Chris Jennell is a body piercer because it’s fun and he can be himself. Oh, and he likes working with fancy jewelry. “It has its perks,” said Jennell, a member of the Association of Professional Piercers.
“I can come into the studio and be exactly who I am. And I love to be able to give someone beautiful jewelry and put it in them.”
The Tempe 25-year-old, known as Chris X, has worked for HTC Body Piercing at its Tempe and Phoenix locations for two years. He did his first piercing when he was 18.
Jennell learned his craft through a yearlong apprenticeship which began in Portland, Ore. He has also worked at body piercing studios in Wisconsin and Seattle.
He has pierced everything you can imagine, from nipples and belly buttons to genital areas, but the piercing spots his customers ask for the most are the ears, lips and nostrils.
His clients range from teenagers to seniors, including a 75-yearold customer.
“Piercing is becoming more accepted, and a lot more jobs are allowing piercings,” Jennell said.
The newest popular piercing is surface piercing. People are getting the sides of their face, the napes of their necks and their chests pierced, Jennell said.
He has his own surface piercing, or dermal anchor, and wears an implant-grade titanium jewel on the right side of his face underneath his eye. This piercing is semi-permanent and is known as an anti-brow.
Stretching the ear lobes has also become more popular and mainstream. Jennell has spent the past five and a half years stretching his lobes. His lobes are now an inch-and-a-quarter long and filled with shiny pink Pyrex jewels.
He has three other piercings on his face and ears. His philtrum, or mid-upper lip, is pierced and fitted with a black diamond.
The upper cartilage of both ears has been stretched to 7/16 holes and he wears clear Pyrex plugs in each.
“I like the jewelry, and have thousands of dollars in jewelry just for my piercings,” Jennell said.
Although piercing is ideally what he’ll be doing in some fashion for the rest of his life, Jennell is an artist and hopes to someday devote more time to his mixed-media paintings. He had an art show last month at Wet Paint Gallery in Tempe.
Dana Dinius, a body piercer at HTC who has his own list of piercings, has worked with Jennell off and on for the last six years.
“He’s definitely a character,” said Dinius, 30, of Tempe. “No matter how bad my day is, he’s always been able to make me laugh.”