female nipples!

At one point I contemplated using spring-loaded watchband pins to hold the shields on, but this proved impractical and unnecessary. The tension of the stretched nipple was sufficient to hold the shield in place.

S/M also had an influence especially on one particular design. Even in the early days there were people into play piercing. For them I came up with something like a spoked wheel which had a little more depth. This drew the nipple out so that hypodermic needles could be inserted through the spokes.


septum retainers
The septum retainer was a major breakthrough.
(Left: the original septum retainer, right: niobium retainers)

It might not exactly qualify as jewelry, but another early Gauntlet innovation was the septum retainer. You might be able to go to work with a septum piercing today, but in the 1970s it would have been unthinkable. Still, there were people who passionately wanted the piercing. That was my inspiration. The first septum retainers were made of oxidized copper wire covered with Teflon tubing. They were virtually invisible. Eventually they when replaced by an anodized niobium version which is offered by a number of manufacturers today.


nipple piercing sword
Custom nipple jewelry.


Especially in the early years when I made almost all the jewelry myself, I had a number of clients who asked me to create something custom just for them. One of the first was Jim A. He wanted a simple gold nipple shield that would be held in place by a gold sword. The blade was made from quarter inch tubing that was pounded flat on one end, soldered shut, and shaped. A brass plug was soldered into the other end. This was drilled and tapped. The handle was wrapped with wire and a bit of flattened chain and ornamented with gold balls. Jim stretched his piercings up to a quarter inch just so he could wear his new jewelry.


feather custom nipple shield

Another man wanted a custom nipple shield. He told me he had a thing for feathers and wanted this reflected in the design. It was something of a challenge. Not wanting it to be big or heavy, the feathers have large cutouts and are counterbalanced by complementary shapes that are weighted with extra metal. He seemed pleased.


ear arrow

Multiple ear piercings weren’t exactly common in the early Gauntlet days. This man came in with two ear piercings and wanted an arrow made that would go through both of them. Here’s the result. The post was not straight but shaped to accommodate the piercings. The arrowhead was drilled and tapped to screw onto the post. It was so tiny that the only way I was able to screw it on was to use a pencil eraser with a slit cut in it to hold onto the arrowhead.

One of my more colorful clients was a Hungarian doctor who showed up on my doorstep one day. I was still working out of the house at the time, and he’d been referred to me by the Pleasure Chest, a sex shop that had recently opened in West Hollywood.

Dr. C was impeccably dressed in a suit and tie and had the bearing of a European gentleman. He explained that he wanted a frenum piercing. This was accomplished without a great deal of fuss.

I must confess I was a bit more nervous that usual. Although clean, the house and furniture were shabby. He was, after all, a doctor, and I was concerned that he would be uncomfortable being pierced in such an environment. Still, I brought out a clean bath towel and spread it on the couch for him to lie on. I laid out the bagged and sterilized equipment on a stainless tray. When I was finished he complemented me my technique as well as the cleanliness that I observed. It was a particular validation coming from him.


frenum ring

With casual European sophistication the good doctor told me that he and his wife were no longer sexually active. He had a young girlfriend who he particularly wanted to keep satisfied. To that end he commissioned me to make a cast gold frenum ring that would incorporate two penises and a ball on top that would stimulate her clitoris during intercourse. He quipped that he wanted to penetrate her with three penises.

Dr. C was quite happy with the finished piece of jewelry. Unfortunately he didn’t feel comfortable wearing it all the time, especially at the health club. Consequently he took it on and off frequently. Eventually the post would break off, and he would bring it to me for repair. The last time this happened he brought it in and chatted amiably about what a wonderful device it was. I told him how long it would take for the repair, and everything seemed satisfactory. I never saw him again. Whatever happened to him I never found out. After holding onto the piece of jewelry for several years, I eventually sold it.


safety pin nipple piercing

For the first several years all my jewelry was either gold or a mixture of gold and silver. Although many clients wanted stainless steel I didn’t know how to make jewelry from that particular metal. Early on I attempted a design I called a triangular safety pin made out of stainless steel wire. It was abandoned fairly quickly because the hook closure tended to snag on clothes and bedding.

Gauntlet’s transition to stainless production was not an easy one. I resisted as long as possible and finally gave in because the price of gold had begun to rise alarmingly.

The challenges were many. First and foremost it was necessary to determine which of the hundreds of stainless steel alloys was appropriate for inserting into the body. The best information I was able to gather was that it needed to be low-carbon and nickel-free. At various times we made jewelry of 304 and 316 stainless. The industry standard today is 316L.

Then there was the matter of gauge. The standard gauge system used for steel wire is different from that used for gold and silver, so for the sake of consistency it was necessary to have all the stainless steel wire custom produced.

The coils of wire arrived from the mill and I discovered that it was too stiff to be easily shaped. Gold and silver can be softened, a process called annealing, quite easily by heating them red hot and quenching them immediately in cold water. If you do this to steel you only make it harder. The only way to get the wire soft was to send it out and have it professionally heat-treated.

At first I tried unsuccessfully to apply gold fabrication techniques to stainless steel. The results were disappointing to say the least. Eventually I found a company that was able to silver solder drilled stainless balls onto stainless steel rings and then electropolish them. For some reason the quality of the electropolishing was not reliable. Sometimes the surface was not mirror bright and on occasion the process was overdone and the rings came back measurably thinner than they should have been.

Many of these problems could have been eliminated had I not been convinced that the captive bead ring design was unsatisfactory. As someone who continually thought of piercing as an adjunct to sex play, I felt the ball could too easily come loose and get lost. I couldn’t imagine many people wanting to search for a ball lost inside a body cavity.

Stainless steel barbells presented their own difficulties. There was no way to produce them in house, so I went looking for a machinist to do the job for us. Part of the problem was that I had no idea how to locate the right person. The results were less than satisfactory. The first order of barbells I had made should never have seen the light of day much less been offered for sale. The machinist was unequipped to produce a stud with an internally threaded post. I ended up settling for externally threaded studs, and to say that I was frustrated is putting it mildly. In order to insert them without causing discomfort or damage to the individual, the externally threaded post first had to be dipped in melted wax. It was a compromise I hated.

