I recently turned in an article for a new British tattoo zine about the tattoo videotapes that were mainstays in the advertisment section of tattoo magazines of the late 1980s and early 1990s; highbrow offerings like the more structured documentaries that Michael O. Stearns put out through his Metamorphosis II label, erotic offerings from photographer/anthropologist Charles Gatewood’s FLASH VIDEO line and the gonzo films of the legendary Royboy & Debra Cooper of the Badlands of Gary Indiana. The Royboy series especially captures a time/place in tattoo (and biker) culture that’s really unique and were always among my personal favorites.
This photo, scanned from a 3×5 print in the Occult Vibrations archives, features Debra Cooper with work by Royboy. it was taken at a Tattoo Convention in Tennessee in 1986. You can see more of Royboy and Debra by using the Royboy tag.
Pretty much any time Freddy sits down to talk about tattooing (or hell, about anything) it’s probably a good idea to drop whatever you’re doing and listen. His arc on Vice’s TATTOO AGE should be required viewing for anyone interested in tattoo culture, his talk with Scott Sylvia on Last Sparrow a great companion chapter.
The folks at Creative Mornings Oakland invited Freddy to talk a little about the tattoo scene and his place in it. Very much worth checking out.
This excerpt from the 1995 Amsterdam Tattoo Convention video features Paul Booth, Filip Leu, Mike Wilson, Nalla Smith, Joseph Ari Aloi, Chris Trevino, Paul King, Xed Le Head, Alex Binnie, Curly and Juan Puente.
No audio on this one.
There’s still a little more footage from the convention that needs to be finished up, but it’s really shaky and taking a lot of work to make it usable. Fingers crossed.
Twenty years ago today my brother Robert (who took the majority of these photos on honest to goodness 35mm film) and I were strolling around in Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District, winding down from Hanky Panky’s Amsterdam Tattoo Convention. We had spent the previous three days at the Beurs van Berlage, the Damrak’s former commodities exchange and current convention venue, snapping pictures, getting tattooed and- for two L7 farm boys from Florida (I was 20 at the time) enjoying an inescapable contact high from the dozens (or hundreds) of convention go-ers who were enjoying the city’s liberal drug policy. For the last twenty years I’ve used Henk’s event as the yardstick by which I’ve measured every other tattoo convention I’ve attended and one by one they’ve all fallen short. The vibe was perfect; casual and energetic with each booth pushing out one amazing tattoo after the other. As the nights wore on people didn’t leave- they’d grab some floor space to sit down with old and new friends to shoot the shit about tattoos, travel, whatever. The tattoo world was considerably smaller then and every person you met had the potential to be a new friend- I still maintain friendships with folks I met that weekend.
Everything lined up perfectly, including an Amsterdam tour date for the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow- which led to one of the more memorable events of the weekend- The Enigma, tattooed head to toe in puzzle pieces- had 22 (or 23?) of the attending artists- from Henk and Horiyoshi III to Bob Vessels and Alex Binnie- fill in some of his open outlines with his trademark blue. At the same time. It took quite a bit of maneuvering to get everyone working together, but the craziness of it fit in perfectly with the gonzo goings on at the show and while I only managed to snap one photo of it (which I didn’t get a chance to scan tonight) I do have it on video. One of these days I’ll get a working 8mm video camera and will get that footage online.
It’s surreal to be able to look back on an event that still seems so fresh in my mind and realize that two decades have passed. I’m happy to be able to share these photos with you folks.
A few weeks ago I made an impulse buy on eBay that ended up reconnecting me with some friends that I hadn’t spoken to in over twenty years; we’ve been emailing back and forth and it inspired me to go through old photo albums to see if I could find any pictures from the last time we all hung out. This little guy here- a sticker given to me by Guy Aitchison in 1992, fell out of one of the photo albums I was flipping through. It’s still perfectly intact after 23 years, a little memento from Guy’s GIP shop in Chicago, IL. I also came across a handful of photos from my appointment with Guy in 92- getting tattooed surrounded by bikers and chaos at Daytona Beach’s annual BIKE WEEK celebration. I’ve dropped them in my scanning queue, really great stuff!
My buddy Scott sent me this link earlier today- a great look into the 1970s UK tattoo scene.
From the description:
A sample from a 1975 film by John Samson Tattoo (1975) – 20 mins.
A documentary film based on the art of tattooing, tattoo artists and their clients, with interviews exploring the fascination for, and the reasons behind choosing to be tattooed. The film builds up to long climatic scene, often since replicated in other films on the subject, featuring tattooed bodies displayed as art objects. Typically, Samson had himself tattooed during the making of the film.
Preorders are now life for Yellow Beak Press’s Valentines 2014 offering LOST LOVE and as with previous YBP offerings they’ve released a really rad promo video that features some of the kickass vintage flash content that will be in the book.
Flash by Bob Collins
I was chatting with Yellow Beak Press’s Scott Boyer today and he turned me on to the work of Bob Collins, who I’m really interested in finding out more about. Scott’s contributions to documenting tattoo culture are stacking up faster than Royboy’s speedboats; the Zeis book was an instant classic and Born Weird may be my favorite recent tattoo book… so I can only expect Lost Love to be another must have title.
The 9″x12″ hardcover clocks in at 200 pages, and features work by Cap Coleman, Paul Rogers, Sailor Jerry, Stoney St Clair, Percy Waters, Milton Zeis, and many more.
As has become tradition, YPB is going to include a screenprint with the first 200 orders, so get em in early to make sure you score!
Preordering is live, so swing by Yellow Beak Press to order.