The Author

Professional Background

Author Elayne AngelI was President and founder of Rings of Desire, Inc., in New Orleans --The French Quarter's only licensed body art studio for over 12 years! I am the former Manager and Vice President of Southern California Operations for Gauntlet, in West Hollywood. In my earlier years I worked as a Sign Language Interpreter, Script Supervisor, and in the Medical Field, as well as in the Fashion Industry. I am renowned both for my lengthy professional piercing career and expertise in body piercing as well as for my own extensive collection of body art.

In my career, I have performed well over 40,000 piercings! And I have about 40 of my own, which continue to provide me with tremendous enjoyment.

I was the manager of Gauntlet in Los Angeles in the 1980s, when it was the first and only Body Piercing specialty studio in the United States. In fact, it was the first of its kind in the world! At times I also worked at the Gauntlet branches in San Francisco, and New York.

I received my honorary Master Piercer Certificate from Gauntlet Founder, Jim Ward, in December of 1992. It was the first such certificate issued by Gauntlet, and all the more an honor that it was granted after announcing my forthcoming departure from Gauntlet.

A native of Southern California, then resident of French Quarter in New Orleans; I ran Rings of Desire, a piercing specialty studio there for over 12 years. We closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and I now reside in the peaceful paradise of Merida, Mexico, in the Yucatan. I continue to guest piercing regularly all around the U.S. at the studios of my colleagues as I don't have my own premises. See information about making appointments here 


I am known as a pioneer in the field for innovating techniques, aftercare, and piercing placements. I am credited (by Gauntlet, BMEzine, and others) with the popularity of the tongue piercing; and inventing, naming, and popularizing a number of specific piercing placements including the Fourchette, and Lorum. I also perfected and popularized the Triangle piercing.

APP Member LogoI am a long-standing member of the Association of Professsional Piercers (APP). In my ongoing involvement to advance the field and to promote piercing safety, I served a three-year volunteer term as the Outreach Coordinator. Following that I was elected to a second term with the organization as Medical Liaison. After a three-year hiatus, I served another term on the Board of Directors in that position. I was honored in 2006 with the President's Award for a Lifetime of Contributions to the industry. From June 2011-June 2014, I served a term as the Association's President, and I remain a "Business Member at Large."

While working for the APP, I produced a number of brochures for the organization that have helped to professionalize the field. These include the Aftercare Guidelines for Facial and Body Piercings and Aftercare Guidelines for Oral Piercings, which have become the industry standard for piercing care. Also, I penned a brochure entitled Troubleshooting for You and Your Healthcare Professional, which provides valuable information for piercees and for medical professionals, who othen have no piercing-specific training.

APP BrochuresYet another important brochure I produced is Oral Piercing Risks and Safety Measures, which I wrote to debunk urban myths and provide vital, accurate health and safety information on oral piercings. I've produced brochures for the APP including Jewelry for Initial Piercings, and Jewelry for Healed Piercings. My most recent addition was Preparing for Medical and Dental Procedures.

I also spearheaded the rewrite and update of the APP Procedure Manual, 2013 Edition, which is used throughout the industry as the definitive guide for safe, sanitary piercing practices.

I undertook additional volunteer duties with the APP by being the Editor of the APP's quarterly journal, THE POINT. I produced four issues per year, from issue #17- #31. For issues #46-59, I served in the position of Co-Editor with former APP President, James Weber, and was Editor in Chief of Issue #60. I continue to volunteer as a Contributing Editor. The current issue can be viewed here.

Further, in my capacity as a Board Member for the APP I have attended Quarterly Board meetings, and taught at the APP conferences in Las Vegas, Amsterdam, and Mexico. At Conference, I have covered topics such as Grounding and Bedside Manner, Anatomy, Aftercare and Healing, Basic Piercing Techniques, Female Genital Piercings, Male Genital Piercings, and Advanced Piercing Techniques. I've also taught at piercing-related courses seminars in Italy, Germany, and Sweden.

I have appeared to speak for groups of medical professionals about body piercing, such as Association of periOperative Nurses (AORN), and HIV/AIDS Health Educators of Louisiana. I have also presented to both students and staff at Student Health Centers in Colleges and Universities.

In addition to efforts in my own studio and the community of piercing professionals, I have contributed to the state of Louisiana by assisting in the promulgation of the laws regarding Body Art for the state, and also by assisting in training the health inspectors who enforce the laws I helped to create.

I have also participated with Doctors at the University of South Alabama in a fascinating research study, specifically about the Vertical Clitoral Hood piercing (VCH) and female sexual satisfaction!! Positive results were published in the prestigious (and conservative) American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

I am renowned throughout the industry as a pioneer and as a consummate professional, revered for knowledge, skill, and ethics on the job. And I feel like the luckiest human being with the best job in the world, because I retain my enjoyment and passion for piercing, even after all of these years in the field!


To quote August, 2003, body art industry magazine Pain Magazine, featured artist section: "Elayne is not only credited with bringing piercing to the mainstream, she is also responsible for developing much of the industry that's now taken for granted--including tongue piercing."

I was featured in the 2003 MTV special, "A Social History of Body Piercing" in which I spoke extensively about genital and oral piercings.

Creating a new chapter in my series of "firsts" in November 2002, I became the first wearer of body art to receive a registration from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. For details see the Trademarked Tattoo page, which contains an article about me in Skin & Ink Magazine.

