In the late 1970s, illustrator Bud Larsen contributed distinctive line-art illustrations to magazines that would go on to become synonymous with the subcultures they documented; forty-plus years later PFIQ and Drummer have become the defacto reference points for folks researching the history of body piercing and gay leather culture respectively. Bud provided cover art for both of their inaugural issues, with interior illustrations that in my mind are as intrinsic to their visual identity as Al Hirschfeld’s similar but decidedly less erotic drawings were to the New Yorker.
While most of Bud’s Drummer work was in their DRUM BEATS section, he also contributed several representatives to their Zodiac series -an S&M sign of the zodiacal times – like this Cancer 1 illo from the seventh issue. (1976)
Illustrator Bud Larsen’s iconic black and white line drawings helped establish the visual aesthetic for the early issues of both PFIQ and DRUMMER magazine; like a kinky Al Hirschfeld his style was light on color/shading and heavy on technique, line weight, and overall badassedness. These illustrations from early Drummer 1 issues could easily go toe to toe with other more well-known 1970s magazines cartoonists like Bill Ward, Jack Davis, or Gahan Wilson.
We launched our new print zine project at this year’s APP Conference and Expo with issue #1 of NODAL POINTS; 100 pages of body modification history and culture culled from twenty five years of archival that includes:
A. Viking Navaro polaroids/prints.
Evolution of a subculture: Modcon 1.
Subtracting. (Voluntary Amputation)
BSTA: Blake Perlingieri.
Correspondence with Bud Larsen.
Annie Sprinkle/Fakir Musafar.
Ari and I are hard at work on Issue #3 1 but for folks who didn’t get a chance to grab a copy in Las Vegas- we’re stocked up at Hex Appeal.
Finding ‘new’ artwork by iconic gay erotic illustrator BUD is always a treat; despite his connection with subculture defining periodicals 1 in the 1970s, Bud never found the kind of audience that Tom, Rex or the Hun enjoyed. Back in 1999, he submitted a six page story to Atomic Love #4 by Sina Shamsavari that featured his trademark crisp lines (before printing; zines were DIY and notoriously suffered poor production values) and erotic fantasy/sci-fi imagery.
We’re working on finding more of Sina’s collaborations with Bud and will share if located!
Bud provided cover art for the first issues of both PFIQ and Drummer. ↩
Annie Sprinkle documented her side of Fakir Musafar’s 1982 visit to NYC in Velvet Talks magazine, with Fakir’s story to be published in issue #12 of PFIQ. With a cover provided by illustrator Bud Larsen, Fakir’s article and photographs join the first appearance of The Incredible Til of Cardiff and the Pierce with a Pro: Clitoris tutorial in issue 12.
The early issues of any print publication go a long way towards defining their overall visual identity; what makes it “it” is honed by the editor’s choice in orchestrating the entire finished product which includes deciding on what you could consider is the most important aspect- the design of the front cover.
Early PFIQ issues, edited by Jim Ward, favored illustrated covers with art primarily provided by Bud Larsen, but with issue four the duties were handled by an illustrator named, simply, Ronin. I did a little digging and couldn’t really find out anything about him, but you have to appreciate Jim’s decision to feature an all female trio of cover “models” in a time where the body piercing demographic heavily skewed towards gay males. While the documentation of the early days of the western piercing scene is, by availability, often very one sided, Jim always featured as diverse a lineup as contributions would allow in PFIQ.
Issue #4 featured a “Who’s Who” article on Alan Oversby, AKA Mister Sebastian.
In an upcoming interview from the Better Safe than Ari series, former piercer (and current tattoo artist) Ken Dean talks a little bit with Ari about the connection tattooers have with the history of their craft, and the seeming apathy that piercers have for theirs:
Ari- Tattooing is so big on history, such a prevalent part of the culture, even with shitty tattooers! It’s such an embrace your heritage type deal, but piercing is not. Most people don’t give a shit about any of it. Any idea why even the bottom tier of tattooers are all know your roots, but piercers tend to be so apathetic?
Ken – I don’t know. I mean shit, even at the tattoo museum I work at we have a huge picture of Fakir. The shops been there since 1941, like before Pearl Harbor! I don’t know why they don’t care. Could it be because the roots of piercing are in the gay S&M leather underground?
I certainly hope that’s not the case. The intersection of 1970s Leather Culture and the roots of the early Western body piercing industry are inexorably linked. While the makeup of the industry has changed radically since Jim Ward opened the Gauntlet forty years ago, with Leathermen with an interest in piercing being replaced by people interested in body piercing as it’s own subculture, it’s origins should still be celebrated.
When it comes to Leather culture, Drummer Magazine 1 was at the forefront of documenting (and help define archetypes for) the lifestyle. Those early issues were powerhouses of iconic content of interest to the body mod scene; erotic stories by Phil Andros (aka Phil Sparrow, aka Sam Steward) articles with Cliff Raven, illustrations by PFIQ cover artist (and Sacred Debris favorite) Bud Larsen- they’re a treasure trove of awesome. Continue reading →
Dome Karukoski’s TOM OF FINLAND is currently playing in limited release in theaters across the US, exposing the erotic artwork of Touko Laaksonen to a new generation of (hopefully) adoring fans. Over the last few decades there has been a growing appreciation for Tom’s iconic pencil drawings of hunky leather men, bikers and sailors with Finland recently releasing a series of postage stamps and online retailers selling a wide variety of Tom goods including shower curtains, bedding and a wide variety of branded clothing.
While it’s great to see Tom’s work receiving so much attention, it’s heartbreaking that the art of Bud Larsen hasn’t had the same luck. His work for early PFIQ (and Drummer magazine) issues was a mixture of bold, graceful line work and erotic subject matter that helped the magazine establish it’s aesthetic.
This illustration was for Drummer Magazine, 1970s. Bud’s work often included mythological, sci-fi and astrological elements.
The Sacred Debris archive has several alternate prints from a photo session between Sailor Sid Diller and Viking Navaro documenting his black graphic phallus tattoos, with several featuring some iteration of the note in the print above- Sid exuberantly announcing that the semi-abstract graphic images on Bud’s legs are, in fact, “cocks!”
I’m still working on transcribing the 2001 sit-down I did with PFIQ/Drummer Magazine artist Bud Larsen; I’ve mentioned before that it’s less of an interview and more a free form oral history and as such I’m not sure how much will be relevant to SD readers, but the same can’t be said for examples of his artwork, which is always impressive and of interest to folks interested in body modification history.
This ARIES illustration was used in Drummer Magazine 1 (ed note: cite issue number/date) and features the God of War himself, tattooed and collared and impeccably inked by Bud. I don’t know much about astrology, but it would seem that Tennessee Williams, Bill Shatner and “The Night Porter” actor Dirk Bogarde are all Aries- and according to the Internet that means that they’re:
Enterprising, Incisive, Spontaneous, Daring, Active, Courageous and Energetic, the Aries are the proverbial infants, guileless and optimistic to the fault. However, they also are impatient, impetuous, vain, proud and egoistic. (source: http://www.ganeshaspeaks.com/aries/aries-facts.action)
That seems fairly dead on for Shatner, so maybe there’s something to it?
Drummer Magazine was launched in 1975 by John H. Embry and Jeanne Barney, catering to gay men into the Leather subculture. It ran until April of 1999. Over it’s tenure it was considered highly influential in the gay/leather community. ↩