Elayne Angel, President. Since the 1980s Elayne has been a driving force to professionalize and promote body piercing. She became Manager of Gauntlet, Inc., the first piercing specialty business in the United States, when it was still the only piercing studio in the country. Elayne received her honorary “Master Piercer Certificate” from Gauntlet founder Jim Ward in 1992. It was the first such certificate ever issued by Gauntlet.
Within the piercing industry she is known as a pioneer for developing piercing techniques, formulating aftercare guidelines, and innovating a variety of new piercing placements. Elayne is credited with popularizing tongue and triangle piercings, naming the lorum, and inventing the fourchette and Princess Diana piercings.
Elayne is the author of The Piercing Bible—The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing (Random House) a comprehensive and informative reference book directed to piercees and those who deal with them, (such as medical professionals, parents, and educators), as well as piercers. It is in its fourth print run.
She was founder and President of Rings of Desire, Inc. in the French Quarter of New Orleans, where she pierced for over twelve years. Elayne helped legislators to promulgate the regulations on body art for the state of Louisiana. Following Hurricane Katrina, she closed her business and relocated to the Yucatán in Mexico. Elayne travels the U.S. as a Business Member at Large doing guest piercing at quality studios. She also writes the monthly “Ask Angel” column for body art industry publication, Pain Magazine.
Elayne completed three highly productive previous terms on the Board—three years as Outreach Coordinator, and six years as Medical Liaison. She authors much of the organization’s literature, and was editor of the quarterly journal, The Point, for numerous issues.
For over a decade Elayne has been an instructor for classes at the annual APP Conferences. She has also worked with and educated numerous medical professionals, legislators, teachers, students, and others about safe body piercing. In 2006 she was honored to be the recipient of The President’s Award for a lifetime of contributions to the piercing industry.
Sarvas Berry, Member Liaison, began piercing professionally in 2002 in his home town of Missoula, Montana. He spent two years learning the ropes before traveling the U.S. to explore other studios. His first stop was Portland, Oregon where Sarvas discovered how different standards from studio to studio could be. This taught Sarvas to always set the bar high for himself. In 2005 he moved to Salt Lake City, Utah where he included free-hand piercing and using a Statim into the mix. Sarvas has been a guest piercer at many of the country’s most renowned studios which has given him a unique perspective and well-rounded knowledge of how piercing is performed and received in the U.S. today.
Since joining APP in 2007, Sarvas has been an active and dedicated member. He holds himself and his industry to the highest possible standards and continues to be a positive representative of the piercing community. Sarvas was elected Membership Liaison in 2010 and is regularly active on the membership committee. Sarvas is a level 1 Crossfit trainer as of October, 2011 and is currently working at Evolved Body Art in Columbus, OH.
Georg Birns is the principal Owner and President of High Priestess Piercing & Tattoo and HTC Body Piercing. He’s twenty years into the industry and is still piercing. He grew up on the East Coast, was educated in the Midwest, and finally settled down on the West Coast where he is father to two young boys and husband to his lovely wife JoPants. He stays active in the community by doing body art education and outreach, body play gatherings, and numerous fundraisers. During the summers Georg brings the shop directly to the clients. High Priestess attends events, conventions and fairs with their mobile state-of-the-art studio. When he's not piercing he enjoys the great outdoors, martial arts, coaching children’s seasonal sports, and spending time at home with his family.
Jenella Brooks - Tawapa found Jenella Brooks in 2003 when she joined forces with founder Phoebe Minona. Jenella's introduction to the piercing industry had begun in 2001 at Gottsi, a free-hand piercing only studio in Oakland, CA. Her experience from Gottsi, 10+ years of retail experience, a BA from UC Berkeley in Law and Social Change and a tireless pursuit of excellence in product made her the perfect business manager for fledgling Tawapa. With Phoebe's design artistry and Jenella's business skills, Tawapa has evolved from a tackle box open market vendor gig to an international wholesaler of organic jewelry in the span of 9 years. Tawapa is proud to be a successful, woman owned and ethically run business and Jenella sits at the helm of all business aspects of the company.
