Beyonce's Body Piercing Pro Talks Constellation Piercings and More
Hollywood's favorite body piercing pro recently gave Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence a collection of new ear bling and says "women have way more guts when it comes to getting pierced. They're kind of fearless and have this sense of adventure, like, 'Fuck it. I'm going to do it.'"
It's clear from the massive number of ear cuffs, climbers and studs we're seeing on red carpets these days that multiple piercings have gone mainstream. No longer considered countercultural or even edgy, they've become a simple and widely accepted form of decoration and self-expression, especially for fashionistas and jewelry lovers.
Selfie culture has led to a rise in ear parties, at least in part. "It definitely has something to do with it," says Brian Keith Thompson, owner and chief piercing officer (for real) of The World Famous Body Electric Tattoo on Melrose, who travels to pierce A-listers' ears in the privacy of their own homes (although anything besides ears must be done in the shop).
Recently, the trend for pierced jewelry has gotten "more delicate," he notes yet still "badass."
"Oftentimes people want to do something a little different from the way the last generation did it," says Thompson, who's worked with Beyonce, Scarlett Johansson, Bella Thorne and FKA Twigs (who flew from London specifically to have him pierce her philtrum, aka cupid's bow). "Remember the '90s, how it was big balls and silver and steel, literally in your face? Now it's very delicate thin hoops, tiny ball clusters, small diamonds. That's what I've been doing for about five years now."
On the rise with his clients Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone are constellation piercings, which he describes as multiple piercings in close proximity in a sporadic pattern, "kind of like how a constellation in the sky is not necessarily 1-2-3 in a row. A lot of people come to me just for that," he says, praising Lawrence and Stone for "letting me do my thing."
No one in young Hollywood has just one hole in each ear now, he says. He recently did multiple piercings on rapper PartyNextDoor, whom he says was "rad," adding that he generally loves working with celebrities because they understand when someone is good at their craft.
With social media, trends live and die quickly, says Thompson. Clamor for the septum piercing, so hot in late 2014 and early 2015, has died down. In its place? Rook piercings — the first fold at the top of the ear that's like a slanted roof. "It's such a cool piercing because you can go super minimalistic or deck that thing out with diamonds or wear a hoop. My favorite is a curved barbell." Another trending piercing is the antitragus, at the bottom of the ear, where women often wear a tiny gold hoop.
Nipple piercings — a la Rihanna and Kendall Jenner — are still very popular too. Currently "I do a couple sets every day." He has many more women getting these piercings than men, which he credits to the fact that "women have way more guts when it comes to getting pierced. They're kind of fearless and have this sense of adventure, like, 'Fuck it. I'm going to do it.' Guys, I feel, are more reserved."
The most shocking trend Thompson sees make a resurgence is the navel. "It's starting to come back with the younger generation," says the piercer, who's so embedded in the craft that he dreams about it. "A lot of 16-, 17-year-olds — their mom and dad are coming in with them to get their navels pierced. It's cool. I've always been a fan of the navel; I pierced mine twice. It's not just for girls anymore. I just had this really cool heavily tattooed straight guy want his navel pierced. You can make it look masculine."
In the grand scheme of things, though, he says many industry clients still tend to play it safe and stick with ear piercings. "If you're not A-list and you have too many piercings, that could limit your potential to get jobs," says Thompson. "You've got to work up to that name before you can demand [certain things]," such as calling your piercer to the set to remove and replace jewelry like Johansson did for Hail, Caesar! and Ghost in the Shell. "But she's Scarlett Johansson," he says.
He's had an actor come to his shop to have him remove a nose stud because the casting people couldn't see past it. "It can limit your job growth, and that's why if these younger actors starting out want to do something very intrusive — a lip piercing or anything on their face — I counsel them that it's going to scar."
Similarly, he advises clients that piercing can be a split-second decision, but tattoos should not be an impulse thing. "Piercings you can change with the times. In 10 years people, are not going to be wearing the jewelry they are now, [but you] can evolve with the style and fashion — you'll never get left in the dust. But you see someone with a flower lower-back tattoo that's early 2000s, and the lettering on the ribcage is going to be known as 2010."