I grew up in Southern California's San Fernando Valley (where "Valley Girls" come from). My fascination with things medical is life long, and I have fond memories of my M.D. father bringing me to work at the hospital and his medical office, early in my youth. I remember assisting nurses (usually with paperwork) in the hospital Emergency Room as far back as the mid 1960s!
When I was just 5 years old, I asked to have my ears pierced, though my own mother didn't even have hers done. When they refused, I took a bracelet of tiny "pearls" and broke it, so I could stick the beads onto my earlobes. I pressed them hard enough for them to stay, so it would look like my ears were pierced.
Finally, I got my first set of ear lobe piercings in 1967, after two years of relentless begging and pleading with my parents. They were performed by my father, the doctor, via an old-school autoclavable all-metal piercing gun, with clunky, cylindrical Frankenstein-esque steel studs. I was hooked!
I began to put 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, I deeply desired to have body piercings, but did not know about the possibilities. In 1975, 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 small gold hoop earring onto which I'd sharpened a point. I knew this tiny ring in a crooked piercing wasn't quite right, but was certain this was what I had always wanted. I removed the earring from my nipple, and resolved to have it done professionally.
The next day I went to 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 enthusiastically brought in multitudes of my friends, associates, and near-strangers to have piercings done with my support and encouragement (while I learned as much as possible through observation and asking annoying questions). Prior to my employment there, 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 Pierce College, (no kidding!) in Woodland Hills, California. I decided against hanging the diploma on the wall of my studio, Rings of Desire, thinking folks might mistake it for a piercing certification of some type.
Following a serious bout of tendinitis in both forearms from my five-year career as a Sign Language Interpreter at California State University, in Northridge, I returned to school in the 1980s and studied Marketing and Management at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
Subsequent to my Summa Cum Laude graduation, I donned a business suit, grabbed my resume, and with great anticipation applied for the position of Manager at Gauntlet's original—and at the time, only—location in Southern California. 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, deep dedication, 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 division 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 passionate, open, and joyful attitude about piercing helped to bring the subject before the public eye, and to diverse populations of ultimately interested parties. I was involved in helping the field to blossom 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 happily lived and worked in that city for over 12 years.
During my time in New Orleans, I opened a second business, which is still there to this day: Chi-wa-wa Ga-ga, A Small Store for Dinky Dogs, specializing in costumes, clothing, and accessories. It is run by my longtime friend and business partner Justine Roig.
Following Hurricane Katrina, the next chapter unfolded as I moved to Merida, Mexico, in the Yucatan. It is an amazing city filled with tremendous history and culture, and lovely people. I thoroughly enjoy visiting the local sights: ancient Mayan ruins, cenotes, haciendas, the beach, the colonial center city.... After my move to Mexico, I was able to finish writing my book, which I'd been working on for about five years. The Piercing Bible was published (Random House/Crossing Press) in May of 2009, and has been reprinted at least eight times. It is also available as an eBook, and in a Russian translation!
For over a decade, I've been doing guest piercing at fine studios around the U.S., and specialize exclusively in nipple and genital piercings. For information on my upcoming cities and dates, check the Travel page. To be automatically notified of new tours, sign up for my free newsletter at the bottom of the page.
I also offer professional online (photo) consultations for any piercing on the body, whether for anatomical suitability and placement advice, or troubleshooting for piercing problems.
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