Jimmy Buddha, owner and founder of Diablo Organics has been designing and selling unique organic body jewelry since 1992. His entrepreneurial and artistic talents first lured him to the piercing industry in the form of jewelry creation and he later expanded to piercing professionally in 1996. Always one for an adventure, Jimmy has owned piercing and tattoo studios, farmed cacti, tended bees and wrangled turtles. He spends his time between the Diablo workshop in Bali and Diablo world headquarters in Austin, Texas where he is building his compound for world domination.
Eduardo (Ed) Chavarria is a former board member to the APP as well as an instructor for a few of the courses offered over the years at conference. He has been piercing and attending conference since 2001. He is more than happy to exchange and share any and all information regarding piercing with all of you. This year he is excited to bring to the table a new workshop to conference attendees. Ed says: “I don't know you all very well and I'm a bit shy. Please don't mistake that for me not wanting to know you. I'm very much a people person and enjoy making new friends. Feel free to stop me and say hi, as well, if you have a question or need some help I'm here to assist.”
Dana Dinius has been piercing professionally since 1994 and has been an APP Member and piercing at High Priestess/HTC since 2005. He has also been active in the suspension community in the performance and private sector since 2000, including a plethora of group dynamic situations, offsite (non-studio) piercing events, and outdoor festivals.
Ana Paula Escalante started piercing in 1995 when she moved to San Francisco. She was greatly inspired by Kristian White and his shop, Nomad. Here she learned about piercing, stretching and freehand techniques. After 3 years, she moved back to Mexico, where she opened her shop, Tonatiuh, which has been open for 13 years now. She has been involved with the APP since 2002, learning, sharing her jewelry and teaching in the Mexican APP seminars also.
After going to jewelry school in Mexico, she started Quetzalli Jewelry. It is now through making jewelry that she brings out her great passion towards beauty, especially beauty created through body modification. This keeps her learning, sharing and striving to go further. Her approach is filled with love and respect for the community, this culture that is in constant creation, the materials used and the tradition behind it all that has makes her approach always such a treat.
Allen Falkner is a founding member of the Association of Professional Piercers and served on the first board as its secretary. He owned and operated multiple piercing studios from 1992 to 2007, and is best known for organizing Traumatic Stress Discipline (TSD), one of the first, most influential suspension groups, and establishing the suspension.org website. Although Allen is by no means the progenitor of body suspension, he has received notoriety in the media as a spokesperson for the art form and is often referred to as the Father of Modern Suspension.
Allen’s work in the body modification community has paved the way for the creation of multiple suspension groups, the hosting of several suspension conventions (suscons), and the compilation and dissemination of pertinent information pertaining to art and science of suspension. For the last two decades he has traveled worldwide performing, facilitating suspensions, presenting lectures, and teaching workshops on the fundamentals, mechanics, evolution, and history of body suspension.
Most recently Allen Falkner was honored by the APP by becoming the recipient of the 2011 President’s Award.
Rick Frueh, Medical Liaison, began his piercing career in 1999 in a small town in Illinois. His first conference was in 2001, and he has been to all but one since. Rick joined the APP the following year and at the time he was the only member in Illinois. Rick is also a former President of the CoBM and is currently serving on the board of advisors. Over the years he has been fortunate enough to get to speak to a lot of people on the subject of body piercing and modification. He has taught previously at APP and moderated some of the online roundtables and also has had the privilege to represent the APP at the ACHA conference. Rick has been a guest speaker at several Colleges and Universities. He is owner of Industrial Primitives Body Piercing and Black Cat Tattoo in Austin. He started a very popular and well travelled learning group on Facebook and founded the Central Texas Piercers Group. He is an instructor and US Director for Health Educators. Rick chairs the Manual Committee; and serves on the Membership Committee.
