“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
In 2009, tattooer Alie K (@goodtattoos) designed a movie theater concession commercial style t-shirt design as a “top contributor” premium for BMEZINE.COM members.
We teamed up with her for this, the first of four enamel pins celebrating the bygone days of splitting and otherwise modifying wieners.
Order it. Wear it. Love it.
During the mid 1990s I was occasionally contracted to attend tattoo conventions on behalf of bmezine.com; while content was being contributed to the website, BME’s editor Shannon Larratt figured that targeted content- particularly the kind that was often photographed in hotel rooms on a more discrete section of the modification community- would be worth the cost of plane tickets, hotel rooms and an incredibly humble per diem.
This being the age before digital cameras were in common usage, all he asked was that I try to get at least two rolls of film per event. Forty-eight images. Before it was a community driven site (a process which started with the password wall on BME/extreme and took hold with the creation of IAM.BME in 2000) the acquisition of content was king at BME; if people didn’t have dynamic images to view, they’d move along. Having strong photos to hook viewers into sticking around long enough to encourage them to share their own was a major focus of the boom-years of the site.
This photo was taken on one of those sponsored trips, on the convention floor at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Portland, Maine. At the time, facial tattoos and body piercing were frowned upon at some conventions, so a gentleman like this was a welcome sight.
If you look at the BME Encyclopedia on it’s founder Shannon Larratt 1 under the subcategory of “Personal Body Modifications” it lists his blackwork forearm tattoos as the result of a dare. While I know the stories behind quite a few of his tattoos (coverup of matching symbols, a love of homoerotic S/M iconography) I can’t say I was privy to the story of being dared to get heavy blackwork half sleeves.
Shannon sent this 4×6 print to me sometime in the 1990s to be published on my spcOnline site.
Are you tattooed everywhere? Genital tattoos have seemingly slipped in popularity over the course of the last few decades. Flip through photos from the collections of Jack Yount, Sailor Sid and Mr. Sebastian or the pages of Jim Ward’s PFIQ or Fakir’s Body Play & Modern Primitives Quarterly and you’re likely to find as many people with erotic tattoos as without. It’s a shame really, and something I hope to fix in my own tattoo collection sooner rather than later.
Bob had his penis tattooed in the early 1980s by Cliff Raven; this photo sees him displaying it after a bit of vacuum pumping.
The process of getting a guiche piercing was, without a doubt, the funniest thing I’ve ever done on all fours involving a surgical marker and a sharp implement. Those who’ve been around the piercing scene long enough to remember the knee/chest method of performing a guiche will likely also remember the ‘winky spot’ portion of the procedure. Jack Yount performed this guiche piercing in 1986 at a Knoxville, TN tattoo convention. I’ve been trying to find out more info on who did the client’s tattoos but so far no luck.
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.