Most kids would be a little freaked watching National Geographic, only to find a feature on tattoos, piercing, lip plates and scarification.
But not Michael Cappel.
He was fascinated.
“My earliest remembrance of anything with body piercing was on National Geographic, and all the old tribes … I was like … this is amazing.”
Cappel was hooked. He started piercing himself with pins and needles while he was in elementary school, even getting suspended for piercing his friends’ ears.
He never let go of his passion, even into his teenage years, despite “everyone” telling him he would never make piercing a real job.
“I was like, it’s going to be a job,” he said.
Today he and his partner, Mandolynne Hopkins, have well over 30 years experience in the field combined.
The two opened Amulet Arts, a piercing, body jewelry and micro-blading studio, this spring at 26 East Main Street.
They celebrated with a grand opening party on Friday.
Amulet Arts is the only studio on the island dedicated to body piercing, as most piercing places are tattoo parlors first. It also serves as an arts gallery, with pieces ranging from $30 to into the thousands.
The space in Patchogue is bright, well lit and adorned with the work of local artists, with no details going overlooked, right down to the German-imported, medical-style flooring.
“We really wanted to create a safe space where anyone can feel comfortable coming in, hanging out, showing their work and being a part of our community,” Hopkins told attendees Friday.
She later called Patchogue Village “the perfect fit for us.”
“This Main Street, there’s so much fun stuff that happens here all the time,” she said. “The street festivals, the Great South Bay Music Fest, all of those things I thought would be a perfect fit for us, and I love being near the water.”
David Kennedy, the executive director of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, said the space “really speaks to the younger generation.”
“I know they’re going to have many years of success here, and are really adding to the unique aspects of our downtown,” he said.
Hopkins’ daughter, Regan Clement, does the micro-blading at the shop.
So what was it about piercing that hooked Cappel decades back?
“I liked the idea of tribe mentality,” he explained. “I was amazed at the will of people to go through what appeared to be painful markings in order to either make ones self beautiful or to honor their god or ancestors. i find these markings truly beautiful and want to share them with the world.”
“America doesn’t have that rite of passage,” he continued. “We have the Sweet 16, the wedding, and then the death. That’s really what drew me in, either walking across coals, or sticking your hands in fire ants, piercing your lip or the mark of the crocodile. But I always knew I wanted to be a body piercer since I was little.
“And my parents were like, ‘Great,'” he said with a laugh.