Thomas P. Fuller, ScD, CIH, MSPH, MBA is Assistant Professor and Program Director of Environmental Health at the Illinois State University Department of Health Sciences. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with over 30 years of experience in environmental science, infection control, worker safety, and public health. He is the Infection Control Team Leader of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Health Care Working Group. He was a founding member of the AIHA Pandemic Planning Team. Professor Fuller is a member of the National School Disinfectant Working Group funded by the Toxic Use Reduction Institute. He is a Contributing Editor for the American Journal of Nursing. He is a member, and the Management Technical Section Chair, of the Illinois Environmental Health Association. Dr. Fuller is the past President of the Board of Directors of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. Dr. Fuller’s research interests include occupational exposures to hazardous drugs in healthcare, relationships between extended working hours and hospital infection rates, and occupational exposures and outcomes in the body modification profession.
Luis Garcia started as a self taught piercer in Miami in 1993, had a formal apprenticeship from 1996-1997 under Drew Lewis and Onabe Tashi at the now defunct Perforations in Washington, DC. In 1998, he moved to Philadelphia to work at Infinite Body Piercing, where in 1999 he joined the APP.
In early 2002, he joined the staff in the tropical halls of NokaOi Tiki Tattoo and Piercing, where he specializes in surface piercing, ear projects, and surface anchors. He has been nominated for the APP's board of directors multiple times since 2001, and served as International Liaison for the APP from 2005-2008.
Ron Garza is an avid world traveling body modification artist based out of Southern California. He is well known for not only his tireless work in advancing the education of the piercing community, but also for his intricate and beautiful scarification. His love of branding, body suspensions, writing and photography is also is well documented. He is often cited as an inspiration by other body modification artists for his cutting edge works over the last 2 decades.
Ron Garza is proficient in several disciplines of the body modification industry and provides instruction via classes, lectures and DVD's domestically as well as internationally. He has written and presented (in both English and Spanish) such piercing industry staple courses as: Piercing without tools, Scarification theory, sterile techniques, medical risk assessment, basic infection control for the piercer for such information powerhouses as both of the Association of Professional Piercers USA and Mexico conferences, Pro Piercing Information Systems, and BMXnet exchange in Europe, amongst other conferences and corporate classes. Ron has received much attention for being one of the 3 western piercers who has been fortunate enough to participate in the Phuket Vegetarian festival in its 169 year history and received the honor of piercing the spirit mediums throughout the festival for 3 years.
Ron is the founder of Living The Dream Productions which is based on his life experiences unto this point, provides informative body art , travel and historical books , DVDs and soon Mp4s in both English and Spanish. He is very honored to be here at this year’s APP Conference to share some of his unique life perspectives and experiences with us!
Charles Gatewood Anthropologist, photographer, writer. Charles Gatewood earned his B.A. in Anthropology at the University of Missouri in 1963, and did graduate work at the University of Missouri and the University of Stockholm. Charles has faithfully documented body art since the mid-l970s, and was among those responsible for the film "Dances Sacred and Profane" (1985) and the RE/Search book Modern Primitives (1989). His books include Sidetripping, People in Focus, The Body and Beyond, True Blood, Forbidden Photographs, and Badlands. A longtime New Yorker, Charles now lives in San Francisco, where his fascination with body art and body play continues.
Christopher Glunt is a Professional Piercer who started working in Houston Texas in 2001. The first shop he worked at was what most in the industry would define as poor quality at best. Steve Joyner told him to attend the APP Conference in 2002 and everything has changed for the better since then. Chris has had the chance to interact with many other piercers over the years providing experience in many different techniques and studio policies. Having seen firsthand the effects of cheap jewelry, the wrong aftercare and poor technique evolving into the piercer he is today with experience working in studios with the highest standards in the industry provides a greater understanding of the importance of proper technique. Currently Chris is employed as a Certified Surgical Technologist assisting in surgical procedures, maintaining a sterile field and reprocessing surgical instruments. Chris still pierces and loves it more today than ever before. The only thing he doesn’t like is that he only gets to do it Sundays. 2012 will be his 5th year speaking at the conference and Chris looks forward to it each year.
