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Part 1. Section 1. Paragraph 1, (consists of 2 sentences)
Chalmers opening Abstract:
Seems innocuous enough, how could anyone find fault. However, the words “and body piercing” are not the words of, nor the intention of Caplan, nor of Camphausen, nor of Rush, but Chalmers misrepresentation.
Chalmers wrote, (quoted again from above)
This is not just a “slip-of-the-pen” because it is repeated and again where it is again attributed to Jane Caplan. See 1.3.7 quoted below
Chalmers (Part 1, Bold Section 3, 7th paragraph)
Both tattooing and body piercing have been practiced in almost all cultures at one time or another (Caplan, 2000).
Chalmers uses language to create the false impression that Jane Caplan is the one saying this, the source.1
The objection is, Chalmers elevates the importance and significance of piercing as if it were on a par with tattoo but not by historical importance or a reasoned argument, and all without evidence. This is not a valid interpretation of the histories of T&P and is not supported by any of these author. Trying to link T&P in scope and importance is a faulty view of history.
It is my view that Tattoo and Body Piercing are two distinct and separate activities, practices, industries and should not be linked together nor treated in law or otherwise as two similar activities.
As a twenty-five year veteran of broad exposure in the tattoo and in the piercing industry, as owner and founder of the tattoo supply business, Unimax Supply Co Inc., NYC, registered in 1989, entering the piercing and jewelry business in 1993, and as tattoo shop owner, Sacred Tattoo (founded in 1990) I argue, as a first hand participant, that there are two distinct industries not one "tattooing-and-body-piercing industry." The two activities can co-exist, as in Unimax Supply Co., and in Sacred Tattoo, N.Y.C., but this does not create an equality. Both areas of commerce and practice have extreme differences. For one, the practitioners are almost always different though the clients may overlap and what is really definitive, the two industries are considered separate, distinct, and uniquely different by the practitioners and the participants of tattoo and piercing. This is universally accepted and understood by all the businesses in T&P. As a matter of fact there is a decided lack of appreciation by tattooists for lumping the two together.
In 1996, during the proposed legalization of tattooing in NYC, The New York City Council agreed with the tattoo community that Tattoo(ing) and Piercing (T&P) are substantially different activities and therefore because of those differences, should have separate specific regulations when and if it were to become necessary to have Body Piercing regulations. All references to piercing were removed. 2
To illustrate some of these profound differences, consider the training.
To illustrate some of these profound differences, consider the training.
Consider the differences in knowledge and training.
For piercing, Jim Ward’s Gauntlet became the name associated with the piercing movement in the U.S.. The instruction I obtained at Gauntlet in 1995 taught piercing and safety with a week’s classroom training, which included one supervised piercing and watching a half dozen others. This is contrasted to tattooing which takes years of effort and thousands of tattoos. It takes years to reach what might be similar to a "journeyperson" status, one who, while self-admittedly still learning can travel around and work at other shops and conventions to broaden knowledge through interaction with other tattooists. It takes a decade of tattooing to be considered by their peers as having enough experience to be a “Pro”, an experienced tattooist. No one in tattoo would consider anyone a Master without at least 20 years of working plus making known contributions to the community of tattoo by their unique influence and inspiration, not just putting in time tattooing in a shop decade after decade.
Chalmers, as outsider, is not familiar with T&P. She doesn't know the things that only a participant would know working at something day in and day out for years and years. Having no experience and no long term exposure she can't help going wrong. When it comes to writing regulations and requirements, her ideas are based on incorrect, insufficient and unsupported notions of what T&P entails.
Tattoo, Piercing and U.S. history.
As opposed to requiring anything extraordinary, commercial “over-the-counter” piercings offered to anyone of age are those which can be successfully executed and heal with average after-care. An average person can learn to do safe and effective commercial piercing of the common piercings without a thousand hours of training or extensive college courses on anatomy, physiology or microbiology. Chalmers has no basis for recommending any type of training. Commercial body piercing is not infection-prone open surgery, it is more like phlebotomy.
The medical literature, by still publishing anecdotal reports of T&P adverse events eloquently demonstrates the safety of these activities because the untoward events appear in print because they are not seen on a regular basis, because they are unusual, worthy of publication because of their scarcity.
