Primal Buddha (Kala Kaiwi)


Portrait of Kala Kaiwi

Oil on linen
Copyright Rose Adare 2012


Mixing indigenous cultural practices with his own style of industrial stainless steel, Hawai`i’s Kala Kaiwi is deemed one of the most recognizable body piercers in the USA.

With some of the largest stretched earlobes in North America, he has over 75% of his body tattooed and over 70 body piercings, including stretched nostrils, silicone implants embedded in his brow and his forearm, and micro-dermal spikes set into his head.

Developing his skills in Las Vegas, Kala specializes in all forms of body piercing, micro-dermals anchored into the skin, genital beading, scarification and branding. He has also worked as a piercing technician in performance art pieces, suspending individuals off the ground with specialized meat-hooks. By bringing award winning tattoo artists to Sin City, his Big Island studio in Hilo, HI, he strives to refine body-modification as a respectable, licensed art.

While some are taken aback, Kala is a proud father and a respected member of his community. Going against the typical expectations, his art isn’t about attention seeking shock value. Instead, his piercings and tattoos represent an intense personal exploration as a human being in the flesh.

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