TATTOO AND PIERCING FETISH ART
THE POINT : BODY, TIME AND EXPERIENCE: AN INTERVIEW WITH SPIKE
Richard Marshall Interviews Fetish Artist Spike
COPYRIGHT © 2002, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS
3AM: Youíre gorgeous and weird, with a face out of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and a body out of Terminator. What are you?
S: When I was little I got a tattoo my arm and having done it I remember having to hide it from my parents. And afterwards I thought 'I donít know why I did this.' When I told my mates I was going to get a tattoo they said ĎWhy donít you get your ears pierced instead?í and I said ĎDuh, because I donít want my ears pierced, I want a tattoo.í So that was it.
3AM: And now youíre covered with tattoos. All over.
S: Itís like reclaiming your body and making it your own. Your body is what youíre given but then you do what you want with it. I think itís fair to say that I was fairly body conscious. Shy and whatever. And now itís my own body. I donít care. For one thing, when people are looking at me, theyíre not looking at me, theyíre looking at my tattoos. They see what I want them to see rather than what they want to see. Itís like going out with clothes on. I think it portrays an image of you as well, not that I necessarily want to portray an image that I am all hard and tough because Iím not, but itís like armour. It keeps people off who might be threatening and it gives something for people to talk about. They look and think Ė hmmm, she looks nice. What can I talk about? Oh, youíve got nice tattoos. So it has a double purpose.
3AM: So how many have you got?
S: Too many to count. I started off with just a little green monster, just a green blob on my right shoulder. Then I got a little humming bird to go with it. Which is also crap. Because I wasnít very discerning when I started off. Then I got a panther and a dragon which are almost as crap. These were all done at university. I waited until I was legally old enough before I got a tattoo. My parents would have gone through the roof. They didnít know anything about it until three or four years ago I think. They even thought Ė all that time I was working in a tattoo and piercing shop that I didnít have any tattoos. I just wore long sleeves when I went home. The one on my wrist is the right size to fit into my watch strap and I donít have any on my face. Iíve got them on my legs, on my back, on my front, arms.
3AM: Youíre also very muscular arenít you? This is another thing youíre in to. And you also do the piercing.
S: When I was young I used to do sailing and swimming. Then I was really into rugby. Iím really obsessive as a person. When I do something I do it full on. And some of the things Iíve done full on have not been good things. Iíve had to stop doing them! I used to do sailing and swimming all the time, then I was in a wind band and I was in an orchestra, youth orchestra and all the time Iíd do music. And then I got into tattoos so I got loads and loads of them. When I was doing rugby I never missed rugby training. Never missed a match unless I was injured. Went county level. County level.
Then all of a sudden I stopped doing the rugby. That was because my partner who I used to work in the tattoo shop with died. And the last thing Iíd been doing the last day she was alive Iíd been off playing rugby. And it was like Ė I was playing rugby before I met you and Iím still playing rugby and if you liked me before then youíll like me playing rugby. And so you canít have it both ways. And then she was dead. And apart from the fact that I was like a little puppy on the floor and couldnít do anything it was this big head fuck that I could have spent that day with her and I went to play rugby instead. I just couldnít go back after that. I just couldnít. So the rugby all stopped.
I was still doing weights, just to keep strong. And I thought Ė right, Iím not doing anything else but this and it became my new obsession. I did it every day. That only really started last summer. I started to go mad on the gym. I actually joined a gym. But it was after Deb died I was just living from day to day. I really was. Dragging myself into work, going home, going to bed, the house was a mess, I couldnít do anything. And I at last thought I had to get out of this rut. I had to. So I decided I had to go out and meet people, go clubbing and so on. That was about two years ago. And since then Iíve become obsessed about going clubbing. Itís my new thing.
3AM: The piercing, where did that come from?
S: I actually donít think Iím very obsessive about piercing. I havenít got very many. Iíve got thirteen. Some people have more than that in each of their ears. You se, I never had any piercing for a long time. I never had my ears pierced Ė partly because my parents were dead against it but I never wanted it because it was girlie. Little girls had their ears pierced. I was not girlie at all.
And then when I was about twenty-one I saw someone with their tongue pierced. And I thought Ė oh my God, Iíve got to have my tongue pierced. I always used to play with my tongue in my mouth and when I saw this I knew that this was what I had been missing. As soon as I had that one done I thought I had to have my septum done. And as soon as that was done I had my nipples done. Iíd heard that it made them feel better. My nipples had until that point not been sensitive at all. And afterwards I thought Ė Ah-ha, now I understand why people do this. My nipples suddenly worked! I was going to get my tongue pierced again four times to make a triangle.
