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The Importance of Taking a Break

It’s hard to know when the time is right to step away from something and often we’re not aware until it’s too late. There are many times in our day to day life where it is so important to take a break from what we’re doing. This applies to every one, not just Piercers and enthusiast.

Have you ever worked in front of a PC at an office? It’s recommended that you step away from the screen every 2-3 hours to give your eyes a rest. In most manual jobs, you will be given designated breaks throughout the day to rest, re-hydrate and eat. Even a small break from work is important, but how does this apply to Piercers and people being pierced? We/You need breaks too!

“I love my job, I could work all day!”

While this is a great mentality to have in theory, an over-worked Piercer is less likely to give each client 100% of their best self and when you are putting your trust in us, we want to make sure we always give you the best experience possible.

For Piercers:

Piercing people all day everyday can be emotionally, physically, mentally and socially taxing. We spend several hours a day, many hours a week, interacting with the public in the studio and online. This can quickly drain our social batteries, leaving little left for after work activities. Spending all day making small (or big) talk with clients, companies and colleagues can leave little energy left for socialising with friends and family once the day is over at the studio. Even on the best day, with the best clients and piercings, it can take a toll just to be present for that long.
During your day, it is important to take small moments where possible to step away, here is a list of things you can do to take a small break during your shift as a Piercer

  • Take a moment somewhere quiet to take slow, steady breaths and lower your cortisone levels
  • Schedule your lunch break! A hungry Piercer is a shaky Piercer
  • Hydrate yourself
  • Step outside for some fresh air and sunlight. Being indoors for 10 hours is no good for your body or your brain

But I’m a piercing/modification enthusiast, how does this apply to me?

I hear you. But have you considered how often you are having piercings or tattoos? Have you got the ‘itch’ for new modifications and a bucket list of ideas you are desperate to get through? Take a break! We don’t recommend healing more than 3 piercings at any time but we often don’t take into other modifications such as tattoos, fillers and even dental care. All of these things can have an impact on your healing and your immune system. Even if you feel tip top after 4 or 5 piercings, your body needs time to heal. Wherever you are in your modification and self expression journey, consider taking small breaks to rest and recover before moving on to the next step.

It’s also important to consider other aspects of your life. We know a lot of people like to get a piercing to represent an important change in their life. New job, new house, start or end of a relationship, visiting a different country. All of these things impact our health. This is not to say we don’t want you to punctuate a significant event with a piercing, but it is important to factor in the stresses of life and how that can take it’s toll on the healing of a new piercing. In the process of moving house? Maybe take a little break (a few days, a week) before you book that tattoo appointment. Rough break up? Get the piercing you always wanted, but schedule a few days to rest, recover and indulge in some self care before the next big thing.

This is a career that piercers are incredibly passionate about and as such, we tend to take the job home with us. Making an 8 hour work day into a 24 hour day. Some things that are important to create a work/life balance include:

  • Setting times for when you will respond to work related questions and not responding outside of that (ie studio hours)
  • Consuming content that isn’t piercing related (is your IG feed just piercers posting work? make a second account for dog content instead!)
  • Having activities outside of the studio such as painting, gaming, running, yoga or just hanging out in your pjamas
  • Evaluating your social circle to include people outside of the industry, this can help to get a fresh perspective on things that as Piercers we feel mountains, but in reality may just be mole hills
  • Scheduling actual holiday time. And no, Conferences do not count as holidays. Take a week to step away from work and just be a person who is on holiday. Whether that be on a sunny ol’ beach or your sunny ol’ sofa, take a rest from the studio and do something different. It’s so good for your brain.

Coming back to work after a break can be daunting but you should hopefully feel refreshed, rejuvenated and excited to be back. Don’t let piercing just become another mundane 9-5 that you begrudge. Step away and step back with a new sense of appreciation for what you do. And for our clients, we promise we are better people and better Piercers when we’ve had a little break. This means when you see that we are on lunch and you give us the space to be alone for that time, we are extra appreciative and extra nice when your appointment time comes!

If you’re not due a break from piercing, or you’re on a break from other things, come see us! Book in 7 days a week here!

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An Interview with X – Pierced Professional

When it comes to learning how to perform intimate piercings, finding people who trust your ability as a trainee can be a challenge. Thankfully, I met a client who not only trusted me to perform my first ever horizontal clitoral hood (HCH) piercing but then added two more! After many discussions and consultations, I was able to sit down and chat on record about how this project came to be and why they put their trust in Rogue and myself. 
*For anonymity, I have changed names and locations. 

G: Let’s start at your beginning.

X: I grew up in the 1980s in rural East England. As a kid, I would get on the bus, go to school, get on the bus, come back from school. And that’s it. I lived so far from everything, I was stuck at home. I was very quiet and just kept to my own company.

I had my ears pierced when I was about 11 and it was really, really painful. I had butterfly back earrings, as was the norm. Laying on those earrings was painful so I’d take them out at night and then, when I had to put them in the next day, it was like re-piercing my ear all over again.

After school I joined the Armed Forces so I couldn’t have any piercings. Most of us went off and got a tattoo, secretly. I just remember going out one night and we were like “let’s get tattooed!” So we went to the pub and then on the way home we stopped at this tattoo studio. It was a case of looking at flash pieces and deciding what to have based on what I could hide. I had the predictable small rose done on my hip!

The first tattoo I saw was when my brother came home from the army. He had a piece on the top of his arm. I just kind of thought, “oh, you can do stuff like that when you leave home, when you’re a grownup.” 

When I left the Forces, I started collecting piercings all the way up my ear. I had my nipples pierced when I was 22 and it was a sort of, “I’m free of your clutches, Mr. Government man, and I’m gonna stamp my own identity on myself!” moment. 

G: How was that?

X: I went along to Birmingham for a tattoo and asked the artist if he could pierce my nipples. He said yes and did I mind if the other guys there watched. There wasn’t a private room or anything. And I remember thinking, you know, I’ve been in the Forces, I can be tough! So, I was laid on a bench and had my piercing and I remember looking at these four guys and being amused at how they were so impressed that I didn’t scream while being pierced. Now I was out of the Forces, I felt this was me being independent and stating my own identity in a way.

A lot of life happened, and over the years I’ve had various tattoos but when I hit 50, a long relationship ended, I was diagnosed with diabetes and I kind of just felt a bit adrift.

I wanted to move away from what had been “we and us” and move into marking myself as an “I” again. I’ve always viewed tattooing as a way to anchor my identity but using piercing in the same way was more recent and more empowering.

So I’d hit 50 and I was talking to one of my friends about how I used to have my nipples pierced. And I got home that night and I thought, “I wish I still had my nipples pierced. Why haven’t I got my nipples pierced?” I went online and looked at repiercings and I was so excited when I saw that there were all these stories of people who’d had their nipples repierced. 

A couple of years later I was talking to a nurse and saying I thought I had a high pain tolerance because I’d had my nipples pierced – and, now,  repierced. She told me she had “down there” pierced. It was like an epiphany. I’d known for a long time that you can have “down there” pierced and I’d always wondered what exactly because I figured there wasn’t much to pierce through! But as soon as she said it, my brain just exploded. I’ve got to have this done. I’ve got to go and have this done right now. About a week later I got in touch with Rogue Piercing.

I couldn’t stop thinking, why have I never had this done before? Why have I never felt like I need to have this done before? All those feelings that came with it were really sort of weird and new but in a positive way.

Illustration by Jennifer Klepacki in “The Piercing Bible—The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing” by Elayne Angel

G: What made you decide to come to Rogue for your intimate consultation?

X: I looked at a range of studios and there wasn’t anywhere local doing intimate piercings. I wanted somewhere that was experienced. I researched a lot of studios and I came across a blog post by Rogue. That’s how I ended up reading about the studio and the team and decided to book a consultation.

I knew I wanted a HCH (horizontal clitoral hood) piercing because I know my anatomy well and thought that it would be more aesthetically pleasing than a VCH (vertical clitoral hood). There’s a YouTube channel I watched a lot of, where they talked about the pros and cons of intimate piercings and it was one of few places I found information about the HCH. 

G: You came very prepared for your consultation with me! How did you find the experience?

X: The consultation was great because I was able to bring any questions that I had from watching the videos and reading about the piercing. A lot of what you said during the consultation was reinforced by my own research so that made me feel confident in the process.

It was really nice to meet and chat with the team, get to know you all and feel welcomed. Gemma gave me lots of information and Aiden would chime in with little facts and knowledge. At the end of the consultation we talked about you doing the piercing as part of your training. It would be one of your first HCH piercings and Aiden had been doing them for over a decade so he would be supervising. 

G: I really appreciate the trust you put in me and the studio to perform an intimate piercing that is a first for both of us. It means a lot. And I’m so grateful to have been able to work with you since then on expanding your project! What was the piercing experience like for you?

X: I felt quite comfortable because I’d already met you at the consultation and I trusted that it would go well. I was still very nervous because although I have a high pain tolerance, I didn’t know what to expect. I just thought “I’m gonna have a needle stuck through my clit hood. This is gonna hurt. And I’m going to do it.” And I did! 

I think I already knew I wanted lots more straight away. It seemed like if I’m gonna be in for a penny, I’ll be in for a pound. I was just waiting to see what the first one went like, I didn’t know how the healing would go or whether I’d have problems.

Healing was absolutely fine and so I decided, well if I have the anatomy then I’m going to get more! 

X always brings the good music vibes to the studio!

G: We’d briefly discussed it during your anatomy check as part of the intimate consultation and we decided to add two more HCH piercings to create a triple of BCRs. As a piercer, I was very excited about this project because it’s very rare to find a) a person with the anatomy for 3 HCH piercings and b) for that person to actually want to get and heal 3 HCH piercings!

X: I don’t understand why anybody who has the anatomy to, doesn’t want more than one piercing! If you want one, surely you want two or three or four, whatever you can have. The first one was painful and then when we added the others, the pain was barely comparable, It’s a little pinch.

I like the secret nature of intimate piercings. No one knows you have them unless you decide to tell them. 

G: You work in the education system, are visible tattoos and piercings viewed as unprofessional in your workplace?

X: So you’d think it might be fairly traditional, especially in the private sector, but some of my colleagues do have visible tattoos and to date they’ve not been officially commented on as ‘unacceptable’.

I was having a conversation with a colleague friend about the visibility of tattoos, piercings or just self expression in general. The main thing that came up was that we wanted students to see that this is what ordinary people do. This is just as usual and acceptable and part of the fabric of life as anything else.

I think back to my upbringing in the 80s… there were tattoos, there were piercings, but I never got to see anything of them. If just one person in a profession like education or medical or whatever, had visible piercings or tattoos, it might have felt more normalised and not “othered” or “taboo” to a lot of people. 

Instead, it again can be that act of rebelling against the institution. It’s a way of saying to the institution, “you don’t own me, I’m not yours, I’m mine.” 

G: Is body modification your rebellion?

X: There’s an addictiveness about it as well. You get a little buzz, not necessarily a physical buzz but a mental buzz.  I’d be tattooed and pierced all over my body if I could, for the buzz of it.

But you see, for me, it’s about going through the entire process to have the end result [of a modification]. I want something solid. I want something tangible where I go “that’s mine, I chose it and I’m really proud of that”. 

It is such a privilege to be part of someone’s journey of self expression and I cannot thank my clients enough for helping me to learn and grow. Rebel well!

If you would like more information on intimate piercings you can view our blogs here

If you would like to book for an intimate consultation, you can do that here

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An Interview with Loreia – Unknown Pleasures Piercing

I first met Loreia at the UKAPP 2022 conference and immediately knew she was an incredible person. A hardworking, passionate piercer who owns Unknown Pleasures Piercing in Stuttgart, Germany and travels the world attending and teaching at international conferences. Loreia was kind enough to spend an evening talking with me about her origin story, her career path and her amazing insights into why we do what we do. Loreia is a powerhouse of a person and I am eternally grateful to know her. 
Loreia Unknown Pleasures Piercing

Gemma:  When did you first become interested in body modification and piercing?

