Brian Keith Thompson, 44, is a piercer and the owner of Body Electric Tattoo and Piercing in Los Angeles. We spoke with him for our October-December 2016 issue of Time Out Los Angeles about his work adorning Angelenos with edgy and fashionable piercings—and why he's betting that navels are the new nipples.
What is it like to be a piercer?
It's a fun job because you're not spending hours and hours with a client like tattoo artists are. At most, it's 45 minutes, then you're on to the next client. And every person's anatomy is different. You could do 10 nose piercings in a day, but each of the nostrils is unique.
How did you come to own Body Electric?
I was pretty high up in a company as a network integration engineer. I was 10 years vested in that company, but I just didn’t love what I was doing. I wasn’t feeling the love any more, I didn’t feel a sense of purpose. When the opportunity to buy the shop came up [in 2006], I just had this gut feeling and something told me to do it. Everyone told me I was making a big mistake, my mom thought it was a huge mistake, but you have to take risks.
What causes specific piercings to become trendy?
Social media really causes trends to take off rapidly. A year and a half ago almost every person wanted the septum. Then it was nipples, but now that’s starting to slow. We’ve only done like four nipple piercings today and that’s quite odd. It’s fun to watch the trends happen. Sometimes all it takes is a celebrity or a pop star, someone with a huge following, to get something done and then it takes off. My bet for the next trend is the navel. It’s due for a resurgence.
How popular is piercing overall right now?
Piercing got really popular in the 1990s, it carried over a bit to the early 2000s, and then it kind of dwindled out. Suddenly, the energy is back from the dead and piercing is very, very popular right now. I hope it stays popular. People are definitely embracing the movement again. In my studio, in the past three years, it’s busier than it’s ever been.
Any advice to someone considering a new hole?
I hear people all the time say, "I'm too old." No, you're not. If you want it, you should rock it like it's the hottest thing.
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