The Happy Valley Tattoo Massacre'

Rev. Dr. Gregory Lowrey
Healer, Counselor – CEO
Whole Life Ministries
It was a spring afternoon, April 2007.
A young, estranged mother travels from Missouri to visit her daughter in Utah.
The daughter lives with her father.
The Daughter hangs out with the “misfit” crowd. Geeks and weirdos, abused and abusing – some too tall and skinny, some short and fat, some too smart, some too dumb – all dark and depressed and sliding downhill in social normalcy.
Now she needs a badge of courage, honor and nonconformity.
Bold, free – cool.
But in spite of her coolness and 14 year old maturity, she is still just an angry, confused teenage girl.
And a rebel.
And a bit of a snot!
The 14 year old asks mother for a piercing.
She wants a piercing her friends uptight parents won’t let them get - a ring through her lip.
In the non-Utah world it is a half-snake bite. A ring on each side makes a snake bite.
Mother understands why a 14 year old girl in Utah without her mother feels like she needs a fang-bite, fang-bit symbol, not slipped so easily on and off your finger like a CTR ring, but pierced with a 14 gauge needle right through your mouth and cold steel jewelry installed with hard steel pliers.
Mother gathers driver’s license and birth certificate together and drives her 14 year old to a professional piercer for some good mother – daughter bonding.
Voted #1 year after year in the Provo Daily Herald’s “People’s Choice Awards” and nestled in the curve on State Rd. in American Fork, Utah sits Happy Valley Tattoo & Piercing.
Happy Valley is operated by world famous husband and wife artists Doc Loco and Kita Kazoo.
Happy Valley Tattoo is in a church.
This is a different kind of tattoo studio!
Happy Valley Tattoo & Piercing performs as two of many community services, tattoo and body piercing, both of which the owners and artists consider a deeply spiritual practice - even if sometimes it takes a client awhile, perhaps years, to realize the spiritual nature of their personal act of self expression, the spirituality of the act and the effect it has on wearer and viewer is undiminished.
Happy Valley Tattoo is the name of one of the service departments and schools of Whole Life Ministries.
Artist and Reverend Dr. Gregory Lowrey and his famous artist wife, Kita Kazoo are the ministers who provide spiritual services, including tattooing and piercing along with their healing, counseling, painting, music and authoring services.
They also conduct a church art school accepting only the most promising, ethically minded and dedicated young artists – many living on the fringe of acceptance in repressive Utah, to be apprentices and learn to support themselves and their families by learning and practicing professional standards in art, tattoo, piercing, health, business and community relations through the practice of personal service, dedication to purpose, personal integrity and constant practice of the golden rule.
Their clean, modern studio reflects the cutting edge of an industry that the Lowrey’s have been practicing as ministers and artists for almost 20 years and is home to 6 artists who occupy the five modern art work stations.
Only Doc Loco has no place to call his own.
His world is his laptop and his cell phone – making an office where ever he is needed.
Docs 20,000 tattoos and thousands of piercing services have been completed, his 6 children raised and his work is now full time in the other church services, healing, counseling, writing and performing transformative music for the ministry as well as a few love songs for Kita Kazoo.
But this isn’t so much about Dr. Lowrey (aka doc loco) or Kita Kazoo – not today anyway.
It is about a wonderful piercing apprentice, devoted wife and mother, accomplished belly dancer (a real fun and talented person) and assistant manager and one of Doc’s great students and wonderful people – Shandi Child, a Utah Native, now living in Utah County.
Shandi graduated with a Medical Assistant degree and worked in a midwifery clinic. She found the work satisfying in many regards, but the business practices to be stifling.
Shandi had a strange dream of a career in body piercing.
Unusual for a good Mormon girl in Utah.
Doc Loco was looking for a Registered Nurse to train to work as a part time piercing apprentice.
After a year of searching no RN’s were applying.
A client of Kita’s knew just the perfect and wonderful person – bright, honest, delightful personality, high sense of ethics and a real desire to be in just that business – Shandi.
Shandi proved to be all her friend had promised and was soon on her way to becoming a professional body modification specialist – a body piercer.
For several months she spent three or more days every week in the evenings after work at the studio, (20 hours a week was mandatory – extra was recommended) watching Doc perform eyebrow piercings, naval piercings, lip and cheek, tongue and nose, finger, nipple and genital piercings – hundreds of piercings of all kinds and for every kind of people at the studio in the old Pleasant Grove City Jail.
The people we were piercing were very nice mostly.
About 95% LDS; about half active – all taking the plunge into representing themselves by an act of self-actualization, an act of freedom and an exercise in faith and trust in the high quality, precision technique and the personal concern for a job done right that is the hallmark of Happy Valley Tattoo and their students.
Shandi’s husband Paul, now a tattoo apprentice Intern at Happy Valley and other friends and relatives stepped up to be Shandi’s piercing models, to let her learn, practice and hone her new skills in their flesh.
Soon Shandi was ready for her Internship and quickly was moved into additional training for a position of Assistant Manager, helping Doc run the business.
