ON SITE: Nick Pinch and Paul Newman of Voodoo Body Piercing. Picture: 0910-59-02
EVER thought about paying money to have someone stick a large needle through a part of your body?
How about having bits of metal inserted under your skin or being branded like cattle?
What about the prospect of having your tongue sawn in half or having chunks of flesh carved out of your back?
Still not keen? In which case, it may come as a surprise to learn that a Barnstaple piercing parlour hopes to offer all of these body modifications by this time next year.
Tongue splitting: Paul Newman shows the result
Some people say these procedures sound more like the script of a macabre horror film than something you should be paying money for.
Others see it as a form of expression, a fine art which takes the victim to the brink of pain endurance.
One such person is 24-year-old Nick Pinch from Barnstaple who co-owns Voodoo Body Piercing on Queen Street with fellow piercer Paul Newman.
The pair opened the parlour in July this year where they currently offer all manner of body piercing — including genitals — as well as microdermal implants which are inserted under the skin.
Nick himself has undergone almost every procedure possible including branding, tongue splitting and transdermal implants which give him metal horns on his forehead.
Transdermal implants: Nick Pinch and his 'horns'
Paul, who has his tongue split and is covered in tattoos, said: "This is an absolute dream career for me — I love waking up every morning and going to a job that I love."
By this time next year they hope to offer branding, ear pointing, scarification, tongue-splitting and suspension.
Nick said: "We will be the only place in North Devon to offer these procedures and we expect people to come from all over the country to have them done here.
"We pride ourselves on the quality of our work and have undergone training with some of the best names in the business to learn our art.
"Although we don't actually offer tattooing, we are also looking at turning the upstairs part of our parlour into a clinic where we can offer laser tattoo removal."
Branding: Nick Pinch and the branding on his hands
Unlike tattoo studios, body piercing parlours do not have to be licensed by the local authority in North Devon and Torridge.
Technically this means that anyone could open their own body piercing business in the area.
There are no standard qualifications or official training courses for the ever-evolving world of body piercing.
And no medical licence is required — unless you intend to administer an anaesthetic.
Many councils across the country insist on licensing piercing parlours.
Katy Nicholls, licensing manager for North Devon Council, said: "People who carry out acupuncture, tattooing, ear-piercing and electrolysis have to be registered by North Devon Council, under The Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1982.
"However, this law did not extend to body piercing — the term applied to piercings anywhere other than the ear lobe.
"Amendments made by the Local Government Act are currently being examined, which would enable local authorities to register people and premises relating to body piercing.
"North Devon Council will also be looking into the potential of creating a specific bylaw in the very near future.
"In the meantime, this does not affect the ability of the council to take enforcement action, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
"This law requires employers and the self employed to safeguard the health and safety of the public.
"All body piercing establishments are inspected in accordance with the health and safety risk rating system and complaints against premises will be investigated."
Torridge District Council also has no form of specific licensing for piercing parlours.
Spokesman Ian Hayter said: "There is no law requiring a licence — you or I could start a piercing studio if we wished.
"Piercing businesses do have to register with the council though and are inspected every 12 months for health and safety.
"There are no plans for this system to change."
Paul from Voodoo Body Piercing prides himself on a first-rate service and after-care programme.
He said: "We don't just take money from people who come in off the street wanting something crazy done — we sit down with them, discuss the procedure and tell them to come back in a few weeks if they still want it done.
"After the piercing, we explain exactly what they need to do to look after it.
"We also give out our personal mobile numbers so if they have any worries, day or night, they can call or text us to ask our opinion."
Nick and Paul have invested a lot of money in state-of-the-art cleansing and hygiene products.
Nick added: "I understand that this sort of thing isn't for everyone but I genuinely love my piercings.
"I am a walking advert for my profession."
Click here for a 'body modification' glossary.
Click here to see more photos from Voodoo Body Piercing.