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:


  1. The Tattooists; Morse, Albert. ISBN-10 0918320011
  2. Albert Morse– lawyer, collector, self-publisher by Chronicle Staff Writer Mary Constantinou:

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.


    1. Morse was the copyright lawyer for Robert Crumb- his success in suing companies who bootlegged Crumb art allowed him to do pro-bono work for artists. And according to his obit- he studied for his bar exam on a nude beach!

      I lost my copy of the Tattooists in one of my moves- its on my 2016 “need to replace” list for sure!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *