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In late August, 2018, I presented a multimedia discussion for the members of Death Party Philadelphia with the catchy title of “Where do we go when we die?” The group, some three years old now, hosts monthly events relating to death positivity 1 and death adjacent subject matter so I worked my particular niche (the presentation may have alluded to me being a one trick pony) into it by discussing human taxidermy of tattooed skin and the fluid concept of “forever” when it comes to the human body. The central focus of the discussion were photographs and video from museums and institutions that house and exhibit preserved, tattooed, human skin- the Wellcome Collection, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN), Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum and Japan’s famous Medical Pathology Museum at Tokyo University were represented alongside pop culture ephemera and some deep dives into the semiotics of tattoo culture. 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.
If you look at the BME Encyclopedia on it’s founder Shannon Larratt 1 under the subcategory of “Personal Body Modifications” it lists his blackwork forearm tattoos as the result of a dare. While I know the stories behind quite a few of his tattoos (coverup of matching symbols, a love of homoerotic S/M iconography) I can’t say I was privy to the story of being dared to get heavy blackwork half sleeves.
Shannon sent this 4×6 print to me sometime in the 1990s to be published on my spcOnline site.
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 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.
From the background it appears to have been taken in the mid-1970s at Cliff Raven’s studio in West Hollywood at or near the completion of my first tattoo. ~ Jim Ward
It’s always a treat when piercing and tattoo history intersect; here we have The Gauntlet/PFIQ’s Jim Ward with a freshly worked on tattoo by Cliff Raven. Inspired by Japanese tattoo designs, Raven’s work was bold, clean and made to last.
Tattoo by Alan Oversby; 1970s. Scanned from the original print.
A few weeks ago I was tagged by multiple friends in a Facebook post from a tattooer who’s been doing male pin-ups; archetypal poses gender swapped with big bearded beefcake. The comments ranged from amused to aggrieved with almost everyone agreeing that it was ‘about time’ that someone was doing them.
Of course, there’s really nothing new under the sun. Male pin-ups, particularly homoerotic ones, have been around for a lot longer than social media. Cliff Raven, Sailor Sid, Phil Sparrow, Alan Oversby… anyone who was tattooing a clientele that appreciated the sexuality of tattoo culture was likely to have done one.
Though they weren’t always as explicit as this amazing piece by Sebastian. It dates back to the late 70s and still packs a punch.
Sacred Debris Sandbox members should check out the FB group for a much raunchier part of the design!
I could be wrong, but I think that the heavily tattooed gentleman in this (amazingly candid and charming) photo is Rufus from Rochester who’s made a few appearances here on SD. It’s hard to tell. Either way, the black graphic back piece blast-over caught my attention and put the print on the fast track to the Sacred Debris update queue. Continue reading
According to my end of year (2015) poll, the majority of Sacred Debris readers work in some capacity at piercing or tattoo shops. So I’m not sure that a NOT SAFE FOR WORK tag is entirely necessary (if you work at a piercing shop that has issues with you looking at photos of Jack and Sid, you should probably find a new job) but tellingly enough when I use it I get greater reach on the post. Continue reading