I went down to this place in Brighton called ĎPerforationsí and I asked to have it further back because of work and the guy said he couldnít because he wouldnít be able to get them level. So in the end I decided against it. And Deb, whoíd come down with me, she said Ė why donít you get the other thing done instead? So I ended up having a double labia piercing done instead! And that was excellent. So I did three more myself. I did one horizontal hood piercing, and another one, and a vertical one.
3AM: Is it the act of doing it that gives pleasure or is it the aftermath?
S: I like them afterwards. For me I like to get the piercing over with dead quick.
3AM: And is this like the tattoos, a kind of armour?
S: Thatís definitely true of the tattoos and itís true of the spike Ė the big spike thing I have under my lower lip. Thatís quite a good thing because people come up to you and ask you Ė how do you kiss with that thing in? And if theyíre nice I go ah ha, let me show you, and if theyíre not you can say y- canít!
3AM: So what is it youíre aware of? Is it rejection?
S: I got bullied horribly at school. People would pick on you. At school there were people who were perceived to be hard and they didnít get touched, people would leave them alone. And one of these supposed hard girls decided to pick on me and one day she actually attacked me with her umbrella and I turned round and knocked her out. People picked on me because they perceived me to be weak whereas I was just easy to pick on. A doormat. I was actually quite strong. So I clobbered this girl. She was crying, her umbrella was all bent from where she had hit me over the head with it, but she didnít get picked on because she looked strong. So if I looked strong and looked like trouble then people would leave me alone. Thatís what I thought.
3AM: Youíve gone on to doing performance work now.
S: We do whatever we feel like. I do anything. Iím an absolute extrovert. Exhibitionist. Really, the very first show, if I go all the way back, there was a moment where I was out and about, clubbing. And somebody came up to me and said ĎYouíll enter wonít you?í and I said ĎEnter what?í And he said ĎLesbian beauty contest.í And I was thinking ĎOh, I donít know , because I had my doubts about that sort of thing and anyway, I said, you donít have a miss tattooed and pierced category. But he said ĎNo, no, you have to enter miss bitch category. Enter, enter, enter.í So I did. And then he announced that I had to do an act for about two minutes. And I said ĎAh, I canít do anything.í And it came to the contest and I decided to do fire eating.
Iíd done fire-eating before. So I knew that I could do that. So I stomped out on stage leather harness, leather shorts, boots and the audience went mad. I didnít win. They picked some boring person who was more beautiful than me. She was cool. She won it again last year. That was my first show and I really liked doing it. I went to this club called ĎFistí which everyone thinks is a gay menís club. But itís not. Anyone can go. The woman who runs it is groovy. Sheís a dyke called Kruger and this club had playrooms. It had slings, it had fisting benches, it had a bath Ė I havenít been in the bath Ė and I went there with my girlfriend at the time. And she fucked me in the sling. And that was like a little mini-performance. A couple of gay men joined in. Itís quite dark in there but not that dark. People watched. The gay guy, he came up and said ĎDo you mind ?í and I said ĎWhatever!í That was just the start of the night. And later on Iím dancing and this gay guy comes up from behind and starts dancing with me. And my girlfriend comes up and he apologises thinking that sheís going to object. But we werenít objecting.
The next thing you know, on the main stage, the gay guyís boyfriend is holding me under my arms, Iíve got my legs round her waist she giving me one and the other guy is sucking my nipples and the audience are looking on and the woman who runs the club comes in and says ĎGood stuff!Ē Afterwards she says that sheíll pay us if we want to do it again. So we think this is great and we agree to doing a show. So we left it until the October and then we went back and even got plugged in one of the gay magazines as a dyke show. So loads more women went than was normal. There were people there who I had met from before. People I used to pay rugby with and so on. Anyway, it was all porn. Iím a porn star!
From there, there were a load of shows and things I was looking at, like those of Franco B Paulo who does all sorts of things and I was quite into doing all these sorts of things to your body. And I looked at all the ideas of these other people and I thought that I had ideas too and I could do these things as well. We started off with a play piercing show using pin needles. Normal piercing Ė you do a piercing and you put jewellery in it. Play piercing you do it just for the sake of putting the needle into your skin and you can make patterns. You can make the needles make the pattern and then at the end of the night you take them out. Or you stick them in your nipples or genitals for sexual reasons or little rows of needles all the way up your arms Ė weird.
