Doc Webb

Signatures of the Soul (1984)

Signatures of the Soul.

(the NZOnscreen videos can’t be embedded into WordPress at the moment and the site keeps returning a ‘technical difficulties’ error. Sorry!)

I spent most of last night listening to some really great music and talkin’ tattoos. The evening started with a conversation of Old Doc Webb which turned out to be pretty fortuitous- since Gemma got in touch to tell me that the entire documentary is now available to stream online!

Imagine my surprise when I realized that it was the uncut version; having only seen the Discovery TV cut there was footage that I had never seen. Despite getting home at 5:30am I kept myself awake watching it; and had that thrill of seeing something for the first time.

Here’s a little more info from NZONScreen’s website:
“Tattooing — “The world’s oldest skin game” — is the subject of this documentary made by Geoff Steven who scored a major coup when he obtained the services of Peter Fonda as his presenter. Shot in NZ, Samoa, Japan and the United States, it traces the history of tattooing from Ancient Egypt through its tribal importance in the Pacific, to a counter culture renaissance that began in the 1960s. Leading practitioners (including superstar Ed Hardy) are interviewed and observed at work, while their clients wince their way towards becoming living canvasses.”

This is part one of three- it features the introduction, Maori and Samoan tattooing and a visit to San Diego/Doc Webb.

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Doc Webb- San Diego

Long after the price is forgotten… you still have your tattoo. -Doc Webb, San Diego.

It’s easy to romanticize the ‘old days’ of American tattoo shop culture when you hear guys like Doc Webb talking about it. Before it was a ‘gallery’ it was a parlor and if your tattooer had an artschool background he kept it to himself. Even when he’s talking about the Sailors being drunks and raisin’ hell he’s got a smile on his face.

This is from a 1984 documentary called ‘Signatures of the Soul’ hosted by Peter Fonda. It featured a good cross section of tattoo culture, despite being hosted by “the bad guy from the Nicholas Cage Ghost Rider movie”.