When the stock began running low I started looking for another machinist and finally found one who was able to produce an internally threaded barbell stud. Unfortunately that was only half the challenge. The other was to produce a ball with male thread attached. The machinist produced short threaded pins that had to be secured into drilled and threaded balls. We tried various kinds of cement without success and ended up having to silver solder them. It was a solution, although again less than 100% satisfactory.

On occasion clients would ask why Gauntlet’s stainless steel jewelry was so expensive. I always told them that they could buy a nut and bolt at the hardware store for pennies because they were manufactured by the millions. At that time there simply weren’t enough people who needed stainless steel body jewelry to mass produce it like hardware. All that has certainly changed.


niobium rings

Niobium body jewelry, another Gauntlet innovation, is wildly popular today and available almost everywhere. In the early 80s craftspeople were beginning to make regular jewelry from anodized niobium. It was incredibly beautiful, and when I learned just how inert the metal was, I realized its great potential. The material was fairly inexpensive and could be anodized in an array of bright colors. It took some effort to perfect the technique.

The anodizing process required that the metal piece be attached to an electrode and submerged in a solution mostly of water. The more oxygen the solution could make available to the process, the better the results. Different craftspeople had their own secret formulas. I heard of someone who used Coca-Cola. What seemed to work best for me was a solution containing non-chlorine bleach.

Since there is no practical way to solder niobium, I finally was forced to embrace the captive bead ring. From then on it became part of Gauntlet’s jewelry line.

It’s been almost thirty years since I started Gauntlet, but the ideas and innovations that it pioneered are very much with us today. I often wish I were receiving royalties. I’d be a very rich man.

Next: The First Piercing Store Opens its Doors


Jim Ward is is one of the cofounders of body piercing as a public phenomena in his role both as owner of the original piercing studio Gauntlet and the original body modification magazine PFIQ, both long before BME staff had even entered highschool. He currently works as a designer in Calfornia where he lives with his partner.

Copyright © 2004 BMEzine.com LLC. Requests to publish full, edited, or shortened versions must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published May 18th, 2004 by BMEzine.com LLC in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Who Was Doug Malloy? [Running The Gauntlet - By Jim Ward]


Who Was
Doug Malloy?

part one

Doug Malloy was what an acquaintance of mine called the “nom de kinque” of a wealthy Hollywood businessman named Richard Simonton. I was given to understand that Malloy was his mother’s maiden name. Being an Irish name, I can’t help thinking one of his forebears must have kissed the Blarney stone, for Doug had a remarkable flair for telling a story, and if it wasn’t exactly true, it didn’t particularly matter to him as long as the tale was a good one. Consequently I can’t guarantee the accuracy of everything that Doug told me about himself or about the history of piercing for that matter. But he told wonderful stories, and the fact that many of them persist despite a lack of any supporting evidence says much for his ability to capture our imaginations.



Doug in the Muzak offices in Hollywood.

I know little about his youth. From an early interview it appears he was born in Chicago and his family moved to the Seattle area when he was about three. By the time the Depression hit in 1929, he would have been in his early teens. I gathered the family wasn’t exactly affluent. Eventually he ended up in Southern California and his fortunes began to change. In the early 40s he struck a lucrative deal with Muzak, the ubiquitous background music company, which gave him control over the southwestern quarter of the country. It made him a very rich man.

Doug was quite interested in things metaphysical. He had been a personal friend of Ernest Holmes (1887–1960) author of The Science of Mind and the founder of the Religious Science movement. Thanks in no small part to Holmes’ influence, he was very much a believer in what became known as the “power of positive thinking.”

He also believed in reincarnation. According to Doug it explained not only things like prodigies, but also why some people became passionate about things like body piercing. This, he claimed, was his own case. He remembered a past life during which he had been a highly placed courtier in the entourage of Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaton.

Supposedly navel piercing was common amongst the aristocracy but forbidden to the lower classes. Doug claimed that the piercing could be seen in statuary, but try as I might I was unable to see it in the photos which he showed me. Within the last 50 years scientists have been able to construct an extremely clear and accurate picture of Egyptian life dating back several thousand years. To date I am unaware of any evidence having been discovered that would substantiate Doug’s claim.

Meanwhile back in ancient Egypt, Doug’s ancient self had a jealous rival at court who arranged to have him murdered. This left a karmic debt that the rival was attempting to repay in Doug’s present incarnation. From time to time the “Little Man” as he was called would appear and offer Doug advice and occasionally make predictions. I know of at least one that wasn’t accurate. Doug was told he’d live to the year 2000. Maybe by some antiquated calendar. At least by our calendar he was off by nearly 25 years.



Doug walking in his back yard at the edge of Toluca Lake.

Doug had an incredible home in the San Fernando Valley. Allegedly he had been told psychically to start construction on it even before he’d amassed the fortune necessary to complete it. It was in an area called Toluca Lake, named after the small body of water on the edge of which the house was being built. To the best of my knowledge there is no public access to the lake itself because it is completely surrounded by homes. Warner Brothers studio is a short distance to the East. Doug’s neighbors included Bob Hope, Olivia de Haviland, and Walt Disney’s brother Roy.




Left: Doug’s living room with its church-style organ,
Right: Doug, circa 1950, with a theater organ pipe in his hand.

From the street, the house itself was not particularly impressive. It appeared to be a modest, modern, one-level box. But inside it was a marvel. There was an atrium with a roof that could be retracted. The house had not one, but two pipe organs. One was a church-style organ in the living room. A narrow spiral staircase lead down to a small, 99-seat theater in which there was a fully restored Wurlitzer theater organ dating from the 1920’s. During the silent movie days it had graced a Paramount Studio sound stage. Doug’s interest in theater organs inspired him to found the American Theater Organ Society in 1955.



Doug in his theater projection booth.

The theater was equipped with state of the art projection and recording facilities. On several occasions a few other Tattoo & Piercing group members and I were invited to join some of Doug’s other friends for private showings in the theater.

Doug had been a very close friend of the comedy film star of silent movie fame, Harold Lloyd. When Harold died in 1971, Doug was the executor of his estate. This gave him access to all of Harold’s old films.