Loreia: It was really early but sometimes you’re not aware that you’re interested in something until later when you find the label for it. As a child I really loved to play around with looks.When I drew myself, also as a little child,  I drew myself with a lip ring. I really liked to draw punks and people with coloured hair. So my interests go very far back.

When I was 13, my first piercing was a nose piercing and I just loved it. I really felt badass and from that time, my passion was growing. Early on in my life I became interested in corset training. I really love the way it shapes my body. So I guess this was really my first body mod experience because I had my first corset when I was 15 or 16.

Later, I started playing around with needles.

I wrote my bachelor thesis about why people try to change their appearance. Body modification is not just things like horns, implants, scars or tattoos and piercings. But also like dyeing your hair and playing around with your figure. Clothing could be kind of a temporary body mod because you can totally change your appearance, your height etc.

G: I had no idea about your bachelor’s thesis, what was your experience in education? 

L: Yes, I have a Master’s degree in philosophy. My Bachelor thesis was about why people are changing their appearance and what are their motivations behind it. Of course, I examined the classic bodymod scene that we are in, like tattoos and piercing but also the fitness industry, plastic surgery, cosmetics, diets etc. All the things you can do to really change your appearance. I looked at it from a philosophical point of view. It was pretty interesting. 

And for my Master thesis, about 5 years ago, I wrote about how to become the person you are –  I had a deep dive into Foucault’s  philosophical view of the world. Also, Nietzsche a lot. And I looked at the question of how you can live your life as a piece of art. The topic was: “How do I become what I am? – Self love and self care by Foucault based on the Nietzsche’s philosophy of the art of living.

I guess the first step was looking more at the physical appearance and how society affects this – so more an outside observation, and the second step was the personal state of mind and looking at your point of view of  the world – inner observation.

ear piercing curation
Beautiful work by Loreia

G: I have this conversation a lot about how body modification is not just the extremes like tongue splits and branding. There’s so many ways that people modify their bodies. It’s fascinating, humans are strange creatures. 

L:  Humans are totally strange creatures but so is society – because society labels what is good and what is bad and what is nicely looking and what is not. You cannot complain about the  person with the horns when you have lip filler and a boob job, you know what I mean? Because you’re kind of the same! 

G: Breast implants, absolutely fine. Horn implants, that person now can’t have a job.

L: Indeed. And it does not have to be this “extreme” look – fun fact: I grew up in the north part of Germany where I experienced people who were a bit more open minded to different looks and I moved to the south about 16 years ago now. Back then I tried to find a job just for the summer and I applied for a job in an ice cream parlour. I had blue hair at that time and people were like “no fucking way you’re working here with that appearance”. This was kind of funny and shocking at the same time.

The thing is, we are living in an oppressive system. Doesn’t matter if we are aware of it or not – we are.
And not everybody is able to free their minds and also to accept themselves as they are and their needs and how they want to be. Maybe because they never learned to, maybe they are afraid to face their truth and not to fit in this system anymore.

The result of that is that they often have a lot of anger, stress and real tension. I see people and they are maybe fascinated by someone who is living their life modified in some way, and I guess an inner voice tells them “you are not able to, or you’re not allowed to [have that piercing or hair colour or tattoo]” and then the anger really hits and this stored bad energy comes out. 

I really believe if people would, take care of their needs, like really see what they want and what they want to be and what they need and what they don’t and not give that much of a fuck about what societies want them to be – we would live in a more peaceful world.

G: What was it like growing up in northern Germany? Was your alternative aesthetic accepted?

L: I was an outsider. I grew up in a very religious family so I’m the black sheep. My parents split up when I was 13 and they sent me to a boarding school. Before that I really had a hard time at my school. In the boarding school I had a fresh start, I didn’t want to be there but It was the best thing that could happen to me when I look back now. It was a boarding school for talented kids, there was a  wild mix of gifted children and sports elite. 

G: What was your career path like?

L:  When I was in the boarding school, at 18 I thought “fuck this shit. I’m out of here. I don’t need any education at all.” I started an apprenticeship and after a year I met my now life partner. Because of different things that happened before in my life, I needed a fresh start so I moved to the south of Germany where I could continue my apprenticeship in another place and start a life with my partner. But over the summer I decided  to throw that path away, finish school and go to university. I had to finance myself and I started to do different mini jobs. I worked at Lush for a while, I worked in a creative market for paintings. I also did a lot of photo shoots, make-up and modelling. 

This went on and I became friends with a photographer and his girlfriend. She worked in a BDSM dungeon and I started working there with her while I studied. There, I actually started playing around with needles and also learned to work sterile because when you do, for example, a catheter, you really want to be sterile.

dungeon ropes
Loreia is a professional in all her roles

This is where I really began to be interested in piercing and a friend of mine in Munich at that time, she said she could show me some piercing things, as she worked in a piercing studio there. 

I’m totally self taught and this is also why I aim for more and for higher and for better. I had been to several studios in my area, but I didn’t like how they treated me as a customer. I knew I should be definitely better.This is how I came to professional piercing, I guess. 

After a while I had the idea in my mind to open up my own shop and when I have an idea I’m normally going to do it.. So I reached out to a nail salon, actually that had a spare room in the basement and that’s how I opened my shop.

G: I love that you became a professional piercer because of your experience in the kink world because those two industries are so intertwined.

L: I had the luck that sterile working was a natural thing for me because the ladies in the dungeon came from a medical background and so I was aware of the dangers working with needles and blood. This was a good start for me. Before I opened my piercing studio, I read a lot of anatomy books and internet forums. I was always on the hunt for better quality, nice looking jewellery and equipment. I did a lot of research but it was not that easy. 

My first contact with other professional piercers was the BMXnet conference in 2012. There I also met Mark from Neometal and he introduced me to safe jewellery and materials. I was so proud when I brought back my first little bag of high quality piercing jewellery.

Back in those days I also met Thomas Stolte, online first, who worked with jewellery from Industrial Strength –  I emailed him and he was super friendly, super kind and he really helped me to get things going. He explained to me what to look for and what to aim for and how to make a proper order. To place an high quality order back then was a bit like trying to cast a spell – you had long lists with ordering codes and put it all together by yourself including all the specifics of colours, gauges etc, crossed your heart three times that you did it all right and waited like a child for Christmas to get these shinies. Today everything is a lot easier with the online systems and lower wait times.

G: Tell me about your conference experiences.

L: The first conference you are going to, is often the one that has the most impact because you don’t know shit and then you’re aware that you didn’t know shit. Jane Absinth phrased this really nicely, she said when she was at her first conference, she really wanted to go back and just burn her whole studio. I really understood that.

I’m really grateful for the many people I have met through conferences and for the ideas that have helped me to grow and find my path in the community to better my career.

In 2015 and 2016 I was a scholar for the APP conference and it was my first time going to the “big one”. I applied first for the Al D scholarship [now legacy scholarship]. I was refused in the last round and I applied for the No Excuses Scholarship, which I got. Las Vegas was really, really overwhelming for me. It was really tough shit, but more on a personal level (is there anything “real” in Las Vegas?!).

I’m really grateful for the peers that made it possible for me to attend twice as a scholar to the APP Conference. I really worked hard to get to that moment. But at the beginning of 2016 my mother had passed away and I had to attend to those matters, the community came together and I was granted the scholarship for a second time.

Conferences are very important, networking is very important, but most important are the conversations you have in between and after classes. I’m an extroverted introverted person (INFJ) but I actually met my best friend for life, Jane, at my second APP conference in Las Vegas. 

She met me sitting a bit aside at the pool party and we started nerding out all evening. We got into some really deep talks about everything. This is what I appreciate about conferences: you have the opportunity to speak with people over days about topics that are in your daily life and maybe they can also change your point of view or give you a bit more inspiration 

G: What was the No Excuses Scholarship?

L: I really wanted to desperately go to Las Vegas and I was so sad that I was denied from the APP at the last moment. I guess it is my personality but when I don’t reach a goal, I get motivated to try and try again. Back then, to apply, I had to send a huge PDF with my reference letters and answers about who I got inspired by in the industry and why, and who am I and why do I need this and why do I need to go. So a committee of piercers decided that they wanted me to go. I thought it would be like the Al D scholarship and I would be part of a volunteer team but it wasn’t. I wanted to be there to work so I sneaked myself into the volunteer group and said “I’m here so I am working.”

G: Was that your first time outside of Europe? 

L: Yes and I am very grateful for the scholarship because it was a shit ton of money I had to spend for the flights so this was a really huge deal for me back in 2015. I had my shop, of course but I also did my studies and worked at the dungeon. I worked at my shop, appointment only, but I wasn’t booked all the time. I had to work out how to have enough money to manage all that.

Jewellery collection Unknown Pleasures Piercing
Unknown Pleasures have a wide variety of stunning jewellery

G:  It sounds like you’ve always been one of those people that has a goal and will work endlessly to achieve it. 

L: I guess it depends on what you’ve experienced in life. And if you have been able to make some decisions. When I graduated, I could have studied political science because I was very good at it and it would lead to a career. But I thought, I won’t do that, I will study philosophy to do what I am really interested in because I can earn money in whatever way I want. There was a point in my life where I decided I just wanted to do the things that fulfil me. I will not sell myself and will not do stuff that I don’t want to do because I experienced that a lot in my childhood and also in my teenage years And so, when I made the move to the South, I built myself a new life.

Of course, this sounds really powerful, but you know, sometimes you have to be powerful to keep yourself alive and protect your sensitive self.

G: You’re an incredible woman. How did you get involved with the VPP (Verband Professioneller Piercer)?

L: The VPP was the brainchild of Thomas Stolte and me. I was aware of the Ask a Professional Piercer group on Facebook and I wanted to do something similar in German. In this conversation, the idea was born to start an association that isn’t only about educating piercers but clients as well. I really love the idea to connect people, share some knowledge, grow with each other to set some standards and to avoid trouble for the client

We spoke to Andre about the idea and we started writing down our standards and guidelines. But to start an association, you need more people to be on board. So this is where other people came in to start the process.

G: You also host Now We Talk seminars at your studio, how did that start?

L: Actually, the NowWeTalks are clients aimed. Piercers are totally welcome, but they are client focused. I started with the hashtag #pussybling, because I did a lot of vulva piercings and I was so sad because I had so many wonderful women sitting with me who never ever had a proper look at themselves. I explained to them their anatomy and then explained how beautiful they are. Then I thought, okay, I have to do something. The first NowWeTalk was about vulva piercing and what is possible but most of the work I do is around educating clients about anatomy. 

It’s more for empowerment. I host female identified-only evenings but I also had a version where couples could come in, so that both can ask questions. It was really really nice, I started inviting other speakers like Andre or a friend from my philosophical study to talk on different topics and it grew from there

G: Especially in the UK, education around genital anatomy is so lacking. It’s really amazing that you are empowering people to learn more about themselves.

L: What I realised pretty early, and this is something I’m really grateful for, I was able to listen to Elayne Angel and also speak with her –  she always talks positively about genitalia and anatomy. And this is really something that I grabbed and started doing myself. I had more than one client who was tearing up because nobody had ever spoken that nicely about their anatomy before.

Studio space
Unknown Pleasures is a safe space for everyone

G: I think a lot of people with vulvas are made to feel like their anatomy is “wrong” because it doesn’t look a certain way. 