My picture has appeared in a numerous books such as The Illustrated Woman, and Modern Primitives. My image has also appeared in virtually every tattoo magazine published in recent history. I have been interviewed in many varied publications from The National Enquirer and Sun, to Rolling Stone and Us magazines. I've appeared on many television shows including news broadcasts like CNN, shows such as Inside Report and After Hours and various cable television shows as well. I have even been interviewed about piercing on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

I have also received press for being the piercer to popular rock star, Lenny Kravitz. I have been his piercer for years, and even went on tour with him, and pierced his entire band and crew! Me and Lenny Kravitz

Additionally, but less happily, my photos have been used extensively without permission on book and album covers, and in print media ads for music CDs, computer products, cars, laser tattoo removal, and more.

Pain Magazine

For years, I have penned the monthly "Ask Angel" column on my area of expertise for the industry trade publication Pain Magazine.


Personal History

I grew up in California's San Fernando Valley (where "Valley Girls" come from!) my M.D. father would bring me to the hospital and his medical offices in my early youth. My fascination with things medical is life long. I can recall assisting nurses (usually with paperwork) in the Hospital Emergency Room as far back as the mid 1960s!

After two years of relentless begging and pleading with my parents, I got my first ear lobe piercings in 1967. They were performed by my father, the doctor, via stud gun, with Frankenstein-esque steel studs. I was hooked!

I began to pierce additional holes in my own ears and held piercing parties with my friends starting in 1972. Back then I was using sharpened earrings and various and sundry inappropriate instruments acquired from my father's medical offices. (Ok, so maybe I am not proud of all of it, but it's the truth, and you can benefit from my prior experimentation, mistakes, and later successes!) During High School, desiring body piercings, but not knowing the possibilities, I pierced a pinch of tissue just below the prominent bone of my left wrist. In it I placed a small gold hoop (yes, an earring). Afraid my family would see it and have me committed, I removed the tiny ring after a few weeks, but continued to experience the desire to wear piercings and jewelry in places other than my ears.

In 1981 I met a pierced couple at the Southern California Renaissance Faire. My fascination was piqued at the provocative sight of a pierced nipple. This was what I had been waiting for! They told me about Gauntlet, the first (established in 1975) and only--at the time--professional body piercing studio in the United States.

I rushed home, locked myself in the bathroom, and pierced my own right nipple with a sharpened small gold hoop earring. I knew it wasn't quite right, but was certain this was what I had always wanted. I removed the little earring from my nipple, and resolved to have it done professionally.

The next day I went to the Gauntlet, and had both nipples pierced. The rest, as they say, is history. I continued to return regularly over the years for a wide variety of piercings on myself. Ever the piercing advocate, I brought in multitudes of my friends and associates to have piercings done with my support and encouragement (while I learned as much as possible through observation and asking annoying questions). Over the years I enjoyed piercing friends in the privacy of my home.

I am the proud bearer of an Associate of Arts Degree in Sign Language Interpreting from: (no kidding!) Pierce College, in Woodland Hills, California. I decided against hanging the diploma on the wall at Rings of Desire, thinking folks might mistake it for a specious piercing certification of some type.

Following a serious bout of tendinitis in both forearms from my five-year career as an Interpreter at California State University, in Northridge, I returned to school in the late 80s and studied Marketing and Management at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.

Me and Jim WardSubsequent to my Summa Cum Laude graduation I donned a business suit and with great anticipation applied for the position of Manager at Gauntlet's original--and at the time, still only--Southern California location. After an interview with Gauntlet founder, Jim Ward, he pronounced me hired. Following that he inquired, "By the way, how are your piercing skills?"

"Better than most," was my accurate (if somewhat evasive) reply.

Jim returned to San Francisco, and I used my natural affinity, prior medical background, and some luck to continue building my skills and experience.

During my tenure at Gauntlet the company grew from its single, small L.A. shop, to a larger location, and added stores in San Francisco, and New York. A separate Mail Order Location opened, as well as a Jewelry Manufacturing Department, and finally, Corporate Offices. If you're interested in the origins of the modern body piercing industry, don't miss Jim Ward's amazing book, Running the Gauntlet.

My open, enthusiastic, and joyful attitude about piercing helped to bring the subject before the public eye, and to truly diverse populations of ultimately interested parties. I have been instrumental in the field blossoming from a single modest studio to the bona fide industry that is now part of our modern culture.

After living for thirty-something years in Los Angeles, I decided to travel for a year, and then move from Southern California. I toured and pierced around the country and New Orleans selected me! I opened Rings of Desire in December of 1993 in the French Quarter, and lived there happily for over 12 years. Following Hurricane Katrina the next chapter unfolded as I moved to Merida, Mexico, in the Yucatan and wrote The Piercing Bible. My book was published (Random House/Crossing Press) in May of 2009, and has been reprinted several times. I now do guest piercing at fine studios around the U.S and specialize exclusively in nipple and genital piercings. For information on my upcoming travels, check the Events section in the right sidebar, or sign up for my free newsletter at the top of the right sidebar. It is an "opt-in" list, so I can't add you myself.

To see photos and read all about my body art, click here.
For my CV, and links to interviews and podcasts, visit the Press Room.
If you are interested in watching me perform piercings, clips are available here.
Piercers may also be interested in my monthly question-and-answer column in Pain Magazine.
If you would like to be notified when I plan piercing travels, sign up for my mailing list in the box in the right upper corner.