Houston's Top 5 Extreme Piercers
Photo by Susan Du Manon Masson, 19, gets an inner ear piercing at Sacred Heart Studio.
If you ever find yourself sitting in a surgical chair, sweating a little bit because you're about to have a 10 gauge needle shoved through your penis, it might help to know that the piercer has a bottle of sugar tablets in his drawer just in case you get light-headed.
The difference between a professional studio and a corner shop crawling with hepatitis could correlate with the number of stars each establishment earns on Yelp, but another way to tell is by counting how many pairs of latex gloves a piercer snaps on in the course of the job. The good ones should be fanatic about health, have a charming bedside manner and won't shy away from turning you away if you fail to shower before your appointment.
When it comes to pulling off some of the most difficult procedures known to the body modification industry, it also helps if your piercer has a sense of humor and steady hands. Say you want 5K worth of gold rings in your labia. Better research who in Houston already has ample experience doing that before signing up with any punk in a concert parking lot.
Here's the real deal.
5. Electric Chair
8722 Richmond Ave.
Charlie Ramirez, longtime tattoo artist at Electric Chair, got into piercing frankly to make more money. But after seeing enough desperate clients come into his shop looking to fix botched piercings done by less qualified piercers, he developed a neurotic need to educate people on the basics of not contracting infections, not the least of which is actually using soap.
Photo by Susan Du Charlie Ramirez just wants you to stop by Whataburger before you come in for a piercing.
"There are so many people in Houston where they're looking for a price. They're not looking for a place that'll take care of you," Ramirez said. "That can be frustrating. I'm covered in tattoos and it's like, 'Look at me,' but really it's like being a gynecologist."
Ramirez buys quality jewelry and charges accordingly. His piercing room resembles a doctor's office and short of offering coffee and mints to keep clients comfortable, he does keep an emergency stash of sugar tablets in case they start stumbling on the way out after a piercing. Aftercare services include his personal cell phone number so clients can call him with any complications in the middle of the night.
Another point of irritation for Ramirez is consulting for young people who want the exact piercings they found on Pinterest or Tumblr when they aren't anatomically suited for the job. Sometimes they turn away for a second opinion and his biggest fear is that some less ethical piercer will go ahead and take the kid's money for a piercing that will never be comfortable.
4. 713 Tattoo Parlour
Stix, nicknamed as such for readily apparent reasons, has been piercing since he was barely old enough to receive them. He started in a shady clothing store but eventually worked his way up to become a senior piercer at 713 Tattoo Parlour.
Photo by Susan Du Stix, 27, can't stand it when piercers stinge on the gloves.
He credits his know-how to a lot of watching and practicing on friends as all piercers do, but he's also huge on social media and networking to learn new techniques. The body modification community as a whole tends to suffer when professionals view each other solely as competition and don't discuss craft, he said. The best in the business all know each other.
Stix does all types of subdermal anchors and genital piercings. He admits there's real risk of causing serious harm if those piercings aren't done correctly, but he's never made a mistake. Heartening testimony from a guy who also does suspension, a highly delicate performance art form based on lifting human bodies into the air via skin piercings.