Times are changing at a very fast pace in virtually every walk of life and that includes the world of tattooing and body modification. I can remember (and not that long ago either) when I used to get starred at walking down the street because I had nearly full sleeves; today no one bats an eyelid.
So what used to be considered extreme by the majority is now considered okay. So what about other forms of body mods? How are they considered? I’d never really thought that much about it until last year when I met Mac from Punctured Body Piercing at the Swansea show first of all and then at numerous others during the year, I know on the whole Skin Deep is a tattoo magazine but in the same way that it was a lot of years before tattooing became popular enough to have it’s own mainstream publications the same is true about other forms of body mods. With this in mind I thought it would be interesting to find out more and with that in mind this interview with Mac came about.
My name is Mac McCarthy MASTER PIERCER & BODY MODIFIER, owner of PUNCTURED BODY PIERCING/MODIFICATION and CREATOR OF THE INDI-BAR tm.
I was born in Leamington spa in January of 1969. It was a bright & sunny day with the birds singing in the trees, if I remember rightly! I lived in the midlands until about 6 years ago when I moved to Devon to be closer to my daughter, Alexandra.
I have 2 brothers, younger brother Sid & older brother Burt. I did have another brother a year younger than me, Allen, but sadly he died aged 4 years old from a ‘hole in the heart”.
My older brother was always into tattooing & piercing that’s probably where I first became interested in it as I have always looked up to him. I remember my first piercing, my ear, my mom & dad had refused to let me get it done so when I was 16 I went out & got it pierced & went on from there. I have always wanted to be a bit different from the norm & stand out from the crowd. I like being an individual. I also got my first tattoo when I was 16, not a good idea I know as I have had a few cover-ups since. My younger brother also has a few tattoos & piercings, the tattoos he designed himself as he is a really good artist but he could never stomach the piercing procedure, I remember asking him to push the needle through for my labret piercing & he told me never to ask him to help me again, which I thought was quite funny. As far as I know Burt was the first in our family to have any piercings or tattoos. None of the rest of our family has any…not even an ear piercing. Warren at Perforations in Brighton did the first body piercings I had when he was underneath the wildcat shop. I traveled down from the Midlands to Brighton, got there before he opened, waited with the rest of the people in the queue outside then went in & waited in the waiting room for about 4 hours & finally it was my turn, I had my tongue pierced & it was such a cool experience & I actually enjoyed it, he made me feel so comfortable which is exactly the way I now run my business, I want people to have a happy & enjoyable experience when they get any work from me whether its a basic ear piercing or a scarification piece. Its very important to me that they are happy with what I have done to them but I am the one who is most critical of my work, if it’s not perfect I feel I have let them down.
Whilst at school I was a bit of a nightmare, playing truant & all that! I didn’t really have much interest in anything except football, which I have played for most of my life. I didn’t really think much about the future & what I was going to do which bothered my parents a bit. I left school & worked in a couple of factories, did some window cleaning & some sales work, and then I became a delivery driver, which I did for a few years. During that time I found what I really wanted to do with my life, to become a piercer, which brought a great sense of relief to my parents, although they were a bit dubious about my career choice at first but now they are very proud of what I have achieved with my business. Starting from scratch with just a couple of pieces of basic jewellery & some needles to a thriving business with customers not only nationwide but also in Europe.
Then I got into piercing a lot more. It was just after I had started getting pierced myself that some of my friends showed an interest in it but they weren’t prepared to travel to get work done. As I had shown a big interest in not just having piercings done, but also the whole tattoo & piercing scene they suggested that if I knew how to pierce, they would let me pierce them so I started finding out as much as I could about the trade. Burt, my older brother did a bit of piercing at the time and he taught me a lot, and I also bought some teaching videos from America, which were very helpful. Then, when I felt I was confident enough, I did my first piercing! It was a navel on my daughter’s mother. I was quite nervous at the time but also I felt confident enough about doing the piercing, or I wouldn’t have done it. It went absolutely fine, and to this day she still has the piercing! After piercing a few of my friends & a lot of practice on myself!! I noticed the ability to pierce came to me naturally and I just found that I had an ability to do good piercings and everybody seemed really happy with the work I was doing on them, and I just progressed from there. So a BIG thank you to all the people that have helped me along the way…you know who you are!
I got made redundant from the driving job. That was when I started piercing full time (before that it was on a part time/hobby basis) I thought its now or never, I had some money behind me from my redundancy so I thought I would give it a go as I had nothing much to lose!
I started off doing mobile piercing from my camper van which I had kitted out in the back as a mobile studio, I worked at different shows & festivals in the early & mid 90’s & also went to peoples houses to work on them. Then I had a call from a guy with a tattoo studio in Leamington spa asking me if I wanted to rent some space in his studio to do piercing, so I went for it & as things progressed we decided to rename the studio & called it the Leamington tattoo & piercing centre. I worked there for a few years until I decided to move to Devon so I could be a bigger part of my daughter’s life. After about 8 years of piercing I wanted to push myself into something new, and as piercing had become a lot more popular, more people wanted piercings that were more individual to them. So, I put into practice an idea I had for manipulating barbell’s into different shapes for multiple piercings, after seeing something similar in piercing magazines. Although I didn’t invent the idea of bar manipulating, I feel I have taken it to another level and when customers come into me, I work with them, to make a shape that they & I have designed together which is individual to them, as opposed to mass producing the same shapes, which is why I thought of the name, ‘INDI-BAR’ tm. as each bar is individually made for each person.
