• 54,383 / 1,383,477
  • 12 / 10,385
  • 3,995 / 54,912

"You've never felt anything so sharp."

I have terrible gums. They are absolutely god-awful, a result of poor oral hygiene when I was a kid and a bad draw from the genetics deck. However, I have great lips—at least, I think so—and I wanted to play them up in a way that didn't involve constant application of gloss or color. I decided, therefore, that I would outfit my face with a vertical labret piercing.

A couple of friends of mine had had fantastic experiences at Rockstar Body Piercing in Providence, RI, the year before (one friend got her tongue pierced, the other her nose), and they recommended it to me highly. I scoured the studio's webpage and MySpace and was impressed by the qualifications of both piercers and by the thorough aftercare and other information on both sites. I discussed with others how much I wanted to put another hole in my face (I'd gotten my nostril pierced about six months before at a terribly sketchy place in New York City), and this time I wanted to do it right. So, one day, three friends and I piled into a car and made the twenty minute drive to Thayer St.

When we arrived, we were immediately greeted by the young man at the register—I think his name was Billy, but I'm not sure. Jef, the piercer, was finishing up with another customer. After a moment, Jef greeted us and we explained what we wanted—two of us wanted nostril piercings, one wanted both of her nipples done, and I wanted my VL and to purchase a new piece of jewelry for my nose. He helped us choose jewelry, explaining to us the pros and cons of each type of piece, and went over the differences between high-quality body jewelry versus crappy mall jewelry. We all paid. Billy rang us out while Jef took a phone call from a customer who seemed to be having trouble with her nostril piercing. Though we could only hear Jef's end of the conversation, it really put me at ease—he was very patient and thorough with the customer, and honestly cared about getting her the information she needed and calming her down. It showed a level of dedication that I really appreciated, especiall y considering the apathy of the piercer who had done my nostril months earlier.

Jef then sat us down to explain aftercare to us as a group. His explanation was thorough and he was extremely friendly and patient, answering any questions that we had and explaining to us not only how to care for our jewelry, but why it was important (and what other types of aftercare could potentially do to damage a piercing). He then brought two of my friends into the piercing room to complete their piercings, while I and my third friend sat nervously on the couch.

After fifteen minutes or so, Jef opened the door and my friends came out, smiling hugely about their new modifications. Kristyn and I stood up and went in to the room. Now it was our turn and I was starting to get pretty nervous.

Jef did Kristyn's nostril first, after sanitizing all of the room's surfaces. He changed his gloves after he touched anything non-sterile, showed us the needles, jewelry, etc., and explained each step of the process along the way. Kristyn went first, and he pierced her without incident, describing everything he was doing step by step and constantly chatting in order to calm our nerves. Now, it was my turn.

"I've had a vertical labret maybe three times," he told me as he wiped down his tray and placed a new cover on it. "It's not so much that it hurts as much as it is that you've never felt anything so sharp in your life. It's a weird feeling more than anything else." I smiled nervously but I couldn't really bring myself to talk. He wiped my lips with a sanitizer and I winced—my lips, I realized, were terribly chapped. Story of my life, it seems. I wondered how the pain of the needle would compare. "Now, the balls on this barbell are going to be pretty large," he said as he sized up my placement. "It's not because I'm an asshole or anything, it's just because anything too small has a chance of embedding into your skin, and we definitely want to avoid that." I nodded; my initial nostril screw had embedded into my skin originally and it was definitely an experience I wanted to avoid this time around.

Jef marked my lip and I checked out the placement in the mirror along the wall. "Is that crooked?" I asked. Jef looked at it. "I don't think so," he said. "What do you think?" he motioned to Kristyn, who took a look and confirmed that it was not crooked. I'm not very good with straight lines (it kind of plagues my life, really), so I was going to go with it, but Jef didn't want to start until I was totally comfortable. He opened the door and called for my other friends to come into the room to check the placement. They, too, confirmed that it was straight, and after a second look, I saw that it was. I appreciated that he allowed me to get input from my friends—as he said, sometimes it helps to be comfortable with a person's face in order to tell if something fits or is aligned right.

I lay down and Jef leaned over me. He massaged my lower lip for a moment and then instructed me to take a deep breath. I felt the needle poke into my lip and he told me to exhale. I felt it move up and he told me to inhale. Finally, I felt it break through the skin at the top of my lip. I gasped and wrenched my eyes shut, trying to keep from jerking as Jef deftly performed the jewelry transfer. "The needle's gone," he told me as he placed it into the sharps container behind him. He screwed the balls onto the barbell. This was the strangest feeling ever.

"All good." I sat up slowly and looked in the mirror. The jewelry in my lip looked comically large—it was long to accommodate for swelling, and the beads were definitely too big for me to handle. But I loved it anyway, and knew that soon I could downsize.

We went back into the waiting area, where Jef told us when we should come in for a follow-up to see how healing was coming along (two weeks for me, six for everyone else). We thanked him profusely, shook his hand, tipped him well, and went on our way, raving amongst ourselves what a fantastic experience it had been.

Jef remained easily contactable even after we left the shop—when a conflict about my jewelry arose at my job, Jef quickly responded to my emails inquiring about an early jewelry change and outfitted me with flesh-colored, dental acrylic beads. After two weeks, when I returned to switch out my initial barbell for a shorter one, he asked (with honest interest) how the whole fiasco had turned out. (I got to keep both my jewelry and my job, thankfully.) He even gave me free beads after a discussion about the ever-controversial "gauge v. stretch" debate. In short, he is the man, and I cannot recommend Jef or Rockstar highly enough. And now with the shorter jewelry and these smaller beads, my VL is looking fantastic, and accents my face exactly the way I hoped it would. I honestly could not be more thrilled, and I'm sure my dentist will appreciate it, too.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Sept. 2008
in Lip Piercing

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Artist: Jef+Saunders
Studio: Rockstar+Body+Piercing
Location: Providence%2C+RI

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