It all started when I got Nothing’s Shocking by Jane’s Addiction. There I was, thirteen years old (and highly impressionable of course), out in the middle of what might has well have been BF Egypt, and I got my hands on a Jane’s Addiction album. There was Perry Ferrell on the inside of the tape case, with a ring through the middle of his nose. Holy shit. I was familiar with body piercings because I had been fortunate enough to befriend a nineteen-year-old Bohemian who managed to get out of Tiny Town, Illinois and lived to come back and tell the tale. He showed me his nipple ring on request one day. “See,” he said. “My nipple’s always hard now.” Whoa. But, I had never seen anyone with a ring like Perry’s. That was it for me- I knew that I also had to punch holes into my body as soon as possible.
I had a couple of flirtations with nostril piercings, but when I turned sixteen I decided to get done up by a professional. I went to the only tattoo shop in town that also boasted body piercing via the blinking neon sign in the dusty front window. I came alone, and unsure of what to pay for such a service, I brought forty bucks. I walked in and saw the proprietor sitting in a swivel chair watching daytime television. I remember it was playing Oprah before she went respectable.
He grunted at me and said, “What can I do for ya, girlie?” He was probably in his late thirties and grizzled like those bikers who have seen some really hard living. Tattoos covered his hands and crawled up his arms until they disappeared up his short sleeves. “I would like to get my nipple pierced.” This made him put down the fried chicken he was gnawing on and take more of an interest.
“Which one?” I hadn’t thought about that.
“The…left one. How much do you charge?”
“Twenty-five,” he said, and exhaled a large plume of smoke. He walked to the sink and gave his hands a washing that seemed like a mere formality. Then he got out a piercing gun.
*Sound of needle being ripped off the hi-fi*
I know, I know, this is bad. This is where sane people turn and walk out. I had never seen a true piercing shop and I didn’t know that it was supposed to be done with a needle under more sanitary conditions, to say the least. What can I say? I was only sixteen.
“Hold still,” he said. I have had dozens of piecings and I now know the difference between good and bad piercers. The good ones talk you through the whole process, count you down, and tell you to exhale as the needle goes in. The not-so-good ones say, “hold still.”
Suddenly, I had a gold stud through my nipple that was designed to be in someone’s ear. Yikes.
“Now, you’re going to want to put a hoop in that in about twenty-four hours. Good luck.”
I showed my boyfriend later that night, who had managed to escape to the big cities of Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, Florida at one time.
“Oh, Asshole,” he said, shaking his head sadly. Didn’t you know you’re supposed to have it done with a needle? You better be careful. You’re going to end up with a cauliflowered nipple. I saw it in a magazine once.”
I didn’t stop there, though. I knew I needed more holes…I wasn’t going to be content until I could be used like a sieve. I didn’t realize til later that my experience should have showed my I had enough holes in my head already.