Homoerotic Tattooing with Sailor Sid Diller

The role that the GLBT community played in the evolution of modern body piercing is fairly well known, but the same can’t be said for tattoo culture. Some of the most respected names in tattoo history- Phil Sparrow, Cliff Raven, Robert Benedetti and countless others- were homosexual.

I’m sure somewhere there’s been an academic paper written on their contributions (I’ve handled research requests for several) out there somewhere on the web, but it’s always fun to see video of the golden olden days.

I captured this footage in 2008 for BME/News. It came from a silent 8mm film master that was transferred to VHS in the early 1980s. Life expectancy for magnetic VHS tape is around 12 years; this cassette is easily 30 years old which has compromised the picture quality, but it’s still a great peek into the “T&P Parties” frequented by gay men interested in body art in the 1970s.

Some of this footage was filmed at Ken Meyer’s shop in Kissimmee, Florida. I don’t have much information on Ken other than that he occasionally had Sid Diller guesting at his shop.

The community was much smaller then and the T&P parties allowed for a much more liberal, much more sexualized atmosphere. Artist and client alike were usually naked and the design choices were often erotic.

On an objective level a lot of the work coming from this subcommunity wasn’t spectacular; Raven and Benedetti were exceptions to that, but BEING tattooed was an important part of the cultural aesthetic. A masculine man covered in tattoos fit a certain archetype favored at the time.

And needless to say- sterility and cross contamination awareness was still year away, so with that caveat in mind be aware that modern protocols were wildly absent.

The video is in .flv format; if your browser has issues with that I’ll try to tidy it up when I get back from my honeymoon. This may be the last video on SD for a while, so let me know what you think.

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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 Italian Greyhound, Bailey, and his wife Julia.

6 comments

  1. Nice video, but you could have shortened it a little bit.
    hope you would post some other vids you mentioned some time ago, especially that “a-movie-is-being-recorded”-one!

        1. It’s not so much a problem as it is…
          The videos take hours to get online. Hours to sort tapes, capture the material, correct audio and video glitches if I can, edit, upload and then write the blurb that goes with them.

          People rarely if ever comment, ask questions, thank me for my time… though as you see above I get suggestions to edit more.

          I have a donation link on the page, but people rarely say ‘thanks’ by throwing me a few dollars to let me know they appreciate the content or my time.

          It’s not really worth it to me to get the footage online if people don’t appreciate it.

          1. Sorry for suggesting to cut the videos, I just had in mind that it could be traffic problems that prevents you from posting more videos, if so, a shorter video would save much traffic. I’m aware that there is work behind making this site, especially with the video material, so this would not be meant to bring even more work.
            I appreciate very much what you do as I’m following bme and the other sites quite some years and I’m glad that there’s someone who prevents the old but not less interesting things from getting lost.
            I’m not sure how many stumbled upon this site yet as it exists for just a year (guess you have access to some statistics) but I things it needs some more time to get recognized and appreciated more.
            If there’s any help I can offer (shortening videos for example) just drop me a comment here, it would be a honor for me to help this site running.

  2. Mick-
    Quite the opposite, honestly.
    We’re having no issue with traffic and bandwidth- more with my time and the response the site/videos gets.

    This video was left ‘as-is’ save for titles added to the front/back to point people in the direction of the site. Spending any more time editing it was the issue. Yeah, it was long, and yeah, I could have cut it down, but given that people rarely give feedback…

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