by V. Vale
I got this book when it was first published by Re/Search in San Francisco, the summer of 1989. I took it as one of two pleasure reading books while I attended a 6 week writing workshop, and almost never touched the other book. I had never explored such a diversity of differentness. I had no idea you could do so many things to one's body, or that you could pierce so many places! Needless to say, this volume had a large effect on what I have been doing to my body ever since.
Put together out of a series of interviews, this book includes "everyone who is anyone" from the birth of the modern body art movement. Tattooing, piercing, branding, cutting, it's all in here, with tons of amazing photos from the best of the fetish world. If you're thinking of piercing your navel, or adding your school logo to your bikini line, read this first.
The book does have a Bay Area focus to it, as that is where Re/Search is based and is the area around which the majority of the interviews took place. Luminaries such as Lyle Tuttle, Fakir Musafar, Charles Gatewood, Raelynn Galina, Jim Ward, Greg Kulz and more all share their experiences with permanent and temporary body modifications.
This is not a "how-to" body art book, although you do get to hear some great first-hand stories of how various body modification practices evolved. Although most of the book has black-and-white photography, no detail of piercing is lost or unrevealed! Be very careful if you chose to read this book on public transit or even in public anywhere. It's not for the casual observer.
For other body art and tattoo histories, you might try some of the below titles:
Flash from the Past: Classic American Tattoo Designs 1890-1965 by D.E. Hardy
New York City Tattoo by Michael McCabe
Written on the Body by Jane Caplan (Editor)