Charles Gatewood

Hellfire NYC 1980

Several years ago I got to meet Charles Gatewood, and for the first time in a long time I was a little in awe. His contributions to modern anthropology through photography cover almost every radical subculture of the last forty years. Before the rest of the world caught on and capitalized, Charles was there with his camera. Mardi Gras, Biker, Rock and Roll, Tattooing (he did several books with Spider Webb) Body Modification, William Burroughs, Sexual Fetishes… His photos from all of these scenes have become iconic- A time and place documentarian who also happens to be one of the friendliest folks you could imagine.

This photo popped up on his Facebook feed today, and with his permission I’m including it here on OV. Slightly NSFW, but what the heck. We’re all adults here.

Left: Kenneth Anger.
Middle: Annie Sprinkle.
Right: Spider Webb.

This photo was taken by Mr. Gatewood at NYC’s infamous Hellfire Club, 1980. The bandage on Anger’s nose was from a “rough trade boyfriend” who punched him in the nose!

I’ve posted before about Anger’s occult tattoos, but I’m not sure if Spider did any of them. His LUCIFER tattoo was done by Phil Sparrow in Oakland, but the rest… maybe it’s time to research!


I think it would be a safe guess that a lot of the folks who regularly read OV are also fans of William S. Burroughs. I’ve had a long time love for Uncle Bill; voraciously consuming all of his books one after another when they were still ‘special orders’ at the small (and only, and predominantly Christian books) bookstore in the town I grew up in. I’ve found reading them at different points in my life has given me different interpretations; and while Nova Express is still my favorite I get a little something from everything he wrote.

Iconic photographer and all around good gentleman Charles Gatewood worked on a book with Bill in the 1970s called Side Tripping and recently released a deluxe version of ‘lost photos’ taken during their friendship.

From the Burroughs23 website:
Each 11″x14″ hand crafted book features high-quality digitally printed reproductions of photographs of American author William S. Burroughs (b. 1914 – d. 1997) shot in London, England in 1972, and in New York, New York, USA in 1975. The book also contains photos of writer Brion Gysin, Led Zeppelin singer Jimmy Page, and Rolling Stone Magazine journalist Robert Palmer. Many of these photos have never been seen or published before now.

The photo above is Bill and Gysin using their ‘dream machine’. Beautiful.