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Performing Nipples

 While at school I was taking a performance art class, which is basically a reason to get naked and roll around in viscous fluid for a grade. Basically if you didn't make a grand political statement or else got nudie and touched yourself, you didn't do well in that class. And if you got nudie and had someone else touch you, it was even better.  Might I add that my college is in the most rural uncle-dad quadrant of Northern New York, where piercings are still taboo and naked is a four letter word, and if you have visible tattoos you are question about them and firmly ruled an outcast. We have three types of people on our campus: Larrys- the my daddy pays for everything so if you don't wear a pink polo than don't talk to me, normal people- the ones who just stare at you if you stray anywhere near copasetic but are really nice once you convinced them you're not a brain sucking zombie who is ready for lobotomies, and the theatre people- us, random artsy people who aren't afraid to pay homage to their life on their bodies. We're generally accepting of all types as long as you accept us and don't make fun of our quirks. 

 We had just done a unit on ritual, with a focus on Ron Athey. Ron Athey does radical piercings, cuttings, and tattooing on stage. He actually has hired professionals as a part of his act so it's truly intense but also morbidly fascinating. During one specific shot, he crowned himself with crisscrossing hypodermic needles. Since we needed to make up performances of our own, I decided to start the semester off with a bang, and play off from Ron Athey's example. At the time I was dating Tony, a body piercer for Extoria. It is based on Canada Street in Lake George. He works on breaks from school. I decided that since I had him at my disposal, it would be the perfect time to discuss purging benefits of piercing. I constructed a three part performance based around what piercings did for me.  

  I started the performance with sliding sterilized safety pins under the first layer of skin on my fingers. This was significant because I believe my ten year old self was testing the waters for further body modification.  Next I put in the jewelry of my previous piercings (navel and Monroe) and told the stories behind getting those holes. Every single time I get pierced, it's to equate a pain from the previous year. Like some old women treat themselves with shoes, I treat myself with ramming a needle through my skin. I would much rather receive the endorphin rush than the stilettos that I will gladly give up for my flip flops. The reason I treat myself is because, as always, something bad goes down for me on February 19th. Whether it is a fight with my friend, or the end of a relationship, something soul crushing always occurs. Basically to counteract these catastrophes, I trade in an emotional pain for a physical one.  

 I actually used that performance to patch up the badness that had happened between my boyfriend and me. After explaining why I was doing it nowhere near February 19th, I told the crowd about the final leg of my performance. For a grand finally I stripped down to my bare skin. Topless, I strutted in front of my professors (as well as the creepy pedophile in the front row) and then waited patiently as Tony marked my nipples. It took him extra long to prep because he was a little nervous being put on as a performer. I explained the process as he took each step, and made sure everyone knew that all of the equipment was sterilized. I then preceded to face the audience sideways while he clamped, pierced and jewelfied my nipples. I was positioned so they could see the nipple as erupted from the opposite side of my skin. I even added some yelps of pain, although I was notified later that I moaned in ecstasy during the first one, good ol' lefty. Of course, there were a few green faces in the audience, and one stuttering classmate who could only get out "I love her nipples."  

 In the post performance discussions, everyone had questions about mine. While the other performance breakdowns were less than five minutes, mine took an hour. My teachers were mortified about what they had seen, and I finally became aware that I was nudie in front of most of my class, and my boyfriend's football teammates. I seemed to make a somewhat positive impression though. Even my flamboyant professor asked me to have a discussion with his boyfriend about ritual piercings, and the benefits. He then decided to ask me my opinion on a Prince Albert.  

Needless to say, I got a 4.0.

P.S. This was done in a sterile environment and with a professional, don't try this at home for a stunt.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 22 Feb. 2007
in Ritual

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Artist: Tony
Studio: SLU+Arts+Building%2C+but+he+pierces+at+Extoria
Location: Canton%2C+NY

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