James fell in love with body piercing in the late ‘80s, after discovering Gauntlet and PFIQ magazine. While studying jewelry and metalsmithing at the University of the Arts, he passionately sought out any publication he could find about piercing. For him, body piercing was revolutionary: it blended art, punk culture, sex and sexuality, and was part of a movement that increasingly saw the body as political.
After several years of practicing on himself and friends, he started piercing professionally in March of 1993 at Inferno, a punk boutique on the 600 block of South Street. Shortly after finishing his MFA, he established Infinite Body Piercing, Inc. in late 1994, and went on to open the Philadelphia studio in its current location on February 1, 1995.
In his over twenty-five years in the industry, James has been actively involved at an industry-wide level in legislative, educational, and public relations projects. He has taught numerous classes at the annual Association of Professional Piercers Conference and Exposition, spoken on body modification at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, talked about writing as a life skill to students at Temple University, and lectured on body piercing at events and locations as diverse as the APP/LBP seminars in Mexico City and BMXnet in Essen, Germany.
James served two consecutive terms on the board of directors of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). In 2005 he was elected as the APP’s medical liaison, and then went on to serve as president of the board from 2008 to 2011. While part of the board, he oversaw projects as diverse as the update to the APP’s graphic identity and copyright licensing, to a thorough review of the legal aspects of the organization from election protocol to parliamentary procedure. He continues to devote time to the organization as chair of the APP's Oversight Committee, advising the current board when needed.
In the video below, James talks to V. Vale, publisher of Modern Primitives, at the 2009 APP Conference and Exposition:
From 2005 to 2012 James served as editor (and for several years co-editor, with Elayne Angel) of The Point: The Quarterly Journal of the Association of Professional Piercers. Over seven years and twenty-seven issues he was responsible for taking The Point from a black-and-white newsletter to a full-color trade journal. He has written extensively for the APP, and in addition to The Point his articles have been reprinted in many publications, including Pain Magazine and BME.com. James continues to write for infinitebody.com.
In January of 2014, James became a member of the Board of Directors of the South Street Headhouse District, the business improvement district (BID) that encompasses the historic South Street and Fabric Row shopping districts where the Philadelphia studio is located. He served as the organization's secretary, in addition to being chair of the Design Committee that works to define and preserve the classic character of the area and ensure that future urban planning meets the needs of the community. In May of 2019, he stepped down from his responsibilities on the SSHD board and relocated to Baltimore to oversee the second location of Infinite Body Piercing, on Antique Row in Baltimore's historic Mount Vernon neighborhood.
James still pierces occasionally—especially when adventurous clients request a Princess Albertina, a piercing for which he is particularly well-known. He also blogs occasionally at explicitbody.com, and his photo work with partner and wife Andi Grushka can be seen at eclecticbody.com.