L: A client of mine, she came in with inverted nipples and she was really nervous about getting them pierced. We had a few appointments where we discussed it and when she finally had the piercings, I really had to stop her from running out of the piercing room to show her friends. She was so proud! At her aftercare appointments she said “I should have done this so much earlier. I’m so confident.” I really love what  piercing can do to you and how it can help you to really find peace and find beautiful things in your body.

G: There’s a lot of crossover between empowerment, piercing, kink, reclamation, gender identity etcetcetc. Can we talk about the links between your career as a Dominatrix and a Professional Piercer? 

L: I had the luck to work in a nice BDSM studio with a lot of really awesome ladies – a matriarchal bubble. And what I learned there for life, is to embrace yourself and embrace the way you are. That you don’t have to be ashamed of your body, you don’t have to be ashamed of your feelings, you don’t have to be ashamed of your sexuality. I had the wonderful opportunity to learn all that and this shaped me. It taught me that naked bodies are just bodies and of course, it can be arousing when you’re in a private setting but beside that, it’s just a body, you know? 

And this acceptance of bodies and being totally okay with however you are, is what I try to give to my clients of whatever gender. It also taught me about accepting that you don’t have to be friends with everybody, you don’t have to be like everybody, but you can accept the differences and you can see what you have in common and work with that.

The bottom line for both industries is acceptance and taking proper care of people’s needs. You’re the one in power, as the piercer or as the Domme. You are the one who is leading and who is responsible for a safe environment, for a safe experience. You guide a person through the process. And these are totally different processes but you’re guiding them through it.

You have to be really aware of your responsibility and to make the experience as nice as it can be. And “nice” can be defined differently, of course. In the piercing room, I do not want my client to feel pain at all. I try to breathe with them, I try to guide them, I really like to calm them. But when I work with my guests, of course it’s different but it’s all about trust. It’s not like, “oh yeah, I’m a sadistic person, so let me stick needles into you.” That is not what’s happening in either room.

In any setting, as a professional, you need to be aware of yourself and the different aspects of your personal needs and also your work environment needs.In both. In the piercing room or the dungeon room, you’re totally confronted with people that already have an opinion of you without knowing you.

For example, I’m highly educated. But when you tell random people that you are a piercer, people often assume that I must not be educated. I was a problem child with dyed hair who pokes people for fun, because there is no other option possible career-wise.

G: I never considered it that way, but it’s true. When you tell people you’re a body piercer, they immediately make an assumption about you. 

L: So I work piercing appointments only and of course people are asking me what I do the other days. A new client came in and she was referred by a friend. She heard that I work as a nurse when I’m not in the studio. I was like, “I do, but not as you think.”. It’s funny what people make up because they really, really need to put you in a box.  It’s something we definitely have to stop because it helps nobody to have predefined opinions of someone. 

G: How has the body modification scene changed in Germany?

L:  Well, it changed for good. This is what I can say. In Germany, there are more followers than leaders. People are more inclined to keep working and piercing the same way they have for the past 20 years and not update things. There’s also more education available for clients and I’m really happy to see how in the last few years things have changed. The new generation of piercers are aiming in the right direction and connecting to each other 

There was a time when piercers only connected to shit talk others piercers. And this is something I never liked. It’s now one of the VPP guidelines: “Der VPP kann nur als Einheit bestehen – dementsprechend ist kollegialer Umgang untereinander die Grundvoraussetzung.  Dies beinhaltet konstruktive Kritik anzunehmen, wie auch geben zu können ohne dabei persönlich zu werden.” 

“The VPP can only exist as a unit – accordingly, collegial interaction with one another is the basic requirement..This includes accepting and giving constructive criticism without becoming personal.”

Unfortunately there are a lot of people offering body modification services in Germany, using bloody and graphic IG posts and live streams to promote. Please, please use your brain and stop this! This can really fuck up things for the whole industry. Bodymod is more accessible in Germany but it’s not necessarily a good thing – so it is always important to choose the person that is allowed to modify you wisely!

I had a conversation about this at the APP conference, that all Germans are so modified and all are so extreme. We’re not. It is just as always: what you’re looking for, you will see. 

G: Especially in American and UK media, we’re presented with this “extreme” image of the German alternative scene. If it’s some freaky fetish hardcore shit, it’s probably German. 

L: Actually this is something that gave me a hard time as a young woman to be okay with identifying myself as a FemDom, because I had all these false impressions/assumptions in mind. I was trying to find who I was but basing that on these impressions of what I should be (or better what I definitely do not want to be). 

There’s social constructs everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you go to the supermarket, if you’re thinking about how life should be, if you’re thinking about how a relationship or sex should be. Or how the alternative scene should be – you face these ideas and impressions that have been constructed for you. 

Loreia Unknown Pleasures Piercing Stuttgart

I’m quite often asked why I don’t have a lot of facial piercings when I am a piercer. I have piercings for aesthetics, and this is, at the moment, the aesthetic I’m aiming for. More subtle, I still know my shit, I know how to modify your body more than you can imagine. I just choose right now to modify myself more subtly for my own aesthetics. 

Humans have this concept of people in their mind, and we really have to lose it because it doesn’t make sense at all. Preconceptions give you a hard time, but it also gives the other person a hard time.

Another example, when I started piercing, I just worked one day a week because of all the other stuff going on and because we have a health insurance policy that says you’re not able to work that much as a student or you lose your health insurance. A lot of piercers, and this is something that really happened often in my career, would question if I am a “real” piercer because my studio was only open one or two days a week. They’d say I would never sell only high quality jewellery because the customers wouldn’t want it. They’d tell me that appointment-only studios would never work. 

People really had this concept in their mind, how the (piercing) world should be and how it works. And didn’t believe that there would be anything outside of that.

I’m a living, happy example of being able to work two to three days a week with my clients in person in my shop. I’m happy that this allows me to really concentrate on my clients and connect with them and also be a little bit of part of their lives. I have a good work-life balance where I can focus on myself and my needs as well as those of the people around me. 

G: That is really fucking aspirational. You do a lot of ear curation projects, can you tell us about that?

L: This is the beautiful thing about body piercing, self expression can be wherever you want. It could be genitalia work, getting your navel pierced, facial symmetry, heavy mod work. But it can also be a finely curated ear with specific pieces and placements to suit that person’s anatomy. This is really beautiful because you can help people to be how they want to be and they are deciding the path. They decide what and they decide how to treat themselves for just being themselves. And as a piercer, you are a part of that. 

This is what I really love, I really love this kind of piercing client that is going for a concept. An artistic curation. 

I’m on the high sensitive spectrum. I can really feel what people feel. In both of my careers, I can enjoy the joy that people are having. And it’s really like flowing through me. For example, a client gets really excited about a piece, I’m really getting excited about a piece. I’m really thankful for all the trust that people put in me and my work and also my taste.

What an amazing person. I am forever grateful for Loreia’s time, energy and insights. A powerful lady that has a lot to offer of love and passion. Be sure to follow Loreia’s work online and visit her beautiful studio in Stuttgart! 

Click here to read more of our interviews!

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Four-ever Rogue: 4th Annivesary

Four years ago, 6 Bridlesmith Walk was an empty unit. No floors, no rooms, just a man with a set of keys, two dogs and a vision. Today we are one of the largest UKAPP studios with 5 members, 4 piercers and the best clients any business could hope for. Rogue Piercing celebrates 4 years in Nottingham!

Rome might not have been built in a day but Aiden laid the floors, built the walls and had Rogue up and running in weeks. As a founding member of the UKAPP and an internationally travelling piercer and educator, he knew what he wanted Rogue to be. An inviting space for all looking for safe, high quaility body piercing performed by professionals who are passionate about their work.

In the begining there was Aiden.

As the team changed and grew, we’ve attended a number of international conferences, taught classes and met some amazing people. From Machester, Germany, Madrid and Las Vegas, our team have travelled a lot over the past few years. Anna of our sister studio Revenant Tattoo even visited Peru! Jet setting and #foreverlearning.

As our team has grown, so has our jewellery and our portfolios. It wouldn’t be a Rogue recap without a look back at some of our proudest work. Kat works hard as the Rogue jewellery specialist to order each piece of jewellery, specifically with our clients in mind. Catering to all aesthetics, budgets and colour schemes. Our cabinets are filled with hand-picked and hand-made pieces that are selected and displayed by Kat, purchased by our wonderful clients and installed by our piercing team.

Not only have we worked with some incredible pieces of jewellery, but Rogue has also grown to become one of the leading studios for large gauge and intimate piercing in the UK! Under the mentorship of Aiden and Breo, Gemma is now working on expanding her intimate portfolio. Although we won’t be showing any genital piercings here, we are eternally grateful for the trust of our clients and we are privelleged to a be a part of their journey. But hey, let’s have a look at some of the work we can show on the internet!

Jay is approaching their third and final apprentice year! They’ve tackled a lot since starting their journey but there’s no denying they have not only a passion but a genuine talent for body piercing. They are always striving for perfection and taking on board as much as possible to provide their clients with the most amazing experience. Next year Jay will be moving into the most advanced piercings available so keep an eye out for apprentice discounts and help Jay finish up in style!

Rogue has grown to be so much more than the team of five you see creeping around the studio. Over the years, we have welcomed a whole range of piercers into the studio for guest spots, events and general hanging out with industry folks! We’ve hosted Rae and Mari from Wales. Current UKAPP president David Angeles. Flavio from Brazil. Edu from Copenhagen. Jamie from San Francisco. Cat from London. Phebe and Olly from Norwich. Andre from Germany. Aiko from Belguim. And Alicia from Canada! That’s not to mention the amazing artists that Revenant has had visit and produce amazing art in their tattoo studio!

We also welcomed David to the Revenant studio! Although already established as an incredibly talented artist, David has joined Anna to begin his journey as a tattoo apprentice. We’re all very glad to have David and his snazzy shirts on board!

Over a decade in the making, Aiden has worked to create a space for practioners, facilitators and participants to come together do something awesome. Introducing the wonderful world of body suspesion to Rogue has been a long and life changing process but we have been fortunate enough to have amazing guidance and to bring that experience to the fine folk of Nottingham. The events hosted at Rogue have been a fantastic success and we aim to provide many more in the future! It’s been an uplifting journey so far. Pun intended.

Who knows what the next four years will bring. How the team will change. Where we will go next. One thing you can always be sure of, is we will continue to provide high quality, safe body piercings for every one. Rogue is a space you can be comfortable in. A studio where we are always striving for better. And we wouldn’t be here without our unbelievably supportive clients. Thank you to each and every person that has visited us over the years. Here’s to 4 more years!

Don’t forget to book your appointments 🙂

– Gemma

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An Interview with Sacred Debris – Lynn Loheide & Ari Pimsler

It’s always daunting to speak with people that I really admire so I was incredibly honoured to spend some time chatting with Lynn Loheide and Ari Pimsler on behalf of the renowned archivist team at Sacred Debris. Sacred preserve and document all aspects of piercing and body modification past, present and future. Working alongside historian Shawn Porter to share the invaluable history of our industry, Lynn and Ari are integral entities in this world and it was a privilege to hear their take on body modification. 
Lynn is a worldwide travelling piercer and educator. Ari works to support animal rights and piercers at Marigold Adornment in Vermont, USA. 

G: Lynn, you’re involved in the body suspension world, do you want to talk a little about the global history of suspension?

L:  I think one of the coolest things about being in suspension, especially modern suspension, is that it’s currently a very global thing. There’s teams literally all over the world. There’s international events. You can work with folks from everywhere. But also historically, it’s a very global thing. 

Lynn during a suspension with their team Skynthesis

I really like some of the more anthropological looks at piercing and modification. It’s so fascinating just how many different cultures had some variation or version of suspension or hook pull or flesh pull. It just really speaks to the amount of understanding and awareness. Of catharsis and awakening that the process of suspension brings to so many different people, across so many different walks of life. Across so much time, people still find so much solace in it. 

