Tag Archives: Tattooing

Filling in the blanks

It’s been 27 years since I got my first tattoo and while my interest in various disciplines of body modification has changed in focus over the years I find that my desire to be fully tattooed is still as much a goal as it was when I sat down at a biker shop in Georgia and had that first poorly applied one done on my inner forearm.

When Shannon Larratt and I were planning the guest list for the first ModCon event in 1998 (which never happened: Evolution of a Subculture- ModCon 1) we required potential guests to list their modifications and found that tattooing was the most common amongst all of the groups represented. Extreme piercing fans, voluntary amputees, heavy genital modifications- regardless of which modification brought them to us, almost everyone had at least one tattoo.

Here’s modification legend Jack Yount filling in some work on his back, early 1990s. Jack had an impressive roster of body modification procedures but his tattoos, which ranged from the whimsical to the erotic, were probably the most time consuming.

Happy 2017

Unlabeled photo, 1970s.

Happy New Years from Sacred Debris!
Today marks the start of our 4th year as a blog. I hope that you folks enjoy what we’re doing here. The site is still in a state of semi-hiatus but I’ve got a few new posts in the works so check back (or better yet- subscribe!) soon. As always: likes, shares, comments and tips are appreciated.

This photo dates back to the late 1970s and features a very dashing tattooed/pierced gentleman. No artist/model credit was included with the 35mm print.

JD: Oral History Excerpt

On September 1st 2015 I recorded a free-form oral history with retired tattoo artist and T.R.A.S.H. editor JD. Recorded during lunch, JD and I shared a pizza and discussed the last days of Sailor Sid Diller, gay erotic artist REX (famous for his MINESHAFT logo design), TRASH magazine and the gentrification of NYC.  He was a very charming gentleman, like myself a bit of a rascal and a wonderful connection to days gone by.

The full story of my meeting with JD can be found in Issue #2 of Best Intentions Magazine and you can find archival footage of JD tattooing here: https://sacreddebris.com/ovxsd-j-d-at-sailor-sids-silver-anchor/


Witch’s Rye (NSFW)


Sid tattooing Bill


Bill H, Sailor Sid Diller and Kinsey M.

One morning, when I was still in my late teens, I woke up to the sound of my Mother talking to Jack Yount in our family’s kitchen. It wasn’t uncommon for Jack to come out and visit when he had out of town friends staying with him, and on that particular morning he had brought along his friend Bill who lived most of the year in Copenhagen, Denmark. By the time I got up and ready to join the conversation Bill and Jack had thoroughly charmed my Mother; Bill was smoking his trademark pipe and explaining his theory on the role ergot fungus played in the Salem Witch Trials 1 while my Mother fussed with coffee refills and making our unconventional guests comfortable.

My brother and I would go on to be borrowed by the pair for a ride in Jack’s restored Buick Riviera, taken back to his Zephyrhills home for an impromptu modification get-together. That would have been the first time I saw Bill’s only tattoo, performed in the early 1980s by their mutual friend Sid Diller.

Jack was visiting Bill in Copenhagen in 1995 when he came down with pneumonia.  I lost touch with Bill after Jack’s passing.


  1. Bad Rye and the Salem Witches, Allan Bellows. http://www.damninteresting.com/bad-rye-and-the-salem-witches/

The Tattooists and Dr. Lemes


In 1977, eccentric copyright lawyer and chastity belt collector Albert Morse released the self-published “The Tattooists” 1, a 127 page book featuring interviews with 50 respected names in the tattoo community including Bob Shaw, Bob Oslon, Doc Webb, Vyvn Lazonga, Lyle Tuttle, and Ed Hardy and photographed other notable artists who were fighting the ‘badboys and bikers’ stereotypes associated with tattooing in the latter half of the 1970s. The book was ahead of it’s time in presenting tattooists as artists and their clients as collectors not degenerates;  publishing houses told him that there were no interest in tattoos so he published the book himself, an embodiment of Morse’s stubbornness and resolve.

While working with cartoonists, he noticed a similarity in their art with that of tattoo artists. Mr. Morse had been collecting postcards, posters and photographs of carnival folks and circus freaks for years, so he decided to photograph and write a book about them. He found tattoos both fascinating and appalling, Valenza said.
At the time, tattoos were still mostly found only on bikers, sailors and the like. Publishing houses told him there was no mainstream interest in tattoos, so in 1977 Mr. Morse published “The Tattooists” himself. The photographs were also displayed in the Oakland Museum and at the Pompidou Center in Paris. 2 -Mary Constantinou

Featured on the cover was a Doctor working in Internal Medicine named Andrew John Lemes; the majority of his body covered by a large (and purposely phallic) squid by then rising tattoo star Don Ed Hardy; his back, abdomen, legs and arms adorned with writing tentacles and crashing waves. Piercer and Modification practitioner Jack Yount would cite Lemes’s squid as an influence on his considerably less subtle ‘cock head squid’ tattoo by Orlando’s Bud Pierson, which he was having worked on the day I met him.

