|Jezzy Vee (photo credit Autumn Swisher)|
My mom trying to infuse for glimmer of a
future in me is how I was introduced into the possible career choice of a piercer. She would periodically try to find a job that I could try and do that would bring me passion and could possibly work around my illness. Piercing was something I could see myself doing so my mother and I inquired about how to get into the piercing field. We found a piercing school in California and asked if they took 15 or 16 year olds. The school didn’t seem 100 percent opposed to the idea but we didn’t have enough money for me to go from Texas to California and we also found out that after doing the classes I would still need to find an apprenticeship. I didn’t know how to go about finding an apprenticeship and with my health it felt like a pipe dream so I let it go.
By the age of 18 I had found out that I had endometriosis and several other ailments and finally had the option of life for the first time since 12. I spent the next few years learning how to live. Nothing big but since I was going from being awake 2 hours a day to at least 10 I got to learn how to fill up time. I got to start school and learn how to go to work without over doing to prevent getting sick. The future was looking bright but filled with a lot of unfamiliar things.
Around 20 I found myself hanging out at a piercing studio a lot. Eventually finding myself dating a piercer. One day we were at a studio and the owner was fishing to see if they could get the piercer I was dating to join their team. As my relationship with the piercer was ending I realized I was living vicariously through them and sent a formal letter to the owner looking for a piercer asking him to gamble on me. All I needed was to get an apprenticeship through the piercer I was parting with. My piercing apprenticeship was quicker than I would like to admit and I entered the industry wholly unprepared for my career path but from the first piercing I performed I was in love and could think of doing nothing else with my life. For the first time I was really scared of losing something that I held so dear. For me the idea of not being able to pierce what the worst possible fate that could ever happen.
However, I had no direction and knew that i needed more knowledge to be the best piercer I could be. I was desperate to find a direction and in countless hours of research trying to better myself as a piercer I found the Association of Professional Piercers. It was the conference that drew me and finding out about the Al. D. Scholarship that could give me the potential opportunity to go was everything I had been searching for. I needed a mentor and this was brimming with possibilities. I would periodically email the administrator of the organization, Caitlin, to see if they were accepting applications for the scholarship. When the time finally came, I received the scholarship and my family pooled the money for me to get there because for me all I needed to do was arrive. I had no concern for getting home. Caitlin disagreed with that sentiment. So I used my rent to fund my way home. Luckily my landlords at the time were as supportive of my endeavour as my family had been. I hadn’t brought much money for food and showed up to the conference with my pockets turned out.
The conference was, as I had expected, everything that I needed. Although I did not find a specific mentor at the time. I learned more in the one week than I had learned in my entire apprenticeship but upon returning home I was a wreck. There was one tone that I kept hearing throughout the conference. Everything I was doing was wrong. In every class I took there was that echo in the back of my head as I would get information on how to improve. It wasn’t just me though, it was also my shop that was doing everything wrong. That made for a rocky landing back to my reality when my boss heard “spend money” and I wanted to see drastic change immediately. I almost quit piercing the year following my first piercing convention because I was critical of myself for not being good enough. My second conference I volunteered because being a part of the conference was so amazing that just being at there seemed like a sub par experience. I cried a lot at that conference because once more I felt like I was trapped in a world of “not good enough”.
It was at my second conference that I found a mentor. She wasn’t a piercer but I could talk to her openly about the woes of not having an air conditioner in my shop in the heat of summer and the struggles of choosing between water and gas utilities in my home life. She listened patiently and knew when to offer advice and when I just needed someone to listen to me. It was Caitlin the administrator of the Association of Professional Piercers. She would remain my mentor to this day and when I decided that it was time for me to jump into my career without a safety net or a plan she was there rooting me on and helping me once more in the ways she could. I can honestly say that had it not been for her mentorship I would have given up on my true love that I called piercing and quite possibly my life. When I left Texas with the intention of finding myself in a better shop and as a better piercer. I had this thought that if i worked really hard at my studio eventually I would see the fruits of my labor but found that sometimes you need to abandon what you are doing, throw caution to the wind, and gamble on yourself. Sometimes you may lose but, looking back, even when I failed I have never made a bad choice when gambling on myself. I have volunteered every year at the APP conference since my scholarship. There I have learned a lot about myself not only as a piercer but as a person.
