When started your passion for piercing ?
I like so many others was moved deeply the first time I ever saw the modern primitives book. That book changed my life and put me on this path. I read and re read the book backwards and forwards where I could actually quote parts of it. It really was quite a wealth of information at a time before the internet. Back then you couldn’t just find books or information like this. It was an excellent learning guide to cutting your teeth on many body art subjects and it also had ads in the back where you could contact people. I ended up getting in contact with Allen Falkner and eventually Fakir because o this book. The Modern Primitives book not only sparked my interest in body piercing, branding and tattooing, which I have dedicated a huge part of my life to, but the interviews with Genesis P' Orridge and Reallyn Galena who were both doing scars back then really got me extremely interested in learning more on the scarification subject. Up to that point I had been cutting myself and it was primarily flames, skulls, names until then. With the book I saw Raellyn doing actual designs as well and Genisis was using scarification as jewelry. He had multiple cuts on each arms going around them as the scars were bracelets. Subconsciously I think read this and it reinforced my thoughts on whats scars and scarification could be, which was not just lines and scratches which is where the scarification movement of the 80- early 90’s was at.
How did you become one? and who was your teacher
So much has changed in this time. The entire piercing industry has formed changed and changed again, Internationally even! Plus other forms of body modification are incredibly mainstream these days. Plus we have done so much with scarification that I didn't think was possible in 2000. It all has happened rather fast if you think about it. I am honored to be part of it in any way I can.
Your love for suspension? is still there ? did you find your break trough to the other side?
Yes I still have a place for suspension deep in my heart. Its just crazy what suspension has become now. When I did my first suspension in 1996, there was less than a dozen people in the entire USA that I could speak with about suspension. Now you can see it on TV all the time or watch it on stage at rock shows or art performances. It has become incredibly mainstream, to the point where there is an international suspension alliance setting standards worldwide. Quite amazing the extent it is getting to.
As for my breaking through to the other side,.. you must be referring to the "white light" fakir spoke about in the modern primitives book. I personally never did 'break through to the other side' with suspensions… But I did come really close with tibetan incense branding. In that ‘ritual/act’ a pure incense is applied to the skin and allowed to burn out into the skin. That is quite an incredible sensation, one that has had put me out there into that astral plane for sure! This was the closest I have come to 'breaking through’.
Even though suspension can be used a self growth tool and a spiritual outlet, it was not the direction I chose to pursue after my first few suspensions. Although trying to 'break through' was one of the original reasons why I wanted to do a suspension. They were always just fun and artistic to me, so I always presented them in this light and strayed away from the spiritual aspect of it.
What was your reason to learn and try more out with other mods
When I was cutting my teeth growing up in the 90’s in Texas, there were quite a few people doing mods in the immediate area, but maybe two people that were good. For those that remember, the 90’s were much more intense in terms of body art expression and extreme modifications being done. It was almost if people had just found out they could take control of their bodies and do what they wanted to them. It was a complete rebirth in the body art realm. People were getting really intense mods all the time and there were only a hand full of practioners. I worked with Bear Belmares and he was my main mentor. This definitely was a good time to be in. I had also been involved with/obssessed with suspensions since the modern primitive book which got me in touch with Allen Falkner. Before my first suspension, he suggested I watched my first suspension in 1994 and from there we stayed in close contact. We became a close group of friends with whom I grew with. Not only the suspension field, but body art realm altogether as well as shared many life experiences with. Even if I don’t see Allen that often, I still consider him a brother.
What are your specialities? why you love it
In the last 23 years I have been working in this profession, there isn’t too much I haven’t done. I have tried it all and will say these days I do not do many extreme mods as I used to in the 90’s and 00’s. These days I feel as if I am more of specialist in freehand piercing, scarification and strike branding with a good 15 years spent in the suspension community. There was definitely a lot that I love and hate about every single one of those subjects, but over all they have all changed me and made me who I am, as well as my outlook and word view. The body art industry has given me a life I would have never dreamed possible as a punk rock kid growing up in Texas. I also have been traveling quite a bit last couple of decades and began writing and pursuing my photography in earnest. I am extremely fortunate to have been published numerous times and had my work in gallery shows internationally. These, along with teaching and giving seminars on body art are just some of my passions these days.
