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 oddnot
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
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 facewhile 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
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 piercinglike my tattooserves 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.