Change Happens

It was with a sense of déjà vu that I read the post from a Facebook friend last week informing me that the website had classified this site as pornography. It’s been over 30 years, and body piercing has become so widespread and popular that it’s hard to believe there are still people trying to tar us with the same old brush.


In chapter six of my book, I wrote about how Gauntlet’s ground-breaking magazine Piercing Fans International Quarterly (PFIQ) came into being. It wasn’t long after the magazine’s inception that I began dealing with the allegations of pornography and obscenity.


“As the business and magazine in particular grew, there were always new challenges. One was in finding printers willing to handle the material. Because of the unique content and the nudity, many printers wanted nothing to do with us. The first couple of printers were gay men who had no issues with the material, but their shops were only capable of handling one- or two-color jobs. Four-color printing requires larger, more expensive equipment, so I had to look for a new printer.
“Unfortunately, in those days the only places willing to handle the magazine were printers of porn. The first one we used was a sleazy man who owned a print shop in Van Nuys, an L.A. suburb in the San Fernando Valley. He had a gimpy leg and walked with a cane, and I had visions of some mob henchman breaking his leg for some unknown offense.
“Printers weren’t the only problem. Binderies were another. These were the businesses that collated, folded, and stapled the printed sheets into a finished periodical. In some cases printers operated their own binderies. I was never able to understand how the bindery personnel who dealt daily with the raunchiest kind of porn could refuse to bind PFIQ. I remember one that agreed to do the job but only at night after their female staff had gone home.”

Printers and binderies were only some of the obstacles we faced. Foreign authorities suddenly felt it their duty to protect their citizens from our “obscene” publication.

“Nonetheless, through the years PFIQ did experience censorship, not in the U.S., but most notably in Japan, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand where customs agents regularly seized the magazine. In 1984 New Zealand’s Indecent Publications Tribunal, not unsurprisingly, called it “indecent.” The seizure problem was sufficiently bad that we had to advise overseas subscribers we could not accept responsibility for failed delivery.”


Thankfully, things have improved some over the years. To its credit provides a means to contest a classification, though you have to dig for it. Once located, I did my best to categorize not only this site, but the book itself within the categories provided. I clicked the “Submit for Review” button and waited. Within a matter of hours I had a reply: “Based on your recommendation and after careful evaluation of the Web content submitted, a Web Content Analyst has recategorized this URL as Adult/Mature Content and Society/Daily Living.” I can live with that.

It’s taken a while, but we have made progress.


One thought on “Change Happens

  1. I see stuff like this all the time. I run the system that sends out automatic email notices of worldwide earthquakes for the U.S. Geological Survey. And I get back little automated nasty emails from systems that refuse to handle mail about an earthquake near the Virgin Islands. I even got one accusing me of offensive language because we had an earthquake in Mexico near the town of Guererro Negro.

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