It was one way of spending the holiday - in the back room of a Chinatown restaurant, with needles stuck in her head, two more in her hands, a pair below the [WORD ILLEGBLE] and yet another couple above the ankles, Ruth Willins lay like a pincushion for more than 30 minutes as Dr. [WORD ILLEGBLE] Ming demonstrated the ancient art of acupuncture" before an audience of 150.

Dr. Ming planted each of the 4-big, long needles, Mrs. Willins broadcast play-by-play account of how it [WORD ILLEGBLE] through a microphone place at the mouth.

[WORD ILLEGBLE] she said with a grimace, as the fourth needle was inserted about one half inch deep slightly below her left knee.

"You must have indigestion, don't you said Dr. Kinig. "Why yes, I do," answered a puzzled Mrs. Willins. Dr. Kinig the explained that tension in the stomach can be detected when they are inserted below the knee. Ten needles were struck into Mrs. Willins for a "general body tuneup," Dr. King explained. These were in operation for special face-lift treatments. After about a dozen of these, Dr. King said, "We can remove wrinkles if they're not too deep, and can make you look 10 to 20 years younger."

Mrs. Willins' real concern, however, was not her wrinkles, but her arthritis She volunteered for Dr Ming's demonstration because, she said she wanted to see if the needles would hurt. "It hurt on insertion," she reported. "But after a while, I couldn't feel them."

Dr. Ming's demonstration was part of the second annual acupuncture festival; sponsored by the Center for Chinese Medicine at the General Lee restaurant in Chinatown.

Mrs Willins and her husband, Joseph, sought out the conference to earn whether acupuncture could relieve arthritic pain, they said. "The doctors can't do muc for me," Mrs. Willins said, "so we're looking into this."

Dr. Ming said she hasn't had many arthritic patients, but that she did have an arthritic dog. "My cocker spaniel had an arthritic hip," she said. "I treated her for a month, every single day. At first she couldn't stand on her hind legs. But now she's all right and her condition has stabilized."

Dr. Ming said she is a dentist, engineer and certified acupuncturist. Acupuncture has been in her family, she said, for thousands of years, dating back to one of the original practitioners under the first Chinese emperor.

In modern times, acupuncture has reportedly cured sterile cows, lame horses and an arthritic giraffe. In Britain, a zoo elephant was relieved from the pain caused by an abscessed tooth, authorities reported. Shortly thereafter, however, the elephant became ill from swallowing an umbrella.

Athletes in this country have often sought out acupuncturists. Kathy Woods, a 23-year-old, physical education major at California State University, Long Beach, attended the acupuncture demonstration and let Dr. Ming stick 13 needeles into her neck and arms. She said she has been plagued by upper back pains that doctors have not been able to relieve.

After the therapy, Woods reported, "I feel great. It didn't hurt, expect when the pins here first stuck in. Now, the pain is gone and I feel very good. I wonder how long it will last."