Miro Hernandez has been professionally piercing for the past 11 years and has been a proud member of the APP for the past 6 of those years. On top of having been a guest speaker at local colleges and universities, he has also had the privilege of representing the APP at the ACHA conference. 3 years ago he was honored with a position as a trainer/ consultant with Health Educators, which has given him the opportunity to teach at the APP conference in Las Vegas as well as the Seminarios Educativos hosted by the APP in Mexico City. As a trainer for Health Educators, he has done training and consulting with various studios across the US and is one of the new faces of Health Educators that will continue to carry on the Health Educators tradition of providing industry specific training and information. He is currently one of the piercers and the general manager at Dandyland in San Antonio, TX.
Chris Jennell began his piercing career in 2000, and has had the opportunity to travel the country and work in some of its most reputable studios. Chris is happy to call Evolution Body Piercing home. He enjoys performing piercings of all kinds, but ears can be used to showcase something different with each client. Chris feels that properly placed jewelry accentuates the flow of the ear, creating a unique outcome individual to each client’s anatomy.
John Johnson, Vice-President, is a proud member of the APP and 2012 is his 14th conference. He returns this year to help present Energy Movement and Grounding and Initial Jewelry: Size and Style. This year he’s presenting a class on how to prepare a business plan, something never offered before at conference, and facilitating a round table on how to become a conference instructor. He looks forward each year to seeing his old friends and meeting new piercers at conference for the first time. John is a strong advocate for APP membership and encourages other piercers to join.
Steve Joyner has over 24 years of piercing experience and has been an active member of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) for 14 years. He is a former Vice President of the APP and a recipient of the Al D. Memorial Award. He serves on the APP's Executive Committee, Membership Committee, and the Legislative Committee.
Steve is an international instructor, specializing in Aftercare, Aseptic Technique, Studio Set-up, Advance Piercing Techniques, and Suspension. He has assisted 27 states and 6 countries in regulating body piercing and the art of public suspensions. He is currently very active in assisting further education with numerous states Health Departments and Environmental Health programs, and countries Ministries of Health..
Steve has also been involved with suspensions and performance art for over 16 years, first performing with Traumatic Stress Discipline (TSD) for 5 years and then as the Founder and Director of the internationally acclaimed Constructs of Ritual Evolution (CoRE), based in Los Angeles, and Oakland/San Francisco, California.
Jason King started piercing in 1990 and opened 23rd Street Body Piercing in 1995. He became a member of the APP in 1996, and continues to be the piercing leader in Oklahoma today. Jason served a term as vice president of the APP during which time he created and developed the materials classes for conference. Consequently, he has done extensive research on the materials commonly used for initial piercing, with an emphasis on steel and titanium. Jason is always willing to discuss anything about the class at any time.
Paul King, Treasurer, has been a professional Body Piercer since 1991 and an enthusiast before that! He is Gauntlet trained and certified with a one and half year apprenticeship under Elayne Angel, author of The Piercing Bible. He worked in all three former Gauntlet locations, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco and was store manager of LA and NYC. In 1996 Jim Ward, Founder of Gauntlet, awarded Paul King with the honorary title of Master Piercer. He apprenticed many Piercers for Gauntlet as well as co-taught Gauntlet Training seminars.
In 1999, Paul King partnered to create Cold Steel America, tattooing and piercing services in San Francisco, California. He is an active member of the Association of Professional Piercers. Recently he successfully completed a three year elected position as a board member for the APP. In 2007 he received the APP’s President’s Award for contributions to the Piercing Industry. Currently he is the board appointed Treasurer for the APP.
Derek Lowe began piercing professionally in 1995 in Milwaukee, WI and became a member of the APP in 1996. He served on the Board of Directors way-back-when and this year will mark his 16th APP Annual Conference. For the past 10 years, Derek has been the senior piercer and general manager of Saint Sabrina’s in Minneapolis, MN.
Even though he has been attending the APP Conference for many years, he still remembers the excitement and nervousness of attending his first Conference. By hosting the Orientation class, Derek hopes to help new attendees be a little less anxious about Conference and to help them get the most out of their very first Conference.