When it comes to body modifications, I’d always had a keen interest, and after a couple of years toying with the idea, I had my tongue split which was an excellent experience and it just made me want to push my self and my business to another level as I like to challenge myself & no one in my area was doing any bodymods. The first form of modification I did was cautery branding, after researching a lot about it and talking to a lot of body modifiers on the internet who are mainly based in America, and I felt I had learned as much as I could, I found some willing friends to test out my new skill, all of whom were more than satisfied with the work I did for them.
But I found branding restricting, as with branding a bolder more basic design need to be used, so I’ve moved away slightly from the branding and more into scarification, because it allows me to be more artistic with the designs I am able to do. And I find scarification more fun to perform!! I have had a lot of interest in the tongue splits since I put the video of mine being done on my Website & started showing it at the conventions.
And so now, after all my research and practice, I can offer a full body mod service, including microdermal & transdermal anchors, tongue splits, dermal punching, implants, pocketing, branding, scarification, skin removal & ear pointing I have the full backing of my local environmental health department who I keep in regular contact with so they know exactly what work I’m doing. I am also one of the only people in the UK putting the MICRODERMALS in with a dermal punch instead of a needle, (in my opinion) a much cleaner & safer way to insert them. I have been asked to visit numerous studios this year to teach them this ‘advanced’ method with great results & now they are more relaxed & happy to do them.
I’ve got some awesome new ideas for body mods that have never been done before & I’m very excited about doing them, but first I would like to research a little more before I unleash them on the public!!
I have been working at the Republic of Ireland tattoo convention in Middleton Co Cork every year for the last 6 years & it’s a brilliant show, but I have always had a problem getting booked into shows in this country. However all that has started to change now I offer something different, I managed to work at the Cardiff show after meeting a guy called Rob, who runs Silverhand jewellery, at last years Republic of Ireland show which was held in Cork. We had a really good chat at the aftershow party which lead to me being invited to work at the show he was organizing in October. That in turn lead to the Swansea, Gillingham & Porthcawl shows which I now plan to do every year. I have now added to these this year with the Somerset & Colchester conventions. Aswell as numerous guest slots here in the UK. I also visit France & Belgium where I now work ‘2 week’ guest slots twice a year. If you have a look in the calender section of my website you can see where I’m going to be.
At the moment I am based in, Devon. I rent private rooms in two studios TABOO TATTOO in Paignton & ELECTRIC INK in Dawlish .I have had numerous offers to take my business to other places recently & I am always open to new offers of work. For the future I hope to progress with my body modification work & take it a lot further, im still very passionate about piercing, but body modding has given me a new lease of life, and given me the hunger that I had when I first began piercing, over 11 years ago!! From working at the conventions I have now made a lot of friends both in this country & Europe, and I have had offers to go and work in their studios, which hopefully will lead to working at European conventions in the future, and also, as my beautiful daughter Alexandra who is nearly 12 now, has always shown a huge interest in what I do and loves being in the studio with me, talking to customers, watching and videoing what I do, She has now asked me to teach her my trade and carry on what Punctured is all about, giving people a friendly and professional service, within the modification and piercing community. Alexandra has recently attended her first convention at Gillingham, she had an absolutely brilliant time & loved every minute. I, myself have just returned from a trip to America where I attended an advanced scarification course with WAYDE DUNN & DAVE GILCHRIST. I had an awesome time, made lots of new friends & have been invited back to the States to work with a lot of people, so not only am I plying my trade in the UK & Europe but also now in America. My website desperately needs updating but my webmaster is a friend of mine from France & is extremely busy so I have put a lot of my more recent work on a site called…www.bodymod.org
I have a portfolio listing under the name (capitals) MACCY2TONGUES. Which I am constantly updating. I also offer a FULL aftercare service for people whether I have done the work or not, just get in touch. My contact details are on my Website. www.puncturedbodypiercing.co.uk
My feet are firmly planted on the ground, I am still open to learning new things about piercing & body modding as I am very passionate about what I do & I don’t think anyone should ever close their mind to learning new things, I am a perfectionist when it comes to piercing & modding & treat my clients with respect, just the way I would expect to be treated if I were a customer going into a studio to have work done. I will never try anything new without first doing a lot of research about it & being totally comfortable in my ability to do the work. I have also trained numerous people to pierce & they are now doing well with their own businesses. I feel I have been very lucky to be able to take what was an interest in the piercing community to a career, which gives me a huge sense of achievement every time I leave my mark on someone.
When I m not at work, I enjoy going out with my friends, playing pool & football & generally just enjoying myself. Spending time with Alexandra is also very important to me.
One very important event planned for the future, hopefully later this year, is my suspension. Its something I have been waiting to do for a few years now & it’s a very personal thing, it’s not for a performance show. I have had the opportunity to do it on several occasions but certain people (close friends who understand why I’m doing it) must be there for me to get what I need from it & the time hasn’t been right for me so I have passed up the chance. It’s a very spiritual thing to me, so it will be done outdoors & after 3 days of fasting. I will have 4 hooks put into the top of my back & be hung from a tree. Its very difficult for me to explain properly as it is so personal but I have memories & issues from my past I need to address, like the death of my brother & my granddad dieing on the same day my daughter was born when she also nearly died at birth. Its like I will be re-born & at one with myself. I have a few friends who are helping me with this huge event in my life & I owe them a lot.
When the time is right it will happen.