Flaunt It!


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.


Shawn Porter has spent the majority of his life in the modification world. As a body modification archivist and documentarian, he has one of the most extensive collections of documents relating to the early American body modification community in existence. He edited the SPC website from 1995 to 2005, co-founded ModCon, was the host of ModCons 3.5 and 4, and created and hosted The Scarwars Project from 2004-2007. In 2011 Shawn launched Occult Vibrations, a blog devoted to traditional American tattoos with a focus on the occult and esoteric. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife Julia and their creepy pets Mr. Bailey Papers and L. RonBenet Ramsey.


  1. Hey, Shawn. A great post. Cool. I have a Cliff Raven tattoo from 1969 on my left shoulder. It’s held up beautifully, and is my ID photo on my Facebook page. As a sweet addendum, I’m also the founding San Francisco editor of DRUMMER where we featured Cliff on the cover. For more info on Cliff Raven and his tattoo mentor, my dear longtime friend, Sam Steward, check out my books whose texts are posted free to all at http://www.DrummerArchives.com

    1. Jack- I’d love to see how that Raven has held up if you get a chance.

      I saw a 1981 piece when I interviewed JD from T.R.A.S.H. magazine in 2015 that was still vibrant and beautiful.

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