Piercing With Pride
Jack Kalvser and Cole Radermacher share their experiences as queer piercers in the Twin Cities.
At Leviticus Tattoo & Piercing, they take just as much pride in their staff as they do in their work—and rightly so. Jack Kalvser and Cole Radermacher are two piercers in the GLBT community who know how to make their clients of all walks of life and identities feel welcome and visible no matter what.
Jack Kalvser began piercing five years ago as an apprentice. The shop they started in was in a more conservative suburb, which proved difficult to live and work in as a queer, trans, non-binary body piercer.
“I had just come out as trans and was trying to gear my services toward a clientele that was—basically—mainly the queer community,” Kalvser says. “I was the only openly queer body piercer (that I knew of in the city), and I wanted to be ‘that piercer’ for people to feel totally comfortable going to.”
And now Kalvser is. Two and a half years ago, they started as a body piercer at Leviticus where they welcome everyone in an exciting, inclusive space. “I don’t want the things I say or do to make people feel ostracized or hurt because they aren’t able to be as visible as I am. I want to use my cool-ass job to help people feel good about themselves,” they say.
Kalvser says they strive to create a warm environment where all humans feel welcome and at home. They say everyone is asked for pronouns, their legal name, as well as chosen name to avoid misgendering or dead naming anybody. “I’ve taken a trauma-informed body modification class as to learn how I can reduce any harm or triggers in my own day to day workspace when I’m with clients,” they say.
Pride is surely celebrated at Leviticus, but it doesn’t stop there. Kalvser says pride means being grateful and feeling lucky for their ability to be visible in this city and industry. “Being able to be very openly trans and queer as a parent and a person who helps to modify and decorate the people in my community and city brings me a lot of pride,” they say. “Body piercing has a very long and rich queer history, and I’m very thankful and proud to be a part of its continuing story.”
Like Kalvser, Cole Radermacher started as a body piercer when the opportunity arose to take an apprenticeship. Radermacher eventually joined Leviticus in August 2018 when looking for a place where he could better himself and his art—and that’s exactly what he’s done.
“We strive to make an all-inclusive space by wanting every single customer who comes in to be who they are and know that while in Leviticus, it’s a judgment free zone,” he says. “We’re all humans, and we all are here to do the same thing as long as you respect every individual for who they are!”
As a gay man, Radermacher knows how to take pride in who he is. “What pride means to me is to be who you are. If you want your face tattooed, do it. If you want a piercing, but people tell you not to… do it! Nobody should judge you for being you, and you should never be ashamed for something that makes you happy,” he says.
Kalvser and Radermacher are both members of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). Kalvser is available for appointments on a walk-in basis Friday through Monday, and Radermacher is available Tuesday through Friday. Over Pride Weekend, Leviticus is also offering ten percent of all piercing sales as donations to Reclaim, an organization dedicate to increasing mental health services to queer and trans youth.
For more information about Kalvser, Radermacher, and the other artists of Leviticus, visit www.leviticus.com.
Leviticus Tattoo & Piercing
4109 E. Lake St.