Todd Bertrang
Todd Bertrang is a talented, controversial, cutting edge, and very outspoken piercer and cutter. He speaks from a different world than most piercers do, and from that has gained both followers that think he offers a new insight into bodmod, and opponents that think, to put it bluntly, that he's an obnoxious offensive sexist pig. Both his words and his works speak for themselves as you can see, lending credence to each side's case. He works out of his home and Harley Davidson business without the need to make money directly from piercing, leaving him free to explore potentially better yet financially non-rewarding piercing techniques. He may be reached via email at [email protected] or via the web at
BME: When did you first come into contact with piercing?

TODD: I saw, and became aware of piercing (other then ear lobes, which the at size most common, have never affected me, and were therefore overlooked) at the age of 18, just before turning 19. My birthday is September 7th, and the time line I'll reference here is important. This was in the summer of 1981. I was on my way back from the beach and saw a very pretty girl with her nostril pierced. For me, it was an intense sexual rush (mentally, not physically). Later on that same year, around October, I started buying issues of Easy Rider as I had just gotten my first Harley and wanted to learn as much as possible about them. They have a section in their magazine entitled "In The Wind", wherein people send in experiences of themselves or others doing things pertaining to riding motorcycles. It was, and is, a thing to do for biker women to show their tits. Well, some of these girls had their NIPPLES pierced. OH MY GOD!!! Never having seen or heard of this before, it was an even more intense sexual reaction than the nostril thing.

At this time, I had just started what was to become a 6 year relationship with a girl who couldn't handle peircing's, or intense sexuality, at all. NOTHING kinky for her, it was a turn off to her. I still managed quite a few sexual escapades of my own during this period as I an NOT monogamous, and it was VERY easy to get laid then. Especially being a young male with a Harley. Want a ride? Worked almost EVERYTIME!!

BME: And then how did this turn into an active personal interest?

TODD: When I just turned 24, Sept 1987, several things happened. I broke up with my girlfriend, my friend Cap got a PA and his girlfriend an outer labia, and I started going out to clubs in Hollywood for the first time. The clubs of choice were Cathouse and Scream. Also, Friday and Saturday nights were taken up with hanging out on the Sunset Strip.

I had been to Gauntlet about two years before to get a girl's nipples pierced. Cap was the one who told me about them. I had seen the photos of the "other" piercings during this visit, but was under the semi-mistaken impression that a piercing in a man's cock must be VERY painful. At the time, I was still quite young, and had many false sexual hangups to get over. One of these was the typical heterosexual males aversion to ANYTHING that might make others think of him as GAY (the BAD word!!). At the time, any man with even an ear ring was thought of as gay by the straight crowd. There are historical reason's for this. At the time, Gauntlet, what is now Gauntlet LA, was the ONLY place to be able to go to a store and get a piercing in the US. It was NOT like now, with a piercer on every corner and most tattoo shops doing piercings too. I was SO naive.

I finally saw a picture in Easy Rider that showed a "biker" with his nipples pierced. It was an impossibilty (I thought) for a gay male to be masculine, so therefore he must be straight. Here I'm thinking that it might be OK for a straight man to get his nipple's pierced!!!. This happened a couple of months before Cap got his PA. When he told me, I wanted to wait to see how his healed and see if the urine would allow for healing. The beginning of Novemeber saw Cap, his girl, and myself at Gauntlet getting my first piercings. A PA in 12 GA and a top left ear cartilage in 16 GA. Two weeks later, I was back for both nipple's, done in 14 GA. Unfortunately, Jim got the piercing's off. One, was "close enough" and I figured I'd "deal" with it as it hurt so bad. The other was so off, that we took it out, and I came back two weeks later to have it redone. It was STILL off, but, close enough, and OUCH!!!

BME: Did you have any body modification experience before that, or was this a first for you?

TODD: Aside from being circumsized as an infant, I had never experienced any personal modifications.

BME: How did it change from just getting piercings to giving them?

TODD: This is why I mentioned starting going out to clubs. Anyone who has hung out in the "old days" (pre-AIDS scare) can remember just how easy it was to get laid. Prior to my getting actually pierced, while Cap was healing, I again took girls down to Gauntlet to get pierced. This was hard for me as I had to shut my Harley shop down to do this. At the time I got my first piercing's, Jim (Ward, the owner of the Gauntlet chain) was restictively selling PFIQ back issues to people because of the contents aften contained SM references and photos. Cap told him I was cool, so I asked Jim if I could buy from him wholesale. Since he said OK, I immediately purchased ALL of the PFIQs, needles and jewelry (except issue #2 which he was not willing to sell).

BME: Why didn't he want to sell #2?

TODD: He TOLD me he didn't have any more copies. However, I was told many years later that he still had a few. I have always wondered what was in it that was SO BAD.

