I just got back from an amazing trip to Las Vegas for the Association of Professional Piercers annual Conference and Expo. It was held at Bally's Hotel and Casino, which was a nice change from the past 2 years at the Tropicana, and a really nice step up from the prior 7 at the Riviera.
I taught three classes, including Oro-Facial (Above-the-Neck) Anatomy, Female Genital Piercings, and Anatomy of the Body. The anatomy classes were co-taught with Dr. Jack (Dr. John Ward) who is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in cancer patients. He is also a trained piercer and a wonderful resource for the piercing community. From the feedback we received, it appears that we make a good team, with Dr. Jack providing relevant medical information, and me contributing the practical piercing tips and advice. I also hosted a round table discussion on the subject of "Shameless Self Promotion." And I also co-taught the members-only course on Advanced Oral Piercings. I also attended many meetings including two of the Board of Directors, one for health inspectors, and another for APP members. Whew!
Additionally, I spoke during the Banquet about our guest of honor, Jim Ward, my dear friend, mentor, and former employer. He was the founder of Gauntlet, the world's first piercing specialty business. We celebrated his 70th birthday and had a fantastic party for him complete with a piñata that resembled a black leather boot, and a muscled, scantily clad leather boy who jumped out of a "cake." Jim's partner of 23 years, Drew Ward also spoke, as did my friends and colleagues, Barry Blanchard of Anatometal Body Jewelry and Paul King of Cold Steel America.
Since I no longer have a piercing studio to buy for at the Expo (now that Rings of Desire in New Orleans is closed) I was forced to get a few things for myself. ; ) The jewelry companies at the Vendor Expo had the most incredible body jewelry! It was hard to manage my time between teaching, visiting with friends and colleagues, spending time at the booth to sell my book, The Piercing Bible, and also fitting in some shopping. I didn't have a moment to spare, but I made the most of it and had a truly memorable time. You can see more photos in a FB album of the APP's official photographer, Sean Hartgrove.
For me, one of the highlights of the conference was sharing the booth of Jim Ward, who was there with his brand new memoir: Running the Gauntlet. It tells all about his life and his role in the development of the modern body piercing industry. It is a totally fascinating book that is full of amazing historical photos and I highly recommend it for anyone who is involved in any way with body piercing, and also for any reader who enjoys an in-depth, revealing, and highly personal autobiography.
I had a wonderful time hanging out with Jim and his partner Drew and I'm totally thrilled to see Jim's book in circulation. Many piercers at Conference were rendered speechless by the opportunity to get a book from Jim, have him sign it, and get their photos taken with him. It was a delight to see, all the way around.
It was fantastic to see so many piercers in person, especially those who are my Facebook friends! I really enjoyed getting to spend face-to-face time with people I correspond with throughout the year. I got a bunch of great feedback from piercers who told me that they learned a lot in my classes, and that's what it is all about: sharing the information and advancing professionalism and safety in piercing.
Oh, one of the other highlights of conference is when the reigns were handed over at the end of the banquet: I'm now the APP President, and will serve in that position for the next three years!