Mike Martin, Legislation Liaison, tattooist and body piercer, has 26 years in the tattoo business and 18 years in the body piercing business. As a member of APT, he became an instructor of the Preventing Disease Transmission in Tattooing (PDTT) course and presents this 6 hour seminar around the United States. He was elected to APT’s Board of Directors in 2005 and has traveled to China to work with tattoo artists to improve their health and safety practices; he has been involved with UC Davis’s “Be Smart With Body Art” in Sacramento and their Hep C awareness campaign for students; he has worked with San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and the State Department of Environmental Health on state and county regulations for tattooing and body piercing. He received National Tattoo Association’s 2009 Terry Wrigley NTA convention, Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Tattoo Profession, in 2011 was elected President of APT. Mike loves helping people and being a part of a team with common goals and focus. He loves being a member of APP and wishes to contribute in any way he can.
Courtney Jane Maxwell has been piercing professionally for 7 years, and is also attending her 7th APP conference this year. She was inspired to pursue a piercing career after having an overwhelmingly positive experience with her own first piercing. Because of that, customer service and client relations are a big focus in her work. She has luckily found a home at TRX tattoos and piercings, in St. Louis, where the business is also aimed at personalized customer service.
She has a variety of industry related interests such as business ethics, marketing, display design, and outreach. Networking with other piercers on these subjects is one of her favorite hobbies, so feel free to corner her and get a debate going!
She is volunteering with the Mentor Program again this year, and looks forward to helping first time attendees make the most out of a priceless, but sometimes overwhelming, experience.
Fakir Musafar is known worldwide for his 50+ years research and personal exploration of body modifications and rituals. He is Director of Fakir Intensives, a California piercer training school since 199l; he is also a founding member of APP. Fakir was a pioneer in the contemporary piercing movement along with Doug Malloy, Jim Ward and a few others. His work emphasizes the energetic and spiritual aspects of body piercing, body rituals and suspensions.
Fakir was born on an Indian reservation in South Dakota in 1930, has taught school, been an army demolition instructor and has BSE and MA college degrees. He has appeared on many popular television series like: Learning, Channel, Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel. His history and views are published in a number of books like: Modern Primitives, LeatherFolk, Voices From the Edge, Bodies Under Siege: Self-mutilation and Body Modification in Psychiatry and Culture. He has appeared in movies and documentaries like: Dances Sacred and Profane, Virgin Machine, Father is Coming. Fakir has documented his many adventures in his own photo book: Spirit + Flesh. More information available at www.fakir.org
Ryan Ouellette starting piercing professionally in 1998. In 2000 he opened Precision Body Arts in Nashua, New Hampshire offering both piercing and scarification. Ryan has instructed classes for both the BMXNET conference in Germany as well as the Boston Tattoo Convention. While he has been attending conference since 2002, and instructing there since 2010, this is Ryan’s first year attending conference as a member of the APP.
Always willing to give an opinion, with or without being asked to, Ryan enjoys helping new attendees get the most out of conference. Ryan, along with others, helped to create the open workshop style of classes now popular at conference. This year Ryan is instructing the studio set-up and sterilization workshops. He also takes part in conference orientation as well as heading the mentor program.
Jason Pfohl began studying glass in 1992 at Santa Barbara City College in California. After graduating with an art degree, Jason spent five years working as a technical coordinator at the Pilchuck Glass School above Seattle, where he had the opportunity to study with glass masters from Europe and the U.S.A. After years of making jewelry for NYC fashion designers, in 1999 Jason began making piercing jewelry and founded Gorilla Glass in 2002. Over the last decade Jason has taught glass workshops and lectured in the U.S.A., New Zealand, Taiwan, Germany, Italy, and Mexico.
Maria Pinto has been in the needle manufacturing business for over 25 years, as a part of her family’s company. In 1995, being a body modification enthusiast, she saw the need for a specialized needle specifically designed for body piercing. She began working on this with her team of engineers, and developed the sharp ass needle. She incorporated in 1996 and Industrial Strength LLC was born. Since its inception, Industrial Strength LLC has been a leader in product research and development. Maria has worked with numerous body piercers to develop new products as well as modify existing products with the professional body modification artist in mind.