Anyway, as I was going out a lot at the time, and sex to me has NOTHING to do with being in love, I was getting laid quite a bit. I read the PFIQs (Piercing Fans International Quarterly for those who do not know) cover to cover repeatedly during my healing, paying special attention to the "pierce with a pro" series. I started piercing, for free I might ad, all the women I'd bring home. This was a cinsiderable amount. By the next summer, 1988, I was fucking, and piercing, 20 plus women a month. What fun!! But the end result was, I learned how to pierce quite well, without outside restraints, as in... am I making money?

BME: Seeing as in the earlier days of piercing, it was a largely gay leather scene, what different outlook and experiences did this give you?

TODD: It was THE reason it took me so long to get pierced. I didn't want anyone to think I was gay. And THAT idea would have prevented me from having the business I was still trying to get off the ground, and still have to this day. And ANYONE who had even an EAR ring WAS considered to be gay by the het crowd back then.

BME: How did the interest in subincision evolve?

TODD: The fall of 1988 saw me settle into my first and only monagamous relationship. BRENDA. Anyhow, The sustaining portion of this relationship was that we liked to fuck each other and we'd decided to evolve together with sexuality (which I took to mean more and more piercings).

Brenda was NOT pierced when we met, but this soon changed. Febuary 1989 saw us drive to San Francisco to have Jim give me an ampallang. Jim had just moved there to be with his lover and was starting to pierce out of his home with the ideal in mind of maybe opening up a shop in San Francisco if there were enough customers for it. A year or so later is when he hired Elaine Levine (Binnie) "Angel" to manage Gauntlet LA and he opened a store in San Francisco. When we returned home, Brenda proceeded to pierce her pussy, She gave herself a vertical hood, and four inner labia. A few months later, she gave herself 4 more inner labia and a horizontal hood. A few days after this latest pussy piercing bout, she sat down playing with her pussy and anounced that she wanted to put in LOTS of rings so one day she play "connect the dots" and cut her pussy lips OFF!! I was ASTOUNDED, NO I said, as I wanted to stretch them out (which we ended up doing). But at the same time, I was VERY turned on by the idea. As much by the idea, as by the fact the idea got her wet. By the end of the relationship, she had taken out all her piercings and no longer wanted me to fuck her with my PA in.

This brought about my thinking... OK, so if we aren't going to do piercings any more, then let's do genital cutting. I really missed having my urethra stimulated during sex. Also, she liked anal sex, and having her pussy and ass stuffed at the same time. She wasn't into my ideas of bringing in other people to have sex with us (VERY jealous). It occured to me (remebering Carl Carol), that a bisected cock would be able to fuck her in her ass and her pussy at the same time. As we were hardly having sex at all, I figured I'll fix this, maybe it'll get her interested again. So I did a meatotomy. She tolerated it. Then, when she left for a vacation a few weeks later, I cut through and past my PA photo. The result is what you see in my 1st picture. She didn't like it, for this and other reasons she left. Since then I have continued the cutting halfway into the scrotum as of this Saturday night past. Today, as I'm writing this, is June 19th 1997. I have also severed the head partially (but not much, yet) from the shaft, and bisected the head by 1/3.

BME: How have people reacted to it? Has the "public's" opinion of it changed in the last while?

TODD: The public has grown MUCH more tolerating of this, and of tattoos. I used to have ALL heads turning to stare with my little 14 GA nipple rings -- We are talking 40 to 50 people at dimly lit night clubs!!!!
BME: Have you had any problems due to the subinicision, or has it been a totally positive experience?
TODD: I was sent to a mental ward for trying to kill myself after my second major cutting. I ran out of sutures and was misadvised to go to the hospital for a quick sutureing. BIG mistake. I spent the night in the mental ward, and luckily, the head doctor had heard of this and released me the next morning. This, and I experienced hemoraging into the scrotal sac durig this last cut. Hospital time again, but this time I got lucky and they were cool. I understand I am to be to head topic of conversation at UCLA tomorrow.

The other bad experince I had was several yeas ago. I went to jail, traffic related, and the county jail deputies couldn't handle my piercings, let alone my subincision. I went to the mental ward. About 50 degrees, no blankets, and I almost died. I got VERY sick in there. Luckily my girl was able to bail me out after 14 days. Not an experience I wish to repeat.

BME: If someone wants a subincision or bisection, how would you recommend they go about it? Can they come to you and have it done?

TODD: Yes, I would be willing to do this for someone. I have done quite a few cock and labial cutting's over the years. But as yet, everyone who has asked me for a subincision or bisection has backed out.

There are many methods to cut the skin. Anything that cuts and keeps the wound open and clean will work. However, my method is to use a scalpel, less injury than sissors no matter how sharp, and subsequently faster healing. I also use sutures (stitches) to hold the shaft skin to the meatus underneath.