Tell me about your dvd’s and teaching/ new techniques
With the constant evolution and changes life and the piercing industry bring, the DVDs started more as labor of love to give back some of the things that I have learned the hard way at the expense of myself and my clients over the last 20 + years. Ten years ago I knew my passions were leading somewhat away from actually being in a piercing shop/room but I felt I had learned so much that I wanted to give back, but … couldn’t. There was a strange movement in the APP at the time when I started the dvds in 2005. The ruling board believed that freehand piercing was an ego driven form of piercing and it was not respected by them. There is so much bullshit piercing politics that I will not get into, but suffice to say I wasn’t allowed to show any techniques or explain much in the first freehand piercing class ever at APP. Due to this, I made the DVDs and wrote the classes to show it is an actual accredited piercing technique and to try and explain how and why we are doing what we are doing to others who know nothing about this method.
It was quite a daunting task to try to articulate why you are doing things that became second nature after so many years, but it made me think and rethink everything in order to explain it to others. I often questioned myself and asked if what I was doing was worth it many times during the process of making the classes and dvds. Ten years later, seeing Brian Skellie as the President of the APP and seeing the entire piercing industry move towards a more freehand approach to body piercing, I am so incredibly happy I was able to contribute the small part I did to helping bring freehand piercing to its fruition and dominance that we see today.
I am fortunate enough to have Industrial strength Body jewelry distributing the dvds for me in the USA as well as a couple of other companies in Europe do European distribution. Of course they can still be ordered through my website at www.RonGarza.com
What is your goal
All I have ever wanted, even growing up is to be happy and to be me. After all this time I am blessed to have been able to live my life on my terms and follow my dreams. I found an amazing woman with whom to share this glorious life with and every day above ground is a blessing. This is all I want out of life. what everyone wants - to be happy and love and be loved. The rest is just icing on the cake.
Is there something you proud of in what you’ve been doing
While I have done so many things in this industry, one of the high lights of my career was piercing at the Phuket Vegetarian festival in Thailand. For those that do not know, it is a worship though the body ritual done by Chinese This Buddhists a few cities in SE Asia where the possessed spirit mediums pierce their faces and tongues and many other parts of the body to show their transcendence above this mortal world. In this possessed state they are said to be able to read the future and answer questions and provide blessing to others as they are possessed by one of 5 spirit gods and are regards as god in a mans body when possessed. With my suspension history and not being able to break through to the white light, I was attending the festival initially to look into the eyes of the spirit mediums and see if they were truly possessed or not, and to see if they were breaking through to the other side with such intense body alterations. Maybe they could tell I was there searching and had my own special bond with body altering rituals, because I ended up being adopted into the most hard core, orthodox Chinese-Thia Buddhist temple on the Island of Phuket, and for three years I participated as a priest’s assistant and pierced the spirit mediums and walked in processions with them, walked on fire and so much more for the entire two week ritual. It was quite an experience to see it and learn why from the inside of the festival and not just as an outsider. That was just something I will never forget. I have been working on a book on the experience.
How do you see the future? are there plans
Currently my wife and I have been living in Berlin for the last year and a half and touring around, but we will be moving back to Los Angeles, California in September. We still plan to return for work in Europe as we have been doing for the last decade, but will be making California home base again. Other than that , just to be happy and follow my passions around the world.
Do you have any advice for our readers
Life is too short. Get out there and live! Don’t live life behind a computer screen! There is not a better time to do something than the present. You create your own reality.. and the future is up to you! It happens whether you want it to or not, so make it worth something! :)
-Text and photo's: Ron Garza
Published Tattoo Planet eMagazine 108/ april 2016
-Text and photo's: Ron Garza
Published Tattoo Planet eMagazine 108/ april 2016