Piercer Managers are better, according to Doc, because their services take just a few minutes which makes them more available, more often, to the public and staff than tattoo artists, who often are stuck in a service for an hour or more at a time and must devote time between clients to drawing art for services.
Shandi is a prize.
Every student at Happy Valley Tattoo & Piercing is a special prize, says Doc.
They are all very special and wonderful, honest and good people and artists.
The best of Utah.
Shandi is a graduate piercer.
She is a great piercer, a dedicated staff member, team player and friend.
Any company would be thrilled to have her on their staff.
Shandi was afraid of management.
Doc said it would stretch her.
Shandi was afraid, but could see the wisdom in overcoming her fears and learning to be affirmative and confident.
Shandi is on her way to becoming a 4th generation Master Piercer and has learned to run many of the operational phases of business – the dreaded book-keeping training is taught a small bite at a time, over a long period of time, but the service portion is already top notch and customer service skills are dearly bought but worth every sleepless, stress filled night as people are often on their worst behavior when they make their first visit to a tattoo studio.
This particular April, in 2007, (remember the lip piercing part of the story?), Doc and Kita are in Detroit, Michigan not due back in Utah till June 07 and Shandi is on duty as Assistant Manager and Body Piercer.
In the door walks, mother and daughter.
Identification is produced and photocopied, jewelry is selected, money is paid, paperwork is completed and after care instructions are given.
The piercing begins.
A new Utah law requires mom to watch.
Parents enjoy watching tattoos on their children, but they don’t like to watch piercings.
In Utah county, minors can’t get tattoos, so at Happy Valley, parents only come in for piercings and a lip piercing was being done today.
Perhaps it was a late 14th birthday present.
Doc has provided photographic portfolios of his piercing work, a chronicle of 20 years, poking holes and jewelry through people of every age and interest.
These books he says, are very important to reassure prospective patrons of the technical precision and aesthetic concern employed in piercing by him or under his direction and training and also to show that it didn’t hurt so bad that they couldn’t take the time to take a picture.
Smiling faces of very normal, nice looking neighbors beam from nearly every page along with a clinical close up of of a perfectly placed piercing.
It is a privilege of the practice of the golden rule to help your neighbor, and viewing a picture of your piercing and a your happy, friendly smile helps calm a lot of nerves in many people who want the piercing, but fear the procedure.
The Mother and daughter in question peruse the piercing portfolios.
The daughter’s supposed familiarity with some of the pictures of genital piercings in the artist piercing portfolio suggest that mom wasn’t too concerned when her daughter ignored the warning “ADULT” in big red letters on the “adult’ piercing album.
Page after page of clinical photographs of pierced nipples and genitals – both male and female – apparently were an eye-opener for the girl.
Doesn’t she have the internet?
Or a sociology textbook?
Anyway, apparently, mom thought it was fine.
Dad apparently, does not approve.
This difference in perspective is probably why they no longer live together.
Mom is about to piss off dad, and guess who is going to get tagged to pay for it.
If you said the church tattoo studio, you win a nickel!
Well, the daughter gets her lip piercing.
It’s perfect – she is now officially cool.
So is mom.
So is Shandi.
Months go by; May, June – Doc and Kita come back for the summer to see a granddaughter born at the American Fork Hospital and to attend to students and business concerns for the ministry. Dr. and Mrs. Lowrey are back for June, July and August and then head back to Michigan where more students and a search for a building for a new ministry office and art studio are waiting.
September, October…
It’s been six months since the girl got her piercing.
She has bragged to her friends about her cool, mature, radical and rebellious experience.
Perhaps she wishes she could live with her mom, a normal issue for girls at 14 who are separated from their mothers – her dad is square.
The "new" mom, if there is one, isn't her mom.
It is not difficult to imagine that over the months she has also bragged about the pictures of male and female genitals she likely saw in the piercing portfolio.
Friends are impressed – girl’s status is elevated.

One day around Halloween 2007 the girl and several teen friends drop in the studio.
The police can't say if it was 2 girls in the days following christmas or 6 kids, three boys, three girls, or maybe just 4 kids, some of them girls who came into the studio sometime in November or December...um...just can't tie down the month...(is this sounding dumb enough yet?)
There are two signs on the doors that proclaim “minors must be accompanied by parent or legal guardian”.
She and her pals are just too cool for signs and too mature for some dopy studio policy.
She is just too cool for her life.
The girl is happy to see her piercer at work – Shandi.
She wants Shandi to pierce the other side of her mouth – to complete her snake bite.
Mom is gone home to Missouri and Dad won’t consent, so she wants Shandi to just do the piercing based on her mother’s previous consent.
She doesn’t accept Shandi’s recital of studio policy, state and county law that require a parent or legal guardian each and every time for services to minors.
The girl throws a fit.
A brilliant 14 year old idea forms.
If Shandi would come to Albertsons Grocery store, a mere block and a half away, she could pierce the girl in the Albertsons Bathroom and no one would know.
Shandi declined.
Now the kids tell Shandi they want her to sell them a piercing needle and some jewelry so they can do the piercing themselves at home.
Shandi declines, again it is against studio policy to sell supplies to the public regardless of age or occupation.
We only supply our own artists.
The girl and her friends threw a tantrum and were asked to leave.
These are the only “group” of minors that the staff can recall coming in the studio all fall.
They did not look at piercing portfolios at all but rather were hanging out at the jewelry case trying to get Shandi to give a piercing in violation of the law and studio policy, which she refused to do.
I call that kind of kid a “snot nosed kid”.
Probably the child of a snot nosed adult!
November and December pass.
The slow season is so slow it puts meat in Doc’s claim that in Utah the tattoo business has two seasons – slow….and slower.
On average, only one or two people come in the studio per hour.
No one is buying services, just looking for the cheapest price.
Every prospect leaves without spending money.
All the artists are broke.
They are good artists, and great people – the best; but artists struggle harder somehow than regular people to learn about money and it’s mysteries.
These artists are learning that payment comes from personal service and high quality.
Unfortunately broke artists have a hard time thinking and resolving about these kind of issues.
They worry about rent and groceries.
Artist depression can be extra sad and unproductive.
Doc and Kita are supposed to be back in town in mid-February but business is so unnaturally slow that they feel they must get back to Utah, even two months early, or they won’t even have a business to come back to come February.
The much needed rest – filled with 18 hour days, training students and dealing with government work, writing and counseling, hunting for buildings and then the Utah studio not making enough to sustain itself made full time work and not much rest for Doc and Kita while in Michigan through the fall – September – mid December.
Now, after almost three weeks back in Utah, which felt like three days – there was so much to do, they finally settled back in enough to resume services and remodeling left uncompleted way last March.
But on January 3rd, on a Thursday when Doc and Kita were working alone – the Raid happened!
The Happy Valley Tattoo Massacre’ had begun.
Over the Christmas holiday friends on school break meet together often and perhaps news of the friends visit to the tattoo studio months before leaked out.
The girl’s father was not happy.
Father heard or was told about all the naked body parts the girl had seen in the photo book.
What a way to divert hostility from yourself for violating your fathers rules (I’m presuming he made a rule that prohibited visits to the tattoo studio) switching it neatly to the sweet and unsuspecting tattoo people – and of course, it would serve them right for not breaking the law for her by giving her prohibited services or selling her supplies back in October – and making her look stupid and much less cool in front of her friends!
To make a better story and to cover their anger over Shandi’s refusal to perform the illegal piercing, the teens decided it was payback time.
The girl had enjoyed months and months of bragging to her friends about her first experience and the cool adult pictures she got to see with her mom while they were browsing for her piercing.
All the friends now enjoyed a second hand familiarity with those books also.
It is easy to tell the cops that it is a first hand familiarity though.
Of course these kind of piercings are also available to be viewed on hundreds of websites devoted to body piercing where the only requirement for genital piercing galleries is that the model be over 18 and have signed a model release.
There is no age control for viewing such websites and the traffic is tremendous.
If teens want to look at genital piercings they don’t need to bother themselves to sneak down to the tattoo studio.
Nevertheless, Dad made the call, voiced his complaint.
That dirty, evil place is a corrupter of children, a desecrater of the holy temples of their young bodies.
They already hate church!
You police have to close them down.
What am I paying taxes for anyway, so you can pick your noses and play canasta at the courthouse?
While I am trying to figure the answer to that question you can ponder this real life cartoon as the member mafia, redneck cops (but they’ve watched COPS, so it’s ok) prepare to burst into the frame.
Thanks to anyone who has called any of the numbers I left on past posts. I have to find an attorney for Shandi and us too I guess, tomorrow somehow, especially since Shandi has been threatened with a year in prison over this teenage, bad marriage bullshit from which she is emerging as the prime victim.
While you wait for the rest of this story and the great back-story demonstrating more fascist dumb cop behavior and even more of the ongoing persecution of the victim by this local Hatfield and McCoy government, just realize that the American Fork Police, Chief Lance Call and his Head of Detectives, Lt. Darrin Falslev are involved in a continuing harassment and psycho-cop intimidation (likely learned in a weekend seminar) primarily targeting a sweet and defenseless and wonderful young woman.
Instead of telling this complaining father that his kid doesn’t respect him, his religion or anyone else and that he should look to himself for the source of his problems and not scapegoat the tattoo studio or the wonderful young wife, mother and artist that works there, they are victimizing a wonderful young family and the church that is helping them realize their life goals and develop their god given talents in a positive, pro community manner.
Interestingly, at first, I was identified as the man who was in the studio when the kids supposedly looked at the “pictures” but since I was 1,000 miles away at the time, the police are “letting me off the hook” and claiming that the old, white haired guy was really the 22 year old husband of the girl body piercer.
This young couple is being emotionally raped by the American Fork Police just so they can say to the complaining father and to the community that they eliminated the problem – by eliminating the person.
What a creepy way to run a city.
American Fork, be ashamed.
Be very ashamed.
I am protesting this abuse of this poor girl to everyone I can.
I am looking for an attorney.
I need a free one.
You are free to protest too.
It is still the land of the free and the home of the brave if you stand up and make it that way.
That’s what I’m doing.
I’m going to wear myself out preserving your freedoms.
Are you?

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