“Raven” was in San Francisco for a brief time on 9th street. I got there when he opened and decided to get the “wind god” tat. He said I was lucky because it was early and he was still fresh and awake after breakfast and not worn out by some of the difficult people that he had come in and bust his chops.
He also gave me a choice of by the hour or a given price. I took the given price and he said it was a bargain because he was fresh and full of energy, as you can see he was, and his work has stay bright after all these years. I believe it was 1982-3. -JD
The first story JD told me, as I was setting up our interview at an Ybor City Pizza shop, was about the time he found himself making an ad hoc tattoo studio out of his van, having discovered a bar full of carnies in Tampa who wanted tattooed. With a mischievous twinkle in his eye he described the good natured degenerates, tough guys and hucksters who joined him in the back of the van, getting skulls and names and roses added to their arms and chests. Continue reading “Meeting JD”
A few weeks ago I started an Instagram account for my Occult Vibrations blog; taking some of my favorite images off of the blog and sending them out into the void that is click-to-like instantblogging. I’ve started to run out of pre-scanned images, so I’m actually going to have to start working at it soon. Should be fun. If you feel like following you can do that here: Occult Vibrations on Instagram.
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.
Borrowing from our Tattoo site Occult Vibrations, this 1978 photo features Alan Oversby at his London studio doing a small flower tattoo on a client’s posterior. Before his career as a tattoo artist and body piercer Alan was an art teacher, leaving the secure world of higher learning to follow his passion for body art. Alan passed away in 1996.
This footage is a re-capture of previously imported video; shot in the 1970s on 8mm film and converted to VHS in the late 1980s it features Sailor Sid Diller and Ken Meyers tattooing at Ken’s Kissimmee, Florida studio. Since my original import for BME/News there have been major advancements in capture/compression technologies and while the VHS master was still viable (though rapidly degrading) I made a higher resolution scan.
This edit is the ‘safe for work’ version; the atmosphere at Ken’s studio during the filming was casual and very sex positive; most of the participants client and artist were fully naked during the tattooing sessions and the longer cut will reflect that.
It must have been about 1991 when I first met Mike Natali; two decades later and we’ve taken to calling our first meeting ‘guiche day’ as both of us were at Jack Yount’s Zephyrhills Florida house to have ours pierced when were introduced and became fast friends, with Mike becoming an older brother/uncle figure to my brother and I. Under his leadership, Ed Fenster’s SILVER ANCHOR body jewelry company experienced massive growth and his own Bravo! Body Jewelry set a high bar for the companies that followed.
In late August I traveled down to Tampa to reconnect with Mike and to record an oral history with him about his introduction to Jack and Ed Fenster, his time at SA and Bravo and his career as a body piercer. The videos need to be edited and a transcript made, but it was really great to spend the afternoon with him and get his story told.
While in Florida I was also lucky enough to spend the afternoon with retired tattoo artist and legendary gay porn author JD, who proved to be a really nice gent who was full of stories which he was gracious enough to allow me to record. JD was a friend of Sailor Sid Diller and would often tattoo at Sid’s South Florida shop. I archived video a few months back and put a call out for SD/OV readers to help me identify the artist in the tape. Through my new friend Brian I found out that the tattooer was none other than John Daigon, who was not only still around, but was willing to talk to us body modification nerds about the glory days. The audio on that recording is pretty beat due to some technical/location issues, but once I get Mike’s history transcribed I’ll put the footage into Final Cut and see if I can clean it up enough to make a transcript.
Late summer 2015 has been super busy for me and I’ve been ignoring Sacred and OV but as fall approaches I have some really amazing content for you folks. Thanks to everyone who’s supported the site and restorations over the last few months- you’re keeping the wheels moving and I appreciate it.
(photo of Mike and I ©2015 Jay Nolan)
It’s not necessarily that I regret my chest tattoo; it’s just that if I had it to do all over again I’d probably get a chest eagle. Big, bold, iconic and so perfectly designed for that anatomy.
Crossposted from Occultvibrations.com, this video features sideshow performer The Enigma being tattooed, simultaneously, by 22 tattoo artists at the 1995 Amsterdam Tattoo Convention.
Original source: 8mm video tape.
Filming location: Amsterdam Holland.
Filming date: May 1995.
Featured: The Enigma, Alex Binnie, Bob Vessells, Horiyoshi 3, Timothy Hoyer, Permanent Mark and more.
I shot this footage in 1995; it’s shaky and has had the audio removed due to copyright concerns.
From the fundraising page:
Recently Xed has been forced to retire from tattooing due to a severe medical condition leaving him unable to use his arms and legs. We, the tattoo family are appealing for donations to enable Xed to fund his rehabilitation and procurement of specialist medical equipment and services that exceeds both Xed and the NHS’s budget’s.
This is the official page made with Xed’s blessing.
Xed has given so much to the tattoo world. Let’s give a little back.
Much love and light to you all.
I met Xed for the first time in Holland at the 1995 Amsterdam Tattoo Convention; I had seen him in P.A.U.K.’s PIERCING WORLD magazine and was a little nervous to go up and introduce myself, but I found him to be a very charming gent who didn’t ming jaw-wagging with a (then 20yo) bodymod nerd from across the pond.
It’s sad that his condition has forced him to retire, but very heartwarming to see the tattoo community come together to help take care of one of our own. If you have a little extra cash laying around and can throw into the pot- I’m sure Xed and his family would appreciate it.
Cross Posted from Occult Vibrations:
I was pulling over some footage from a 1986 VHS tape from Sailor Sid Diller’s collection today when I found another snippet of a documentary featuring iconic tattoo artist Cliff Raven. I have no information on this documentary; I’ve found several segments of varying quality on older VHS tapes in my archives. I’ve done my best to balance out the sound and picture, but with most of these older videos it’s a bit of a challenge.
A lot of these tapes were compilations; pulling footage from 8mm film, VHS camcorders and copied documentaries shared with other tattoo artists. I’ll continue to add footage as I find it.