Daniel Higgs

Tortoise-saurus Helmet

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.

Charles passed away on 28th April, 2016.

Video ©Charles Gatewood/Flash Video.

Blowguns Beach Whistles and the True Definition of Powerlessness Converted

“I’ve heard that the Internet is a powerful form of communication”- Scott Harrison.

A much less embiggenable version of this video used to be available on Scott Harrison’s HEADBAND BROTHERS website. It’s probably one of the greatest films ever made. Much more enjoyable than, say, Citizen Kane or The Godfather. Check it out.

Blowguns Beach Whistles and the True Definition of Powerlessness Converted
A Video Project by Scott Harrison, featuring stories told by: Michael Malone, Oliver Peck, Daniel Higgs, Kevin Q, Annette Larue, Michael Palmer, Jason Mast, David Quale, Jerry Ware, Bobby Love, Jennifer Reeder, Ernie Gosnell, Seth Ciferri, Eric Perfect, Robert Winslow, Clio Weisman, and Don Ed Hardy. © S.D. Harrison 2005

Higgs Helmet


I’ve been staring at a half written OV update featuring some amazing 1990s tattooing by Guy Aitchison for over a week. I log in, see that I still haven’t wrapped it up, and instead of finishing it I end up procrastinating until I’ve totally forgotten about it.

I can find the time to write about why I haven’t written that update, apparently, which is something I should probably work on.

But since I’m still in a 1990s mindset- I scanned this print of Avery’s ‘turtle-taurus helmet’ by Daniel Higgs. I can’t remember which convention this was shot at, to be honest, but it’s still a striking piece.


The Book of Antennae Reissued

Book of Antennae influenced tattoo by Chad Chesko (via Instagram)

Book of Antennae influenced tattoo by Chad Chesko.

ARMAGEDDON is a cloven brain captured in
hermaphroditic transubstantiation- Armageddon
is creations source and reason- Armageddon is a
union that supplants all that has been known, the
only destination, a war on superstition, a return to
the true tongue, violent storms of powerful
medicine, the lost home, a certain event mustered
in language- Enlist in metaphor or procrastination in
belief-  Dreams sabotaged by false instruction- A
mattress at the crossroads-  A theater of indecision-
The trough and crest of the Book of Antennae

It’s not really important if this story is true or not; if the details happened the way they were told to me or if they even happened at all.

A friend of mine was guesting at Tattoo City back in the halcyon days of Ed, Eddie, Freddy and Dan and in between tattoos a few guys came in for an appointment. He overheard them talking about a ‘crazy hobo in the park, yelling poems to the pigeons’ and making fun of his big bushy beard and his peculiar way of wearing layered oversized sports coats. When my buddy asked who they were there to see, they replied,  enthusiastically, DANIEL HIGGS!

Higgs has had many superlatives thrown his way over the course of his 30 year career as an artist: oracular, shamanistic, enigmatic and most importantly influential.

The ripples- the vibrations- of his influence extend well past his brief stint as a tattooer and even today, some fifteen years after the publication of his all text “The Book of Antennae” his resonance is still well justified.  While he’s probably much more celebrated for his graphic art, his poetry and songwriting add go hand in hand with his visual output. Book of Antennae, recently reissued by Chicago’s Now Testament, contains a self described ‘Alphabet Sequence As Composed By Daniel Nomo Higgs’ and while unlike The Doomsday Bonnet features no artwork other than the cover still deserves a place on any fan’s bookshelf. 

10932194_767627726650119_191207413_nOver the decade and a half since it’s initial release, Antennae has become eBay gold, commanding prices easily 10x the original asking price. Now Testament is reissuing it in it’s original format (save for the cover; the original green ‘eye cross’ has been transmuted to red) for the incredibly humble $15.
Do yourself a favor and grab these while they’re still available: http://www.higgsnowtestament.com/


My buddy Klint and I braved West Philadelphia’s streets back in April of 2011 to catch a show by Skull Defekts (featuring Daniel Higgs) and Zomes. Previous clips from that night have appeared on OV but for some reason I never finished editing and uploading the entire show. I found the folder while rummaging through a backup drive earlier today and randomly grabbed, edited and uploaded a song from the set  for you folks who’ve patiently waited for three years to see the whole thing.


Dances In Dreams Of The Known Unknown


I think it’s fair to say that the music of Daniel Higgs- whether with the seminal Baltimore based LUNGFISH, his more free-form solo offerings or his partnership with Swedish experimental outfit SKULL DEFEKTS- is critic proof. You’re either going to buy it or you aren’t. No review could dissuade a Higgs fan from purchasing his latest offering in whatever form it comes in regardless of the vitriol of the reviewer. Speaking for myself- I buy them all, figuring that the best of his worst is still more interesting to me than most of the new releases that will drop along side of it.

April 8th 2014 will see a new Higgs/Defekts collaboration- Dances In Dreams Of The Known Unknown– on Thrill Jockey Records. With any luck they’ll be touring to support the album and we’ll have a chance to hear the new material live.  The band has released a single and a video for Awaking Dream; check it out and let me know what you think.

The Skull Defekts – Awaking Dream from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.