For better or worse, tattoo conventions used to be a common meeting place for devotees of body piercing; while discretion was often necessary on the convention floor, 1 piercing fans would find community in the privacy of their convention hotel room; clothes coming off to reveal the piercings hidden from the more conservative tattoo crowd at large.
In 1986, at the Knoxville Tattoo Convention, a group of friends that included, among others, Jack Yount (not pictured), Sailor Sid Diller, T.R.A.S.H. publisher J.D., Silver Anchor’s Ed Fenster, Marv from Australia, and Emil G, did just that – enjoying each other’s company, shedding their clothes, and having a little fun. Continue reading →
“Since Ed Hardy had brought the subject of piercings up at the I.T.A.A. Reno Convention in 1977 (he felt, as did the overwhelming majority of Artists there that piercing did not belong at a Tattoo convention and should not be linked to tattooing. I.T.A.A. Members voted there and then not to have piercing at future conventions) it was decided on (by the suggestion of Bob Shaw) not to allow facial tattoos or piercings at the National Tattoo Conventions. This was to be a Convention to promote Tattooing and only Tattooing.” – Source: http://runningthegauntlet-book.com/BME/jimward/20050329.html.↩
I don’t have much information on this image other than that it was sourced from a newly acquired Kodachrome slide that dates back to the late 1970s and features Sailor Sid Diller at an unnamed San Francisco tattoo show. Photographer, event organizer, (convention? show? his name tag turns to a blur when the image is enlarged) and all other relevant data may be lost to the ages, but at least the image, some forty plus years old now, survives.
Early tattoo conventions were an integral part of the tattoo community developing and expanding before the rise and eventual decline of the tattoo magazine and the ubiquity of the internet, but they often ostracized attendees who were also in the emerging body piercing scene. Still, they provided a space where devotees could meet at local (often gay leather) bars near the convention or in hotel suites to share their passions, and slowly but surely the two subcultures merged and became part of a bigger community.
The class schedule and registration portal for the 2018 Association of Professional Piercers annual Conference and Expo has gone live, and with only four months until showtime attendees are no doubt weighing the plusses and minuses of each offering to fully maximize their time in Las Vegas.
Health, safety, and technique classes probably top the list of most requested , but the APP also offers a selection of anthropology and culture classes that should be considered can’t miss opportunities for anyone interested in the who/what/where/when/why of body piercing. Continue reading →
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.
Charles Gatewood, iconic photographer and counterculture anthropologist, released somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 documentary films through his boutique FLASH VIDEO label. Films that ranged from profound to prurient with titles like Fangs of Steel, Messy Girls and the Erotic Tattooing and Body Piercing series, the Flash Videos were niche content at it’s most niche. When I spoke to Charles about production runs in 2015, he told me that the average title started with a run of 50 units, with more being duplicated if needed. Twenty five years later it’s no surprise that an entire generation of body artists and admirers have come up that have never seen the Gatewood films.
The good news is that the Body Piercing Archive- the archival wing of the Association of Professional Piercers- was gifted the rights to the archive and plans are in place to capture and preserve these lost treasures; something I’ve been doing as well with my personal copies.
For my money, the best of Flash was the fifth volume of the Erotic Tattooing and Body Piercing series; released in 1992 or 93 and filmed at the Meadowlands Tattoo Convention, #5 features Jack Yount, Emil, Mr. X and a host of other luminaries. The photos taken of Jack that day are among my favorite images of him and he often spoke of being photographed by Charles. This brief clip, filmed the same day as his photoshoot in 1992, was shot on Jack’s 8mm camcorder, with a show and tell with a client of Fred Corbin’s. This is the first time this footage has been seen in 25 years.
This weekend marked the ninth anniversary of the third and final Scarwars event. I was going to wait for the tenth before putting a post up, but sentimentality got the best of me and I grabbed a backup drive and pulled over a few of the thousands of photos taken that weekend to share with you folks here on SD.
A few weeks ago, some twelve years after it’s launch, I nuked the Scarwars.net blog. It was a long time coming but pulling the plug was strangely anti-climactic. Still, in the decade it was online the site hosted some damn fine content, so from time to time we’ll be featuring highlights here on Sacred Debris.
These photos (by Allen Falkner) date back to May of 2005 and feature Tom’s jaw-dropping full torso scarification by Dave Gillstrap. It remains one of my favorite large-scale cuttings.
Going through 575 photos from the 2008 Rites of Passage Campout (taken by Robin Scott/Phoenixxx Rising) made several things abundantly clear to me; that of all the suspension events I’ve attended the campouts were always my favorite, that Robin took some many photos that it was difficult to pick just a few for this update and most of all that I really miss the offline social aspects of the community. Between BMEFESTS, Suscons, Campouts, Bowling with Weirdos, Modcons and the random any excuse parties we used to throw there were so many options to see friends from all over the world. Continue reading →
You don’t need 2″ ears and a full black bodysuit to do that. The origins of our art form is tribal so that really only need exist in your heart. And you have to honor the traditions of our collective human mythology by incorporating tribal consciousness as well as aesthetics into what we do. – Blake Perlingieri, 2004
When I first saw a photo of Blake Perlingieri in Fakir Musafar’s BODY PLAY in 1991 the majority of people I knew in the piercing scene were decades older than me. My piercing elders would gently caution me against stretching my earlobes (despite me having 1/2″ nipple piercings and a meatotomy) for fear of public exposure and most of the clients of Jack Yount I was introduced to assumed I was his grandson not his friend and mentee. Aside from my brother, Brian Skellie and a few others the idea of a young, heavily tattooed and pierced person was generally considered a novelty in my community. Blake was only a few years older than me. He had 2″ earlobes (at that point mine were probably a humble 1/2″ or so) and tattoos that weren’t off-the-wall flash jobs that were there to prove you could be tattooed while saying nothing about the person wearing them. His photos assured me that the cultural shift that Jack had been telling me about- the old guard making room for the new generation- was coming.