Tattoo City

Tortoise-saurus Helmet

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.

Charles passed away on 28th April, 2016.