Another close friend was an old theater organist named Gaylord Carter. Quite naturally things came together for showings of several Harold Lloyd silent films accompanied live by Carter. These were truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and I’ll never forget them.

Doug’s interests were many and varied. In addition to organs, he had a passion for steamboats. In 1957 he and his family took a trip on the Mississippi riverboat the Delta Queen. On learning that the company was about to go under and this was to be its final season, Doug purchased controlling interest in the company in 1958. With his entrepreneurial skills he quickly turned it into a highly profitable enterprise.

I was not fortunate enough to have met Doug at the height of his prowess. A few years previously he had sustained brain damage from an event which nearly killed him. This had effected his ability to express himself. He confided in me that he had once been “an eloquent speaker” and was actually planing to pursue a political career when it all came to an abrupt end. The experience also forced him to take things easier and freed him to indulge his other great passion, body piercing.

During one of our many conversations Doug confided in me that had he been born at a later time he would probably have been gay. But he was born at a time when such a lifestyle could easily make anyone an outcast. He had ambitions, and he also believed that he and the members of his family had been together in a past incarnation. It was important that he provide the means for all of them to incarnate together once again.





Although not common today, Doug preferred to wear a large ring in his frenum piercing, sized to encircle his penis. He claimed that some men liked to sleep with their finger through the ring. Notice his Hafada.

Right: Doug’s Guiche.


Shortly before we met, Doug had written a short autobiography of his piercing exploits entitled The Adventures of a Piercing Freak (click the link to read it). He had subsequently sold the article to a publisher of fetish magazines who issued it in soft cover under the title The Art of Pierced Penises and Decorative Tattoos. Since body piercing was virtually unknown at the time, the publisher was hard pressed to find suitable images to accompany the text. Consequently the photographs used had nothing to do with the story.

Piercing Freak could hardly be described as great literature. It is told in a bold style with a certain hyper-masculine bravado. Although I think it largely failed, it was clearly intended as “one-handed reading” for a primarily gay fetish market. Fantastic as parts of it are, Doug insisted the story was true. It’s difficult to believe it was commonplace for divers to use Prince Albert rings to attach an external catheter or that there was actually a college organization of Jewish men advocating Dydoe piercings to restore sensation for circumcised males.

Doug did author, to some extent, promotional material for Gauntlet and articles for Gauntlet’s magazine Piercing Fans International Quarterly. The truth is I was the ghostwriter for these working from notes that he provided. One of the first promotional pieces we did was a flyer entitled “Body & Genital Piercing in Brief(click the link to read it). It contained short histories and descriptions of a dozen piercings Doug considered “traditional.” I drew the illustrations to accompany them. The piercings included were:

  • Nipple
  • Navel
  • Prince Albert
  • Dydoe
  • Ampallang
  • Apadravya
  • Frenum
  • Hafada
  • Guiche
  • Foreskin
  • Labia
  • Clitoris

Of particular interest is the fact that, with the exception of the navel, all of these piercings have a largely sexual purpose. This reflects Doug’s primary interest in body piercing as a means of enhancing erotic sensation.

The impact the “Piercing Brief” has had is phenomenal. It was widely distributed and reprinted and contained many of the colorful myths that persist and, to some extent have been widely accepted as fact. There has never been any proof to substantiate, among other things that:

  1. Roman Centurians wore nipple rings to which they attached short capes.
  2. Navel piercings were a sign of royalty in ancient Egypt.
  3. Beau Brummell and Prince Albert had their penises pierced.
  4. Arab boys had the side of their scrotums pierced at puberty.
  5. Male South Pacific islanders did the Guiche piercing.

The evidence on which Doug based his Roman Centurians claim was a Baroque statue he’d seen in Versailles. He showed me a photograph. I pointed out to him that Roman military men frequently wore metal breastplates sometimes sculpted to resemble a muscular male chest. The rings with cape attached were in the breastplate, not the man. Doug paused for a moment to ponder my observation, then replied, “Well, it makes a good story anyway.”

There are actually very few body piercings which have a documented history. The most extensively written about is the Ampallang, which at one time was fairly common in the areas surrounding the Indian Ocean. There is one sole reference to the Apadravya that I am aware of and it is in the Kama Sutra. Doug maintained that the Ampallang was horizontal through the head of the penis and the Apadravya vertical. Piercer and researcher Paul King of Cold Steel in San Francisco maintains that the piercings are in fact one and the same and that either one could be oriented in either direction. Whatever the facts, most piercing enthusiasts have accepted Doug’s designation.

Less extensively documented are foreskin piercings. We do know that they were performed as part of a procedure called infibulation. Usually it was done to male slaves as a means of enforcing chastity. Women with pierced labia can also be infibulated though the documentation of the procedure is scarce.

I sometimes wonder if people into piercing today have any deep appreciation of the tremendous impact Doug Malloy has had on their lives. Certainly he had predecessors and contemporaries equally as passionate about piercing as he, but what was it that made him the center from which the whole modern piercing movement sprang?



A happy Doug wearing an airbrushed T-shirt made for him by tattooist Cliff Raven. Over his right nipple are the letters DMMP which stood for “Doug Malloy, Master Piercer.” Over the left nipple is IIPPI. The letters stood for “If it protrudes, pierce it.”

I think there are several reasons. For one, no one before him had ever presented such a broad palette of piercing possibilities complete with history and lore. It didn’t matter that he probably made up a lot of it, if not the piercings themselves. He’d at least done enough experimentation on himself to have some sense of their feasibility. This made it possible for him to speak with a confidence that leant great credibility to what he said. It didn’t hurt that it was a message a lot of people were waiting to hear whether they realized it or not.

It was also fortunate that Doug didn’t pursue his passion completely in private. Although he was extremely secretive about it, particularly with his family and non-kinky friends, he nonetheless reached out to other piercing enthusiasts who would go on to spread his message.

Finally, regardless of how primitive they might have been, Doug had formulated some basic but usable piercing techniques that, for the most part, could be applied by anyone.

If you combine all these elements with his good fortune of being in the right place at the right time, you can begin to see the seed that would grow into the modern piercing movement and appreciate how Doug vastly enriched your life.

