Different staff members have different experiences at Conference, depending on their roles at the studio and how active they are in the APP. Andru and Zach again worked as APP volunteers, doing everything from registering attendees and covering the APP booth to various other tasks that help things to run smoothly. Ed helped to oversee the floor of the exposition all week. Robert and Maddie attended classes, lots of classes. A few of us teach classes as well. Ed taught a class on advanced piercing techniques, while I taught “Male Genital Piercings: A Dual Perspective” with Elayne Angel. Plus, this year my son Nemo tagged along as well. It was his first time at the APP Conference since he was around two years old, so he had plenty of people who told him, “Wow! I remember when you were still a baby….”
Jes oversaw all of the jewelry purchasing at the exposition while Andi and I worked on writing product descriptions and photographing new jewelry. We do all of this so that Jes can build products both remotely in our in-store POS system while in Las Vegas, and get most of the amazing jewelry we purchase for sale in the Infinite online store even before we get home. We try to balance all this with catching up with industry friends, talking to staff from manufacturers we never get to see in person, and attending several social events scheduled during the week. It’s a lot of work, but we try to squeeze some fun in too.
At Conference this year, we also launched our brand-new, soon to be infamous Modern Primitives printed apparel. This new design is an homage to the infamous Modern Primitives T-shirt from RE/Search publications that was originally printed in the late ‘80s. Our shirt is a faithful recreation of the old design, but has our own genital drawings, the ones featured throughout both the male and female genital piercing pages on the Infinite site. It’s a design that has a special appeal for those of us who were working as piercers when the original shirt came out—and there were plenty of us at Conference who were in the industry when the memorable shirt came out. Our new shirt was a big hit this year, and we quickly ran out of all that we brought with us! Until we do a reprint, we do still have a few left from the print run available at the studio or from our online store, as both high-quality T-shirts and unisex tank tops.
Monday: Conference Starts, BVLA Preview, and APP Opening Pool Party
The Conference week started with an invite to the Monday-afternoon penthouse party hosted by Body Vision Los Angeles, where we got to preview some of the newer pieces being made by the piercing industry’s favorite gold jewelry manufacturer. It was hard to navigate the crowds milling around trying to get the first chance at new products, but it was worth it to catch up with Nick and the rest of the BVLA crew.
Monday evening was the APP’s opening pool party. This is traditionally the low-key way to start the high-stress week. (But no taco bar this year?!?) It hovered around a 110 degrees high in Las Vegas during the week, so the opening pool party was a welcome respite from the desert heat. Kudos to whomever brought the pizza-shaped pool floats.
Tuesday: The APP Exposition, Sailor Sid Collection, and Cyborgnest Party
Tuesday started with Paul King’s anthropology class, “Traditions of Hook Swinging in South Asia.” Tuesday afternoon was the opening of the APP’s jewelry exposition, where the best of the best in jewelry manufacturers set up booths and present the most amazing new items. It can be a bit of a race with other studios to pick up the most unique pieces before they’re snatched up—but we’re always up for a little friendly competition. Jes organized the Infinite buying at the expo while I taught my class that afternoon with Elayne.
Tuesday also saw the opening of the Sailor Sid exhibit put together by the Leather Archives and Museum out of Chicago. Last year I wrote about the launch of the Indiegogo campaign to preserve the piercing (and tattoo) memorabilia left behind by body art pioneer Sailor Sid Diller when he passed away. (Infinite Body Piercing was a supporter of the project.) We published an update several months ago, when a good portion of the collection was made viewable online. This year’s APP conference had a room dedicated to displaying items from the collection. I was able to catch up with Collections Librarian, Jakob VanLammeren, and talk with him about the importance of the collection for not only our industry, but for the larger leather community as well.
This year I was also excited to meet Cyborgnest’s Liviu Babitz. I last wrote about Steve Haworth (pictured) and his involvement in the North Sense project on the Infinite blog this past May. After that post made its rounds on social media, Liviu and I started a correspondence. I knew that he would be attending this year’s event, and after I ran into him in an elevator Tuesday evening he invited me to his suite for a launch party for the project. We talked for a while on what the project means for him, and where he hopes it leads into the future. The APP Conference is really an amazing event, for where else could I attend a penthouse party where I get to talk to an Israeli filmmaker and human rights activist who is now CEO for a collective exploring technologically enhancing human sensory perception?
Wednesday: The Gauntlet Legacy, and the APP Silent Auction
Wednesday started with “The Gauntlet Legacy.” Jim Ward, along with Elayne Angel and Paul King, talked about the legacy of Gauntlet Enterprises, the first body piercing studio in the world, and its lingering influence on the industry. It was a must-see class for anyone interested in how we got to where we are today. Other notable classes this day were “Experienced Piercer Techniques” with Infinite’s Eduardo Chavarria (and others), “Genital Beading” taught by Steve Haworth, and Fakir Musafar’s “Mother Nature’s Rules.”
Wednesday also saw the installation of the silent auction in front of the exposition entrance. With Charles Gatewood’s passing this past April, a collection of rare prints and posters were offered to the highest bidder. Various collectable books and other piercing memorabilia were also on display, along with an amazing collection of handmade quilts, bags, and pillowcases—made by a dedicated mother of an APP member! While APP alumni Clay Wanstrath was unfortunately outbid on his vintage Charles Gatewood poster, Elayne Angel and I excitedly left with a tote bag and pillow, both made from repurposed Infinite t-shirts.
Thursday: The Exposition Continues, the Banquet Dinner, and Streakers
The day’s noteworthy class was “Becoming Jedi: Grounding, Bedside Manner, and Using the Force.”
