The Silver Anchor Tattoo: Rotary

Another VHS tape has snapped.
It’s always frustrating and melancholic when a tape breaks; in this case it happened while I was fast forwarding to make sure I hadn’t missed any footage and I heard it snap. It’s a 30 year old video cassette, so the fragility came as no surprise, just the sad reality of trying to get these things digitized as they age.

I received an email the other day asking me if I thought that Sailor Sid was a ‘good’ tattoo artist or not, which was strangely the first time I had ever been asked that. The answer was a resounding no; even with the adjustment for the time period he was working during- where the list of world class tattoo artists was considerably smaller than it is these days- Sid was a mediocre tattooer.  He served a very small section of a small subculture and did a serviceable job but was not on the level of a Cliff Raven, Robert Benedetti or Alan Oversby.

This video is from the early 1980s and was filmed at Sid’s Silver Anchor Tattoo Studio and features Sid tattooing a client with a rotary tattoo machine. It’s difficult to see just what the design is. As with a lot of Sid’s gay clientele, the client is fully naked (as is Sid) during the tattoo. As with most of the videos from the time period the tattoo is being done without the artist wearing gloves; something that wasn’t standard practice until a few years later. The video had to have major chunks removed due to video distortion and degradation and the sound is wonky; I’ll likely edit parts of this footage into a larger movie since it doesn’t play straight.

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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 wife Julia and their creepy pets Mr. Bailey Papers and L. RonBenet Ramsey.

3 comments

  1. While I will probably never have the time to watch these, I really want to thank you for taking the huge amount of time needed to preserve this rare footage that would otherwise be lost forever.

  2. Sid was certainly a character and while I never had the opportunity to meet him I have heard a few stories from Krystyne Kolorful about her meeting him. I will try to make a point this week of scanning some personal photos, letters and writings I have of his. And I echo Todd’s sentiment and thank-you for all of your hard work in preserving our history. I am certain the elders thank-you as we’ll fit keeping their memory alive!

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