Next: Gauntlet’s Jewelry Design Legacy


Jim Ward is is one of the cofounders of body piercing as a public phenomena in his role both as owner of the original piercing studio Gauntlet and the original body modification magazine PFIQ, both long before BME staff had even entered highschool. He currently works as a designer in Calfornia where he lives with his partner.

Copyright © 2004 BMEzine.com LLC. Requests to publish full, edited, or shortened versions must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published March 15th, 2004 by BMEzine.com LLC in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“In the beginning there was Gauntlet” [Running The Gauntlet - By Jim Ward]

title1

“In the beginning there was Gauntlet”
(quote from a post on rec.arts.bodyart)

Starting any new business can be challenging especially for someone who’s never done it before. The challenge gets multiplied several times when it’s in a new industry. To the best of my knowledge no one before me had ever attempted to do just body piercing as a profession. A handful of tattooists were doing it, but it was strictly a sideline.It’s not that someone else couldn’t have done what I did. The time just happened to be right, and I was the one who seized the moment. Within a few short years the world had seen the hippie movement, women’s liberation, and gay liberation. The sexual revolution was in full swing. I saw no reason to be ashamed because piercings turned me on and no reason why the rest of the world shouldn’t find out what piercing might have to offer them.

I imagine the process of starting a new business is pretty much the same anywhere, but here in California you have to file a fictitious name statement and run a notice in the newspaper to the effect that you’re doing business under that name. Then you need to open a business bank account and do the necessary paperwork with the State Board of Equalization for the privilege of collecting sales tax. Plus there are lots of little odds and ends. It’s pretty much a pain in the ass. But before you can do anything you need a name for your business.

Doug and I went back and forth trying to come up with something. He favored a mythological theme such as the name of a Greek god. I wanted something with a tough, masculine feel that would appeal particularly to the gay leathermen and S/M fetishists I perceived as my most likely customer base.

In the process of accessorizing my leather wardrobe, I had made a wide leather watchband edged with silver-colored pyramid-shaped studs. While watching television one night I removed my watch and set it on the end table. A short time later I glanced over to see what time it was, and in a flash the name came to me. GAUNTLET! It was everything I wanted the name to be. In addition to being rugged and masculine, it also had metaphoric implications. We have two sayings, “run the gauntlet,” and “throw down the gauntlet,” expressions for the ordeal and the challenge. Didn’t that precisely describe this business venture? I did have momentary second thoughts only because there was already a well-known leather bar in LA called The Gauntlet. But that didn’t seem to be a big problem since I’d be calling my business Gauntlet Enterprises.

Doug liked the name as soon as I told him about it. He was, however, of the opinion that I should incorporate. But since he didn’t want to be a stockholder or to have any legal attachments to the business, I opted for a sole proprietorship.

It was November, astrologically the time of year Scorpio babies are born. Scorpios are supposed to be highly sexual, so I thought it would be an ideal time for my business to be born. Since the sign ends around the 21st of the month, I needed to act soon. Thus it was that on the 17th of November 1975, I drove to the closest newspaper office, filled out the necessary forms, and filed the fictitious name statement. Gauntlet Enterprises was on its way.

There was now a flurry of activity. So many things needed to be seen to: the bank account, sales tax issues, setting up a place to make jewelry, developing jewelry designs, designing a logo… the list went on. Everything seemed to be happening at once.

My mental picture of the logo was of a stylized gauntlet forming the letter “G.” It could thus be used alone or combined with the remaining letters of the word.

The personal computer was still about a decade in the future. Artists and designers relied for the most part on traditional media to do their work. One of the newer innovations of the time was rub-on letters. Several companies made them, and though the market for them has largely disappeared, you’ll occasionally see them in art supply stores. At one time there were hundreds of fonts available in a variety of type sizes, with perhaps one or two sizes on a sheet. They consisted of a transparent plastic sheet on which an assortment of letters was printed, mirror image, and then coated with a pressure sensitive adhesive. You would place the sheet, sticky side down, on a surface and one by one rub the letters onto it.

After spending some time browsing through the catalogs at the art supply store, I found a font that seemed to have the character I was looking for and a letter “G” that had a vaguely open fist shape. The font was called Hondo. I purchased a sheet of larger sized letters.

A visit to the public library proved helpful. Browsing through several books with pictures of medieval armor, I found a number of images of gauntlets from which to draw inspiration.

Back home I gathered my art materials together and set out to create the logo. After rubbing a capital “G” onto a suitable piece of paper, I took a sheet of tracing paper and a pencil and began to sketch over it, trying various ways of creating a gauntlet from the letter. In time things came together and I had something that looked like it would work. After carefully tracing the design onto the sheet with the rubbed on letter, I used a draftsman’s pen to ink the details. It took several attempts to get things precisely right, but finally, success.

To be able to make jewelry I needed a jeweler’s workbench. Commercially made ones were very expensive, and I felt the money could be better spent. Using scrap lumber from construction sites and a piece of plywood from a packing crate, I made my own workbench. It might not have been much to look at, but it was functional and adequate for my needs. That bench was in use till Gauntlet’s demise nearly 25 years later, and by some twist of fate, and the generosity of Josh at Good Art, I still have it today.

Here on BME Gauntlet has earned the reputation for being “conservative.” In this forum that is something of a dirty word, usually used with contempt and derision. The same people who are quick to assume that I never took risks often fail to consider what things were like in 1975.

Because there was little precedent, everything I did in those days was a risk. No one had ever attempted what I was doing at least on the scale I intended to do it. There was no Internet providing vast informational resources at the tip of one’s fingers. Every piercing technique, every jewelry design, every material used for the jewelry or in the piercing process had to be subjected to a trial and error process. That meant taking risks. Rather than calling me conservative, a better word would be cautious. It was essential to me that every precaution be taken to assure the well being of every person I pierced or who wore my jewelry. What would the fate of the entire piercing movement been if I hadn’t proceeded cautiously and someone had suffered serious harm? How quickly would the movement have come to an abrupt end?

Fortunately, starting out with such a small customer base I was able to personally keep tabs on the people I did business with. If something went wrong, I had the opportunity to figure out why and immediately try something different. By proceeding with caution I could progress slowly and minimize the risk of serious harm.