Thursday saw us continuing with our buying spree at the jewelry exposition. Once every year we have the opportunity to shop for unique pieces to stock in the studio—pieces that we don’t have the opportunity to see in person at any other time. Each year we come back supercharged and enthusiastic from the week, and with the most diverse selection of jewelry we’ll have at the studio, and online, at least until next year’s Conference.
Thursday night is also the APP’s banquet dinner! It’s the event where attendees dress up in their finery and join each other for food, entertainment, and presentations from members of the APP’s board of directors. It’s also the time for the final drawing for the APP’s raffle, where literally tens of thousands of dollars of jewelry is raffled off every year. It’s promoted as the best odds in Las Vegas—and that’s no exaggeration.
The banquet dinner also has the tradition of the speeches getting (mercifully) interrupted by the annual run of streakers! This year, several Infinite staff members participated in the run, along with a few frequent Infinite guests. Which staff members, you ask? You’ll have to come in and ask them yourself.
Friday: Packing Up and Heading Home
Flights for Andi, Jes, and I were Friday afternoon. (Ed, Andru and Zach all stay later, as volunteers. Robert and Maddie had to fly out on red-eye flights Thursday night to cover shifts at the shop on Friday.) Friday is usually the day for final discussions with jewelry vendors, and the delicate packing up of everything we bought.
Before flying out, we were finally able to spend time with Jason Pfohl, from Gorilla Glass. Several months ago, on a trip to Philadelphia, Jason and I rounded up the Infinite staff and, along with photographer Romina Hierro, facilitated a photo shoot along the back streets around the studio. These photos were compiled into Gorilla Glass’ new promotional material and used extensively with Jason’s new product line. It was a real treat to see Infinite represented Philly-style with jewelry card inserts, posters, and Gorilla’s new “Lifestyle Guide.” Thanks to Jason for letting us be part of such an amazing project (and for the cool gorilla head). We hope to report more on this Infinite/Gorilla Glass collaboration in a future post.
Friday afternoon, we said our last goodbyes, and headed to the airport with our suitcases full of vendors’ swag and lots and lots of jewelry. Below, Infinite’s Web operations manager Andi Grushka breaks down some of the collection of amazing pieces we picked up at the 2016 APP Conference and Expo:
Tether is a newer company started in 2014 by Paul Shinichi, who was inspired by his fifteen years of experience in the body piercing community to create his own line of jewelry. We brought back several different styles of clickers including the Eclipso, Chevronelle, Melange, and the Drake Cuff Clicker. The Drake Cuff Clicker has stacked ridges on a reversible ring making these clickers perfect for either ear or septum piercings. Each ring is hinged for easy insertion and removal. Cast in stainless steel, these are sturdy and nonreactive when worn, and they are available in “nude” steel, with no coating; black PVD-coated stainless steel; and yellow- and rose-gold-plated over yellow-PVD-coated stainless steel.
Oracle Body Jewelry
We stock a full line of Oracle plugs in the shop, but APP is a time to find one-of-a-kind items. We were really happy with the gorgeous hanging designs from Oracle this year, like the Crossovers with Orange Druzy Agate and the Summit Hoops in Brass with Amethyst. With golden Brazilian agates electroplated in gold and suspended from brass crossover hooks, the Crossovers with Gold Geode are pretty magical as well.
This year, Quetzalli showed off some very unique hanging designs and hoops. Many of these new pieces were inspired by geometric patterns, the change of seasons, and celestial bodies including Orion, Tetrahedron, and Solstice. Gaia, the name of the goddess of Earth in ancient Greece, are elegant, leaf-shaped hanging designs made from yellow brass with an oxidized face. The genuine Chiapas Amber in Brass hanging designs with orange and yellow inclusions set in yellow brass are especially unique.
Nick Martin and his crew of jewelers from BVLA create the most striking designs in gold and precious stones the industry has to offer. Of all the items we picked up at Conference this year, we are especially enamored with the Crown Navel Curve in Gold, the Beaded Choctaw Navel Curve with Anastasia Topaz, and the Azalea Seam Rings.
Scylla uses refined gold, sometimes from existing jewelry, to make creative, new pieces. Their designs are ornate and sophisticated, like the Pear Millgrain Press-fit End in Gold with a beautiful, genuine stone. A new favorite of ours is the Nova Seam Ring in Gold, a polished gold seam ring with a hammered texture and multiple three-bead gold accents.
Jimmy Buddha has been making some of the industry’s boldest designs for over a decade, and this year’s collection spanned from traditional Hanging Fans and Dangle Earrings to Rose Quartz Cushion Dangles and Amethyst Dangles with brass hooks. The fossilized Megalodon Teeth with brass coils are extremely popular, and sold out almost immediately upon returning to Philly. We’re trying to get more, but they are a coveted item in the piercing community!
And So Many More
We also picked up new designs from Tawapa, including the very cool Origami Crane Weights and the Dahlia hanging designs. Maya celebrated their tenth year anniversary and released new pieces Expo 67 and Royal hanging designs. Buddha Jewelry is fast becoming a favorite with clients, and their new Zahara with Pyrite and the honeycomb, Buzz hanging designs are very popular. We also brought back a huge lot of Omerica one-offs, seconds, and discontinued plugs designs. These are available for purchase at the studio for heavily discounted prices. We’ve acquired new weights from Yaxche, press-fit ends from LeRoi, and all new jewelry from Sacred Symbols.
For a look at the full collection of items from #APP2016, stop by our studio, or browse our online store. A bit of advice: if you see something special that tickles your fancy, grab it. You won’t see a lot of these items being offered for too long, and we won’t have this big a selection of unique pieces until after next year’s APP Conference and Exposition, scheduled for June 11 to June 16, 2017.
— IPRICKU (@ipricku) July 24, 2016