TO THE MERCURY: You guys are great for printing the nice blurb about Terry Grob [Obituary, Sept 7]. He was amazing. Thank you.

Alex Steininger


TO THE EDITOR: Your article on body piercing ["Dirty Needles," Aug 31] made an important first step. Here's what was missing...

Too often the first and only question out of potential clients' mouths is "How much does ______ cost?" While relevant, it's hardly the most important question. Professionalism has a price. In order to provide quality jewelry, keep a sanitary environment, and maintain my education and training, I have to pay and therefore so do piercing clients.

While the majority of body piercing being done in the area is by professionals with integrity and skill, there are some high volume locations that suck. Here are some questions I would like to see more people asking:

"Where is your autoclave and the record of your monthly spore tests?" An autoclave is the only approved method for the sterilization of tools, jewelry, and supplies used in the piercing process. Spore testing is required on a monthly basis to ensure that the autoclave is performing its job.

Everything that goes into the autoclave should be in a separate bag which has indicator strips on it that change colors when it has been subjected to the necessary amount of heat and pressure. During the piercing process, the client should witness the needle, tools, and any gauze, etc. being removed from these bags. Everything that is being used on the client should be autoclaved or single-use disposable.

Jewelry quality is also of major concern. Too often I see jewelry that is pitted, dull, and externally threaded. Implant quality steel is significantly different than some of the dirt-cheap imported machine-grade junk that's sold at many of the mall shops. Look at the jewelry. Is it polished to a mirror finish, free of scratches and polishing compounds? On threaded jewelry, such as barbells, when you unscrew one of the balls, the screw part of the jewelry should be on the BALL, not on the shaft of the barbell!

Ask questions, lots of questions...Where did they learn to do body piercing? Most schools provide certificates that should be displayed. Did they complete an apprenticeship? How long have they been piercing? If they are not nice to you, walk out. If you are uncomfortable, and it is more than just the natural amount of fear and anxiety that normally accompany getting pierced, walk out.

There is an organization called the Association for Professional Piercers whose mission is to circulate vital health, safety and educational information. Their website address is www.safepiercing.org. Their phone number is 1-888-515-4APP. They put out a number of different educational fliers including "How to Choose a Body Piercer." Read them. Inform yourselves. Protect yourselves.

Adorn Body Art


TO THE EDITOR: Although it's good to see a two-page spread dedicated to the Clinton Street Theater and its heroic front-man Dennis Nyback ["The P.T. Barnum of Cinema," Aug 31], I must say that writer Camela Raymond got something terribly wrong. As a full-fledged devotee of the Clinton Street Theater, I've had an opportunity to become familiar with the new owners. Indeed, Nyback is a visionary, and his odd collection of rare films makes the world a better place. However, his co-owner, Elizabeth Rozier, is only mentioned once or twice and is referred to as "guarding her privacy like a reclusive screen actress, hardly making eye contact when she hands Hot Tamales across the counter."

She goes on to say that Rozier "looks a little like Jean Seberg." Now, I don't know if that last remark is meant to be a compliment, but it should have been written more like one. Rozier is a very pleasant person, and I don't know how someone could label her as shy. Certainly, she is a little quieter than Nyback, but is nonetheless friendly and downright outgoing. She knows all the regulars in the theater, and even went so far as to float me some free consolation candy when I had a messy relationship break up last fall. How many ticket-takers give a damn about YOUR personal life?

Joe Ball