Bleeding is controled by a rubber band turnequet at the base of the penis. Bleeding between the meatus halves is controled by silver nitrate, and/or cautery. I prefer NOT to use cautery as the resultant scarring will be much worse. Other then this overview, the exact procedure has to do with how they want their penis to look and work afterwards.

BME: You've done some work with female circumcision (hood trimming) -- Could you tell me a little about that?

TODD: I have done both hood slitting, removal, and labial excision. It is quite easy if the hood or labia are thin. If they are thick, or if there are veins involved, it becomes more complicated because suturing is required. Each female is unique, much more so then males.

BME: What advice would you have for those considering them?

TODD: Like I said, each girl is different, and it also depends on what their shape, size and sensitivity is just prior to the operation. Any girl who does NOT like to have her hood pulled back to make the clit accessable should NOT have this done. However, if it is also something that mentally stimulates the girl, she MIGHT be a good candidate for it (having the hood removed). The inner labia are different. Some feel VERY good to play with. Some are numb (even some clit hoods have NO feeling), some even feel BAD to touch. Some girls are just mentally excited by being SMOOTH there. As long as it excites you mentally to have it. That's the most important thing.

BME: You're an advocate of large gauge initial piercing -- why is this?

TODD: More surface area to heal. This is especially important in nipple and genital piercings. When someone gets hot, or aroused, or cold, these areas can change shape drastically. What you don't want is some tiny (10 gauge or thinner) piece of jewelry minutely tearing away while it's trying to heal. Also, jewelry this thin can cause damage to the person while engaged in sex. OUCH!!! And, often it simply doesn't even feel good. Too intense is the normal thought. Too small is the reality. There is an exception to this of course -- The clit, and some clit hoods.

BME: How long does a scalpelled procedure last? Does the tourniquetting also dull the pain?

TODD: The procedure for a PA will take around three minutes, and around seven or eight for a reverse PA. Around ninety percent of the pain is taken away when I use the "base tie off". So much so that I use it now on ALL cock piercings that will not have this "get in the way". Which is esentially all of them. The most painful part then is simply returning circulation.

BME: When you do these large piercings, how do your tools and techniques differ from the oldschool (ie. needle) method?

TODD: Well, there is a difference from doing a needle piercing. While some scalpel piercings are done with smaller gauges, even thinner then 8 gauge, usually these are reserved for a 4 gauge or larger. MOST piercing's I do, until I get past 6 gauge, are done with a needle. The biggest difference is it simply takes much more skill to needle pierce at 6 gauge than say 14, or even 8 gauge. And you have to accurately compensate for the thickness, without having two markings. A scalpel piercing is VERY different, and often NOT marked at all. You have to be able to "tell" what the flesh looks like both expanded and contracted, and REMEMBER this without marking it (don't take this to mean that ALL scalpled piercings are done unmarked, some are, depends on what, and where). And, yes, this means I make sure I see the guy hard first. Other then this, (this will sound easier then it is) you simply slice open a hole where you want it to be.

A large gauge piercing tends to heal EXTREMELY fast. 6 gauges heal in three weeks or less. Four and 2 gauges in two weeks. The after care is the same (my method of care that is) for a 6 gauge as a 16 gauge, However, a scalpelled piercing tends to bleed, and certain ones require a special herbal soak to help with the blood seepage. This bleeding after the piercing tends to make the healing much more intense. Not in the pain level, but in the MIND space. You have to be able deal with the fact you're bleeding a little for a couple of days. However, and this is a plus and ONE of the reason's why they heal so fast. The piercee is partially aroused during healing. You'll heal with a wet pussy, semi hard cock, or excited nipple's. This sends blood to the area and aids healing, not to mention feels good.

BME: Some people say that it's better to start small and then stretch -- What do you see as the disadvantages of this?

TODD: Migration, scarring, infections, prolonged healing. I don't have these problems with my techniques.

BME: Are there any particular dangers in performing piercings this large to start with?

TODD: The same dangers inherant in the smaller piercings, just maginfied because of the larger area being delt with.

The risks are the same as any other piercing. Lack of knowledge of placement, size, shape, how do you do it. 10 GA and smaller piercings are quite easy to do, and easy to train someone to do. Keep in mind that the majority of piercings done are by trainees. An 8 GA or larger is a MUCH harder piercing to do, and requires much more experience.

BME: Some people have claimed that once you start doing piercings using a scalpel rather than a needle that you cross into medical ground and enter dangerous legal territory -- What would be your response to this?

TODD: No, plain and simple. There was a time when piercing's were NOT done at 10 GA. Like when I started. It was TOO BIG. The needles used come from medical supply houses that manufacture needles.

If you want to be a good piercer, you better be prepared to learn about the skin within relation to, how it heals, why it heals, why it feels good or doesn't, why it gets infected, and what to do about it. Well, guess what, we ARE on medical ground already.

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