Sacred Piercing offers body art at convenient location

Ever since the studio opened its doors four years ago, Gannon University students have been flocking to Sacred Piercing for all their needled needs.

But what keeps students coming back?

For one thing, Sacred Piercing is conveniently located near campus at 253 W. Eighth St., about a block and a half west of the Palumbo Academic Center. It is the closest body modification location to campus, but that’s certainly not the only reason students enjoy the studio.

Getting pierced, especially at Sacred Piercing, doesn’t have to be the budget-kill many people assume it to be. The studio offers a selection of jewelry to choose from when getting pierced so customers have an option as to how much money they want to spend. Plus, Gannon students get an extra 10 percent off their purchase when they show their Gannon ID, and the studio also provides birthday discounts.

Most importantly though, as owner and piercer Missy Twohig said, she only pierces with high quality jewelry, which comes with a lifetime guarantee. This means that new piercings shouldn’t have to be taken out due to an allergic reaction to the metal, and the jewelry you’re pierced with will last the entire life of the piercing.

Junior physician assistant major Molly Martin said she has gone to Sacred Piercing several times and always enjoyed the experience with Twohig.

“I felt very at ease and comfortable and confident in her skills and level of sterilization,” she said.

Twohig prides her business on the amount of skill and experience she holds as a piercing artist. Though she has been in business at the current location for about four years, she said she has been piercing for 10 years.

She said what ultimately made her to decide to go into piercing was getting pierced herself. She said she had a bad experience, and she was determined not to let other people endure what she did.

She said she sat on the idea for a few years as she tried out college and then traveled for a while, but it was always in the back of her mind. Then, she said, the opportunity of an apprenticeship in Erie fell into her lap, and she couldn’t pass it up.

She spent six months at the apprenticeship, although she said generally it should be longer, before she got to work. After working as a piercer for a while, she went to an intensive – a class at which the students study one particular art – at Fakir Intensives in San Francisco, where she learned more about the art of piercing.

After her humble beginnings, Twohig opened up Sacred Piercing four years ago as her own business. She has attended conferences for the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) – an organization under which she has been certified – and she went back to San Francisco for another intensive with Fakir.

Martin said both Twohig and her sister, Ashley Bagci – who works at the desk and creates henna tattoos – are very professional and nice, and the environment of the studio is a must-see with a clean and comfortable setting.

When you walk in to Sacred Piercing, one of the first things you will notice is a naturally clean aroma – it smells like someone has taken care to sterilize the environment to ensure the best piercing experience possible.

Straight through the door is a station that offers tea, coffee, hot chocolate cold drinks and snacks for the customers and their friends waiting for their appointments. To the left, at the end of the room, sits the broad jewelry counter with examples of pretty much anything you could want.

In the middle of the room is a sitting area with some chairs, a couch and a coffee table that houses albums with photos of the various piercings offered. One of the albums also holds Twohig’s various certificates that label her as a member of APP and as a certified piercing artist.

The sign-in counter is just to the left of the sitting area. This is where Ashley Bagci sits, ready to greet customers and make them comfortable until Twohig is ready for their appointments.

Local art that’s available for purchase covers the walls of the sitting area, and rock music plays in the background. There’s also a case of local authors and music near the jewelry case for the customers’ perusal.

Twohig said the atmosphere of Sacred Piercing is her No. 1 concern. She said it’s important for customers to feel comfortable. “I want you to be as relaxed as possible,” she said.

When customers are relaxed, she said, the whole process will flow better. She said most people are freaked out when they come in to get a piercing done, but that 99 percent of the time it goes really well.

Twohig takes great care to ensure that her customers are educated and relaxed about their piercings before she even pulls out her tools.

She takes them into the piercing room, which is off of a hallway behind the jewelry counter. The customer sits on a black massage table up against one of the purple walls, and ocean noises play in the background. No noise from outside or even the sitting area can be heard.

Twohig takes the art of piercing very seriously, she said, because she realizes the amount of trust that goes into it. She said it’s a big deal to trust someone to pierce you, because it can be an intimate experience. She likes to build that trust from the start, instead of just assuming it.

The first thing she does is ask if the customer has any questions about his or her piercing. She said when she asks for questions, the customer usually breathes a sigh of relief. They understand then that it’s not just an in and out experience, but that great care will be taken to make it a good one.

Martin, who has gotten her rook, tragus and two dermal anchors in her hips done at Sacred Piercing, said she would recommend the studio to Gannon students. “I have – obviously – had good experiences and gone back,” she said.

She said her roommate, Melissa Hanigosky, recently got her nose pierced there at her recommendation and enjoyed the experience.

Barbara Townsend, an instructor in Gannon’s psychology department, said it’s obvious that students have been getting braver with piercings over the years. “I don’t know when the tipping point was,” she said, but she acknowledged nevertheless that it has happened.

She said it started out with regular ear piercings and then moved on to multiple ear piercings, but now it seems as if more and more students are pierced in areas other than their ears.

Townsend said that she doesn’t personally find the piercings aversive, but she can see why young people like to get them done. She described them as a “personal statement that you enjoy.” She said that this very much fits into the phase of life where people want to establish their identities, and piercing is a way for them to do that.

Townsend said part of the reason she doesn’t mind piercings is that they’re not permanent. You can always take them out when you grow older, if you don’t want them anymore.

Twohig also said that removability is an advantage to piercings, versus other forms of body modification such as tattoos or branding. She said that while they can have similar meanings associated with them, some people prefer to go with piercing as a less permanent form of body art.

Twohig also commented on the concept of tattoo and piercing facilities being linked together much of the time. She said she worked at a combination tattoo and piercing studio when she first started out, but it wasn’t the kind of atmosphere she envisioned.

She was looking for something more like what she has now – a calming atmosphere that allows customers to relax. Tattoo studios stereotypically play loud music and provide no real relaxation for the nervous customers.

Her main goal, she said, is to show Erie that that Sacred Piercing specializes in body piercing, which is a major reason she chose not to offer tattoos as a part of her business. To specialize in this one art – though Sacred Piercing does offer branding, henna tattoos and massage therapy as well – makes it that much more special for the customer.

“The act of piercing,” she said, “is a sacred thing.”


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