This article originally ran on BME’s MODBLOG on 07/25/2013 after finding out about Bud’s passing. It’s been expanded slightly from the original version. My meeting with Bud was very strange, and ultimately doomed to failure with technical mishaps erasing everything I captured of him save the memories of the visit, which included meeting my online friend Jenn in person for the first time and some scandalous fun with Steve Haworth that’s a little too ribald to include here despite featuring a stuffed Grizzly Bear. Still, I was incredibly flattered that he took the time to talk to me about his involvement with the roots of modern piercing documentation.
I wish that this story had a happy ending, and I apologize that the majority of my articles turn out to be memorials, but as a community archivist it’s part of the job.
I had just turned sixteen when I lied about my age and ordered every issue of PFIQ that Gauntlet had in stock. I had seen images from them in the seminal RE/Search Publication MODERN PRIMITIVES, but getting them all was a piercing nerd’s dream.
The majority of the first fourteen issues featured stunning illustrated covers by gay erotic artist BUD. They were iconic; primarily line art featuring subject matter ranging from pierced Leather Daddies (Bud also worked with DRUMMER magazine) and femme fatals, fantasy creature/human hybrids and more. Bud’s art was integral to the brand identity of those first dozen plus issues and even after Jim switched to photo covers Bud still occasionally lent his skills to provide spot illustrations.
I spent years trying to track him down with no success; he had lost touch with the piercing world (his only real connection being the PFIQ covers) and was seemingly unfindable. I had stopped searching when I happened upon an envelope featuring his artwork, thumbtacked to a cork board in a cubicle in my office.
I risked writing him an introduction letter, asking if he’d be willing to talk to me about the ‘old days’. Not only did he consent, but I was shocked to find that his next door neighbor was a good friend of mine. We corresponded back and forth for a while, discussing him doing a t-shirt design for SPCOnline and the possibility of meeting in person.
PFIQuarterly #13 cover art by Bud Larsen, tattooed on Viking Navaro by Cliff Raven
Shannon Larratt noticed the story on my IAM page and asked me if I’d like to fly out to Arizona to interview Bud for BME and a few days later I was on a plane to meet him. We chatted for a little over an hour, with me recording the interview and snapping pictures of Bud and his artwork, having him sign a few PFIQs I brought with me and listening to stories about the old days; doing art Jim as well as Drummer and other erotic magazines, talking about how amazing and strange it was that a little niche subculture like body piercing would grow so large in the wake of those issues of PFI that Jim put together.
Some of his commentary was surprising; he felt that Jim’s inclusion of women and heterosexuals was a bad choice for PFI and that it should have been strictly by/for gay men. He begrudgingly acknowledged that ‘times had changed’ but I could tell he had certain prejudices that were unshakable. He didn’t mention if he himself had any piercings or if the iconic artwork I had spent years in love with was just a for hire job. As I left he asked after Jim and Fakir, wondering if his original cover art still existed and if his old friends were well. We shook hands and I headed home with the realization that sometimes meeting your heroes is a mixed blessing.
I wish I could share the interview with you folks, but in an epic comedy of errors my film (this was pre digital camera) was exposed and ruined by airport security and I lost the cassette with the interview somewhere in Arizona. I always planned to go back out there and re-interview him, but these things slip away and before you know it, it’s too late.
I was contacted this morning by my friend Jennifer (Bud’s neighbor) with the news that he had passed away. He leaves behind a legacy of art that captured the imaginations of the subcultures he worked in.
Rest in peace, Bud.
You can check out some of Bud’s erotic illustrations here.