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.
From a 1991 Tattoo Revue produced video shot at the National Tattoo Convention.
This video features Jeff Rassier (currently at Black Heart in SF) Dana Brunson (in Cincinnati at Tattoo Designs by Dana) Leo Zulueta and Greg Kulz.
I think it was either LA or San Diego.
It also reminds me that I have to get my ass to Cincinnati and get tattooed by Dana.
There’s a danger with this blog of becoming overinflated with Daniel Higgs content.
Certainly there’s no denying his monumental influence on most of the people who’re reading this; but I have to be careful not to tip the balance too far in one direction, particularly when there are so many folks out there currently tattooing that are putting on amazing designs that we could be showcasing. Which is something I hope to start doing soon.
But since I’m trying to get as much of this old video content up as possible- I present another (very short) Higgs clip from the indispensable “Frisco Skin and Tattoo Ink” video.There’s so much amazing content in that video- the interviews with Lyle Tuttle, Henry Goldfield… if I posted everything that I loved from it I’d end up uploading the whole dang thing.
This clip features Daniel talking about Greg Kulz, who was working at Erno’s when Daniel was still there.
Greg was one of those guys who more indirectly influenced me- his mostly black and spiny work didn’t appeal to me as something I’d consider wearing on myself, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by his Jack Kirby influenced monster sketches. His back piece (by fellow San Franciscan Vaughn) is iconic in it’s own right and my limited interaction (chatting briefly on facebook) with him has shown him to be a really nice guy. What more could you ask for?