|Occupation||piercer, APP founder|
A controversial figure in body modification history, Michaela Grey was a Gauntlet Master Piercer and the founder of the APP, as well having spent a period as the editor of PFIQ. Her conservative views on piercing (public opposition to many forms of modern body modification) often overshadowed the efforts she put into the body piercing community, and many people remember her as a negative influence and fail to recognize the significant contributions she made.
Michaela was taken under Jim Ward's wing and worked side by side with him for several years. She became co-editor of PFIQ and, later, director of Gauntlet's piercer training seminars. She became steeped in the cautious approach to piercing which was characteristic of her mentor. Gauntlet opposed the use of dermal punches, anesthetics, scalpels, and implants, among other things. Michaela became an outspoken champion of the Gauntlet standard.
In her zeal, she sometimes made statements that were inaccurate or inflammatory and she repeated as facts rumors which were untrue. Thus, she undermined her credibility in some quarters and made enemies in others.
Yet her actions must be viewed in the context of the times, the late 1990's, in which they occurred. Piercers, many of them with little or no training or experience, were setting up shops in great proliferation across the country. Alarmed by a perceived threat to public safety, governmental bodies were beginning to take action to regulate the burgeoning industry or, in some places, to ban it completely.
Like many of her more cautious colleagues, Michaela was concerned that the more extreme elements in the piercing community coupled with a large number of inexperienced piercers would bring the full weight of government down on everyone. If the industry could not, or would not, come together, set standards, and regulate itself, the government would intervene and do it for them. This impending threat spurred Michaela to undertake, almost single-handedly, the founding of the Association of Professional Piercers.
Michaela (born in 1972) grew up in rural West Virginia and traveled regularly as a youth. At age 14, she discovered goth culture, and then in 1989 transferred to Sarah Lawrence. Her life was in chaos, and she wasn't able to pay tuition. By the end of the year, she found herself penniless, alone, doing adult entertainment, and living in a warehouse scrounging for food. Her mother invited her to join her in Hawaii where she took a brief job working at a preschool before returning to San Francisco for her 20th birthday.
She fell into the queer/fetish community in SF, worked with Charles Gatewood, and then got an apprenticeship at Gauntlet in 1991 and developed a friendship with Jim Ward. Not long afterwards, she started editing PFIQ, taking it in a more woman-friendly direction,—it had been very male/leather-oriented up until that point— and in 1994 she founded the APP as well as helped develop Gauntlet's training seminars. She poured all of her efforts (and time) into these projects, but, after Gauntlet financially collapsed, she left and went on to develop piercing training seminars, first in Japan, and then for Cold Steel in London.
In 1998, she returned to Sarah Lawrence (on a scholarship no less) to finish her schooling, as well as continue to travel the world. Michaela Grey currently lives in New York and can be found online at michaelagrey.com.
Thank you to Jim Ward for his assistance in writing this entry.
- Michaela Grey loves to wear elaborate costumes.
- Grey also dabbles in corsetry as well.