The suspension community is a very small but pretty close knit community that does a really good job of working well with each other and sharing information.

G: What types of people do you meet in the suspension world, is it mainly body modification folks?

L:  I guess I would actually say it’s a really even mix of people. If you work in the industry, you have easier access to suspension, to tools, to supplies, to knowledge. And to practitioners and groups through networking and connections. 

But my team’s Skynthesis Body Suspension, particularly works with first timers. A lot of people would be surprised by how many folks are not really into body modification and are still called to suspension.

I think one thing that is very well proven, is that suspension is for most folks, a way of processing and dealing with trauma. Some of the really unique subsets of people we get in suspension, who aren’t in the piercing/tattoo/body modification industry, are a lot of veterans who’ve experienced PTSD. And people who experienced a lot of horrors in that line of work. A lot of folks who have different abilities or are disabled. Suspension can be a way of freeing their body or a way of experiencing pain that’s in their control. People who’ve experienced interpersonal and relational trauma and domestic violence. 

There are a lot of piercers and a lot of tattoo artists and a lot of body modification enthusiasts and clients, but it’s also a lot of people who see the act of suspension and it just speaks to something very deep within them. I think that’s part of why we also have seen it so cross-culturally through all of history and so many different groups and cultures and religions have turned to acts like suspension as a way of dealing with trauma and processing difficult emotions and experiences.

G: How far back can we trace acts of body modification?

L: I would say it’s old as we have written history. We have one of the oldest recorded records of cultural piercing in the Bible. And we have records that date back further than that, there’s writings from the time of the code of Hammurabi where we think they’re talking about things that relate with either scarification or piercing. 

We know that throughout history, piercing was not only a religious rite but also a business transaction. Piercing was a sign of marriage and it was used to denote slaves and type of slave and quality of slave. We know that that goes back to the Middle East and to Africa. 

But if we expand our viewpoint on what constitutes body modification and we start to incorporate religious rituals that include acts of self-flagellation, removing of a limb, removing of a finger, removing a part of the scalp, trephination, foot binding, skull lengthening. All of these forms of body modification date back thousands and thousands of years. If you expand your perception of body modification outside of just tattoo and piercing, this has been happening for a long time. The oldest mummy we have has tattoos and 0 gauge ears.

A: There is a decent wealth of information on these things, it’s not a subject that’s necessarily shied away from. There are tons and tons of books both written by piercers and not-piercers that cover that subject -it’s very accessible. Early body mod history is fascinating for a lot of people, even if they want nothing to do with getting a piercing or a tattoo. I think that’s a big reason why we don’t tend to focus on that too much. If anyone’s looking for books, there are some great ones that are accessible. Marks of Civilization is a fantastic book.

In my opinion, one of the best books out there was written by Blake Perlingieri who ran Nomad, A Brief History of the Evolution of Body Adornment: Ancient Origins and Today. There are awesome resources if you’re interested in really going far back. But that feels oddly much more accessible than the last 30 to 40 years of our version of body piercing and what we’ve kind of has come to embody as the industry.

G: Why do you think that is? 

L: Because that was stuff that happened far enough ago that now it’s interesting to people again, right? At the time that people were practicing this scarification and this piercing, it wasn’t really something that people thought to document very well because it was a very normal part of culture back then. Enough time passes and enough people die out, and we lose enough connection and then it becomes interesting again. Back then, whatever cool body modification they were doing was akin to writing a detailed journal about how you toasted your toast for breakfast in the morning. But we’ve had enough experience with watching history disappear that we know that if we as Sacred Debris don’t take our time now to document what happened in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, then we are gonna lose it. 

Right now, people are looking at stuff way back then and also what’s happening right now and things within, usually the last 50 to 70 years, we look at it as too recent to consider. So what happens is, people have hundreds of thousands of photographs and journal entries and original tattoo art and blood play prints just sitting in bins in their garage because they’re from 40 years ago. And they think no one cares about it because It’s not old enough to be history and it’s not new enough to be cool.

Then that garage floods or then someone passes away and their kids don’t know what to do with it. They throw it out and 40 years from now, people are gonna go, ‘oh my God we have like five pictures of Bud Navaro and we don’t know anything about him, but we know he was cool. We’re trying to prevent those same mistakes that we’ve made in the past and document the things that to a lot of the people that we’re interviewing and talking to, is basically like talking about high school and remembering locker combinations.

We know that in a couple more years it’s going to be incredibly important parts of our history that we could have easily accidentally lost. 

A: I think it’s also fair to chime in and say this is something that comes out of the queer and fetish community and you are always gonna have a significant whitewashing of things that come out of those communities.

You can go back and find plenty of records of things that as a community we like to say these things are ours – we invented it! Obviously things like scarification and piercing etc. are pulled from other cultures, but a lot of the gay and fetish community were doing that before piercing was a business and embraced it. So as progressive as our industry may seem in context to, for example, Wall Street and as progressive as we may be as more varied people and identities enter the field, you are always gonna struggle with getting a really coherent, unbiased look when the starting point comes from groups that have historically been under fire. 

G:  In your time researching the history of our industry and the subcultures that encompass it, what significant changes have you noticed over the last few years?

A: I feel like it’s hard to answer that without sounding too salty but it feels like piercing has gotten significantly more conservative. That’s not to say that after any experimental phase things start to get more dialled in and there’s less of a need for outlandish things because we know what has a better chance of working than others. But it’s that sentiment of this dogmatic mentality, that this is the way things are done, no ifs, ands, or buts, black and white right or wrong. You stifle the voices, whether it’s in person or online from trying to question or say otherwise, and in turn stifle creativity.  It stops forward momentum.

Ari performing a pubic hook pull many moons ago

 I think a really good look at that is with jewellery. You have essentially the same few companies that we’ve had for years now. It’s wonderful that these companies are thriving but severely limiting input is actually to our detriment.  The last true game changing innovation was with Neometal – thats 1997! Without new ideas and fresh eyes we’re doomed to just repurpose what’s already out there over and over.

If we are telling people it’s do or die, do not go outside the box or you’re gonna get dog-piled for doing it, that sucks. That makes it really hard for piercing to grow and evolve from where it is. We sure as shit could use a lot more kindness to make the sort of upper echelon “standard” that we want people to be at more accessible and inviting. It’s hard to want to be in the thick of anything when you know the attitude is borderline fanatical. 

L: I think Ari is right. I would phrase it as like we’ve seen the commodification of body piercing, especially in the last couple of years. I would say the last five where body piercing, especially the piercing we look at and write about at Sacred Debris, was experimental.  It was weird. it was a niche community of people doing something because they really loved it. It was kinky, it was queer, and now piercing is luxury and expensive, and it’s about how it looks on Instagram. Somewhere in between Instagram posts and Statim cycles, we very much became very conservative and very sanitised.

I do think we are seeing a resurgence, especially since Covid, that is mirroring what happened to piercing in the 80’s and 90’s during the AIDS epidemic where we are seeing a lot of anti-trans legislature, a lot of anti-trans rhetoric at the same time that we’re seeing this amazing growth in visibility for the trans community.

Lynn facilitating a suspension

And just like what happened with the gay community, when one group was very harshly ostracised and pushed aside and told that they don’t matter and they’re not important. It’s really easy for people to say, ‘fuck you. I’m not gonna conform to what you want me to be’. I think we’re seeing, especially a lot of trans youth and trans clients, really starting to push boundaries. We’re seeing a resurgence of genital piercing, of cool large gauge, custom genital work, of people starting to talk online about how they can do weird, cool things with their genitals. And in the past it was gay men who wanted to do weird, cool, kinky stuff and now it’s trans kids who wanna have weird, cool genitals that don’t look like any gender.

These same kids are out there, getting and they’ve made rhino piercings popular in 2023! Paired centre eyebrows, large gauge cartilage stuff is on the rise. We’re gonna see that continue because for the last couple of years, it’s been trending towards skinny, conventionally pretty models in gold and diamonds. Now, we’re definitely seeing that resurgence in the trans community of people who are already willing to say, ‘well, you hate me because I look and express my gender the way I want to. You’re already gonna treat me like shit for who I am so I might as well get the fucking face tattoo, put the horns in my forehead and split my dick while I’m at it.’

I have a little bit more hope that it’s, once again, going back to queer and fetish roots, that we are gonna see that more. And hopefully it’s a less experimental, maybe more controlled experimental renaissance. Focus more on gender affirming work and what we can do with genital piercings and body piercings that push the boundaries in a safe way, but create specifically non-binary or masculine or feminine effects or looks.

While piercing has moved in a very commodified, very capitalist direction recently, I think we’re starting to see that cycle back.

G: I can only speak from my experience in the UK but we have certainly seen the increased demand for larger gauge and genital work.

L: And that aspect of piercing was always queer and kinky. I think throughout the late 2000s and 2010s, piercing became just mainstream enough that it was all nostrils, ears, gold and diamonds. And the industry really encouraged that narrative. It used to be that any piercing was pushing back against ‘The Man’. Then for a while any piercing was ‘The Man’, it was even cooler, more rebellious, not to have piercings or tattoos. I think now we’re seeing that resurgence of people who feel comfortable looking and having these really extreme modifications because they’re already dealing with discrimination for how they look.

We are also seeing that resurgence of queer fetish spaces. I think it overlaps with the fact that there was a sanitation of the queer community over the last 10 years. How much ‘Kink at Pride’ discourse have we all seen on the internet? We did see a sanitisation of queer spaces and I think also kind of aligned with the sanitisation of body piercing and body modification. Now that we’re seeing that swing the other way, I think it’s happening in piercing.

G: What would you like to see in the future of the body modification industry?

A:  I think American piercing in particular has a real problem with working with children and they don’t realise it is not a worldwide view. I think if people really give a shit about safety then hopefully they will start to embrace working with children. It’s a really critical component of piercing. It’s one of the last sectors that is almost entirely experience based at a time when piercing has shifted to more heavily focus on the aesthetic end.

They are there to try something new. As a rite of passage its easily the most common and widespread in all cultures. It’s all about learning consent for their body and getting over something scary and a really incredible experience for them that I think lasts a lifetime, even if they take the earrings out at some point. It feels really sad that we exist in a place where not only do people not want to work on children, which caveat is fine if you are not comfortable with it, but it’s so hostile in some  aspects that you can’t even get a recommendation on who to then go to. I think some people are actually worried about putting it out there because they don’t want blowback from the community, which in turn makes it difficult to get a network of people for certain age ranges together because they don’t wanna take a bunch of shit for it. 

I would love for that to be something that we fix moving forward. That at least it’s a comfortable place where people who want to pierce young children, babies, anything like that, can be more open about advertising those services and help others who are interested in learning them.

G: We see it in the UK too, a lot of piercers aren’t comfortable with doing or discussing piercings on younger children.

A: For most populations it’s a tremendously important rite of passage. It’s something that no matter how much shouting the piercing community does you are not gonna prevent people from continuing that. And so to me the actual safe thing to do is to embrace it and provide a place where they can get it done in a sanitary environment with good jewellery, rather than saying “don’t fucking do that” which is really just pissing in the wind (and disrespectful to those communities).

L: As an extension of what Ari said, I would love to see folks approach each other with an assumption of at least neutral intent, if not good intent. Rather than always assuming bad intent. I feel like, no matter what you post about in a piercing only space, people immediately assume that you had the worst intentions or that you didn’t do anything right, that you didn’t care to run anything by your client. Even when it’s a really good, really well-respected piercer posting something like an experimental piercing they did or asking for help with finding a referral for piercing a child or a client in a certain situation. There is a lot of automatically assuming negative intent.

