APP 2009 Conference Review

This year’s APP conference and Expo was a huge hit thanks, in part, to a return to the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the site of our first APP Conference in 1996! The change of venue was clearly welcome after six years at the Riviera Hotel. The event took place May 3-8, and some of the meeting rooms we occupied were the exact locations where we met well over a decade ago. Positive comments about the Tropicana were plentiful; attendees appreciated its convenient features, reasonable prices, extraordinary pool and Jacuzzi areas, and friendly staff. A number of returning piercers remarked that it was the best APP conference ever!

Registration and check-in began on Sunday night, and the first social event took place that evening as well: a meet-and-greet party for APP members, Expo vendors, and the always-important conference volunteers. The party was held in a unique, roomy hotel suite, and sumptuous food was brought in from a local Indian restaurant. There were spicy dishes for vegans and carnivores alike. It was a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere for the members and those who were working at conference to meet, chat, eat, and enjoy.

Monday morning kicked off with a free yoga class (which was held daily throughout the conference). The change of venue made registration a little confusing at first, but everything sorted out and all parties were eventually assisted. As always, an orientation was held and we were amazed and delighted to see that this year’s conference had many, many first-timers in attendance.

The opening night party Monday night was a huge splash; it was held outdoors at the poolside. Some partiers enjoyed swimming and cooing off in the water while others sat at tables and dined on the food that was provided. The weather was delightful and the party was clearly a hit, as a number of party-goers overstayed the scheduled event time (from 8 p.m. to midnight) to continue conversations with friends old and new. I can’t recall an opening party that had so many people clearly enjoying themselves as much, or one that took place in a location with such a pleasant vibe. It was a superb party that set the upbeat tone for the rest of the conference.

Throughout the week classes and roundtable discussions took place from morning until evening, with certain popular subjects being offered twice, to increase the opportunities to attend.Any rumors that conference has been shrinking were shattered by the latest statistics: we had almost 25% increase in class attendance over last year and fifty more attendees received seminar certificates. Conference-goers are clearly focusing more on the educational offerings than ever before.

For the first time in APP history, body art industry veteran Steve Haworth joined the growing pool of Conference speakers and shared some of his specialized knowledge and expertise with our members. This year, there were numerous other new instructors who taught classes and facilitated roundtables: Dan Natkiel, D.O., Dana Dinius, Maria Tash, Meagan Barber, Michael Kolar, Rachel Larratt, Valko Sichel, Rick Frueh, Terry LeRoi, Peter Lozada, Autumn Swisher, Ben Overton, Kevin Jump, Julia Grow, Joshua Bryant, and Nick Wolack all did admirable jobs as first-time instructors. Great job everyone!
The APP Members’ Meeting had a very welcome added feature: lunch was provided by the organization. A highlight of the meeting was the launch of the newly re-designed APP website.

Over 55 vendors displayed goods and promoted services on the Exposition floor, which opened Tuesday afternoon with a one-hour preview reserved for APP members. The Expo at the Tropicana was held in a larger space than at the prior venue, giving a comfortable, open feel to the floor. Vendors reported that in spite of the state of the general economy and the full schedule of class offerings, the Expo was a successful venture.

An exciting new feature this year at the Expo was an Innovator’s Award. See the article about this on page XX.

As part of the celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the book Modern Primitives, Re/Search co-founder V. Vale and photographer Charles Gatewood were in attendance to share audio/visual presentations and discussions. Mr. Gatewood was also on hand to host a screening of the 1985 movie, “Dances Sacred and Profane,” which was shown on Wednesday night.

On Thursday the International meeting was held and it turned out to be extremely well attended: there were ninety-two visitors from seventeen different countries, which is far more than we’ve ever hosted at any prior APP conference. In keeping with our expanded international flavor, there was another new addition to conference this year: several classes were taught in Spanish. See sidebar on page XX.

We happily returned to the poolside for the banquet dinner on Thursday evening, this time in formal finery. The food was delicious, the weather was perfect, and the company was superb. A salsa band provided the upbeat musical entertainment, and some of our group got up to dance to the Latin beat. Brief presentations were provided by Board Members, and the APP Administrator, then the generous grand prizes for the raffle were drawn.

On Friday, the final classes were held and the Expo came to a close in the afternoon. It was an incredibly full week, but the vibe throughout was so positive that some people seemed to be energized by the end if it, instead of depleted.

Putting on a conference and Expo of this scale is a huge amount of work, and tremendous thanks go out to all of our hard-working volunteers (including the Board Members), and also the APP Administrator, Caitlin McDiarmid. Without her capable guidance, extraordinary organizational skills, and unwavering work ethic, the conference simply wouldn’t be the same.

The APP is also deeply appreciative to all of the vendors who so generously supported the organization by donating raffle prizes and their sponsorship including the opening party, banquet dinner, food and beverage service in the Expo, and the Al D. scholars. Thanks to each and every individual and company who had a part in making the 2009 APP Conference a huge success.

Top Five Companies for Raffle donation:

Industrial Strength Body Jewelry


Kaos Softwear

Body Circle Designs


Level One: Banquet Dinner


Industrial Strength Body Jewelry

LeRoi, Inc.

Level Two: Opening Party


Care-Tech Laboratories

Safe Products


Level Three: Exposition Food and Beverage

Gorilla Glass

Level Four: Al D. Scholarship

Reign Custom Designs/ Maya Organic Body Jewelry

Glasswear Studios

SM 316

Wildcat USA

Venus by Maria Tash

Honorable Mention

NeoMetal, Inc.
We look forward to seeing you next year and in the years to follow!

A California-based, international non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination of vital health and safety information about body piercing to piercers, health care professionals, legislators, and the general public.