Maria is co-teaching “Exploration of the O needle” with Luis Garcia. Maria brings her manufacturing expertise to this class. She will be available to explain the basics of a chamfer grind, and can answer questions regarding good manufacturing processes, quality control, material standards, and ISO compliance.
Francine Prophet, C.P.A. has been a Certified Public Accountant for 22 years. She received her Masters in Taxation Degree from Golden Gate University. After several years of working at Deloitte & Touche, LLP and smaller local firms, she opened her own practice in downtown San Francisco in 1994. Her practice consists of tax consulting and compliance for small businesses and individuals.
Francine lives in San Francisco with two cats and enjoys travel, hiking, cycling, and enjoying the many activities the area has to offer.
Betsy Reynolds, RDH, M.S. Having received a Master of Science Degree in Oral Biology from the University of Washington, Betsy has reinforced her love of the microbiological aspects of periodontal therapy by maintaining teaching positions emphasizing the dental sciences at numerous dental and dental hygiene schools. As a practicing hygienist for over twenty years, she has been involved with several private practices stressing comprehensive periodontal care for patients seeking treatment. Betsy lectures extensively nationally and internationally on biologic basis for disease prevention, advanced instrumentation technique, current dental therapeutic modalities available, pediatric dental care, pharmacological considerations for the dental professional, microbiological and immunological aspects of dental disease, implications of stress on oral and systemic health, nutrition, alternative care strategies for the dental team, oral pathological concerns, the impact of oral disease on systemic health, evidenced-based decision-making and scientific developments affecting oral health care delivery. Additionally, Betsy has authored numerous articles and book chapters on a variety of oral healthcare concerns.
Cyrus Rhine has been immersed in the spiritual aspect of body modification since his apprenticeship in 2004. Currently an active Member of the APP, he is piercing full-time at Nomad Body Piercing in San Francisco. Hailing from a background of extensive customer service and visual merchandising training his focus is to create a positive and lasting impression with each client that steps into the studio.
Cyrus has worked with one of the industry's most remarkable jewelry companies Maya Organic as a Road Dog and through Custom Creations for Maya has recreated store environments to help improve jewelry sales as well as bridge the idea of Boutique into Studio's across the country. His displays for Maya Organic at conference have won APP Best Booth Display '09, '10 and '11. He is also on the team of Be Safe with Body Art Hepatitis C Awareness Panel to educate northern California university students about Body Modification Safety. In 2007 he was featured on MTV's My Supersweet 16 for a piercing segment on the show. Aside from body modification you can find Cyrus in SF as the performance artist SWEATSHOP and check out his independent designs with Blessings to You!
Jef Saunders began piercing in the late 1990’s. In 2002, he opened Rockstar Body Piercing in Providence RI. After attending several Fakir Intensives classes, Jef began assisting as a course contributor. Not long after, he segued into an instructor for the Fakir Intensives. Piercing education remains his passion. Jef writes a body piercing and modification related blog called “Confessions of a Piercing Nerd” (www.jefsaunders.com). He seeks to increase critical thinking and skepticism in the piercing industry, while never losing a sense of the wonder and magic that modification can have. Jef has been featured on the cover of Parade Magazine’s “What People Earn Issue” and the Providence Journal.
Brian Skellie, International Liaison, founded Piercing Experience in 1992 (www.piercing.org). He works to research and evolve safe body modification and has shared the results with the APP community. He is a frequent contributor and instructor ever since the first conference, an active business member since 1996, editor of The Point Journal, and an APP Board member serving a second term currently as International Liaison and chair of the Media committee.
Brian contributes continuing educational resources in his areas of specialty. He introduced and develops many novel and effective approaches for body modification such as safe techniques for aseptic (freehand) piercing without clamps, anodization, studio set up, instrument management, sterilization and infection prevention.
As an authorized independent dealer of the SciCan family of infection control products for body artists since 1996, Brian is an expert on the efficient use of STATIM autoclaves and HYDRIM automated instrument washers.
