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.
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. ↩
I’m still working on transcribing the 2001 sit-down I did with PFIQ/Drummer Magazine artist Bud Larsen; I’ve mentioned before that it’s less of an interview and more a free form oral history and as such I’m not sure how much will be relevant to SD readers, but the same can’t be said for examples of his artwork, which is always impressive and of interest to folks interested in body modification history.
This ARIES illustration was used in Drummer Magazine 1 (ed note: cite issue number/date) and features the God of War himself, tattooed and collared and impeccably inked by Bud. I don’t know much about astrology, but it would seem that Tennessee Williams, Bill Shatner and “The Night Porter” actor Dirk Bogarde are all Aries- and according to the Internet that means that they’re:
Enterprising, Incisive, Spontaneous, Daring, Active, Courageous and Energetic, the Aries are the proverbial infants, guileless and optimistic to the fault. However, they also are impatient, impetuous, vain, proud and egoistic. (source: http://www.ganeshaspeaks.com/aries/aries-facts.action)
That seems fairly dead on for Shatner, so maybe there’s something to it?
Drummer Magazine was launched in 1975 by John H. Embry and Jeanne Barney, catering to gay men into the Leather subculture. It ran until April of 1999. Over it’s tenure it was considered highly influential in the gay/leather community. ↩
In March of 2001 I visited erotic artist Bud Larsen in Phoenix Arizona to talk about his work with PFIQ and Drummer magazine; his art helped define the early aesthetic of both periodicals- crisp black lines like a pornographic Al Hirschfeld featuring ultra masculine pinups, dangerous femme fatals and mindbending scifi and fantasy creatures with exaggeratedly large genitals which were more often than not pierced or otherwise decorated.
The entire affair was a disaster of exposed film, lost video/audio tapes and only memories and a few signed PFIQs as a souvenir of the trip. For fourteen years I’ve thought the tapes lost. SD recently received funding to restore 8mm video cassettes and during the sorting/cataloguing I discovered that a video backup of the interview wasn’t lost, just misfiled. This backup was intended to be a safety-net in case something happened to the mini-cassette recorder that we used for the interview was lost, which prophetically did happen, and was never intended to be a “on camera” interview. The handycam was set up to catch the audio and is just haphazardly pointed at Bud and I, and without a lapel mic the audio at times is difficult to hear, but given how woefully under-documented Bud’s career is, it was an amazing find.
This short clip features Bud and I discussing his process for creating a drawing. The audio is muddy, and I still need to scan the PFIQ issue the images we’re discussing come from- there’s a lot more work to do on this tape (hopefully a transcript and better audio) but for now- enjoy a chat with Bud (and my epic bad haircut) and make sure to say thanks to the patrons who sponsored the import/archival of the 8mm collection of the SPC.
In 2001 I traveled to Phoenix, Az to meet and record an oral history with PFIQ/Drummer artist Bud Larsen. The experience was doomed to failure and for the last 14 years I’ve considered the tape containing the history to be lost.
Late last week, while sorting and organizing tapes from that period I discovered that it wasn’t lost, just misfiled. The tape represents a very rare conversation with Bud and has been put to the head of the queue for archival and preservation. It was shot as a backup so the camera is not set up ‘interview’ style, but the content will hopefully make up for the lack of video when it’s finally ready.
Thirty-one years ago, before the piercing scene evolved into the piercing industry the term piercer had a much looser definition than it does today. Over time it's come to represent someone who's served a formal apprenticeship and has spent years honing their craft; who's taken advanced learning opportunities like Intensives and technique classes at the annual APP Conference and Expo, someone who can discuss sterility at a level that would humble a physician, and who can absorb knowledge from their peers as freely and easily as they share it with the generation of piercers who’ve come after them.
When this video was filmed, being a piercer meant you poked people with needles so they'd have shiny nipples and genitals, and tried to do it as safely as possible.
Finding a professional piercer back then was easy, since there were only a small handful in the world. But unless you lived in California (where the Gauntlet was located) or were part of a group like the Leather/SM culture, having easy access to a true professional piercer simply wasn't an option. So sometimes you had to make do.
Today's piercers would be horrified to find photo illustrated step by step instructions for an ampallang or clitoris piercing- but 30 years ago they were made readily available in PFIQ- who's PIERCE WITH A PRO feature covered almost every basic (and some advanced) piercing imaginable and went on to spawn several instructional videos.
Some knowledge was deemed to be better than none. So was the case with 'A Safe Guide to Professional Piercing' featuring piercing by Jack Yount (then going by Mr. J) and filmed by Sailor Sid Diller. Out of context this video looks like anything but professional piercing- highly sexualized, a lack of sterility and technique that will make you cringe- but one has to consider the time (gloves weren't commonly worn in 1984) it was filmed and the community that both Jack and Sid were part of (the highly sexual gay leather scene) to fully contextualize the footage.
The tape was distributed to piercers on Sid's correspondence list who were primarily working in leather shops or home studios.
As with all of our archival content, this video contains outdated piercing and aseptic technique and should not be considered a how-to.
I still haven’t heard back from the student who’s research request I helped out on so I figured I’d drop another scan that I did from the information I provided to her.
Body Art magazine was UK based publication that ran 23 issues from 1988-1996.
Unlike PFIQ (which focused almost exclusively on body piercing) or the tattoo magazines of the time, Body Art was more free-form, covering piercing, tattooing, surgical modification, hair/makeup/clothing and more.