For me though, the really big thing I would like to see is  the continuation of restructuring apprenticeships and front of house positions.  I would love to see even more studios doing paid apprenticeships and taking better care of their apprentices. And I would love to see more recognition for front of house in the industry. I would really love to see the APP or the UKAPP offer, a membership type that is specific to the front of house, that acknowledges it as its own career. As opposed to just lumping everyone in this associate member form. I would love to see more classes directed towards the front of house and towards apprentices.

We’ve made a lot of strides in the last five years in regards to abuse in apprenticeships and mistreatment of apprentices. But I think we still have a long way to go before most of the industry is on board with that. I hope positive change keeps moving in that direction. And I hope people who have a lot of influence in the industry and organisations that have a lot of influence, step up and start acknowledging these positions in bigger ways. The APP released their apprenticeship guidelines, which are great and I hope that they do something similar to that in the future with front of house, and I hope we see that from the international organisations as well.

Words can’t express how grateful I am for the powerful insights and time that Ari and Lynn shared with me for this interview. I hope some of it resonates and that you enjoyed it as much as I did. Special thanks to legendary Shawn Porter for all of his support and for all the work he continues to do. Please consider supporting Sacred Debris and be a part of preserving the history of piercing, people and practices.

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An Interview with Phebe Rose – Junior Body Piercer

I first met Phebe when she came to guest with us at Rogue this year. Although she’s not been piercing long, Phebe has grown abundantly as a piercer and a person over the past few years. She has put herself out there, worked hard and flourished so much. Phebe is currently piercing at Factotum Tattoo & Body Modification Studio in Norwich, UK.

G: Let’s start at the beginning, when did you start piercing?

Phebe: So I started an apprenticeship in May of 2021 just after I turned eighteen. Everything happened very quickly which I wasn’t expecting as it usually takes some time to get into the industry. I’m so grateful that I was given the opportunity to begin my piercing career at a young age.

G: As always, tell us about your first piercing experience. 

P: I begged my mum to let me get my ears pierced but she wouldn’t let me until I was 11. I got those done with a piercing gun in a hair salon as you do when you don’t know any better. In high school ear piercings started becoming quite popular. It took me a couple of years but I eventually convinced my mum to let me get another piercing. I went to see Olly Todd at Factotum and he pierced my helix. That would’ve been 2018 I think. I went on to get my rook and forward helix pierced later that year. 

G: When did you decide you wanted to be a piercer?

P: Throughout high school I struggled a lot with my mental health, especially in my final year. When I left I intended to study languages at college but things didn’t quite work out as planned and I ended up being admitted to hospital. 

Being in-patient – especially through Covid when all visits and leave were stopped – was really difficult. To try and distract myself I spent a lot of time watching piercing content on YouTube. As I found out more and more about piercing I started thinking about it as a career although I never thought it would become my reality. I never planned for a future because I didn’t think I’d have one so when I got my apprenticeship it was as though I’d been thrown a lifeline. 

G: It’s strange, the roads that lead us to this industry. How would you describe your apprenticeship?

P: I didn’t really know what a traditional apprenticeship was to be honest and going into it I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t have a ‘mentor’ as such. I hadn’t even done my first piercing when the studios piercer left. Luckily one of the tattoo artists helped me with the basics and was on hand while I practiced. I started out using externally threaded, lower quality jewellery but quickly realised that this wasn’t ideal. My boss was really supportive and with the information I bought back from conferences and classes we made a lot of changes to how we did things, including switching over to using internally threaded jewellery.

However, I eventually got to a point where I needed more support piercing-wise. Although my colleagues were wonderfully supportive, they couldn’t teach me to pierce which is what I really needed. It was spending time with other piercers that changed things for me. Seeing how other people do things is invaluable and that’s what made me realise that I needed to move on.

G: Shadowing is super important, it allows you to see and learn from other people and share their experience as well. I mean, you taught me some stuff when you came up to shadow at Rogue. Everybody has something to offer. 

Piercers Piercing Piercers. Aiden performed 6g lowbrets for Phebe during her visit to Rogue!

So you start piercing in May 2021 and then took yourself to the UKAPP conference in September?

P:  Yes, I went to UKAPP a few days after I’d done my first ever piercing. It was the best thing I could’ve done for my career and it really opened my eyes as to what piercing really was. I missed out last year due to illness but I’m volunteering this year so I’ll definitely be there. I’m very excited. 

G: It’s unbelievably brave of you to attend a conference alone when there’s people there who have been piercing longer than you’ve been alive. And at 18! You should be incredibly proud of yourself Phebe!

P: It was so scary, you know, going in and seeing so many people there. Especially when you’ve just started piercing and you don’t know anyone. You feel as though everyone is so much more experienced and knowledgeable than you which can be pretty intimidating.

G: Do you have any advice for people attending the UKAPP conference? 

P: Look after yourself and do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel comfortable – for me that means bringing a Jellycat to sit with me and putting my headphones in when my brain gets too loud.

Double tragus pierced by Phebe using NeoMetal
jewellery at Factotum

While it’s important to try and socialise, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Take as much time out as you need. I took the opportunity to go outside for walks between classes to decompress which I found really helpful.

I know it can be scary but try and talk to people, even if it’s just one person a day! As you start getting to know those around you everything will become easier.

Take a notebook and pen with you – and try not to spend all of your money on jewellery. 😉

Also, remember – going to conference is a massive step in itself so just by being there you’re doing great. 

G: Good advice! Last year was my first time attending and I definitely took as many toilet breaks as I could to just have a moment to breathe and decompress. 

I do think it’s important to try and show your face at the social events, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

P:  Absolutely! I found the social side of things easier at the Piercer Trade Show this year as I knew a few more people. I actually went out for dinner and did things with others. At my first conference I was far too scared to do any of that because I didn’t know anyone and everything felt quite overwhelming. 

G: It is such a small industry and it’s easy to start comparing yourself to others but everybody’s on a different journey. There’s piercers that are highly regarded today for using the most advanced practices and top quality jewellery that used to pierce with acrylic and not wash their hands properly. We all start somewhere. 

How have you found the industry so far? 

P: Everyone that I’ve encountered has been so supportive and helpful. For example, you lot at Rogue have been wonderful. You make me feel so welcome and I learn so much from you when I come to visit. Similarly, when I went to shadow Mike at Broad Street in Bath he took me to his home and treated me like family. He gave me so many useful tips.

Play piercing beautifully performed Dawn!

I hung out with Dawn, she pierced a massive heart on my back with 72 blades. That was so much fun. So much fun. I also experienced body suspension when I visited Ipswich which was magical! This industry is so full of beautiful humans – I could go on forever. 

G: How are you finding your new position as Junior Body Piercer at Factotum?

P: Amazing! Everyone – both staff and clients – are lovely and I’m really enjoying it. Olly and Joe are great! They answer all of my weird questions and have been very patient with me while I settle in and find my feet in a new environment.

They’ve also been supporting me when it comes to making progress with piercing by taking the time to demonstrate new techniques and support me as I try new things.

G: Aside from volunteering at UKAPP this year, what’s on the cards for you?

P: I’m not sure I’m confident enough to take on guest spots yet but I’d love to do more shadowing. I’m planning to return to Rogue but also want to branch out and visit some new places. I’ll be at the Piercer Trade Show later in the year and at UKAPP conference in September as a volunteer. 

In terms of piercing, my main focus is on expanding my portfolio. I’ve recently started piercing eyebrows and navels and will soon begin working on nipples. I’ve also begun transitioning from cannula needles to blade needles – something I’ve not felt confident enough to try in the past. Long-term, I really want to perform some large gauge piercings. I also love working with kids so I’d love to gain more experience in that area and make piercing as comfortable, safe and accessible as possible for younger clients.

On the side I’m definitely going to do some more suspension and play piercing as it makes my heart so happy!

G: What advice would you give to younger piercers and also to people that want to move studios?

P: To younger piercers: Baby steps! Don’t feel like you have to do everything all at once. As long as you’re making small steps to better yourself that’s all that matters. If you can’t use verified jewellery, work on your angles and techniques. If you can’t make it to conference, join some Facebook groups. All and any progress counts, no matter how small.

Triple vertical helix pierced by Phebe using NeoMetal jewellery at Factotum

To those wanting to move studios: Be honest with yourself. It was very hard for me to admit to myself that I wanted and needed to move studios. Making the decision to leave was very difficult for me, I didn’t want to upset anyone or let anyone down. It took me a really long time to accept that it was the right thing for me to do. Ultimately it was my life and my career and if I wanted to move forward I had to move on. Try not to beat yourself up .. sometimes you need to prioritise yourself and that’s okay.

Most importantly, please look after yourself. Reach out for help, talk to people. There are so many of us out here who will listen – you are not alone. ♡

Phebe is a wonderful human and a very passionate piercer. Be part of her journey by booking in with her at Factotum, Norwich. Thank you for your time and your vulnerability. Your gonna go far, kid! <3

You can read my interview with Olly Todd here.

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Children’s Lobe Piercings

First piercings are an important rite of passage, and at Rogue we want to make sure that first experience is a positive one. We want all of our clients to feel comfortable, confident and safe no matter their age. So let’s take a look at what to expect when you bring your children for their lobe piercings at Rogue!

Age and ID

You must be 8 years old to have your ear lobes pierced at Rogue. Any client under the age of 16 must bring their own ID, plus a parent or legal guardian must be present also with their own ID. If your child does not have photographic ID, we cannot pierce them so please ensure they have ID in time for their appointment. This two-item ID system is needed as you must prove you are the parent or legal guardian in order to legally consent for them to be pierced. If you and your child do not share a surname, you must bring a third form of ID such as a birth certificate with your name on it. 

Read our full Age and ID policies here.

Accepted ID includes: Passport, Driving License, or valid UK Citizencard.

We do not accept: Library cards, school ID cards, bus passes etc. If in doubt about whether we would accept your ID, please contact us in advance of booking. We explicitly do NOT accept photographs, photocopies, or video calls of your ID. You must have the original document in your hand at your appointment.

At the Appointment

Anyone under the age of 16 should book in for a Children’s Lobe Piercing. So, what should you expect?

Children’s Lobe Piercing is it’s own option on our booking system, this appointment is 40 minutes long and allows plenty of time for you and your child to browse our jewellery collection, ask any questions and build themselves up to the piercing. It does not cost any more than a standard pair of earlobes, but that extra time is a bonus for our younger customers!

We will start by checking everyone’s ID and your consent form. The consent form is emailed out to you prior to the appointment, please ensure you read through each section carefully fill out your information correctly. We recommend waiting until the appointment to fill this one in, because we need to act as a notary for the consent form.

Lobe piercing with Industrial Strength paw print

We understand that first piercings are a really exciting time for everyone! We politely ask that we keep the energy in the studio calm and relaxed and suggest keeping additonal family members/friends to a minimum. In the piercing room, we have a chair set up for a single Parent/Guardian to sit. As much as we like to involve you in the process, the piercing appointment needs to be focused on the client (your child)! We may ask that you remain seated for the duration of the appointment. We can also set the room up so that you can hold your child’s hand during the process.

Safety is paramount for us. If we ask you to step away from the piercing area and take a seat, it is for the safety of yourself, your child and our piercers. As UKAPP members, we work to a high strandard of health, safety and hygeine. Please remember, we want you and your child to have a wonderful, positive experience!

Consent is our top priority. At every stage of the appointment, your child has the inalienable right to retract their consent to be pierced. If we feel that your child is not ready, or if your child says that they do not want to continue, then we will stop the appointment then and there! We will always offer to reschedule if necessary – At no stage do we want your child to feel pressured. Please keep this in mind when being a supportive guardian – Nothing sours the experience more for your child than feeling like a disappointment, or like they have failed you, by not getting their lobes pierced. You are their cheerleader, and they need to leave feeling like a little rockstar wether they get one lobe, both lobes, or no lobes at all pierced!