An active member of the ASTM committee F04 on medical and surgical devices and implants and related subcommittees, Brian works on the applications of biomaterials science to body art safety and expanding jewelry options. He develops, interprets and publishes evidence based standards for continual improvement in our field. He promotes the use of current and timely research based standards for the benefit of clients and colleagues worldwide.
As a friendly source for quality and safety standards for jewelry, infection control and techniques, Brian has been instrumental as an expert for regulation in support of professional body artists on a local and international level. His goal is the ethical advancement of quality for all aspects of body modification from conscience to science.
William Spencer was born in N.Y.C., terrorized a small town in New Jersey as a tiny boy, and lived in Connecticut until 1995. He started doing horrible piercings straight out of high school. As a young punk, Will started piercing on his dumb friends and himself. He became good enough to fool himself into thinking he knew what he was doing. In 1995 Will visited St. Louis and thought it was awesome so he decided to relocate. He’s been living and piercing in St. Louis ever since, where he’s realized that knowing that he didn’t know everything was the first step to learning what he should know, thereby learning how to be a better piercer. Will has been lucky enough to work with some amazing, supportive, and patient people who have made it possible for him to own and run a number of successful studios. He spends most of his time at his biggest shop, TRX Tattoos and Piercing. He’s been an A.P.P. member, working closely with the organization, for many years. Currently on the Conference Committee, Will welcomes all comments or concerns. He very much looks forward to Conference every year; as he learns more about our industry during this week than in all the rest of the year combined. Will’s thrilled to be here again, and looks forward to seeing the people he already knows and getting to know those who he doesn’t.
Didier Suarez has been piercing since 1993 and owns Enigma Professional Piercing in San Diego, CA; which has two locations. During his term as the APP’s Vice President, Didier continued his outreach/teaching activities by educating healthcare professionals and others at major health conferences and teaching at both the Mexico Seminars and the A.P.T.P.I. Conference in Italy. Didier has been teaching at the APP Conference for six years and is highly regarded by all for his ability to convey information clearly and concisely. He pioneered the development and named the Industrial Strength Surface Anchor; and has been teaching the Surface Anchor course since its inception. Didier is also extremely talented at diffusing heated situations, cooking vegan/vegetarian meals, raising kids and growing succulents and bromeliads. In the future, he dreams of working with dolphins at Sea World or raising fluffy bunnies in the country.
Bethra Szumski, Secretary and Conference Committee Chair. After she completed her Gauntlet Body Piercing course work in 1995, Bethra was mentored by Elayne Angel who has continued to provide both professional and personal support throughout her career. Bethra founded Virtue and Vice Body Piercing in 1995, which operated from the Timeless Tattoo location and then from Pain and Wonder after its acquisition in 2000. In an effort to keep up with current piercing related information she became a member of the APP in 1996. Her roll shortly switched from student to teacher when in 1998 she was appointed as Secretary of the Association. Bethra immediately instituted the Association’s first elections and was duly elected to the position and served a three year term. Bethra was subsequently elected to the position of President and served an additional three year term in that position. After a three year break from the board she was re-elected to the board and appointed once again as Secretary and continues to serve as an Officer of the organization. She is credited with having played a key role in stabilizing the organization. Bethra has also provided countless courses of education to piercers, health care providers and law-makers. She is the recipient of the President’s Award, the Association’s Award of Appreciation and was voted Hardest Working Piercer in 2005.
Johnny Velez has been piercing for 15 years. He has owned and operated Native Rituals since October 13, 2003 and has been an APP member since 2007 (thanks Rick!). Piercing is his passion, and has led Johnny to work in many great studios, with some of the most amazing people this industry has to offer through-out the country and Canada. He hopes to pass on some of his knowledge through travels and research. He is also currently on the membership committee as well as the outreach committee, if there are any questions you have feel free to ask.
