In an upcoming interview from the Better Safe than Ari series, former piercer (and current tattoo artist) Ken Dean talks a little bit with Ari about the connection tattooers have with the history of their craft, and the seeming apathy that piercers have for theirs:
Ari- Tattooing is so big on history, such a prevalent part of the culture, even with shitty tattooers! It’s such an embrace your heritage type deal, but piercing is not. Most people don’t give a shit about any of it. Any idea why even the bottom tier of tattooers are all know your roots, but piercers tend to be so apathetic?
Ken – I don’t know. I mean shit, even at the tattoo museum I work at we have a huge picture of Fakir. The shops been there since 1941, like before Pearl Harbor! I don’t know why they don’t care. Could it be because the roots of piercing are in the gay S&M leather underground?
I certainly hope that’s not the case. The intersection of 1970s Leather Culture and the roots of the early Western body piercing industry are inexorably linked. While the makeup of the industry has changed radically since Jim Ward opened the Gauntlet forty years ago, with Leathermen with an interest in piercing being replaced by people interested in body piercing as it’s own subculture, it’s origins should still be celebrated.
When it comes to Leather culture, Drummer Magazine 1 was at the forefront of documenting (and help define archetypes for) the lifestyle. Those early issues were powerhouses of iconic content of interest to the body mod scene; erotic stories by Phil Andros (aka Phil Sparrow, aka Sam Steward) articles with Cliff Raven, illustrations by PFIQ cover artist (and Sacred Debris favorite) Bud Larsen- they’re a treasure trove of awesome. Continue reading →
Dome Karukoski’s TOM OF FINLAND is currently playing in limited release in theaters across the US, exposing the erotic artwork of Touko Laaksonen to a new generation of (hopefully) adoring fans. Over the last few decades there has been a growing appreciation for Tom’s iconic pencil drawings of hunky leather men, bikers and sailors with Finland recently releasing a series of postage stamps and online retailers selling a wide variety of Tom goods including shower curtains, bedding and a wide variety of branded clothing.
While it’s great to see Tom’s work receiving so much attention, it’s heartbreaking that the art of Bud Larsen hasn’t had the same luck. His work for early PFIQ (and Drummer magazine) issues was a mixture of bold, graceful line work and erotic subject matter that helped the magazine establish it’s aesthetic.
This illustration was for Drummer Magazine, 1970s. Bud’s work often included mythological, sci-fi and astrological elements.
The tattoo community was a much different place back in the 1970s when this ad for Cliff Raven’s Sunset Strip Tattoo Studio ran in the pages of the venerable DRUMMER magazine; being an out, gay tattooer was a much bigger deal than it is in 2017. Despite a clear lack of diversity and a culture that was considerably less evolved than I like to think we are these days (though watching the news has me wondering) Cliff was able to maintain the respect of his peers through clean, solid, built to last tattooing. In the last few years I’ve been lucky to see a handful of 30-40 year old Cliff Raven tattoos that have stood the test of time. Attempts have been made to capitalize on his name- including a clothing line and branded wine- but to date, thankfully, nothing has materialized.
While he excelled in tattooing traditional Japanese subject matter, I’ll always have a soft spot for his muscle boys and homoerotic imagery.
Happy New Years from Sacred Debris!
Today marks the start of our 4th year as a blog. I hope that you folks enjoy what we’re doing here. The site is still in a state of semi-hiatus but I’ve got a few new posts in the works so check back (or better yet- subscribe!) soon. As always: likes, shares, comments and tips are appreciated.
This photo dates back to the late 1970s and features a very dashing tattooed/pierced gentleman. No artist/model credit was included with the 35mm print.
From the background it appears to have been taken in the mid-1970s at Cliff Raven’s studio in West Hollywood at or near the completion of my first tattoo. ~ Jim Ward
It’s always a treat when piercing and tattoo history intersect; here we have The Gauntlet/PFIQ’s Jim Ward with a freshly worked on tattoo by Cliff Raven. Inspired by Japanese tattoo designs, Raven’s work was bold, clean and made to last.
Tattoo by Alan Oversby; 1970s. Scanned from the original print.
A few weeks ago I was tagged by multiple friends in a Facebook post from a tattooer who’s been doing male pin-ups; archetypal poses gender swapped with big bearded beefcake. The comments ranged from amused to aggrieved with almost everyone agreeing that it was ‘about time’ that someone was doing them.
Of course, there’s really nothing new under the sun. Male pin-ups, particularly homoerotic ones, have been around for a lot longer than social media. Cliff Raven, Sailor Sid, Phil Sparrow, Alan Oversby… anyone who was tattooing a clientele that appreciated the sexuality of tattoo culture was likely to have done one.
Though they weren’t always as explicit as this amazing piece by Sebastian. It dates back to the late 70s and still packs a punch.
Sacred Debris Sandbox members should check out the FB group for a much raunchier part of the design!
I could be wrong, but I think that the heavily tattooed gentleman in this (amazingly candid and charming) photo is Rufus from Rochester who’s made a few appearances here on SD. It’s hard to tell. Either way, the black graphic back piece blast-over caught my attention and put the print on the fast track to the Sacred Debris update queue. Continue reading →
I met Star as the tattooed lady at a San Mateo carnival 10-in-1 show back in 1975. She was also the magician’s girl in the sword box. We connected then and were friends for some 15 years afterward. We did a few shows together and also took pictures in my garage studio with my bed of nails. Stars was a “biker’s girl” and later moved to Florida. I pierced her genitals and she appears in early Gauntlet photo shoots. ~ Fakir Musafar
My buddy Scott recently discovered a few vintage photos of Fakir Musafar and his friend Star in the collection of Bob Hanson and was kind enough to send them over to Sacred Debris.
Star appeared on the cover of the inaugural color issue of PFIQ 1 photographed by Fakir.
PFIQ #15. The previous fourteen issues featured illustrated cover art, primarily by Bud Larsen. Issue #15 also contained a tribute to Ethel Granger by Fakir and an article on Carl Carroll who’s bisected penis appeared in Modern Primitives. ↩
Late 1970s- Jim Ward performs a vertical nipple piercing on Rochester’s Rufus Dreyer. Rufus appears occasionally in photos in my archives- his appearance distinct with a full body of dense tattooing, a grey Van Dyke beard and flipped up septum tusk- but I’ve not been able to find out anything about him other than his name.
Jim can be seen using a thimble to push assist in pushing the needle though the tissue; the needles available at the time weren’t as sharp as our modern options and every little bit helped.