Of course, without Doug none of this would have happened. He provided a catalog of “traditional” piercings, along with their often-colorful histories, which leant them credibility and implied that they were all possible. However crude, he had acquired some rudimentary piercing techniques. Over a period of years he also had managed to make contact with about a hundred fellow piercing enthusiasts. Combined these three things provided a foundation on which I could build my infant business.

Doug’s motives for setting me up in business were not entirely altruistic. He was married and had four adult children, but his heterosexual life provided no outlet for his piercing fetish or the expression of suppressed gay yearnings. By helping me start a piercing business he was hoping to have the opportunity to fulfill both these needs.

Primarily by placing classified ads in various gay and fetish publications, Doug had made contact with a couple of dozen gay men in the LA area who shared his fetish for piercing. As a means of helping get Gauntlet launched, Doug proposed that we start a social group for these men. We would get together once a month for a potluck supper. After eating and socializing anyone who was interested could get pierced with what Doug called “the laying on of hands,” his term for the moral support of the rest of the group. This gave me the opportunity to do piercings under his direction and at the same time bring in a little money from the sale of the jewelry. On occasion we’d all meet at a local restaurant and reconvene at someone’s home afterwards for the piercing event.

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Left: The T&P group meeting at a restaurant. Middle: Eric at a T&P get-together. I’d silk-screened the Gauntlet name and logo on the back of his shirt. Right: Cliff Raven at a T&P dinner. On his left are his lover and well-known piercing celebrity Viking Navarro.

Initially Doug proposed calling the group the Society of Saint Sebastian for the saint who was martyred by being shot through with arrows. But that name thankfully never stuck. Instead it ended up just being called the T&P Group, short for tattooing and piercing.

Back in my fine art days I’d made some silk screen prints. The skill came in handy for a bit of advertising and promotion. I silk-screened some T-shirts with the Gauntlet name and logo on the front. I also bought a button making device and produced a series of buttons with drawings of various piercings, the Gauntlet logo, and the slogan, “We’ve got what it takes to fill your hole.” We gave these out to the T&P group and to clients who got pierced.

Designing and making jewelry for body piercing offered a wide range of challenges. Before Gauntlet most piercing enthusiasts had no choice but to make do with earrings or some makeshift contrivance of twisted wire. Frequently the material was a silver or gold plated mystery metal hardly suitable for the purpose.

Earrings were universally too thin. There were some loop style earrings consisting of a fairly thick tube with a thin wire that was intended to go through the piercing. Some hardy individuals managed to work the thicker loop through their piercings, a process that would have been uncomfortable to say the least. There still remained sharp edges which, if the ring rotated, could irritate and cut the tissue.

Bent pieces of wire also posed problems. There was virtually no way to provide a closure that would not snag on clothing or on the edges of the piercing itself.

From the beginning there was interest in stainless steel as a material for piercing jewelry, primarily because it was perceived as inexpensive and because many men preferred its silver color. Unfortunately I had no knowledge or experience with the material; every piece of jewelry I’d ever made was of gold or silver. Consequently the majority of my early jewelry was made from gold. I did design some pieces of silver, but the portion which went through the piercing was always of gold. Those who insisted on silver colored metal had to settle for white gold.

Our knowledge of jewelry materials at the time was quite limited. I had no idea just what effect the unknown components in various gold alloys had on people’s bodies. Even though I was using 14-karat gold, some people still had bad reactions to it. In those cases our only option was to insert monofilament nylon. We had no idea that nickel was a common allergen in alloys. I’m not proud to admit it, but Gauntlet’s first jewelry brochure included a piece of gold plated nickel silver jewelry. Fortunately we quickly realized its incompatibility and discontinued it immediately.

The one piece of jewelry that became Gauntlet’s bread and butter was what I called the Bead Ring. It might more accurately have been called a Fixed Bead Ring since the bead that acted as a closure was soldered to one side of the ring’s opening. In recent years the design has largely be supplanted by the Captive Bead Ring in which the bead simply snaps into a gap in the ring. This design is cheaper to manufacture and allows the wearer to choose a vast variety of bead materials. But since my primary focus was always on piercing as a means of sexual enhancement, I always felt the fixed style was a better choice. One never had to worry about losing the bead in the carpet if the activity got a little rough.

I can’t claim that the bead ring design was my own. Back when I first pierced my nipples, I had purchased a pair of earrings of that design in a department store. What made them a unique Gauntlet design was the fact that they were scaled in a variety of larger diameters and thicknesses suitable for body wear.

Left: Tattoo Samy from Frankfurt. Middle: Some of Samy’s tattoos and piercings. Right: A closeup.

The first barbells I recall came from Germany. Doug had made contact with Tattoo Samy, a tattooist and piercer from Frankfurt. Over the years Samy came to the States a number of times and frequently showed up in LA to visit Doug. On one of his first visits he showed us the barbell studs that he used in some piercings. They were internally threaded, a feature that made so much sense that I immediately set out to recreate them for my own customers.

This was a particularly difficult challenge. The biggest problem was how to do the threading. My gold supplier offered 1/16” gold tubing, the equivalent of 14 gauge. This would work as the post, but how could I tap it? I’d also need the right thickness of wire and a suitable die for the male thread. Fortunately, after consulting some technical person, a company that I had purchased jewelry making equipment from was able to provide the tools that I needed.

Next I had to find suitable balls for the ends. Initially I used those ear studs that are just a gold ball attached to a post. I cut off the ear post and soldered the ball to the barbell post. This was completely unsatisfactory. First there was an unsightly flange left where the post was attached to the ball. Second, the ball had a tendency to explode when it was heated with a torch. That wasn’t much fun. Lastly, the material was so thin that after it was heated it became so soft it could easily be dented with the thumbnail. This wasn’t something I could sell. What to do?

Fortunately fate intervened. On the elevator at the jewelry mart one day I was discussing the problem with a friend. There was another man on the elevator with us who overheard the conversation and gave me the name of a findings company where I’d be able to purchase “no-hole” balls that would meet my needs. The lead proved invaluable, and for many years Gauntlet purchased balls from them for a number of our jewelry designs.

Piercing techniques provided their own unique challenge. Thus far I’d followed Doug’s lead, and aside from the occasional fumble, things were progressing fairly well.

