Erotic Tattooing and Body Piercing IV: Cutting by Esther

While mostly known for his contributions to the world of photography, the late Charles Gatewood produced a series of films documenting the various subcultures he had become renowned for photographing. Under the FLASH VIDEO banner he released a library of incredibly rare films on VHS tape that included the Erotic Tattooing & Body Piercing series, the Painless Steel Series, the “Weird” series that included visits to San Francisco, New York and Thailand (his best seller) and an impressive assortment of fetish one-offs.

When I asked Charles how many copies he ran of each volume I was surprised to find that the average run was 50, with extras being made if necessary, and that the best sellers still only moved a few hundred copies each. Even with a sold out title, even with sharing, the number of people who’ve had access to these films is still a small group, which is a shame because a good deal of the content captures a ‘time and place’ in the modification community that has been sorely underrepresented. As always, Gatewood was at the forefront of being at the right place, at the right time and as a peer not a voyeur; his camera documenting people who’s contributions to the scene are now legendary.

This short excerpt from Erotic Tattooing & Body Piercing Volume 4 features Esther Saldana, formerly of Body Manipulations SF/Amsterdam, performing a cutting at a party/event in the Bay Area.



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 outside of academia. 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.

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