In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Charles Gatewood’s FLASH VIDEO label was responsible for a series of documentaries focusing on subcultures that, at the time, rarely had any uncensored media attention. Charles, with his camera in tow and anthropology degree on his wall, could have easily been another predatory voyeur who set his sights on outlaw communities- bikers, S/m clubs, body modification- to return to the safety of academia or the art world with impersonal artifacts from his perceived slumming. But Gatewood was, at heart, an outlaw himself. Having collaborated on books with William Burroughs and Spider Webb, Charles had a genuine love for fringe groups he met with in his photos and Flash documentaries, which unfortunately never made it en masse into the digital age.
I’ve been archiving and cleaning up select titles from my archives- most of which aren’t really appropriate for Occult Vibrations- but this clip from his ‘Erotic Tattooing and Body Piercing Vol 5’ VHS fits perfectly. Charles, at the Meadowlands tattoo convention in the early 1990s, speaks to (then) SF resident Avery Badenhop who shows off his mind-blowing full head tattoo by Tattoo City’s Daniel Higgs, as well as work from Bill Salmon, Greg Kulz and Filip Leu.
More from Tattooing Reality (thanks to my friends at Avail) with better quality.
In this excerpt, Ed Hardy talks about the roots of Realistic Tattoo; featuring Greg Irons, Bill Salmon and Dan Thome.
While Leo Zulueta had a major impact on the popularity of ‘tribal’ tattooing, Thome is an under looked figure in the evolution of graphic abstract and traditional Polynesian tattooing. His work laid the way for artists like Thomas Hooper, Jondix, ThomasThomas, Xed et all. So strange to think of him working by hand in a major shop in 1985.
This one has been giving me trouble from the getgo.
No matter how much I adjust the audio, there’s still a considerable ‘hiss’ that I can’t get rid of. I’ve spent two days trying to get it uploaded via iMovie’s internal youtube bridge, seeing ERROR messages every time I get to ‘twenty minutes remaining’ and using youtube’s own uploader took me 5 hours and seems to have resized the opening title frame. Fun.
Still, you get a dream team of tattooers discussing tattooing and that trumps all the nerdy backstage stuff that it took to get online. Hardy, Salmon, Roberts, Eldridge, Salmon, Zulueta. When you think of the impact Hardy had on modern tattooing it’s astounding; some of the artists and styles he brought to Realistic must have been so far out at the time;.even now having an artist doing Oceanic handpoke work at a shop is a novelty- thirty years ago it must have been inconceivable.