David A. Vidra started in the piercing community in the 1980s and opened northern Ohio’s first piercing studio, which remained in operation for more than 15 years. He was one of the first board members elected to office outside of the original APP founders, for which he served for three years and is the second member of the organization. Due to his involvement with OSHA, CDC, NIOSH, APP, APHA, and NEHA, David founded the first industry-specific health education company for the body modification industry with focus on OSHA guidelines and all health and safety issues related to body modification. He has been honored by many organizations including APP, SPCP, and BME for his efforts in the educational arena and in legislation.
David Vidra‘s goal is to continue to provide industry specific, science-based education for the body modification community and to continue to fight for the rights of the artists to perform their art free from discrimination or legal issues. As well as being a nurse for more than 20 years, David has more recently completed his certification in wound care. Celebrating 17 years of teaching and writing interpretations for the Blood Borne Pathogen Standard along with trying to have industry specific sterilization guidelines interpreted for our industry, which has turned into a 10 year project as it continues to grow at a fast pace as the guidelines in the medical field are ever changing (they remain very minimal or outdated for an office setting). Health Educators, Inc. has been working extensively in the international arena over the past 5 years as well, not only with piercers and tattooists, cosmetic and traditional, but also with health officials in setting guidelines strictly for our industry.
Jesse Villemaire has been piercing since 2001 and currently operates out of Thrive Studios in Cambridge Ontario, Canada. With education as a main focus in his career, he has been attending APP conferences for the past eight years and now enjoys teaching classes where he is needed.
On top of working full time as a professional piercer and operating his own tattoo/piercing studio; Jesse has recently accepted the role as a Canadian instructor with Health Educators Inc. leading the education within the body modification industry. His passion for piercing still motivates him to move forward within the industry, wanting to safely pass on the proper knowledge to the next generation of practitioners in this field.
John Ward, M.D. is a licensed physician specializing in orthopaedic surgery and oncology in Shreveport, LA. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor at LSU Health Sciences Center. He has previously served as a board member for the APP. He is a practicing body piercer, and continues to provide education for the body piercing community through Health Educators.
Kat Wickersham currently owns Deep Roots Tattoo and Body Piercing with her husband, Rion. They began the first studio in 2004 and have currently grown to three locations around the Seattle area. Kat and Rion also own and operate Buddha Jewelry Organics, with production based primarily in South East Asia and clients spanning four continents. Kat has an MBA from the University Of Washington Foster School Of Business (2009) and a BA in Marketing and International Business from the University Of Washington (2005). Kat serves on a business advisory board for entrepreneurs in the Seattle area and offers management consulting specializing in strategy and marketing, as well as social entrepreneurship. Kat lives to travel, is an avid snowboarder and is expecting her first child in August.
Nick Wolak started his career in 1995 in Acapulco, Mexico. In 2000, Nick relocated to Columbus, Ohio where he opened Evolved with Andy Ringo. The last twelve years have been very dynamic both for Evolved and Nick personally.
Nick has traveled to almost 40 countries. He has done guest spots at both established and start up studios. He has also had the privilege and honor to observe and partake in many tribal and indigenous ceremonies all over the world.
Leo & Kate Ziebol - Leo began piercing and making body jewelry in Ames, IA towards the end of 1999. For the next five years he found himself moving around to different shops, learning what he could along the way. In 2004 he attended his first APP conference where he learned most of what would be the foundation of the rest of his career. Leo met a group of piercers and jewelry makers who were living proof that success could be attained while observing true ethics and standards of practice, ignoring cheap ways to cut corners. This was an inspiring time for him as he was hungry for knowledge and ready to do something new. It was also at this conference that Leo met John George and got his first taste of carving stone for body jewelry.
In 2006 Kate left college and decided to devote herself full time to starting Relic Stoneworks with Leo. Kate notes how she loves the artistic aspect of choosing just the right material for making a set of plugs. Both Kate and Leo always loved the beauty and endless possibilities with rocks. Having sold production stone jewelry for years at their studio, they had a pretty good understanding of what materials were being used and what people liked. Over the following years they would continue to push their own boundaries of style and quality and introduce materials yet unseen in the piercing market. Today Kate carves jewelry full time and Leo still pierces and sells jewelry in town a few days every week. Leo and Kate really, really love what they do.
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