We did a show with my housemate Ė I wanted to do a show with my girlfriend of the time Ė who I got rid of in the end Ė but she kept putting it off even though she initially agreed to do one Ė she then said she didnít want to do it and hadnít wanted to do the first one which I found annoying and puzzling. Anyway, I did this show with my housemate which involved me being strapped to this big wheel contraption while she stuck loads of needles in me. We did a workshop afterwards to show people how to do play piercing and give them information about safety aspects of it and so on. Then we sorted out our last show but one Ė this show lasted about five minutes. It was really intense. We got so much feedback afterwards saying wow. That was mega!
It was interesting because some bits didnít even work in the end. It was edgy though. I was lying on a table, completely naked, with a big blanket over me. A red throw we brought in from home. Itís what we could get our hands on! My housemate comes on stage, the light goes on, she throws the blanket off and starts cutting words into me with a scalpel. The idea was to blot the words with tissues and then pin the words Ė Ďshití, bitch, fuck, slut and so on, onto the backdrop. Big letters, small words! But some of them bled too much so you couldnít read the words. After that, once sheíd pinned them all up I was just lying there like a dead body blood running down from all these cuts, another mate had got a blow torch going and a piece of metal and the housemate jumps on top of me, sits astride me, and brings the piece of metal down three times on my belly and thereís the smell of burning flesh. It was like branding me. Like a piece of property. Then she flings the blanket back over me. The length of time it took is probably more than five minutes, maybe ten, but that was really intense as a show.
3AM: How long does it take to recover from all that?
S: Healing takes about a month. But having said that there are still things happening. Some of the words you can still read. But I donít hold a scar. Weíve got more ideas for the next show. We thought of using flesh hooks and doing a puppet show. Hooks through the flesh. And using tubes with dies in them going under and over the skin like androids, that sort of thing. Just playing with the idea. I think part of it is the thing that afterwards you think Ď Oh God, I canít believe Iíve just done that to myself.í If you cut yourself it hurts but not that much. You can lie there and deal with it. Even the branding. Itís not the same as having a lorry going over your leg or something.
3AM: Is this a big part of the gay scene?
S: No. Itís quite a hard-core club. The sex part of it Ė there are three other clubs, they tend to be men only, one womenís club that is decent, I put a good show on there last week actually, and on their opening night. I did one on their opening night because when I got there nothing was happening. I wondered what all these people had come to this fetish club if all they were going to do is stand around. They were waiting for someone to do something. So I asked one of the organisers to find me someone and we put a show on. I like an audience.
3AM: Are there going to be future shows?
S: It depends on how many ideas I can think of. At the moment Iíve got two more ideas for shows. So if thatís all Iíve got then Iíve got two more shows. But if I get other ideas Iíll do others. The flesh hook hanging idea, with two or four hooks in your back, that still interest me.
3AM: What kind of statements are you making in your shows Ė maybe about resistance, or gayness whatever?
S: I think its partly to do with me just wanting to be in peopleís faces. I suppose maybe I like to shock people. But also I want to push my own boundaries. Thatís why I havenít really got round to the flesh hanging show yet because Iím not really sure which side of my boundaries that is. But I think itís going to happen. It might be more to do with me getting organised about it. But after the show at ĎFistí I was buzzing so much from the adrenalin and the response. The pain does trigger hormonal responses and I felt super-alive. More real than everything around me. Mega real. All youíve got in this world is your body and time and experience. So you should do as much as you can.
You can get more of Spike at her website. Spike is the wonderful, lithe, and very sexy body piercer (!) who has been referred to by clients as:-
Teach ( bizarre job reference!)
All of which are true I might add, but more commonly referred to by the rest of us as
and numerous other delightful things all of which are also true
She has tormented people on this earth for 28 long hard years and has been sticking pins in people professionally for 5 (maybe 6) years (hey who's counting?). Her loves include pickled onions(although not while she is working), Star Trek (saaaaaaaaaad), her trike, scaring children and feeding her pets.
Her hates include courgettes(bleeeeeeeeeeeeeugh), wimps, bad piercers, courgettes, cleaning up after pets, courgettes and washing up (who doesn't?)
Right that's all the boring stuff on Spike, time to go find out the dirty little secrets of the tattooist.
p.s. Never ask her about particle physics unless you have a spare month to spend listening to the answer!