Sacred’s tattoo site- Occult Vibrations- has previously featured Dr. John having his squid tattoo applied: https://occultvibrations..com/2011/08/12/dr-johns-squid/


  1. The Tattooists; Morse, Albert. ISBN-10 0918320011
  2. Albert Morse– lawyer, collector, self-publisher by Chronicle Staff Writer Mary Constantinou: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Albert-Morse-lawyer-collector-self-publisher-2505743.php

The Silver Anchor Tattoo: Rotary

[KGVID width=”640″ height=”360″]https://sacreddebris.com/wp-content/uploads/VIDEO/sidrotary.flv[/KGVID]

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.

The Silver Anchor Tattoo: Ram

tumblr_njogvhgVZr1qc2oo7o1_540I’ve finally finished capturing all of the video from ‘Silver Anchor Video Reel 4’ with the last section being in the worst shape of everything that I was able to import. The original source was likely a VHS Camcorder and the footage dates back to somewhere between 1984-1986 when the tape was completed, with this clip featuring Sailor Sid Diller tattooing at the Silver Anchor tattoo studio in South Florida.

Sid would trade this tapes with other tattoo artists, piercers and enthusiasts all over the world, making compilations (mix tapes!) of his tattoo and piercing clients for the small community of dedicated modification fans on his mailing list.

This video finds him using a rotary tattoo machine to add color to a client’s crotch/penis tattoo. Like a lot of the history videos we post, this clip is intended for documentation/archival only. It features an artist working in less than sanitary conditions; wearing gloves wasn’t standard practice until a few years after this film was shot and viewer discretion is advised.

[KGVID width=”640″ height=”360″]https://sacreddebris.com/wp-content/uploads/VIDEO/sidtattooing86.flv[/KGVID]

OVxSD: Cliff Raven


Cross Posted from Occult Vibrations:

I was pulling over some footage from a 1986 VHS tape from Sailor Sid Diller’s collection today when I found another snippet of a documentary featuring iconic tattoo artist Cliff Raven. I have no information on this documentary; I’ve found several segments of varying quality on older VHS tapes in my archives. I’ve done my best to balance out the sound and picture, but with most of these older videos it’s a bit of a challenge.

A lot of these tapes were compilations; pulling footage from 8mm film, VHS camcorders and copied documentaries shared with other tattoo artists. I’ll continue to add footage as I find it.


Homoerotic Tattooing with Sailor Sid Diller

[KGVID width=”640″ height=”360″]https://sacreddebris.com/wp-content/uploads/VIDEO/sidsilent.flv[/KGVID]

The role that the GLBT community played in the evolution of modern body piercing is fairly well known, but the same can’t be said for tattoo culture. Some of the most respected names in tattoo history- Phil Sparrow, Cliff Raven, Robert Benedetti and countless others- were homosexual.

I’m sure somewhere there’s been an academic paper written on their contributions (I’ve handled research requests for several) out there somewhere on the web, but it’s always fun to see video of the golden olden days.

I captured this footage in 2008 for BME/News. It came from a silent 8mm film master that was transferred to VHS in the early 1980s. Life expectancy for magnetic VHS tape is around 12 years; this cassette is easily 30 years old which has compromised the picture quality, but it’s still a great peek into the “T&P Parties” frequented by gay men interested in body art in the 1970s.

Some of this footage was filmed at Ken Meyer’s shop in Kissimmee, Florida. I don’t have much information on Ken other than that he occasionally had Sid Diller guesting at his shop.

The community was much smaller then and the T&P parties allowed for a much more liberal, much more sexualized atmosphere. Artist and client alike were usually naked and the design choices were often erotic.

On an objective level a lot of the work coming from this subcommunity wasn’t spectacular; Raven and Benedetti were exceptions to that, but BEING tattooed was an important part of the cultural aesthetic. A masculine man covered in tattoos fit a certain archetype favored at the time.

And needless to say- sterility and cross contamination awareness was still year away, so with that caveat in mind be aware that modern protocols were wildly absent.

The video is in .flv format; if your browser has issues with that I’ll try to tidy it up when I get back from my honeymoon. This may be the last video on SD for a while, so let me know what you think.

Tattooing at Sids

Short video, short update.
Sailor Sid Diller tattooing a client at his Fort Lauderdale shop.
The machine Sid is using is called a rotary-

Rotary machines use an electric motor that moves the needle up and down versus the two coil machines which uses magnetism to move the needle bar.

Rotaries have no springs contact posts or armature bars to vibrate and operate much more silently than a standard tattoo machine. Some clients feel that the stroke from a rotary is less hard than a coil machine making getting tattooed with one considerably less painful. Others, like myself, feel that tattooing hurts no matter what and that’s part of it’s charm.

377714_4397120693666_450451457_nShawn 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 Italian Greyhound, Bailey, and his pre’ance Julia.