My journey has led me to work at TRX. One of the first APP studios I was ever exposed to. Even on my first visit I had dreams of growing up to be in a shop like that one. It was a surprise to me to actually end up at that shop. A shop with the kind of clients I had dreamt of that hug regularly and accept my quirky nature. The staff are not only my co-workers but also my closest friends who support me whether it be in where I want to take my career or in supporting me on who I want to be as a whole and by being there for me through surgeries and helping to accomodate my life so I can check off things on my bucket list.
What are your specialities? and why do you love them?I change what i take real joy in doing often. However, my current favorite thing to do is child piercings. It’s a huge step in autonomy and I really like to help in the journey of a person becoming more of who they want to be. Which can be said of any of my clients but when it is your first big responsibility as it often is as a child it just makes it that much more special.
Do you do more than just piercings?
I used to dabble in play piercing and there was a time I started practicing in scarifications and other body modifications but found that my joy was in piercing pure and simple.
Tell us about TRX, your workplace
CheapTRX opened in the summer of 1990; in 1992 we moved to South Grand is St. Louis Missouri (USA). TRX offered piercing only a few months after the move in ’92, and TRX Tattoos has offered tattooing since 2003.
At TRX Tattoo and Piercing, we pride ourselves on our service. From the moment you step foot in the shop, we will work our hardest to get you exactly what it is that you are looking for– a quality tattoo or piercing.
We don’t care who you are or where you come from; TRX Tattoo and Piercing strives to create an atmosphere where you can feel comfortable and not judged. We want our customers to feel relaxed, assured, and, most of all, excited to be in our shop.
We have an artist or piercer who’s perfect for you. We also realize what a huge decision it is to get a tattoo or a piercing, so your happiness is important to us. We want to make sure you get exactly what you want in the most comfortable and professional manner. We will sit with you one-on-one to help you find the artist who is best suited to the piece you want or a piercer who will talk with you about care and upkeep of a new piercing.
TRX Tattoo and Piercing is a clean, safe environment. We invite you to come in and see for yourself. Ask for a tour, and we will be happy to not only show you around but explain how everything works so you can be educated and comfortable with your decision to work with us!
Do you have other passions?
I really like crafting and do a lot of glass etching in my spare time as well as writing really terrible poetry.
Describe yourself in one sentence?
A perfectly flawed person trying to be the best version of themselves.
Explain your name
Jezebel is a name often synonymous with that of a slutty woman. However the name Jezebel was based off a phoenician princess who practiced the faith of Ba’al. Her husband Ahab had a right hand man named Elijah who insisted on converting the kingdom under King Ahabs domain to Christianity (Yahweh). She was a princess willing to go to war over what she believed to be right until she was pushed out of a window by her servants and eaten by dogs. I feel she was an anti-hero, willing to do what she felt was necessary to uphold her beliefs even if she did not always take the most honorable path to do so.
What has been the high point of your career so far? What are you most proud of?
I once was asked to help fulfill a bucket list item for a 13 year old who was dying of cancer. She had wanted her lip pierced but her doctor was not keen on the idea and they had compromised by getting a nostril piercing. I went to the hospital to perform the piercing and after having done it found out that she wasn’t expected to live to see her piercing heal. A lot of things on her bucket list were impossible to happen in such a short time and so for the child getting the nostril piercing was one of the biggest life events that she had control of that she would ever experience. It was gut wrenching and empowering at the same time. To know that I, as a piercer, could have such a drastic impact on one person, has helped me to remember that every person that walks through my door can have the same experience without my even knowing.
The high point of my career is when I finish doing a piercing and the piercee wants to give me a hug. It is my favorite compliment. A part of the reason I ended up working at TRX is because so many clients were wanting to get a hug after a piercing.
3207 S.Grand Blvd
Saint Louis,MO 63118
-Text and photos: Jezebel Voulé
-published Tattoo Planet eMagazine118/februari 2017