Nipple Care Tips for Matt Fraction, and also Sex Criminals

Last Wednesday night I went to a sex club and watched Matt Fraction have his nipple pierced. He fainted. The heat, he says. The club was packed to the rafters with bodies, so I believe it.

The piercing was in honour of his new ongoing series, Sex Criminals. With Fraction writing, and the notorious Chip Zdarsky on art (what is he notorious for? terrible things), I expected an irreverent, pop culture goulash. There’s a bit of that, but this book has heart. It’s sweet. It’s also quite clever. My interest was first twigged by the title. I found it a little tasteless, and still do (I can easily imagine a funny-book called Sex Criminals hitting survivors in exactly the wrong way), but having read the first issue, I can safely say that it’s not about that. It’s a provocative book, in that it’s about sex, and that sex has an unusual role in the story, but it’s not a comic that’s out to offend. It’s not a comic bent on cheap thrills, nor one that will depend on click bait for an audience.

sex criminalsA fuller review will follow (it deserves its own post), but shit, it boasts one of the few depictions of young female sexuality written by a man that I’ve identified with, and been moved by. The lowdown: Suzie and Jon stop time with their orgasms, and use this talent to rob banks. Rather than go zany with the idea, Fraction and Zdarsky have, in this first issue, done sexual coming of age as it should be done–not simple self-discovery with a soupcon of naughty thrills, but sex as something vital; fundamental and terrifying. When Suzie achieves orgasm for the first time it’s both isolating and freeing. Days later, after failing to find a worthwhile sexual education anywhere, she comes, stops time, and goes downstairs to rail at her mother. It’s a bitter victory.

Anyway, I liked it. But back to Matt Fraction’s nipples. With absolute freedom.

The launch party, organized in concert with The Beguiling, was at Toronto’s Wicked, a sex club that skews young and kinky. Apparently it has a great dungeon, but at $250 a pop I declined a visit. I went expecting kink demos. What I got was interviews, readings, the Matt Fraction show, and a no-pressure tour around Toronto’s wildest sex club. (We only have, like, four–don’t get excited). Closed on Wednesdays, the club was open only for the party. This was a decidedly dressed, and mostly dressed down, kind of crowd. Alas, no one took advantage of the hot tub, couches, and free condoms, or upstairs bedrooms, showers, and voyeurism nooks, for geek-friendly hanky panky. I went for the experience! But thanks to a Garfield-costume-wearing Zdarsky reading his erotic short fiction, a relaxed and surprisingly diverse crowd, and a handful of G&Ts, I didn’t miss it.

Unlike most book and comic book launches, this one was attended by more than the authors’ parents and a handful of journos. The Sex Criminals party had the feel of a rock show, complete with danceable pop-rock, ironically ugly facial hair, and that one guy who brought his backpack (why?). I get the feeling that no one expected it to be so well attended; especially not the overwhelmed bartenders. Their grace under pressure, and host Sasha’s open and friendly manner, have me and my friends sold–we’ll be going back sometime, to see what the club is like on a regular night. Because come on, aren’t you a little curious? Toronto residents will have another chance to check it out without the risk of soul-crushing embarrassment: the club is having an open house and erotic art exhibit tomorrow night in honour of Nuit Blanche. It’s free until midnight, and runs until 4 AM.

As should be clear by now, a good time was had by all. But I can’t help but think that, having been pierced in a loud nightclub, and having fainted right afterwards, Fraction probably didn’t get the full lowdown on how to take care of his new piercing.

So here are a few tips from someone who’s been through more piercing mishaps (like the time my brow ring was ripped out, woo!) than I care to remember:

Nipple Care Tips for Matt Fraction (and You Other Fools)

1) Clean your piercing thoroughly, but not too thoroughly.

My friend Fei became paranoid that her belly ring would get infecting and, against piercer’s orders, soaped it, rinsed it, and wiped it down with antiseptic tea tree oil three times a day. So she’s really into hygiene–what could go wrong? Ha ha. She’s got an outie now. At birth? Not so much. The good people of New Tribe recommend cleaning your piercing twice a day. Just unscented soap and water will do. Those sea salt soaks are worth it: fill up a shot glass, dip in, and hold tight to your chest while watching some tv (not S.H.I.E.L.D; it’s terrible).

2) Get thee behind me (also thee), Neopolymagicsporin Cream!

In the early days of your piercing you’ve essentially got an open wound with some metal jammed in it. Your first instinct is to reach for a Batman bandage–don’t. Your second instinct is to reach for your all-purpose, OTC, medicinal cream–don’t do that either. Let it breathe. Your tender, puss-leaking nipple wants to be free. And no matter how terrible the prospect of chafed, pierced nipples sound, I promise you that seeping, never-healed nipples will be much worse. Keep them clean, keep them dry, don’t touch them.

3) Prepare yourself for pain. Expect the pain. Embrace the pain.

Getting my nipple pierced was hands down my most painful piercing experience. I cried. One perfect crystalline tear. The so very slow healing process came second only to the chill-inducing agony of my eyebrow ring. Fleshy piercings hurt more than those in cartilage. Fleshy piercings that move hurt most of all. So although nipples take some time to heal, and although you might have to bite your wrist to stifle your desperate screams* when you’re cleaning it–it could be worse. What I’m saying is: go into your showers expecting horror, and come out of them a better, stronger person.

4) You might have flare ups. You’re not dying. It’s not cancer, and it’s definitely not flesh eating disease.

It’s common to have flare ups even long after a piercing has healed. Piercings that get irritated a lot are especially prone to redness, sensitivity, and sometimes discharge of puss. What does this mean for you? Well, you probably want to avoid rubbing your nipples for a good long time. And should your nipples appear to be mildly infected after they’ve finished healing–don’t panic. Either your immune system is low, or you haven’t been treating yourself with due care. If your symptoms are very bad, treat it like a new piercing. If they’re tolerable but unpleasant, I recommend Thursday Plantation tea tree antiseptic cream and tea tree oil.

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5) Above all, be gentle.

The last thing you want is to mess up your nipples and lose sensation. Be kind to yourself. Don’t wear scratchy sweaters, don’t sleep on your stomach, and avoid at all costs any situation in which your piercing could get stuck in something. Even after it starts healing, you’ll want to ease yourself into nipple related activities. So you’ve got a combination bodymod and sexessory–your nipple is still your nipple. If you didn’t like tugging and twisting before, you won’t like them now. And if you did like that kind of thing before, well, you’re going to be waiting for quite some time before you see that kind of action again.

* Expect to scream for the first week. After that it’s just the odd twinge, unless someone is fool enough to give you a titty twister.

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