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book review: body piercing. the body art manual;

 ‘Body Piercing. The Body Art Manual’ by Russ Thorne is another volume in a series of books about body modification published by Chartwell Books Inc.and labeled as ‘essential reference for body art.’

The book looks like two previous volumes of the series – hardcover, spiral binding, interesting images, good quality paper and basic information on the subject.

The ‘Body Piercing’ book is divided into a few sections. The main focus of the author is, of course, on various types of body piercings, preparation for the procedures, aftercare and possible risks. Both the author and publishers did what they could to avoid a threat of being sued, so you can expect here many warnings and ‘do-not-do-try-it-at-home’ advice. A reader can also find here ‘piercing directory,’ information on more extreme forms of body modification (branding, hybrid body art) and pieces of advice and tips from pierced people and professional piercers.

Two strong points of this book for me are very nice images showing both very popular piercings (ear, tongue, lip etc.) and quite rare ones (prayer or transfinger piercings to name just two of them) and two interviews with both respectable within the industry and famous body modifiers, Samppa von Cyborg and Elayne Angel. Both interviews focus on different topics and are definitely a very interesting read-up. 

It should be mentioned that the author did his homework and, even though briefly, he provided his readers with some cultural and historical background of the body modification scene (many important names are mentioned, i.e. Jim Ward, Doug Malloy, Lucas Zpira and his hactivism). Thorne also devoted a small part of the book to the future of body modification and, quite rightly, points out that the advance in the scene and the industry may be heavily influenced by modern science. Big thumbs-up, however, also for mentioning art performers Orlan and Stellarc who use their bodies and body modification techniques to push both their own and the society’s limits of what’s acceptable.

The book has glossary and index, which makes it reader-friendly. It also has piercing healing charts (reproduced from the Piercing Bible by Elayne Angel) and a list of dos and don’ts which may be useful to potential piercees reading the book. On the downside, there’s no suggested reading list and the only other books actually mentioned here are ‘Modern Primitives’ and The Piercing Bible.

The ‘Manual’ is supposed to serve as a guide to the subject and a tool to ‘educate and dispel myths’ and it fulfills these promises. With good quality images and a few interesting extras is even more than that and I’m definitely glad I’ve added it to my book collection.


Russ Thorne, Body Piercing, The Body Art Manual, Chartwell Books, Inc. 2010

About Ania Reeds

fit, modified, open-minded, well-read, always eager to learn. Don't judge me by your standards!

One response to “book review: body piercing. the body art manual;

  1. bastian ⋅

    Thank you for this one! I love your book reviews – and this one makes me want to get a copy and read it myself!

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