Brief Biographical Information: Fakir Musafar
By Maya Coe
Fakir (Roland Loomis) was born in South Dakota in 1930. As a child he became aware of his inner urges through intense fascination with tribal practices photographed in National Geographic. He realized that he could create strong sensory experiences through piercing and suspension by the time he was 14 years old. The pursuit of deepening these experiences throughout his life has lead him into full immersion in primitive tribal practices of body modification and piercings. He has discovered natural inclinations with mysticism, shamanism, and tribal rituals. Thus he has used various methods such as: branding, tightlacing (inspired by experimentation with the Iditoe), scarification, tattooing, and of course what has been previously mentioned.
At age 12 Fakir performed his first piercing on himself in secret using a spring style clothespin. Since then he has aquired many more genital piercings, a septum and ear piercings, enlarged nipple piercings, and deep chest piercings used for suspension. In 1963 at age 33 he experienced the Kavadi (an ancient Savite Hindu ritual) for the first time. 1966 Fakir did his first O-Kee-Pa (a chest suspension ritual performed by the Mandan peoples) with help from a friend in a garage– after practicing this ritual 4 or 5 times he then decided to make his deep chest piercings perminent. In 1977 he started performing acts showcasing his unique practices– yoga, beds of nails, piercing, contortions, and pulling on his piercings. His first show being at a tattoo convention held in Reno, under suggestions of Doug Malloy– this event opened Fakir up to the public a great deal. In 1983 Fakir offered his documentions of all his body play practices to Andrea Juno and Vale (who were interested in going beyond writing punk papers and producing a book) and suggested they call the book “Modern Primitives”. Thus the book was born and granted Fakir more publicity of his journey. In 1987 the documentary “Dances Sacred and Profane” was released, in which Fakir and Jim Ward are documented practicing the Sun Dance. Since then he has appeared in many shows / documentaries, produced his own line of writing (“Body Play”), and continues to teach and assist in ritual practice of body modifications.
Aside from his personal path of shamanism and primitive ritual, Fakir is educated in an array of other skills. Including a bachelors degree in Science and Education, a masters degree in technical theater and creative writing. He has taught high school for a year, taught tech theater, scenic design, makeup and costume; and was the tech director for an actor’s workshop (lighting and scenic design). He has been a copy writer, which started a 27 year career of high tech advertising. Fakir has been an account supervisor for large SF companies, and even had his own agency for 17 years. All this, as well as being an engraver for high tech industries, and teaching dance.
One of his most important contributions from the above experiences was that he was willing to document the information through art, videos, movies, workshops, interviews and written works during his personal path. He also teaches his expertise he has gathered from using his own body in his workshops and school; as well as, teaching how to achieve spiritual altered states of consciousness.
Fakir credits Doug Malloy behind the resurgence of modern piercing. Doug was a millionaire who had urges of his own with piercings and he put the money and time into bringing together Jim Ward, Fakir, and others to help bring piercing to light. He backed Jim Ward in the opening of the Gauntlet shop for all things piercing to be made available. Fakir was the source of vast information on the primitive ways with piercing– as he has extensive personal experience with a variety of modifications. Ward took charge of the jewelry making and together they developed safe procedures for piercing. Fakir eventually parted ways with Gaunlet due to the passion of ritualism.
As Fakir states in the interview in RE/ SEARCH Modern Primitives; the reason people do these things are varied but for authentic practitioners living in a primitive existence these rituals teach the deeply spiritual lesson that you are not your body. You are not pain or ugly nor pretty nor stupid nor any label society gives. You in your primal nature are authentic ecstatic nature of spirit.
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Vale, V. “Modern Primitives.” RE/Search (1983): n. pag. Print.