A Smooth Experience

When it comes to the piercing, there will be one piercer performing the piercings one at a time. All of our piercers are very experienced working with a variety of young clients. If you would prefer that the piercings are performed in tandem (two piercers performing both piercings at the same time), please email us at before booking the appointment so that we can discuss if this is possible. Bear in mind that there will be an additional fee to book out two piercers and it may only be possible on specific days.

NeoMetal threadless flower ends -perfect for first lobe piercings!

We use top quality blade needles to perform your child’s piercings. No guns in here! Each blade needle is pre-sterilised and single use. They are designed specfically for piercing to allow the smoothest, sharpest procedure. We will never intentionally show a client the needle but we are more than happy to demonstrate how the needles work and answer any questions you may have – just ask!

You can read more about blade needles here and we also wrote a blog about piercing guns and why we do not use them here


It is important to familiarise yourself with the aftercare instructions. At the appointment, we will explain them to yourself and your child and ensure you understand what to do to look after the new piercings.

  • Clean piercing twice daily with sterile saline.
  • TO CLEAN: First, wash hands with antibacterial soap and water. Spray a small amount of sterile saline onto both the front and back of your piercing to soak and soften crusties. Use a piece of non-woven gauze or clean, folded kitchen roll to gently remove any debris. Once the piercing is clean, gently dab away any remaining moisture.
  • Do not use any extra products, homemade remedies or chemicals.
  • Do not twist, turn or fiddle with your jewellery! This introduces bacteria, damages the healing piercing and can extend your healing time.
  • Do not soak or submerge your piercing in the first 4 weeks. This means you must avoid swimming, bathing in bathtubs, hot tubs, saunas etc. Please keep this in mind when booking your appointments.
  • Please follow downsize instructions and book a checkup when your piercing is 4-6 weeks old. See the bottom of the page for downsizing timeframes for your specific piercing.
  • If you’re unsure or have questions at any stage, then please don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re more than happy to help. Contact us via email or through our instagram.

See you soon!

At Rogue, we want to make every experience a great one. Children’s lobe piercings can be crucial moment to learn about autonomy, self expression, confidence and responsibility for taking care of yourself after a procedure. If you ever have any questions or if you would like to bring your child to view the studio and meet the team beforehand – please do not hesitate to get in touch!

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Association of Professional Piercers Conference 2023 Las Vegas

Under any other circumstances, Las Vegas is one of the last places I’d opt to visit. I don’t cope well in heat or humidity and gambling is not my jam. But in January 2023, under guidance and support from Aiden, Andre and Loreia, I submitted my application for the 2023 Legacy Scholarship to attend the APP conference, hosted at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, Nevada.

The process included filling out an application, having two industry peers write a recommendation, a video submission and a series of interviews. These were examined and discussed by a panel of APP members and 12 people were chose as scholars (due to unforeseen circumstances, two scholars have been delayed until next year and so we were only 10). Despite all the support and reassurance from everyone around me, I never believed that by the end of February I would receive a call from Ryan Ouellette to confirm my place on the scholarship programme. The feeling was indescribable. I was excited, anxious, in a state of disbelief. It took awhile for the reality of the opportunity to sink in.

Vegas Babyyyyyyy

Cut to June 8th, I drove myself to Heathrow airport and boarded a 10 hour flight to Las Vegas. If you’d have told me last year I would be navigating a trip like this by myself, no way would I believe you. But I did it. A short taxi ride later, I was throwing my suitcase into Planet Hollywood and heading out to meet a group of piercers, headed by the wonderful Caitlin (back-bone of the conference and overall incredible human being) for some food and a wander around the Vegas Strip. Holy shit Vegas is wild. It’s huge, it’s overwhelming, it’s hot. The sheer amount of people, noises and lights at all times is insane. It’s not a city for the introvert. But I was swept away immediately.

The way Legacy Scholars were a diverse, tight knit group but we were welcomed with open arms and open hearts by the APP Volunteer Group. Piercers from all over the world, joined together as a little team to make sure the conference was a success. Every single volunteer was helpful, kind, thoughtful. It was incredible to be part of such a wonderful family. I miss you all always. Work started for us on the Friday evening, and over the weekend we helped to set up the conference area to be ready to host over 1400 piercers from around the globe for 5 days of classes and events.

Sunday night was registration and hundreds of piercers filled Planet Hollywood to register for the conference, collect their badges, purchase merchandise and catch up with friends they haven’t seen since the last event. After the initial rush of wrangling hundreds of excited people, the Volunteer Team had a pizza night to decompress and get ready for the first full day of classes Monday morning. I’m thankful for the quiet times with good people and good pizza. I’m especially thankful for Jammie Biggers for taking me around Vegas in his car and giving me a break from the bustle.

Legacy Scholars 2023

Monday started with a meeting at 8am and then right into attending classes, working class doors, assisting the attendees, working on the merch booth and at 8pm, we headed to the Flamingo for the opening pool party. I’ve never been to a pool party before, it was nice to see people in a more relaxed setting. And the tacos were good. I also met the legendary Brian Skellie which was a party highlight for sure! The volunteers cleared down the party at midnight and we headed back to the hotel to recover for Tuesday.

In between classes, I worked various jobs around the conference, always supported by other volunteers. It was a really wonderful experience to work and learn from new people every single day. I’ll insert a list of the classes I attended over the week here:

Outside of the classroom, I bonded with so many amazing people. I met a lot of people that I really respect and admire as industry professionals. I met a lot of people that I hope to see again soon. It’s really hard to express the impact that the Scholarship has had one me. As a piercer. As a person. I feel so privileged to be a part of something so wonderful. I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to start to repay this industry for the experience, knowledge, support and family that it has provided me with.

Oh, did I mention I went on a guided tour of the Punk Rock museum. Guided by Fat Mike himself! He liked my hair, I liked his sense of humour.

Until next time Vegas, thanks for having me.

The list of people I want to thank is endless. But I will list and link the profiles of the 2023 Legacy Scholars and their respective countries. But to each of the Volunteers both this year and all yeats, thank you for being the best family some of us have. Once a duck, always a duck, right? Wouldn’t be possible without ya.

Ebs from Birthright Adornment, Melbourne Australia

Honza from Atreya, Czech Republic

Jonathan from RAW, South Carolina USA

J’son from TATAU, Mubai India

Laura from Maria Tash, Paris France

Matt from The Tattooed Gent & Onyx, UK

Nate from Diablo Rojo, Texas USA

Tais from Gold Heart Studio, Sweden

Angy from Mayduna, Berlin

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An Interview with Ryan – Clinical Nurse Practioner

There’s something special about a smoking area. Leaving the chaos of an afterparty to stand in the cold and smoke, Machester drizzle in the air. Piercers everywhere. It’s September 2022 at the Stilleto Piercing Supplies party, the smoking area is refuge for those needing a breather. Initiating inebriated chatter, I’m drawn to Ryan’s calming demeanour. Who is this man I’ve seen loitering in the background of industry events? Who does he work for? Where does he pierce? What the fuck is that on his head? Ryan was kind enough to share his time with me month’s after our initial meeting to talk about what he does, why he loves body modification and how he works to promote self expression and body autonomy.

Gemma: First thing’s first, tell us what you do for a living.

Ryan: I am a clinical nurse practitioner and I work in a high security mental health hospital. I predominantly work with men with personality disorders and possibly other comorbid mental illnesses who have committed serious offences. There’s thought to be a link between their mental health, their personality and their risk.

G: That’s heavy. And although it’s not entirely related to the body modification industry, you’ve been around this scene for a long time right?

R: There’s definitely a cross over there in the mental health and body mod worlds. As a mental health professional and at the grand old age of 42, I realised that I was autistic. Hence the feeling different and not really fitting in etc. In my late teens I’d been exploring what that was about and came across BME and saw people doing all these awesome, incredible things that I was too scared to do. It gave me a bit of an idea about ownership of your own body.

When I was growing up, I didn’t really feel like I fit in or that I was accepted. Almost like my body wasn’t mine. I began getting pierced, experimenting with self piercing, things like that. I just really fell in love with body modification in general.

Speaking of BME, it’s fitting that it’s 10 years today since Shannon Larratt passed away. I’ve got a ritual planned later.

G: What was your first experience with body modification?

R: My first piercing, at the tender age of 19, was a labret piercing with a ridiculously long spike. Well, I say ridiculously long – it certainly was for the time. It was maybe 18mm. And then flood gates opened.

My ex partner wasn’t really supportive about some of the things I wanted to do. I sort of compromised and then got divorced at 28. I said “well, I can just be me. And that’s alright. Maybe some people will accept me for that.”

I’m overly geeky and research everything to death. I had fairly normal piercings to begin with. My original labret piercing is now 16mm. I stretched that, it’s never been cut. It was a little bit uncomfortable, but at the time you couldn’t really buy a labret plug. It was very hard to get hold of. I ended up getting into woodworking to make earplugs and labret plugs, and got working with Delrin and Teflon. Most of my large gauge jewellery I’ve made myself over the years. 

My tragus was punched at 4mm originally and that’s stretched up to 10mm now. Basically the swelling in my ear canal meant that I was deaf for a week after every stretch. I did it in half millimetre increments., I mean, it’s ridiculously silly that you make yourself deaf temporarily for a piercing.

G:  It looks cool though. Can you tell us about your tongue split?

R: Yeah, I like it. It’s something different. 

The tongue split.

I have this odd thing sometimes that if something scares me, I’ll stop and think about it and go, “why does that scare me?” If there’s actually a rational reason for it,  you know, serious risks or things like that. I think, well yeah, that’s a stupid thing and I’m not doing that.

But if it’s just a stupid thing, but not necessarily that risky then I start to think, “well maybe, I could”.

I got my tongue split I guess about 14 or 15 years ago.I don’t know if anybody was offering it in the UK at the time. I’d seen it on BME and it was kind of a new thing. There was talk in the modification community about “Was it okay? Isn’t it cool that the body can do this thing? What’s the better method? How safe is this?” A little bit of experimentation. I had it done with an electrocautery scalpel. 

It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. It is not to be recommended. Tasted weird and smelled like burnt scrambled eggs. I had to sit on a little pad to ground myself as well in case I got electrocuted from it. A very unpleasant and weird experience.

G: That’s really hardcore. Have you been on the other side and performed any piercings or modifications for other people?

R: I made a decision never to do it professionally because I love it and I’m really geeky for it. I didn’t want it to become work and I didn’t ever want to think like “God, just another piercing I have to do”. I like the specialness of it.

I might have had opportunities but it’s not really where I wanted to take my life. When I discovered the field of mental health, I knew that was my vocation. I absolutely love it. It’s such a privilege to get to know people in that depth and share some of the most intimate and difficult parts of their life and try and help ’em with it.

Modification I guess is a hobby. Having said that, I’ve self pierced, I’ve pierced family and friends, I’ve thrown hooks [pierced in order to insert hooks] as part of the suspension team. I enjoy the ritual of it. Procedural stuff I’m not so keen on to be honest. So yeah, I’ve done a reasonable bit of stuff and then when I first started hanging around a lot of professional piercers it was slightly terrifying that I knew more about their industry in a lot of the cases. I hope that’s changed a bit now.

At the first UKAPP conference, people would ask me questions assuming that I was a professional piercer. I kind of had to pretend to be a professional piercer to be the first one because they changed the rules at the last minute. Initially it was open to everybody, so I got a ticket and then they said you have to be a professional piercer. My friend was trading there and he told me to come anyway to help him out and he’d vouch for me. Everyone’s just assumed that I’m a piercer ever since. 

G: How long have you worked in mental health?

