Tag Archives: Bud Larsen

Drummer #1 Cover: Bud Larsen

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

Taurus: Bud Larsen for Drummer

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.

©Drummer.

 

Aries- Bud Larsen (NSFW)

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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:

EnterprisingIncisive, 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?

Notes:

  1. 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.

SPCBud20018mm001: Bud Larsen Oral History

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.

(Val Martin wearing Drummer Shirt via The Leather Archives and Museum. Video title art c. Bud Larsen from PFIQ #13)

Bud Larsen Revisited

Bud Larsen artwork for PFIQ

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.

 

 

PFIQ #31 Cover

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I was putting a bunch of material together for an academic research request on ‘women in early western body modification’ this week which included this scan from PFIQ#31 (1988) featuring side art by the late Bud Larsen.

The demographics in the 70s/80s skewed towards males (primarily gay males) but going back through the old PFIQs while gathering up information, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of female representation included. Issue 31 was almost 50/50 with female and male piercing content including a wonderful photoshoot featuring Krystine Kolorful by legendary photographer Diane Mansfield.

As I told the researcher (who I’ll ask to share her final project with SD readers) the early days were much more dialed into sexuality than aesthetics, so most of the representation was (pleasantly celebrating) sex positive which made the older issues a lot more fun than the later ones in my opinion.

Bud Larsen

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.


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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.

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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.

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