A GIRLY BELLY-BUTTON RING JUST ISN’T ENOUGH FOR Stephanie Fleischman—unless you multiply it by six, the most piercings she’s had in her navel at one time. The 28-year-old New York native, resident piercer at Euphoria Ink and Body Piercing in Roselle, NJ, and Steadfast model has more than 50 piercings and tattoos from over 40 artists covering 90 percent of her body. Her love is forever in the body modification arts, which she has taken to some more extreme forms with branding, scarification, and suspension.
Fleischman got her introduction to the piercing world when she met Max Pain, a biker friend of her parents. “He had lots of piercings and chains and stuff, and by the time I was 11 or 12, I was like, Man, I wanna do that. I want piercings everywhere,” she says. “By 15, I was working out of a shop called Hole Addiction in Florida, and would pierce myself and my friends at home.” A more official apprenticeship started with piercer Jason Bishop at Babylon, a shop in Fort Lauderdale. Her first piercing was a nipple.
So how did she make the leap from that simple piercing to practicing scarification and suspension? Fleischman spent a load of time traveling, guest piercing at shops across the country and attending conferences and seminars. Eventually, she met Brandon Jones of Nashville, who was involved in more extreme modifications. “Brandon taught me scarification and got me a lot of scalpels. The first scar I did was on a guy’s chest, and the first cut made me nauseous,” she remembers. “But I had to put that aside and stop worrying about whether or not I was hurting him because I figured if someone is coming in for something like that, they’d expect pain.” Then, at an Association of Professional Piercers seminar, she met Joe Amato. “He was one of the first to do eyelid piercings and worked with a crew called Skin Mechanics Suspension. He was doing East Coast tours at the time and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, inserting hooks and stuff. I said hell yeah. That kind of stuff you learn hands-on.”
Fleischman has always had a flair for the extreme. Instead of stepping into the tattoo world with a small piece, her first ink covered her entire back and took 15 hours over three sessions to complete. From there on, it was a race to cover the rest of her body with artwork, including at least one piece she isn’t particularly proud of. “I can’t [choose] a favorite, but I can pick one I don’t like: The dickler—a Hitler penis—on my ankle was the worst decision of my life.” Fleischman remains excited for what’s to come. “I only have about three spots left on my body, and I’m saving them for artists I really want to get tattooed by, like Timmy B at Black 13 Tattoo in Nashville,” she says. “There are a lot of new artists coming out now who are just so amazing.”
She’s got other plans for the future too, including a particular new hobby: becoming pen pals with serial killers. “A friend of mine started doing it, saying that a lot of the guys are born-again Christians. I want to pick their brains about what they were thinking when they were doing all this stuff. I’ll just make sure they’re lifers—you don’t want one of them getting out and coming after you,” she says. “I thought I was being rebellious, so I was like, ‘Mom, I’m going to write Son of Sam.’ And she said, ‘Good. He’s a born-again Christian.’ That wasn’t the reaction I was expecting. I’m waiting on a response to my first letter now.”