Left: Getting tattooed by Cliff Raven. Right: My first Cliff Raven tattoo in progress. The photo was taken in the jewelry making area I’d set up in my living room.

As role models for issues of sterility and hygiene we turned primarily to some of the more responsible tattooists of the time, especially Cliff Raven who had recently moved from Chicago and opened a shop in West Hollywood. Autoclaving instruments after each use was a given. But the use of latex gloves didn’t occur until the AIDS epidemic hit nearly 10 years hence. Our rationale at the time was that even dentists weren’t using them and doctors only used them for surgery or for probing in a patient’s private orifices.

For some time we continued to use the ear-piercing gun to do nipples. This limited us to using only 16 gauge, pretty thin by today’s standards, but certainly thicker than the earrings everyone was used to. On occasion I encountered nipples that were on the tough side, but with a little extra muscle I always managed to get the piercing point to go through.

Then came the day that forever changed this technique. Doug called me up and told me that some guy who’d answered his classified ad wanted his nipples pierced. We arranged a day and time to go to the guy’s apartment where I would do the piercings. Everything was going smoothly until the actual piercing. The point of the ear piercer scarcely penetrated the skin; it wouldn’t go through. I could feel myself sweating partly from embarrassment, partly because I knew the guy was very uncomfortable. With every bit of strength I could muster, I made one final attempt to get the point to do its work. However, instead of going through, it bent. At this point I realized that the ear piercer was not the best tool for piercing nipples since there was no way to tell how tough they were going to be.

By now I was soaking wet. Though uncomfortable, the client was bearing up incredibly well and was determined to persevere until he had the piercings. Doing my best to save face and keep the client calm, I quietly reassured him everything would be fine, set the ear piercer aside, and had Doug get me a cork and one of the large hypodermic needles from the piercing kit. The nipple was still in the forceps. I placed the cork on one side and, placing the needle in position on the other, thrust it through the nipple into the cork. Though the going was still a bit rough, the nipple yielded.

I now encountered other problems. The forceps couldn’t be completely removed. I was able to open them and free them on the point end of the needle, but the syringe coupling was too large to pass through the remaining opening. I’d just have to work around them. It was also going to be tricky inserting the jewelry because the point of the needle was beveled. Fortunately we were inserting nipple retainers that had a straight post, so they managed to follow through without too much difficulty.

At the time I simply attributed all the fumbling and difficulties to my own lack of experience. This was partly true, but the tools themselves were actually a much more significant factor. This was about to be demonstrated most dramatically as I undertook my first Prince Albert piercing.

The Doug Malloy method of doing a Prince Albert.

Doug’s technique for doing this piercing was incredibly difficult. A small dab of topical anesthetic was placed on the end of a cotton swab (one with a wooden stick) and the swab inserted about an inch into the urethra. After waiting about ten minutes for the anesthetic to penetrate, it was time to do the piercing. The piercer would grip the cotton swab, position its tip just beneath the place where the piercing would go, and, with a hypodermic needle of suitable thickness, pierce into the tip of the swab. In order not to puncture the inside of the urethra, the needle and swab needed to be kept securely together until the needle was outside of it.

Any piercer who hasn’t done this has no idea just how hard it is. Unless their grip is just right, the tissue can move around and the needle miss its mark. In time I mastered this technique and eventually figured out a better method, but at the time it was like trying to hit a moving target behind a curtain.

Somehow I managed to actually do the piercing. It was now time to insert the jewelry, a 14-gauge bead ring. I had to attempt to get a circular object to follow a straight one with a beveled point. This wasn’t working well. Once again I was sweating profusely and beginning to panic. Things were getting bloody. More by shear force than anything else, I managed to get the ring in. Although the piercee was an incredibly good sport about it all, I felt terribly embarrassed. I knew that this method was too crude. Guys who had been around the S/M scene might easily take it in stride, but I couldn’t expect that of others.

Members of the T&P group having fun. Doug enjoyed these photo opps.

It was then that I had one of my “Eureka!” moments. If I simply cut the syringe coupling off the needle, I would then be able to follow it through with the jewelry. In that instant one of the revolutions in piercing technique took place. From then on at least one hurdle in the piercing process had been conquered.

Next: Who Was Doug Malloy? — part 1


Jim Ward is is one of the cofounders of body piercing as a public phenomena in his role both as owner of the original piercing studio Gauntlet and the original body modification magazine PFIQ, both long before BME staff had even entered highschool. He currently works as a designer in Calfornia where he lives with his partner. Copyright © 2004 BMEzine.com LLC. Requests to publish full, edited, or shortened versions must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published January 23rd, 2004 by BMEzine.com LLC in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Beginnings of the Modern Body Piercing Movement [Running The Gauntlet - By Jim Ward]



3: The Beginnings of the
Modern Body Piercing Movement

Just for the record, I do not claim, nor have I ever claimed that I single-handedly started the modern body piercing movement. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to focus and channel forces that were already at work in the world. Would the movement have happened without me? Possibly, but if it had, it probably wouldn’t look quite like it does today.

Body piercing has been around for countless millennia. However, in the early 1970’s it was practiced, in the Western world at least, largely by a handful of widely dispersed and closeted hardcore fetishists. At that point in my life I never really thought that there might be a lot of other people in the world who found piercing as erotic as I did.

In 1973, my first year in Los Angeles, I was pretty much immersed in Primal Therapy. I rented a small apartment in West Hollywood a short walk from the Primal Institute and kept pretty much to the neighborhood.

Towards the end of the year, a fellow patient named Diane told me about a small two-bedroom house that was for rent about a block away. I had seen it often enough on walks around the neighborhood. It dated from the teens when West Hollywood — then called Sherman — had been a whistle stop on the railroad between Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Aside from its ramshackle condition and the Christmas tree dying in a pot by the front steps, its most memorable feature was a concrete shrine in the front yard where a votive candle burned day and night to the Virgin Mary.

For decades an elderly Italian woman had occupied the house. I don’t recall if she died or had been put into a home, but the property had been sold. An eccentric old couple, Velma and Carl Henning were managing it. Mrs. Henning looked like Ma Kettle and was so stingy she would scrounge through the supermarket dumpster for food. Her husband was an old Nazi with a handlebar moustache who had migrated to the States after the war. While he may have left the vaterland behind, his racist viewpoints were still as fresh as ever, and he was only too happy to share them whether one was interested or not.