R: This will be around 23 years I think.

I’d done the typical thing of going to uni as you’re expected to do, and I studied law. I’m kind of a nerdy for the law and always found it interesting. But I knew it would lead to a life of being sat in an office for an awful lot of time, doing a lot of paperwork and memorising a lot of information.

Not things I enjoy. So I dropped out of university and as a person in their early 20s, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was doing a lot of animal rights protests, I lived and helped at an animal sanctuary where I was living in a caravan. The caravan flooded and I became homeless. I thought, “you know what, I’m a little bit bored of being poor and not doing something.” I randomly found a job as a mental healthcare assistant. I was kind of blown away by it and really just found it fascinating.

G: Some people might consider you quite heavily modified. Can you talk about how that has impacted your professional career?

R: When it comes to qualifying as a nurse, there’s still this weird sort of ‘Florence Nightingale complex’ where if you are a nurse, you should be female and you should be prim and proper and look a certain way.

Even in mental, forensic and secure mental health services, there’s still a degree of that. I think I quite deliberately sort of pushed the boundaries a bit. There were quite a few conversations with managers along the way but I think at the hospital where I work, as I became more experienced and established, I hope people think I’m good at my job and polite and respectful, and how I look has no impact on my job at all.

In fact, if anything, it’s often a bit of a help for engagement. The people that I work with have often come from prison. They’re likely tattooed and pierced themselves. More tattoos than piercing I guess. A lot of the guys I work with are really institutionalised. They’ve never really been outside some kind of care or custodial setting a lot of them, or not for long.

They’re interested. You look a bit different maybe, or not like other people they’ve had bad experiences with. I was doing a review at Broadmoor Hospital, auditing and giving them some ideas on how to work with some patients. The patients I met were absolutely fine with my appearance. Some were a bit wary, but they’re gonna be wary of meeting a new person, regardless of how they look. A lot of people were really interested. But the staff were in uproar. “How have you let this person in?!” The staff were not allowed any facial piercings at all, tattoos couldn’t be above the collar, below the sleeve sort of thing. 

It’s a little pride that I’ve got, certainly at my place of work. I’ve seen there are more staff that have come through over the years, and they’ve got stretched ears and facial piercings. I kind of think, maybe I’ve changed the environment a bit. People have accepted me for how I look so it’s really hard for them to tell somebody else not to have modifications. 

G: It’s good that you may have opened that door for other people because I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals and it’s always the nurses with piercings or tattoos that make me feel comfortable. They feel more human.

R: Being human is the absolute crux of a healthcare job, which sadly people sometimes forget for a number of reasons. You are a human trying to help another human and that commonality is sort of where you start. I think certainly in terms of my patients, they’re interested in how I look. I’ve talked about suspension with some of my patients, and this might be people that have really seriously self-harmed for example, and they’ve often received a really negative response to that. For understandable reasons, they’ve felt shamed and then we’re trying to figure out what this is about. For some people, particularly with trauma, there is an element of self ownership in that and maybe there’s some crossover with modification in that way. 

I’m not suggesting anybody should self harm or that self harm is a positive thing, but I do think there is a big cross over with modification and harm reduction. I’m a relatively healthy expression of that. 

G: This dialogue comes up a lot when we talk about body modification. What we do is sort of facilitate a form of self harm through modification. Not only does it fucking hurt, people are in a very vulnerable place when they come in and they’re putting their safety in your hands. A lot of people go through a difficult time and they want to get a piercing at the end of it or a tattoo to commemorate that experience. 

Do you think, as an industry, that we have a positive effect on mental health?

R: There’s potential for an enormous amount of positivity. There’s potential for an enormous amount of harm as well. It’s what you do with it. Like you say, people are at a vulnerable point potentially. Practitioners need a really rigorous understanding of consent, having trauma informed practice. Things like that are getting better in my opinion.

It’s always gonna be a real mixed bag. Remembering to be human and remembering that’s part of your job when you’ve got 20 clients booked in for a day. That’s hard. I mean, that’s part of why I’ve not wanted to pierce professionally. Because I don’t wanna forget the bit that’s important.

G: I think as an industry, and society as a whole, we’ve got much better with talking about mental health and why it matters. Have you noticed that from your side working in the mental health field?

R: I think it’s definitely become more of an open conversation. In terms of the modification community, it’s always been there. People that choose that as a career or are heavily modified, I suspect are more likely to have experienced some difficulties with mental health than the average person in the population. Or at least are dealing with it in a different way and I think there’s always been an awareness of that. Traditionally, the industry has been made of people who feel they don’t fit in very well. They tend to be outsiders. There’s been change in that as well for sure. 

That kind of links to the point of thinking about trauma and thinking about the significance and meaning to somebody. If you pay no attention to that, somebody could have an absolutely appalling experience. If you pay a lot of attention to it, you could make it something that’s life-changing and quite memorable for somebody. 

G: What changes have you seen in your time both working in mental health and being around the modification industry?

R: In terms of the industry, semi regulation seems to have become a thing and I suppose maybe I’m biased by the people that I know and come into contact with because I’m sure there are lots of terrible shops out there. Piercing’s such a new industry, there has been a learning process. I think some of the procedures that I’ve had, some of the things I’ve experimented with and thought that might work in hindsight, it’s absolutely ridiculous. Once upon a time it was a bit more wild west. It was a case of “let’s find out.” Something on paper sounds like it might be a good idea. Let’s see if that works or not. 

The internet communities were where people were sharing their experiences and their information and that’s what really brought us together. It seems that now we have a more professional, slightly more uniform set of standards. It’ll be interesting to see if that becomes some kind of actual regulation or licensing at some point. But I’m very much two minds about that. The wild west part of me wants to say no, let’s all just experiment and that’s wonderful because it’s consenting people. But yeah, I think that’s possibly a minority of people. The majority of people that come into a shop to get pierced, just wanna know that it’s safe and it’s gonna heal.

G:  Absolutely, as a piercer we aim to give you the best possible chance of healing. We make sure the procedure is safe and clean and that we’re using the highest quality jewellery and equipment. But then it’s on the client to follow the proper aftercare and keep in touch if there’s any issues.

R: I suppose that’s part of the problem. You can do the absolute best procedure in the world and if somebody doesn’t take care of it then it can ruin the whole piercing. It’s a relatively unique thing, it’s a collaboration between the practitioner and their client.

And I think it’s really important as a professional to remember that this experience is significant for that person. It might just be your 11 o’clock appointment and you might not remember their face but they know who you are. I’ve experienced that in mental health work as well, I’ve had people thank me for what help I’ve provided them and I’ve honestly not had a memory of them. It can be really awkward at that moment but I’m also really happy that I’ve managed to touch their lives. I suppose, as that relationship develops and you see the same client or a patient over a period of time like some of the guys I’ve worked with now, I’ve known a number of ’em over a decade. So it is a real intense relationship and you know someone inside out.

G: What changes have you seen in mental health care over the years? 

R: It’s become less industrialised. I think it’s better with individual care than it used to be, I’ve been in high security for a long time so I’m not really at a ‘street level’ where you’re working with the community. But I think there’s now a better understanding of trauma in particular, and I think that’s something that absolutely has to be pushed through because my personal view is mental health and trauma are essentially the same thing. That’s not something I managed to come up with myself.

I was doing some teaching and we put together a presentation for a panel of people that use services. Experts by experience. And there was a slide that said, somebody’s mental health problems can be directly impacted by trauma. And trauma may be the root cause of difficulties for people. I think it was the only correction on the whole presentation that they wanted to feed back. They said “no, we don’t think trauma and mental health are linked. We know they are the same.”

In the past I’ve said that I work with people who have committed violent offences or people that have this diagnosis or that diagnosis. But essentially I work with exceptionally traumatised people that have then gone on to traumatise other people. As a society, a lot of our problems are that we’ve got these little cycles of trauma going on. 

In mental health it used to be almost like you’ve been hit by some kind of illness stick. You’ve just got a mental illness and that’s it. I think it’s difficult to accept trauma because it’s harder to deal with than just giving somebody a pill.

G: From my limited time in piercing, everyone seems very accepting and supportive of mental health struggles.

R: There’s perhaps more of an understanding of difference and that need for individuality. I suppose particularly when you’re looking at heavy modification and more extreme stuff, you have to be an incredibly open and curious person to do that. 

G: Can we talk about your experience with body suspension?

R: Getting into suspension was a similar journey as my tongue split. It was something I saw and immediately thought, “That’s scary, I couldn’t do that.” And that became “Why can’t I do that?” I started researching and finding out more. I had another friend and knew a couple of people who were interested, and we sort of got together and talked about it and just decided to really learn. We were deliberately self taught. I think the suspension community tends to sort of build by rote. So somebody’s done it and it’s kind of worked, so this is how we do it then. You’ll get other suspension teams who do it their way and they’re not very good at knowing why. Which is a real contrast compared to the body modification community, particularly when heavy modifications were something of an industry. You have to know why. Because if you don’t, you can really hurt people. 

Ryan faciliating a suspension for a friend

With the suspension team, every team member started to learn all of the different roles and we came up with our own protocol. And then when we finally went out and met other teams that were doing it and started talking with them, nobody knew why they did things the way they did. That’s just the way it’s done. Everyone had their own methods and reasoning but didn’t really share too much.

G: It seems that suspension is a very closed and tight knit community.

R: I guess there’s not many people that do it. It is something that is potentially really quite dangerous. So people can be cagey about giving information and letting people in. And there’s fear of judgement with it as well, it’s something not many people understand. I think most people can understand tattoos as a form of art even if it’s not for them. But you want to hang from hooks?! There’s not always that kind of understanding. 

I think what often gets people involved in suspension is seeing the aftermath for people. Or hearing people that have done it talking about it positively and when you just look at it, it’s not just a performance. I’m sure there’s people that for them it becomes just a performance. But I think it’s probably quite hard to do that because it’s instant mindfulness when you’re suspended. That’s how I think of suspension. You can’t think of anything else. You are there. You’re right here, right now, and this is what’s happening and that’s all your brain is gonna manage. You can’t be thinking about a shopping list or the fact you go on holiday next week, did I leave the oven on? Your brain’s totally not geared for that and I really like that. It’s incredibly zen and there’s things that might float up in your mind. My experience with suspending people and being suspended, is you can’t always predict what things will float up. Your subconscious just kind of puts it out in the moment and you can kind of work through it then. I’ve personally found it an incredibly healing and a powerful experience.

But you can’t go into it going, “I’m gonna have this kind of suspension” because it doesn’t work like that. For me, I’ve seen people go and think they’ll have a happy, high energy suspension and then actually it ended up being almost like a memorial. They’re thinking about that and just the energy from it’s so powerful.

That’s why I love doing it and being around it and being part of that process for people. I do all the bits, I’m geeky about aftercare, I’m geeky about rigging and stuff like that, but talking somebody up, guiding them through the process. It’s almost kind of shamanic because they’re having this transformative process that you are never gonna fully understand but you get to facilitate and you’re there for that. 

Even just piercings, tattoos and other modifications, it’s a similar kind of thing. It can be that. To understand that you can be overwhelmed and that is okay, and that you’re strong enough to do it. It’s often quite euphoric as well for both physical and spiritual reasons, I guess. 

This is the bit that’s the crossover between my professional work as a nurse and the modification world. It’s that real, intimate core of who we are, that transformative experience and that wanting to guide somebody through their bit of the journey. 

G: The patients you work with, are they in hospital long term?