As personally experienced, and through my knowledge and contact with thousands of T&P business wholesale customers, for more than two decades, piercing services became commonplace in tattoo shops in the mid 90s as product and tools were being made available by piercing supply businesses. In the early 90s the piercing businesses consisted of stand-alone body jewelry and tool suppliers and single-service piercing shops.
Jim Ward's Piercing Fans
Quarterly got the ball rolling and Fakir Musafa is often credited for resurrecting tribal meanings and experiences of body
work bridging the gap between atavistic practice and modern fashion
conscious society. Fakir became a public figure when Modern PrimitivES gave exposure to his body modification as, imbued with mystical and personal "journey" experience,
translated, transplanted, and transformed from older
cultural roots to modern appreciation
and experience. Modern PrimitivES attempted to legitimize
this activity by linking it to historic, exotic, “primitive,” tribal,
The demise of Piercing Shops.
Tattoo shops picked up on the opportunities quickly, and by incorporating piercing into their offerings, at little cost, piercing-only shops came to a quick end. Tattoo shops had the facilities and exposure which then drove accessibility for consumers. Tattoo supply companies, such as Unimax Supply Co. also entered the piercing supply business by making affordable and attractive jewelry, new and better tools. Initially Thailand produced the first hundreds of affordable attractive styles that wowed everyone. I was there at the time operating Unimax Supply Co and I participated in these historic events as witness and participant. For the US market, Korea then became a more cost effective source for some new types of items, then Indonesia, then China, all producing thousands of fashionable pieces of body jewelry which fed the demand for fashion, forgetting the atavistic primitive experience part. No longer was it a matter of bending the body to obey, but fashionable. Piercing supply companies were vigilant and kept a close watch on piercing jewelry so that the surgical s/s content and quality was improved to match all reasonable expectations for safety and suitability, always embracing safe 316L stainless steel, some over-zealous extremists going to ridiculous lengths. Our jewelry was and has always been safe, comfortable, and fashionable. It helped change piercing from the "experience" (a Modern Primitive interpretation) to being the means to acquire fashion, not just a bar with balls. Safety of 316L as the major metal used was confirmed as safe during the "costume-jewelry-lead scare" of 2005-06. All jewelry manufactured was tested extensively and found to be within safety guidelines.
Fakir Musafa reinvented (or re-awakened) the experience of ritual transformation that individuals report as experiencing. What started as self-interpreted mutilation (Favazza) developed into a positive experience by re-interpretation as tribal practices and personal fulfillment which has gone full circle and now these tribal primitive meanings that energized the West to embrace piercing have been eclipsed by this generation's fashion expression.
Tattoo has been, and
is, the major
cultural body modification when compared to piercing, which has always been a distant
second. The nineties roared for piercing continuing into
a phenomenon that
lines of people
outside Sacred Tattoo,
waiting for their
tongue and navel piercings. By 2000
piercing-only shops, to survive, switched
into tattoo shops
relegating piercing to an add-on. It’s a fascinating and lively
history that is likely to be lost because few people have
this kind of overview and active participation in both
businesses as I have been fortunate to
To make a point, the
difference between an
abrasion-type wound (a goal of most modern commercial
tattoo application technique) leaving a permanent smooth mark on the
contrasted to a
semi-permanent-type piercing puncture wound
for jewelry display is not a moot point
for tattooists who consider themselves and the craft of tattoo as
containing significant historical, cultural and personal meanings above and
beyond what commercial piercing
offers, as well as a world of difference in mastering the medium, a
distinct difference, so much so that many health and
safety issues beyond universal precautions have different emphases.
T&P share little in common, other than they both happen to the body.
Unfortunately they are
mostly treated as one business in most regulations
because it seems natural and certainly more convenient, except in New York where tattooists took a stand and had a Health
Department that took stakeholder interests seriously and considered the issues
based on the merits, not prejudice.
Body piercing exists in spite
of tattoo shops, not because of them.
Chalmers limited historical knowledge leads to a fallacy of argument so that statements that apply only to tattoo or only to piercing, together, appear more compelling and significant. Though the two have almost nothing in common, together the negativities seem to spill over and cross-contaminate each other as if what is said of one infects the other, which neither could do alone. This is part of the overall criticism of the article: lack of knowledge of the subject leading to false and incorrect conclusions.
This argument supports and reveals my contention. It rests on the premise that piercing is only associated with tattoo by the physical premises, not the nature of the activity. One set of rules is not acceptable.
