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A hole in history

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

Modern Primitive was developed by people who engage in rituals and body modification, inspired by the ceremonies, rites of passage and body ornamentation of what are considered traditional cultures.

There are several motivations for getting involved in these practices, which can be for personal growth, religious beliefs, association with groups, for art, to shock as a behavior of self-expression,

acceptance and affirmation, etc.

In the 70's, with the Punk movement, there was a very strong growth of self-liberation practices; Thus was born the Modern Primitive movement, where the practice of piercing was taken seriously, having its beginnings in the industry with the birth of the first piercing studio, “The gauntlet”.

Created in 1975 in West Hollywood by Jim Ward and financed by Doug Malloy, the clientele of "The Gauntlet"

originated from the gay and S&M communities of Southern California. At the same time, in Northern California, Ward also managed the studio from his home.

In its heyday, “The Gauntlet” was responsible not only for applying piercings but also for manufacturing the jewelry and other equipment that we use today, and there were born terms used to this day as

"barbell", "circular barbell" and "captive ring". The popularization of the industry is due to both Ward and his friend Horst Heinrich Streckenbach ("Tattoo Samy") from Germany, and his student Manfred "Tattoo" Kohrs.

of Hanover, who are responsible for the designs of some jewels.

"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."

Said Jim Ward in a 2004 documentary entitled "The Social History of Piercing" on MTV.

With the increasing rise of the field they felt the need for organization and care in practice, so several foundations of our profession were created by them.

In 1977, Jim Ward, Doug Malloy and Fakir Musafar started the piercing magazine “Piercing Fans International Quarterly” (PFIQ), which contained a wide variety of interviews, letters from readers and book reviews. It was mostly about body piercing and modification, with articles by Jim

like "Pierce with a Pro", where he details how to perform some different piercings.

Fakir Musafar was known for his ritualistic presentations and was also responsible for the creation of “Fakir intensives”, an organization to disseminate knowledge of practices with love, respect and sensitivity.

Doug Malloy was responsible for marketing the product, author of the first book on modern body piercing “Diary of a piercing Freak”, and also known for his

stories about the origins of adornments. He was amazing at it and managed to make that desire reach far beyond a group, which was very liberating for the entire body piercing community.

Since then, Jim Ward is considered the father of modern piercing and we celebrate our day on his birthday, the June's 28th.

All those mentioned are our pioneers, directly responsible for embodying our profession. Many things have evolved, but love, care and connection were the pillars for realizing this ideal, in addition to its legacies that remain to this day. Unfortunately Doug Malloy and Fakir Musafar are no longer with us.

Gratitude to all of them.

The opinion of the columnist is not necessarily an opinion of the Coletivo Sala Solidária.


Adrielly de Mello

Born in Curitiba/PR, she works in the city as Body Piercer, owner of Studio Lumos and member of APPBR.

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