“The decoration, so-called, of the human body by tattoo designs is, in our culture, a barbaric survival, often associated with a morbid or abnormal personality.” -Judge Aron Steuer, Grossman v. Baumgartner.
Back when I used to think that going to tattoo conventions was a fun thing to do, I always loved the NYC Convention held at the Roseland Ballroom. During the years I attended I was lucky enough to have met personalities as diverse as Sonny Barger, Linda Lovelace and Joe Coleman (who’s included in the photos here, along with 90s/2000s convention mainstay Andrew Gore) mixing it up with the tattooed masses.
These photos- scanned from 35mm prints- were from the 2001 NYC Convention. I’ve long since misplaces the artist credits for the tattoos pictured.
I love finding this kind of stuff floating around on the internet. I think it was Liorcifer who posted it over on Last Sparrow; filmed at a tattoo convention in St Paul Minnesota in 1978, featuring Elizabeth Weinzzirl, Spider Webb, Bob Raven (I think? Hairdresser who worked on the Strip with extensive Cliff Raven tattoos) Vyvyn Lazonga and more.
The old guy with the pencil thin mustache steals the show. Anyone have any idea who he is?
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 have to admit it; I’ve had a great time recently going through all of the Royboy tapes that I have in my collection. They really capture a distinct time in tattoo history, and while the content can seem a little gauche by modern standards they’re a lot better than folks (myself included) have given them credit for.
Exotic Expression (which is video #7 from Royboy) was filmed in 1990 at tattoo conventions in Philadelphia and New Orleans respectively. I pieced together about eight minutes featuring Royboy, Debra, Spider Webb, Gil Montie and a baby tiger.
I really hope that whoever owns the rights to the Royboy/Badlands videos puts them out as a dvd release.
Another 8mm conversion.
Spider Webb pushed “art” tattooing hard. Conceptual work, blue and red 3D designs… even loading a shotgun shell with pigment and “shooting a fuckin’ tattoo” onto the client. He pushed hard to get tattooing celebrated as a legitimate art, including tattooing on the steps of the MOMA* during the tattoo ban as an act of protest.
This video, shot in 1974, features Spider at his Mt. Vernon NY shop. As usual- no sound and bad lighting.
*”Spider Webb, a well-known artist, protested the ban by tattooing porn star Annie Sprinkle on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for violating health law. Webb appealed the case, which the New York State Supreme Court refused to hear.” – NYC24.org