R: Yeah, by any kind of ‘normal’ standards it’s long term. A really quick admission might be a couple of years, something like that. Most people would go on to another secure facility, either a prison or more often they’ll go to a medium secure hospital. It’s kind of handing them off on that part of their journey and trying to guide ’em through that and prepare them for it. You never really get to know the end outcomes for people, it becomes a bit fuzzy as people work further through the system. I know there’s guys I’ve worked with that have been completely hopeless and never thought they’d get anywhere, but they’ve got partners and families and jobs and just cracking on with life now. So it does happen and it’s important to bear in mind. It’s not fast and the rewards often aren’t immediate in my job. Remembering that this can happen and holding hope for people, that’s a big part of it. 

Things can get better for people however bad it’s got. 

Image courtesty of Church of Body Modification

G: That is incredible. You are doing such an honourable service to people. What else do you get up to?

R: Since 2010, I’ve been Minister for the Church of Body Modification. I’m the only minister outside of North America now. I don’t talk about it a lot and this seems like an opportunity. 

Essentially all the stuff that we’ve been talking about, that bodily autonomy, the spiritual transformation that can happen through modification -that’s basically what we believe. Whatever else you believe is up to you, but that is the core tenant. It is your body and you can utilise that as part of your spiritual journey.

I think people hear the word church and think it’s going and doing hymns or having to believe in a certain dogma or whatever. In this sense it means assembly in terms of, you know, we are a group of people that believe this and I think that’s important. It’s really sad that it’s not always recognised in the modification industry. I think it’s a real shame that in terms of heavier mods and things very much in legal grey area, but the consensus seems to be no we won’t invest in this industry after Mac’s trial. And that was it, it was never raised as a defence. I dunno whether it was pertinent to those cases or not but actually if that is a spiritual practice for somebody, in this country’s legal system, we’ve got human rights to have access to that. And I think some of the downside of the commercialization of the industry and it becoming bigger, while standards have improved as a result, I think it also can become more like a purchase or a fashion accessory. Which it always has been for some people and that’s fine. But it sometimes belittles the fact that modification could be hugely important to people. 

G: The more clinical and the more restricted that we get, I do think it takes away that human element of it. We’ve improved as a industry but we’ve lost a bit of that experimentation and that grassroots, punk edge. 

R: And it limits people’s ability to explore the body. The weird irony about our legal system is not only can you not consent, you can’t now do things with your own body or you can’t do them safely. You know, if you want to chop your own hand off, not that I’d recommended it, you can legally. But if you get somebody else to do that, definitely not fine.

Obviously that’s an extreme example, but when you’re talking about a tongue split or ear pointing it’s a pretty different thing, isn’t it? It’s not so obviously permanently disabling, which is maybe why it might get the judgement. 

G: I’m a big believer that people should be able to do what they want with their bodies as long as it’s safe. But who is to say what is safe? Where do we draw that line? 

R: To an extent, that should be the individual’s choice surely. If you wanna do something unsafe with your body, as long as it doesn’t impact others, well that’s okay. I think it’s different when you’re doing something unsafe with someone else’s body and this is when we get into a lot of blurry grey areas with it.

G:  There’s a lot of heavy modification going on in places like Southern America at the minute. If you want to cut the tip of your nose off, you are well within your rights to. But is that disabling to you? Is that then impacting on other people? Is there a safe way to do that? Should there be psychological intervention? And who gets to make those rules. It generates a very interesting conversation about body autonomy. 

R: There’s something arbitrary and there’s something cultural about it. Certainly in terms of the extremity that people will go. A part of me does think, why are we making rules about what people can do unless we need to protect somebody from themselves. Which I guess sometimes we do, but we probably need to do that less than we think

I suppose all types of modification, no matter what the extent, have an element of permanence. In some regards even a piercing, you are kind of disabling yourself. If you’ve got a lip piercing for example, it might cause some dental damage. A tongue split, you might have a bit of a speech impediment. But on the grand scale of things, it’s not a big thing. 

G: Are there any meet-ups or events within the Church of Body Modification?

R: Not really anymore, it’s exceptionally small now. In the BME days it had more hype. And what you’ve got now is a handful of people that identify in their free time and do a little bit with it. Occasionally in the States there’s been advocacy in legal cases. A lot more, it’s just kind of an advocacy role, letting people know it’s okay. Really just educating that, yeah, this process can be a spiritual experience if you want it to be. Don’t limit yourself if you don’t want to.

I think people see it cynically and some of the origins were cynical on part of some of the people. But even with that, it doesn’t mean that the basic tenants aren’t true. 

I must admit, in my early conversations with my work and management, it was very much “What are these piercings about” and I knew that they were really strict on dress code. That was much more important than someone’s performance. And I didn’t lie, but I did say, you know, primarily it’s kind of a religious thing for me. That person left me alone from that day.  

Generally each one of my mods encourages that sense of self ownership and identity. There are certain things that are aesthetic. I’m afraid I’m mostly one of those people that everything has a little story for me. It’s an aspect of myself, it’s a reflection sometimes of my life and my relationships. It might seem weird but I’m a bit shy. I wouldn’t have things written in script on me that are easy to identify. I’ll have a picture or a pattern or something that’s in runes, glyphs that the vast majority of people would never be able to figure out. 

There’s an odd dichotomy of being a visibly modified person, and in part I think it’s the cost for me of being happy in myself. It gets complicated because, if I’m honest I kind of want people to notice that I’m a bit different and have set myself apart and I like challenging people’s perceptions.

They think I’m gonna be a violent thug and I think I’m actually quite a kind, reasonable human being. As reasonable as any of us get. I think something that I’ve come to appreciate as I’ve got older is people will ask me questions. I’ll have strangers stop me in the street and ask about the markings on my head. “Is that a tattoo? Is it branding?”. It’s great that people are curious and I can maybe educate them a little bit or bring something a bit colourful to this sometimes dull world. That’s no bad thing

I like being a modified professional. Something I’ve found interesting, as I’ve got promoted and mixed with people higher up the food chain, they’re people who don’t ask anymore. And my guess is they kind of go, “well, you’ve ended up at this meeting, so you must be a relatively sane human being.” I’d like to think that any misconceptions or judgments they had, I’m able to demonstrate that I’m okay and maybe they’ll go away with a little bit of that in mind.

G: I think it is really important that people see somebody expressing themselves the way that you do, in a professional role. You might have to work a bit harder than other people, unfortunately, but if you’re good at your job, your modifications will not hold you back.

R: Being one of the early people to do something you are gonna get discriminated against, but hopefully people will be less so in future.

I remember a really interesting conversation with Anna when she said about how hard it had been as a woman in the industry and she was kind of okay with it being hard. I don’t wanna speak on behalf of Anna and she may have changed her mind on things now. But I think, it’s great that she’s worked hard to be respected in her industry but it shouldn’t have to be harder for people because of how they look or identify, 

I can’t really complain in terms of discrimination because I’ve deliberately set out knowing it would make my life harder. A lot of people that get discriminated against, don’t have a choice. That’s just how it is.

G: So we pierce a lot of teachers and they always comment about how they have to punish students for having body piercings because that’s the policy. It’s unfortunately hypocritical and it’s policing autonomy in my opinion.

R: What the hell are we teaching people as a society that you can’t express yourself and you can’t be yourself. It’s an awful message culturally.

It’s definitely a value that I hold dear, you should just be able to be you. Whatever the hell you are, whoever you are. I would love a society that’s more accepting of each other.

If you ever get the pleasure of meeting Ryan, he sure is an incredible human and a wonder to be around. Very grateful for his time and yours if you made it to the end. Keep being you, whoever the hell you are.

A kind message to the Church of Body Modification from BME founder Shannon Larratt. Rest in peace.

You can read more of our interviews here:

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Intimate Consultations – What To Expect

Rogue is an intimate piercing speciaAt Rogue we require a consultation to take place at least 24 hours prior to performing any intimate piercing. This is so you have adequate time to process all the information regarding your piercing and make an informed decision. We also want you to feel comfortable in the studio and with our team because communication is key for any piercing.

So what can you expect when you book in for an intimate consultation? The first thing to note is that we will endevour to make sure the studio is clear of other clients so that we can speak openly and put you at ease. If you want a cup of tea or some water, just let us know! We do recommend that you bring a chaperone, but if you prefer to come by yourself, that’s absolutely fine too! We just want you to feel comfortable.

The first part of the consultation takes place on our (very comfortable) sofa where we will chat with you about a few different things. It’s important that we start by building trust, we know it can be intimidating and a little scary to even book for an intimate piercing so we want to ensure that you feel safe and confident at Rogue. Generally we will chat to you about:

  • What piercing you would like and how you became interested in it
  • Our experience with that piercing
  • Why we offer this piercing and some history around intimate piercings
  • Why we are passionate about intimate piercings and ensuring that we provide a safe setting for our clients

Once we’ve built some trust, we will explain the procedure for your piercing(s). This will differ for each placement and may also differ depending on the piercer or specific anatomy but we will provide you with all the information, step-by-step on how we generally perform the piercing(s) you are interested in.

At any point during the consultation, you are free to ask as many questions as you can think of!

After we cover the procedure, we will discuss aftercare. Again, this may differ slightly piercing to piercing but it essentially boils down to our Golden Rules.

  • Keep it clean! – use sterile saline twice a day to remove any build up
  • Keep it dry! – don’t soak your piercing in still water (baths/pools), pat dry with non-woven gauze or clean kitchen paper after cleaning with saline/showering
  • Leave it alone! – touching causes damage, don’t twist/turn/touch the jewellery and it’s very important to refrain from any sexual activity around the piercing (intercourse/oral sex) and any masturbation aswell for the first four weeks.

When you are ready to re-introduce your sexual life, please ensure that everyone’s hands are clean and that you are using condoms or dental dams for the first 4 weeks to ensure that we are not introducing bacteria into the piercing channel. This is important even if you have been with your partner(s) for a long time.

That’s a lot of information to take on but don’t worry! At your piercing appointment we will go over the aftercare information with you again as a refresher 🙂 You will also be given a a free can of Neilmed sterile saline for your aftercare.

Now we come to the anatomy check. As mentioned before, there will be a two member’s of staff in the room for all intimate appointments. We recommend bringing a chaperone with you if this is something you are comfortable with. We will ask you to step in to the piercing room and we will explain the next steps with you. To perform the anatomy check, we will request that you remove or pull down any clothing/underwear that is obstructing the area.

Before we go on, let’s re-iterate a few key points about the process:

  • Nothing will happen without your consent
  • At no point will you be pressured into removing clothing unneccassarily
  • Everything goes at your pace. Let us know at any point if you are feeling uncomfortable or not at ease.
  • Ask as many questions as you can think of! This is all about making sure you have informed consent

To perform the anatomy check, we may need to gently clean the area before hand using sterile saline or an anti-septic skin clenser (PurKlenz). We will let you know at each stage if we are using any equipment such as a sterile receiving tube or a sterile cotton bud. We will explain why we are using these and let you know prior to touching you in any way.

Once we have checked your anatomy, feel free to get dressed and comfortable. We will explain which piercings are viable (if you have asked for a few different options) and if we are happy to perform them for you. We will explain different jewellery sizes and options that are available to you and show you some examples.

We understand that while intimate consultations/piercings are part of our day-to-day at Rogue, we know that isn’t the case for all of clients. We’ve all been in the same position before and understand that it can feel a little daunting and vulnerable. Rest assured, we will do everything we can to make sure you feel at ease. You are in safe hands!

And that’s the consultation! We will have given you a lot of information to process. Feel free to contact us at any point if you have more questions or if you need clarification on anything. As long as our piercers have agreed that they are happy to perform the piercing for you, you can book in for the appointment any time after 24 hours from the consult. This gives you plenty of time to digest all of the information and to sleep on ythe decision. We take informed consent very seriously in the studio and we want to make sure you are making this decision for yourself.

We hope this puts you at ease and gives you an idea of how the intimate consultations go. If you are looking to book in, please do so here: