The man MTV called “the granddaddy of the modern body piercing movement” is pictured here without any visible jewelry for a reason: When he opened the world’s first body piercing salon in 1978, nipple and genital piercings were the hot ticket items among his gay male customers, not facial bling. As one of the first commercial body piercers in the United States tradition, Ward was a pioneer behind techniques like the fixed bead ring and internally-threaded barbells, derived from artists in Germany. Due to the lack of a body piercing industry at the time, he made all of his own jewelry. His magazine, PFIQ (Piercing Fans International Quarterly), was also the first of his kind.
At the time of this writing, Ward is largely retired from piercing. Gauntlet, his original store, went through several changes of ownership before returning to his hands. Ward’s decades of piercing wisdom can be found compiled in his book, Running the Gauntlet.