Americans are generally not big on sticking themselves with needles—and for very solid reasons: It usually hurts. But many who venture on the wild side, medicine-wise, swear by the benefits of acupuncture, that ancient and peculiar Chinese method for combating illness. It takes a brave and trusting patient to stretch out on a treatment table and let someone stick you with a bunch of ultra-fine, wire-like needles. But those who venture into the Greenwich Village office of Mark Kuebel, licensed acupuncturist (yes, they give licenses for this) swear by both his tender treatments and calming results. Kuebel has been practicing for 20 years (often with AIDS patients), and his practice is a dramatic break from the usual cattle-car waiting rooms of most HMO-imprisoned doctors. He actually discusses problems at length and then proceeds to address them, often by “rearranging the energy flows in the body”—with a network of said fine needles. You might also walk away with a somewhat mysterious vial of Chinese herbs, also carefully selected by this wise practitioner. What can we tell you? It usually works.