The Needle in the Haystack...
1. Needleplay is not the same as piercing. While both activities involve inserting a needle into the body and both can be decorative, needleplay is intentionally temporary and often focuses more deeply on the act of piercing rather than appearances. Meanwhile, piercing is typically for the sole purpose of creating a permanent hole for jewelry. Many piercees find nothing erotic about the act of being pierced and endure the pain solely for the decorative end result. (Of course, as with all human behavior, some overlap exists, and some people enjoy piercing as needleplay with a permanent reminder.)
2. If you hate getting shots, you may love needleplay. Not all interactions with needles are created equal. Needleplay commonly utilizes parts of the body not used for injections, and the needle is angled to go “in and then out,” superficially, rather than go deep. Receiving a needle just underneath an inch of skin on the top of a breast, away from veins, produces a very different sensation than seating a needle deep into a vein in the crook of an elbow.
3. Smaller numbers mean bigger needles. The gauge of a needle is measured by the fraction of an inch the circumference represents. For example, most traditional earlobe piercings and IV insertions are done with an 18-gauge needle (a needle with a circumference of 1/18th of an inch). When giving blood, a smaller needle (about 24 gauge, or 1/24th of an inch) is typically used. In needleplay, 20- to 25-gauge needles are popular. Although these seem like very small increments, the difference in the pain of an 18-gauge needle and that of a 25-gauge needle is extremely palpable.
4. Needleplay is one of the most versatile forms of play. In addition to producing a pain many experienced BDSM practitioners consider wholly unique, needleplay can be scaled up or down as needed for novice and pain slut alike. How one inserts and removes a needle, and what one does with it while inside the body, makes a profound difference in the sensation. Additionally, needleplay can be anything from a couple of small needles just beneath the skin to elaborate “costumes” of needles, such as the insertion of two rows of vertically-oriented needles to either side of the spine which are then laced together with ribbon in a corsetlike design.
5. Properly taught, needleplay isn't as dangerous as you might think. A needleplay enthusiast once pointed out that a cat scratch is more dangerous than a properly-administered needle. Despite this, many people are far more worried about needles than cats! A basic understanding of medical cleanliness, proper instruction from a good practitioner, and a well-stocked kit of supplies (including emergency supplies) can provide endless hours of reasonably safe entertainment away from the TV.