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xmag.com : November 2000 : Darklady


It seemed only fitting that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be at my left side and, I seem to recall, hanging on the wall dead in front of me as well. Ganesha protected the back of my head and I have no idea who the deity to my right was. Todd Almighty was the only divine being that mattered to me that September afternoon, as I sat on his piercing room table at Puncture, a well-respected piercing studio in Los Angeles.
It was time for a rite of passage.
Even the Puncture business card understood. On its back are the words,"mark your journey."
I remember the first time I saw a white woman with a pierced nostril. She was a young hippie girl with strawberry blonde hair and it seemed odd—not quite right, but still somehow exotic and strangely exciting. I felt guilty for finding it appealing, as though I were somehow stealing another culture's beauty mark. It was the early 1980s. Soon Ronald Reagan would be reelected and I would respond by adding a tattoo to my body, forever changing the way I look at the world.

"It was time for a rite of passage."

Today tattoos on women, especially in the sex industry, are fairly common. Some would say too common. I don't know if I agree with "some." Depends on the woman. Depends on the tattoo. It's ultimately a personal preference, really. When I was inked it was still pretty scandalous. I wasn't even sure what I thought of what I'd done for a few years. I love my tattoo now and would like to get it touched up and possibly add another to my body canvas once I figure out what Jungian archetype would have the greatest long-term meaning for me as I grow as a person.
But this past September was the time of piercing and passage. My life had reached a critical junction and I was, once again, embarking upon a road not taken. Big changes in my personal and professional life had truly rocked my world, so what more logical thing to do than mark this momentous occasion by having a piece of sharp metal shoved through a meaty part of my face—while having my best girlfriend in the world (Ellen Thompson, adorably cynical bitch and editor of Leg World) snap photos with my digital camera? Ellen is herself a walking tapestry of epidermal art and subcutaneous metalworking. She has been my confidante and a kind of BDSM Virgil since even before we met face-to-face, and has accompanied me on many an adventure (ask me how I set off the fire alarm at the San Remo some time) and snapped many a compromising photo that could make or break any political career I might foolishly embark upon in the future. She had made the appointment and selected my piercer. It was only right that she should be there to witness this symbolic acknowledgement and embrace of change.
I had no idea what to expect. I'd surfed the net trying to find personal accounts of a nostril piercing so that I'd have some idea what was going to happen. I knew it involved jamming a sharp object through my nostril and somehow keeping it from falling back out, but beyond that things were vague. I asked a few friends with similar piercings and their stories all lined up.
My experience, of course, was different. One eye pooled a tear that never went anywhere and I felt the piercing implement move through my skin like a pin through warm butter. Photos indicate a sheen of perspiration, and an initially concerned but ultimately triumphant look in my eyes.
My new piercing—like my tattoo—serves as a gift to myself, a reminder that I am a creature of change and growth capable of giving birth to myself repeatedly and celebrating both the pain and the pleasure of being a dynamic human being.

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