Back in the day, tattoos and piercings in schools, the workplace, out and about in public were definitely noticed. Not necessarily always regarded in a positive light, they really caused quite a stir from purists and conservative types. In the late 1970’s, the Punks were serious on their mission to alter the way the public looked at others, handled discrimination, and thought about art. In short, the more people they could piss off with the way they looked, the better! This blatant attitude of teenage rebellion, adolescent angst, and causing a stir left an indelible mark on modern culture, music, art, and paved the way for the modern acceptance of body modification, body art, and people who dare to be different with their external image.
In this time period, Vivienne Westwood was a school teacher, when she managed to link up with the future Sex Pistol’s manager, Malcolm McLaren. These two became a legendary force, and propelled punk fashion into the mainstream. As the frontrunners of the punk music scene, the Sex Pistols were definitely fashion icons. All of their clothes were creations of Westwood and McLaren. The look was dark, and meant to raise an eyebrow, and really get emotions running. Inspired by bondage gear, biker garb, fetish wear, and prostitutes, it was extreme fashion. Hair and makeup, on both men and women were also pushing the limits of social decency. Everyone who did this style was out to one-up the next punk out there. Safety pins through selected body parts was a staple, and the beginnings of the mainstream obsession with body piercing. Because the punks were ultimately fascinated with culture as a whole, and primitive societies provided much inspiration, they began testing the waters of piercings. At the time, body piercing was very much an at-home procedure, as piercing studios did not exist. Sensing a need in the market, groundbreaking piercers Doug Malloy and Jim Ward opened the first specialty studio for body piercings in the United States.
Since these early days, there have definitely been many advancements in body piercing, modification, and body jewelry. Many people, not just punks, have come to adore the look of piercings, and the capabilities of wearing jewelry in unconventional places. Our culture has evolved in the past 30 years to the acceptance of visible piercings, and it is now considered perfectly socially acceptable for people to have piercings. A simple nostril ring, a sparkly banana bell navel ring, a labret stud, a few earrings on each ear, tongue rings, an aptly placed eyebrow barbell have become so common these days, that they no longer illicit shock from viewers.
However, as it is human nature to continuously push limits, there are those who are not satisfied with a mere piercing here and there. Some people fall so in love with the possibility that they pierce every little bit of flesh they possibly can. Elaine Davidson, of Brazilian roots, and currently a Scotland resident, is perhaps the most daring of us all. As of February 2011, she reported that she now has a total of 6,925 piercings spanning her entire body. She has a total of 500 genital piercings- internally as well as externally- how’s that for extreme? She holds the Guinness World Record for the most permanent piercings. This is a title she has held since 2000, and she holds it with utmost pride, joy, and responsibility.
For some people, handling many piercings in one setting can be alone. Brent Moffat, of Canada, was the record holder for the most temporary piercings in a single session. In December 2003, he received 900 piercings in a period of 4.5 hours. In March of 2006, this feat was defeated by Kam Ma who was pierced with 1,015 metal rings in a 7 hour time frame. So not only do your number of permanent piercings give you an edge in the competition of who is the most daring, the number of temporary piercings you can handle in a single session can also warrant you bragging rights!
From the punk days, to modern-day extremists, modern body piercing is a pretty beautiful subculture, allowing its followers to be as original, artistic, or daring as they choose! Whether you opt for one select piercing, or 1,000- it’s your choice- enjoy it!