Once they took over, the Hennings made some changes to the property. They cleaned up the house and demolished the shrine in the front yard, leaving a pile of concrete rubble. A sheet of plywood was laid over the rotting boards on the front porch to keep people from falling through. Always looking for ways to make a little extra money, Mrs. Henning rented yard space next to the house to a hippie couple to park their old school bus home. Arrangements had been made for them to use the toilet, which was just inside the back door.



The old West Hollywood house shortly before it’s demolition.

Rent on the house was little more than I was paying for my tiny apartment, so I signed a lease on it and moved in. There was a certain squalid charm about the place, but there was much about it that made living there a challenge. Chief among its shortcomings was a total lack of insulation or heat. One always thinks of Southern California as a land of eternal warmth and sunshine, but my first winter in the old house shattered that illusion.

West Hollywood at the time was still unincorporated, but the community was already beginning to exhibit the signs of change that, in a few short years, would turn it into the cold, impersonal city it has become today. Many small charming homes that dotted the township were being torn down and replaced by ugly apartment buildings.

Diane and I took great pleasure in rummaging through the abandoned old homes before they were torn down. Frequently we’d return home with odds and ends and, occasionally, useful junk. Rifling through the trash piles at construction sites I scrounged enough insulation to keep some of the cold out of my house.

I had a large back yard with a rundown shed — once possibly a garage for a Model A — and a huge avocado tree that bore wonderful fruit in summer assuming the squirrels didn’t ruin it first. There was lots of space for a garden, and Diane and I attempted, with limited success, to grow a variety of vegetables and flowers. Not only was the soil poor and the snails and slugs abundant, but the yard was something of a cross between a dump and an archeological dig. One could scarcely turn a shovel of earth that didn’t contain some bit of junk, mostly old bottles and broken crockery.

Amongst the debris was an old enameled cast iron toilet tank. Possessed by some perverse ingenuity I turned it into a small wood burning stove, attaching a stove pipe which I ran outside through one of the living room windows. Fueled with wood scraps from construction sites, it provided a source of free heat. By some miracle I didn’t asphyxiate myself. The first time I built a fire in the stove I had to run for cover. As the cast iron heated up and expanded, bits of enamel began to fly like shrapnel.

The necessity to earn an income encouraged me to seek employment. My experience in picture framing lead to a job with a snooty frame shop in West Hollywood. Among their clientele were a number of well-known museums and celebrity artists. While the occasional treasure passed through our hands, most of what we handled was high priced crap masquerading as art. I realized that this was not a profession I wished to pursue as a lifetime career. But what did I want to do? I remember thinking at the time I’d like to have a profession where I could use my hands and what I worked with would be small and fit into them. I also thought it would be wonderful if it had a sexual dimension as well. Little did I realize what was soon to materialize in my life.

Diane came up with the idea that we should enroll in court reporting school. After all, it was a well paying profession with great job security. There likely would be a demand for court reporters well into the future.

So we signed up and started learning the fundamentals of stenotype. It didn’t take Diane long to lose interest and drop out. I stuck with it for almost a year, reaching a level where I could take about 120 words a minute and type up a transcript at about 100 words a minute. The beginning months had been filled transcribing innocuous clerical material along the lines of, “Dear Mr. Smith: Please send me ten cases of tea.” What kept me intrigued as long as it did was the very weirdness of stenotype itself — I remember seeing a license plate bearing the letters TPUBGU; in stenotype that spells, “fuck you.” But that could hold my interest just so long. When the teacher began dictating actual court material I realized just how deadly boring the life of a court reporter could be. I doubt many of them get to take down juicy Perry Mason cases.

But my stint at court reporting school was not a total loss. We were required to take and pass a comprehensive class in English grammar and punctuation. The class was well taught and unlike the boring classes I’d suffered through in high school, actually made sense. Little did I realize that it wouldn’t be long before what I’d learned would come in handy when I started a magazine about piercing.

For the first year of so, most of the friends I made were people from the Institute. The main exception was my friend Rod from Denver. He had been married for some years and had several grown children. Approaching middle age, he was no longer willing to deny the gay side of his nature. The year before I moved to LA, he packed a few essentials, said goodbye to wife and family, climbed on his Harley, and headed for California settling down in Los Angeles with a succession of male lovers. Soon after arriving he took a job as a bus driver.

I’ve often marveled at that thing we call fate. Is there really such a thing, and if not, how do we explain those amazing coincidences that happen in our lives?

Rod’s regular bus route was between Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. One day an amiable long-haired gentleman boarded his bus, and taking a seat near the driver, struck up a conversation. The man’s name was Tom and he worked as a librarian at the downtown public library. Tom became a regular commuter on Rod’s bus, and one morning as they were chatting en route to downtown, a man with a pierced ear boarded the bus. The conversation turned to the subject of piercing and Rod said, “I have a friend with pierced nipples,” to which Tom replied, “I’d like to meet him.”

I must confess that I secretly hoped that Tom would be a sexy hunk, but instead I met a rather plain, round-faced, slightly heavy set man in need of dental work. Whatever he lacked in looks was offset, to some extent, by a sunny disposition and a passion for piercing. He shared with me a collection of letters and photographs from a number of fellow enthusiasts who, at the time, were unknown to me. Among these was one “Rollie Loomis” who would soon become known as Fakir Musafar. The photographs of him that Tom showed me were truly awesome. I’d never seen anything like them. They made me aware that there were many more piercing possibilities than I had ever dreamed of.

Another of Tom’s correspondents was a man named Doug Malloy. He was supposedly some well-traveled expert on the subject of piercing. Since he lived locally Tom arranged for us to get together one evening so I could meet him. We were to rendezvous at the public library where Tom worked and then go out for dinner.



Doug Malloy (left) and Alan Oversby aka Mr. Sebastian (right).

Doug arrived with a guest, a man named Alan Oversby. Over dinner I learned that Doug had recently written a short autobiographical account of his piercing exploits called The Adventures of a Piercing Freak. A somewhat sleazy fetish publisher had purchased it and to add visual interest had included a number of photographs bearing no relation to the text.



