decorating The Modern Primative

By Sarah Radomsky

When it comes to jewelry, a simple string of pearls or a classic pair of diamond studs just doesn’t cut it anymore. That is, not unless they are imbedded in the bead of your 1/2″, 10 gauge nipple barbells. From the girl in front of you with the navel barbell inspired by her favourite Britney Spears video, to the boy beside you with discs through his ears the size of dinner plates and more holes in his penis than the Iron Chef’s best pasta strainer, the west has witnessed a radical increase in the popularity of body modifications.

Throughout history the human body has been transformed in many ways. From the Trukese women of Polynesia who pierced their labia to attract suitors, to the “Prince Albert,” originally called a dressing ring and used to secure the penis against the leg in Victorian times when tight pants were in style, piercing is historically persistent. True to National Geographic’s photographs, women in many tribes throughout Africa still insert a thin cane plate into the lower lip that can measure up to 5″ in diameter.

Modern body piercing consists of an amalgamation of body art from ancient times and present day non-industrial societies coupled with modern hygiene and piercing techniques.

‘It changes the way others perceive a person and the way that person perceives himself. For many this change is an integral part of the decision to become pierced. This leads to the concept known as the Modern Primitive, fathered by Fakir Musafar.

According to Fakir, teacher and guide in San Francisco, the Modern Primitive is born, not made. They act as a response to primal urges as opposed to “just for kicks.” The primal urge in this case drives them to explore and experience the body and express themselves in ways which modern society finds hard to tolerate.

The Modern Primitive seeks to overturn the Western intolerance of physical difference and achieve some form of higher learning through the experience of physical sensation.

In the context of contemporary body piercing, the term Modern Primitive is one that many use to describe themselves and justify their practices. Modern Primitives are attempting to change their lives through the use of body manipulation and other “primitive” practices, living what they consider a more mentally and spiritually, if not physically and economically, balanced life style.

The whole movement is one towards living in harmony and acceptance of all people and the modern technical world.

“[Another thing] I see fairly often, with both tattoos and piercing, is people who get them to mark something important in their life,” says DeSade.

Whether it be the excommunication of a lifelong friend or a wedding in the spring, the act of piercing as a self-imposed rite of passage is one currently practiced by a relatively small but growing group of people.

According to Fakir, some people feel an instinctive need to endure a rite of passage. If society denies them, as is common in the West, they will create one for themselves. In a culture that avoids pain and deliberate suffering at all costs, some feel undergoing a potentially painful and invasive experience is a medium to change one’s perspective on life.

For anyone who is interested in learning more about the Modern Primitive or any body mod ranging from standard to extreme, visit Bushido. For additional information check out


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