Back at the beginning, Chalmers states the problem:
“…and continue and grow in popularity in modern day Western societies. (Camphausen, 1997; Rush 2005)”.
That T&P has grown
in popularity is common knowledge and does not require sourcing because
the information is observable everywhere. My point is,
the article would be scoffed at if the
purpose were bluntly stated. Arguments against tattoo alone will not be
compelling but, combined
with piercing the argument increases more than just two fold.
1997:2 says it is an
“explosion” (notice he downplays
The last years have brought an explosion of interest in – and demand for – all types of body decoration, though it is mainly tattooing, followed by piercings of all kinds, that has undergone a true renaissance. (Camphausen 1997:2)
…the “tattoo renaissance” that has swept through Europe and the USA in the past few years: that verb is not too strong to describe the centripetal force with which tattooing has recently emerged from the margins of Western culture. (Caplan:xii
Both Camphausen and Rush specifically and forcefully intended to convey that something remarkable was happening. Chalmers does however later write the same thing but calling it a "revival" is not accurate.: “Touching on the global revival…”(p102) and “witnessing a global revival…”(p103)
John A. Rush
is really the source Chalmers' paraphrase from page 18, except the "piercing" reference
which is added..
is really the source Chalmers' paraphrase from page 18, except the "piercing" reference which is added..
Chalmers copies Rush who writes:
Chalmers copies Rush who writes:
Rush references “(Caplan 2000)”, a scholarly modern work on tattooing, Written on the Body, by Jane Caplan, Editor and Contributor. Chalmers leads you to think she is giving credit to Caplan, but this is not from Caplan, this is from Rush sourcing what Caplan said.
Someone could argue that the “(Caplan 2000)” refers to the second sentence not the first sentence, but this cannot be defended.
Wholly human phenomena, they are activities that have been practiced in almost all cultures at one time or another (Caplan 2000) ...
This could not be
claimed because A) it is Rush who uses the unique phrase
“wholly human phenomenon” (unfortunately mis-attributed) from his book
Spiritual Tattoo, page
C) Another defense might be to admit that “Yes” it is all from Rush but just a mistake by listing Caplan not Rush as the source and getting them confused. But this too cannot be defended because Rush did not write “and piercing” in this context either.
Jane Caplan clearly distinguished and gave pre-eminence to tattoo not as a co-equal with piercing.
From Jane Caplan's Introduction:
Tattooing is one of many forms of irreversible body alterations, including scarification, cicatrization, piercing and branding, and it is [ ] probably the oldest and most widespread of these…tattooing can be found in virtually all parts of the world at some time.…tattooing alone has had an extended, if discontinuous history in Western culture. (p.xi)
Jane Caplan is not making a statement about piercing anymore than making a statement about “scarification, cicatrization or branding.”
Tattooing is the subject, not “Tattooing and body piercing.”
tattooing “is [ ] probably the oldest”;
tattooing is the “most widespread”;
“tattooing can be found in virtually all parts of the world at some time”;
“tattooing alone has had an extended…history”.
Written on the
Body is about tattooing, not piercing.
When Jane Caplan co-mingles “piercing” among other forms of body alteration this is the intended meaning of the text that there is no intention to single piercing out. It is a list of forms of irreversible body alteration. If anything, it would be easy to show that branding would definitely have her attention as having historical and cultural significance, more extensive and widespread than piercing. There is no doubt about that. Even Rush, one of Chalmers’ most referenced authors, makes an effort to diminish piercing’s status and importance.
As representatives of the tattoo community for the deliberations and consultations with the City Council and the Health Department, Clayton Patterson, President of the Tattoo Society of New York and I were repeatedly voted to serve as members on all subsequent committees. We were democratically elected to represent the tattooists’ views and authorized to negotiate changes to the proposed legalization, which we did to great applause and almost unanimous agreement. One such proposal was to remove all references to piercing within tattoo regulations: which was accomplished. This directly supports the contention that at least one prominent City and the Health Department concurred that the two activities were uniquely different.
This distinction between T&P was recognized
and affirmed by the NY City Council and the NYC health
department by the removal of all references to piercing
from the proposed Tattoo Regulations which
subsequently became law in 1997. It was the New York City
Council’s view, that if warranted,
piercing would get its own regulations. The consensus was that the two did not have sufficient
similarities physiologically, in practice of application, aftercare, training, and different
psychological and sociological purposes to be treated as one
type of activity. The tattoo community made that call and it was upheld as