Alan showing his art work.

Alan, it turned out, was from England where he worked as a tattoo artist who also did some body piercing. His professional name was “Mr. Sebastian.” Doug had corresponded with him, and Alan had shown a great deal of interest in learning more about the art and technical aspects of piercing. Using the money from the sale of his book, Doug had paid for Alan to come to the States.

It was a pleasant evening. We parted company, and I heard nothing further from either Doug or Alan.

During my Primal Therapy experience I became a very good friend with another patient named Jim. After a couple of years at the Institute, he decided it was time to get on with his life and moved to San Francisco. Periodically I would fly up to spend a weekend with him. He would show me the sights. Sometimes we’d smoke a little grass and hit the gay nightspots.



Eric. In a way he started it all.

On one of these outings a guy named Eric came on to me. We spent some time together, and though the chemistry wasn’t exactly ideal, we started to see each other on a regular basis, sometimes in San Francisco, sometimes in LA. Eric was very turned on by my nipple piercings and called me to see if I would pierce his nipples the next time he came to LA. While I was certainly willing, I realized that my pushpin-and-wine-bottle-cork method left a lot of room for improvement. I also knew from my brief meeting with Doug that earrings were not the right jewelry for the job. Since a more knowledgeable source was close by, it made sense to see if I could get a little guidance.

I called Tom and, after explaining the situation, asked if he would give me Doug’s phone number. This he did, and I gave Doug a call, asking if he would be willing to share some of his piercing techniques with me and tell me where I might be able to purchase appropriate jewelry. He couldn’t have been more accommodating. The techniques he’d developed over the years were at my disposal. All I needed to do was let him know when Eric would be in town and we’d set something up.

As for jewelry there weren’t many choices. Doug knew of a jeweler in San Diego who would make gold rings, but the guy was asking $200 apiece for them. This was much more than I was willing to pay. Having taken several jewelry making classes in New York, including one for professionals, I had a pretty good idea what it would take to make a pair of nipple rings, and $400 was way out of line. As I got to thinking about it, I realized that for a fraction of that amount of money I could buy the raw materials and the necessary tools as well.



The nipple retainer, my very first body piercing jewelry design.

Doug and I had several discussions about the best kind of jewelry to use for new nipple piercings. There was some question whether they would heal better with a curved ring or something that was straight. In the end we decided that maybe something straight would be the better choice. With that in mind I set out to design something appropriate. Thus came into being my first pieces of body piercing jewelry. I called them “nipple retainers.”

Consulting the Yellow Pages I discovered a lapidary shop in nearby Hollywood. They were able to supply enough gold wire for the project and the various tools I needed, all for under $50.

Early tools of the trade. The ear piercer was eventually consigned to history, but Pennington forceps are now a piercing staple.

Once the jewelry was made, Eric arranged to come down to LA for the piercing. We set up a time for Doug to come over and supervise. He brought his “kit” of implements. These included a pair of Pennington forceps, now an industry standard but at that time something pretty exotic. There was also an assortment of heavy gauge hypodermic needles, the kind used on livestock, and what in the 1950’s had no doubt been a state-of-the-art ear-piercing gun. This latter contraption consisted of plunger on the end of which was a removable needle about 3/4” long. Over the needle fit a short metal sleeve called a canula. By pressing firmly on the plunger, the needle and canula were forced through the tissue and a fork-like stop on the opposite side. Once the pressure was released, a spring would retract the plunger pulling back the needle and, hopefully, leaving the canula in the tissue. The jewelry could then be inserted by butting it against the end of the canula and following it through the piercing.

My mother worked for twenty five years for an eye doctor, so I had gained some rudimentary awareness that sterilization of the instruments was in order. Fortunately I had a pressure cooker which I usually used for cooking, but it worked just fine as a stand-in for an autoclave. These were the days before AIDS, so we gave no thought to latex gloves. After all, even dentists and tattooists worked without them. Only doctors doing surgery wore them. We assumed that as long as our hands got a thorough washing, that was enough.

The piercing process may have been crude, but at least we got the jewelry insertion principle right.

Except for using the ear-piercing gun as part of the procedure, the piercing technique itself was much like it is today. The nipple was first cleaned. Since surgeons were using it in surgery, we had elected to use Betadine instead of alcohol. Next a dot was made on either side of the nipple where we wanted the opening of the piercing to be. A rubber band was wrapped several times around the handle of the Pennington forceps and adjusted for the right grip. The nipple was clamped into the forceps and the marks aligned in the same place on either side. Once the ear-piercing gun was placed in position, the needle and canula were forced through the nipple. As the needle retracted, the canula was left in place. After laying aside the gun, the forceps were removed and the jewelry inserted.

Though still crude by today’s standards, Doug’s technique worked amazingly well, and the piercing went smoothly. Eric returned to San Francisco happy.

Soon afterward Doug called me up and asked me to have lunch with him. He picked me up in his sports car, and we went to the Red Room, a little Swedish café in West Hollywood not far from the frame shop where I worked. Over lunch the conversation naturally turned to the subject of piercing. To my surprise Doug said he thought I should start a piercing business. I already knew how to make the jewelry. All that remained was for him to teach me what he knew about the various piercings and his techniques for doing them. I could start out working part time from home, and he would share his private mailing list of enthusiasts around the world as the basis for mail order. When I pointed out that I lacked the capital to launch such an endeavor, he told me he was prepared to lend me whatever it would take. He firmly believed that a need existed for such a business and told me that from the moment he first laid eyes on me at the library, he’d known that we were destined to do something together. This was it.

Presented with such a generous offer and the possibility of creating a career for myself doing something I loved was not something I could pass up. I said yes.

Next: In The Beginning There Was Gauntlet


Jim Ward is is one of the cofounders of body piercing as a public phenomena in his role both as owner of the original piercing studio Gauntlet and the original body modification magazine PFIQ, both long before BME staff had even entered highschool. He currently works as a designer in Calfornia where he lives with his partner.

Copyright © 2003 BMEzine.com LLC. Requests to publish full, edited, or shortened versions must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published November 11th, 2003 by BMEzine.com LLC in Tweed, Ontario, Canada