We’ve been back from APP 2019 for a few weeks, but it’s taken us until now to catch up on everything we missed, and to get out the extensive selection of jewelry that we picked up at this year’s exposition—and it was a lot. So before you head over to our online store and start shopping for all of the amazing new jewelry we brought home, here’s our wrap-up of the 2019 Association of Professional Piercers Annual Conference and Exposition.
This was the first Conference after the passing of Fakir Musafar late last year, and several of the more prominent classes and events were scheduled to memorialize him and his contribution to the piercing industry. Mid-week, Jim Ward presented on his time with Fakir, in a talk titled simply “Fakir and Me.” In it, he recounted his time with Fakir, from their first meeting in the mid-’70s, to their close collaborations on PFIQ magazine, their trip to the desert that became the centerpiece of the film Dances Sacred and Profane, and their falling out in the early ‘90s. Though they were never lovers, Jim spoke of the deep and intimate friendship he and Fakir shared over many years together, and of the painful breakup that kept them from talking to each other until only several years before Fakir’s death. It was a moving talk that put into words what many of us were feeling.
Even though it was Fakir’s passing that brought her to Conference this year, it was hard to not get excited about the talk from adult film legend Annie Sprinkle, titled “Take a Walk on the Wild Side: an Exploration of Annie Sprinkle’s NYC Underground Piercing Scene.” Annie is described as a “American-certified sexologist, sex educator, former sex worker, feminist stripper, pornographic actress, cable television host, porn magazine editor, writer, sex film producer, and sex-positive feminist." She currently works as a performance artist, visual artist, filmmaker, author, and sex educator. For her presentation, she was joined by her friend, writer and actress Veronica Vera.
Sprinkle started as a porn performer and sex worker in New York in the late 1970s, as modern pornography and body piercing were both in their infancy. She recounted first meeting Fakir in the early ‘80s, and how they soon became lovers. Throughout her talk, Annie spent several hours recounting her time with him. “He was a real nerd,” she said. “No, I mean it. A real nerd.” She talked of bringing Fakir to New York’s infamous sex clubs, and with more than a little pride talked about her part in his transformation from advertising executive Roland Loomis to embodying the persona of Fakir. Annie spoke fondly of her youth in New York, and the time she spent with the man who would become the self-proclaimed "father of the Modern Primitive movement."
Later Annie led tours through the Fakir exhibit set up by the APP’s Body Piercing Archive, as Paul King and many others did during the week. The Body Piercing Archive originated several years ago, born from the need to store and chronicle modern body piercing’s history. Bigger and even more ambitious than 2017’s exhibit on the late photographer Charles Gatewood, this year’s exhibit was 2000 square feet dedicated to Fakir’s life. It included examples of Fakir’s work over seven decades, from his early iconic photographs (many done in his teens), to his published work with PFIQ and Body Play, to his costumes and accessories used in his many rituals. The last display in the exhibit was a shrine dedicated to him and his memory. It was a reminder that this wasn’t just history, but it was our history; history of a man who was a peer and friend to many of us. Wednesday evening concluded with “Fakir Musafar: An Evening of Celebration,” where many who knew him spoke of him and his life, including his wife Cleo Dubois.
As big a shadow as Fakir cast over the Conference (and really, the entire industry), the week was not just about him. There was the APP’s exhaustive schedule of classes, with everything from piercing techniques to jewelry history. Highlights this year were Infinite alum Kellan Smith’s class (with Whitney Thompson) titled “Modern Techniques: Vulva Piercings,” two classes on Needle Techniques, spearheaded (pun intended) respectively by industry veteran Brian Skellie and former Infinite piercer Ed Chavarria, and two presentations that looked at cultural representation in our industry: a class titled “Cultural Competence and Inclusion” and a round table discussing the industry’s seldom-addressed lack of racial diversity titled, “POC: The Power of Color and Representation.” Jason Pfohl also offered his “History of Glass Piercing Jewelry” (more here) to a new generation of attendees.
Beyond learning and socializing, one of the biggest draws—and a huge part of our week at Conference—is the jewelry exposition. Every year, the best of the best in body jewelry vendors travel from all over the United States and Mexico (and even farther) to vend at the exposition. Not only is it a once-a-year opportunity to talk to our suppliers who have become long-time friends, but it’s also a chance for us to meet new vendors and see what they're offering. And, of course, it's our biggest shopping spree of the year, where we get to spend hours browsing all of the booths, checking out the merchandise in person, and searching for unique and one-of-a-kind pieces to bring back home.
Competition can be fierce to get the first look and first pick, and many attendees end up lining up hours before the expo actually opens—including us! This year, our good friend Paul was there to save us a spot in line. Here are some highlights from this year's APP Conference Exposition:
This year we went hard at the Expo to bring back tons of goodies, and the Pupil Hall booth was no exception. We got one of everything—literally—plus extras! From tons of new solid gold press-fit ends and seam rings to innovative new styles like the Unexpected Press-fit Post with diamond accent and several new charms and chains—there is something for every style and piercing. We love Pupil Hall because each piece packs an extra punch, whether from hidden surprises built into the design itself or from the jewelry names that have just the right amount of attitude, we can't get enough of them. Get 'em before they're gone!
We always love what Buddha Jewelry brings to Las Vegas, but this year they came with an even bigger surprise: they introduced their first line of solid gold press-fit ends! After three years of perfecting these pieces behind the scenes, we were eager to bring some home, and all of the hard work that went into designing and creating this new line shows. We also brought back a ton of their new solid gold clickers, each a unique and sparkling crown of jewels, along with hand-picked selections of earrings and weights.
One of our favorite things about attending the expo is checking out jewelry from companies we haven't carried before. We're always searching for new pieces that meet our quality standards, and we're excited to add Sleeping Goddess Jewelry to our collection in the studio. We chose a few stand-out rings to bring home and are so excited to see where they will end up.
It's always exciting when industry friends venture into the world of jewelry design and manufacturing, and the love for piercings and their adornment can be felt from the makers behind Regalia. We've seen a lot of solid gold jewelry, but with designs like the Flux and Vanishing Point press-fit ends, it's obvious that these pieces are being made with piercings in mind.
We're lucky to get visits from Diablo throughout the year, but there's nothing like the search for those stand-out pieces at the expo. They have perfected their setup over the years so that we've almost got browsing their booth down to a science, but when you find that gorgeous pair of banded agate Stone Spade Weights hidden among the others—all beautiful in their own right—it truly feels like hidden treasure. Enjoy your own search of the new jewels and shining brass beauties that we brought home.
We love Oracle! Approaching their booth is like being a kid in a candy store: sparkling geodes and druzy weights immediately catch the eye, followed by a rainbow of crossover weights holding brightly colored agates sprinkled throughout the displays. It's here that we find some of the most unique—and fun—weights and earrings to bring back home.
We picked up so many amazing new pieces this year. Besides the companies above, we also brought back many beautiful and one-of-a-kind pieces from Gorilla Glass, Maya Jewelry, Morton Manley, Phoenix Revival Jewelry, Quetzalli, Sacred Symbols, Scylla and Tether Jewelry. We could go on forever about our favorite finds from manufacturers both new and old, but you should check them out for yourself! Shop all new pieces from this year's expo online, or come see them in person at the studio. We're not going to have a bugger selection of jewelry in stock—at least not until next year, after the 2020 APP Conference and Exposition.