In the nine months that Occult Vibrations has existed, my inbox has been host to a handful of emails from people trying to get me to help publicize their projects; tattoo suppliers, tv shows and even a movie about a tattoo that comes to life and whispers to it’s owner, the submissions have almost all been given a polite ‘thanks but no thanks’.
My original intention for OV as a journal of esoteric tattoo art; the history videos came soon after and I was happy to have a blog that strayed from it’s goal but was still very personal; as the only writer I controlled the content, and that content was very much opposed to ‘Reality Tattoo Tv’.
When I got an email from Juliette at VICE asking me about covering Tattoo Age, it was a no brainer. I had already blogged the teaser trailer and my usual skepticism was put on hold. Dan Santoro? Grime? Rubendall? They all trusted Vice and producer Chris Grosso to not exploit tattooing like the ‘Inked’ franchise, so I extended him the same courtesy.
What really sold me, though, was the last name on the list.
Fred Corbin. Mr. Niceguy. Freddy Jesus himself. Along with Dan Higgs, Fred Corbin was one of the most influential tattooers to me when I first started getting tattooed. Their appearance in Stearn’s “Frisco Skin and Tattoo Ink” was IT for me back in 1990… guys who were closer to my age, who read the same comics as I did and who’s views on tattooing most closely matched what I wanted. I’ve shared clips from that video here on OV (and to the Tattoo Age people- you can see clips in episode 1 of Fred’s arc) and have watched it so many times I could probably recite it from memory.
When Tattoo Age finally premiered, with the Dan Santoro arc, I watched. I enjoyed. Grime, Troy Denning, Mike Rubendall… some were more engaging than others but every episode was a fair look at tattoo culture and the tattooers themselves with zero exploitation, zero drama or sensationalism.
Season one, what we all hope to be season one, is almost over. Fred Corbin’s episodes are finally airing (With 1 online now, and 2 and three coming soon) and it’s been worth the wait. It’s impossible not to find something likable about Fred; who moved from what Stearns described as a ‘young turk’ to an elder in the tattoo community with two shops in Oakland and an international reputation who elicit the respect of everyone around him.
These are the episodes I’ve been waiting for. To Chris and the Tattoo Age staff at Vice… thank you so much for all of the work you’ve done. While I still plan to deny most requests that pop into my inbox, you guys always get a free pass.