Henry Ingvall Anderson pierced septums, navels, nipples, the webbing between fingers and toes and many other places not usually mentioned in a family newspaper.
He pierced Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue, members of Cirque du Soleil and UniverSoul Circus, and thousands of Chicago-area residents in a 26-year career in body modification.
His joke with clients was, “How can I hurt you?”
After a piercing, if they felt a little woozy, he’d give them a Jolly Rancher or Laffy Taffy.
He apprenticed for three years at Body Basics at Briar and Broadway before starting as a piercer at Chicago Tattoo on Belmont. After a decade there, he joined the Tattoo Factory on Broadway, where he worked for about 12 years, said Catherine “CeCe” Love Anderson, his wife of 21 years.
The 50-year-old Edgewater resident died on Oct. 2 at Weiss Memorial Hospital after a massive heart attack on Sept. 17. Days before he died, he signed a lease to open his own shop on Howard Street, which he planned to call Gauges.
For a lot of kids who moved to Chicago without knowing anybody, he became a friend and guide. If it was late at night, he’d give them a ride to the train rather than let them walk down a dark street, said Paul Collurafici, owner of the Tattoo Factory.
“Henry was able to make everybody feel like a rock star when they came to him,” said his wife.
“Hank was more than just a piercer, he was a friend and a brother,” said House music legend Jamie Principle, currently performing with Gorillaz on the “Humanz” world tour. He met Mr. Anderson in the 1990s at Body Basics, where he got his first piercing. Principle “came back and got my navel piercing done by Hank, and we hit it off instantaneously. After meeting Hank, I wouldn’t let anyone else pierce me. Hank always calm(ed) my fears about any piercing I was about to do and I never doubted him.”
“When he was young and started doing body piercing, nobody else was getting these things. It was sort of underground, or considered kind of crazy,” Collurafici said. “He was welcoming to everybody.”
A Highland Park native, Mr. Anderson lost both parents while young. His father Henry, an engineer with Cherry Electric, died when he was 7. Henry went on to attend St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Wisconsin. When he was 21, his mother Janet Mae died of cancer.
“Family was very important to him, so he created his own family,” his wife said.
Relatives called him Henry. With piercing customers, he used “Hank.” That way, if someone greeted him as Hank, he could quickly place them.
“How’s that navel healing?” he’d respond.
The Andersons met at Neo, 2350 N. Clark, the nightclub where he was working the door on a night when a dance-floor Lothario kept hassling her.
“He tapped me on the shoulder, ‘Do you know this guy?’ ’’ she recalled. “I turn around, and he’s got the guy on the floor.”
Mr. Anderson kicked him out. Soon, he gave her his pager number. Their song was Frank Sinatra’s “L-O-V-E.”
They married in 1995. For a time, they operated the Urban Tea Lounge at 838 W. Montrose.
Mr. Anderson was a follower of Thelema, a New Age spirituality that touches on free will and magic. He attained the role of priest, his wife said.
He adored the music of David Bowie. The family’s Australian cattle dog is named after him. And he loved the 1982 Ridley Scott sci-fi classic “Blade Runner” so much he used a “Blade Runner” ringtone.
He collected kitschy postcards people sent him of jackalopes and other mythical beasts.
Mr. Anderson had a pierced navel, ears, nipples and genitals. But he kept facial piercings to a minimum. “He already felt he was an intimidating enough guy,” his wife said.
In his 40s, she said, he found out he had a daughter, Melissa, who was born when he was 17. It was a happy reunion, his wife said, and he was thrilled that he had a grandson, Ryan, through her. He is also survived by Sadie and Henry, his children with CeCe.
Visitation is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, with a 1 p.m. service, at Bohemian National Cemetery Chapel, 5255 N. Pulaski Rd.
Sometimes, “People look at all of us with the tattoos and piercings and go ‘Eww,’ ’’ Collurafici said. “He’s a dad and a grandfather, and his kids are awesome. He’s as normal as anybody else.”