I don’t have much information on this image other than that it was sourced from a newly acquired Kodachrome slide that dates back to the late 1970s and features Sailor Sid Diller at an unnamed San Francisco tattoo show. Photographer, event organizer, (convention? show? his name tag turns to a blur when the image is enlarged) and all other relevant data may be lost to the ages, but at least the image, some forty plus years old now, survives.
Early tattoo conventions were an integral part of the tattoo community developing and expanding before the rise and eventual decline of the tattoo magazine and the ubiquity of the internet, but they often ostracized attendees who were also in the emerging body piercing scene. Still, they provided a space where devotees could meet at local (often gay leather) bars near the convention or in hotel suites to share their passions, and slowly but surely the two subcultures merged and became part of a bigger community.
Ari: I always like to kick these off with an introduction, so tell us a little about you, Mama.
Vidra: My introduction to the industry was 1978. I met a gentleman by the name of Linus Herrell and he owned a store in Cleveland called Body Language and that store, how do you explain it? It’s like one of the first alternative bookstores. We didn’t sell any porn, nothing like that, but it had a rubber room and a leather room, where there were all different types of books and little novelties and stuff like that. Also, he had a piercing room. He had magazines like PFIQ, the whole nine yards and I was like, “OK, this is fascinating.” I met him when he was a bartender at one of the little leather bars in Cleveland, in fact the oldest one in Ohio. He had a huge bull’s tether in his septum, and I was just staring at him, because number one it was very attractive and number two I was like, “hmm, how did you do that? How did he get something that thick into his septum?” I asked him a couple of questions. He explained it to me, explained the process of stretching and piercing. When I asked him where do you get something like that done he said he’d gotten work done at the Gauntlet in L.A. by a gentlemen called Jim Ward. That was my first introduction to Gauntlet, and even that was through Linus. He told me about PFIQ and the new shop he’d be opening, etc etc, and then in his psychotic manner he said, “So what are you doing tonight? I get off in two hours.” I said, “eh, probably just going home” and he said, “Well let’s go home and fuck”, and I’m like, “okay.” Now realize back then I was working for a Catholic Church. I was the rectory cook, as well as directing theatre for the deaf and blind and just about any other handicap you can imagine and normal people all on the same stage. It was a lot of work, it was a lot of fun, and I loved doing it. That’s what I did for a living back then. Cooking for a church rectory for the priests and the nuns who ran the Hunger Center in a pretty impoverished area of Cleveland, but it was also the deaf and the blind center for the Diocese of Cleveland. I had worked with almost all types of disabilities really from the time I was 13. Continue reading →
We arrived at Heathrow on Tuesday, March 7th for a week in London prior to moving on to the Continent. Our main reason for this lengthy stay was in order to spend some quality time with Alan Oversby, better know in piercing and tattoo circles as Mr. Sebastian. We also wanted to meet as many other British piercing enthusiasts as possible. -Jim Ward. 1
Among the piercing enthusiasts present during Jim Ward, Sailor Sid and Elizabeth Weinzirl’s 1978 visit to London, England was this gentleman. His septum was pierced but wasn’t stretched; this bone was a gaff. You can read more about Jim’s trip to London in Running the Gauntlet, available here.
The early issues of any print publication go a long way towards defining their overall visual identity; what makes it “it” is honed by the editor’s choice in orchestrating the entire finished product which includes deciding on what you could consider is the most important aspect- the design of the front cover.
Early PFIQ issues, edited by Jim Ward, favored illustrated covers with art primarily provided by Bud Larsen, but with issue four the duties were handled by an illustrator named, simply, Ronin. I did a little digging and couldn’t really find out anything about him, but you have to appreciate Jim’s decision to feature an all female trio of cover “models” in a time where the body piercing demographic heavily skewed towards gay males. While the documentation of the early days of the western piercing scene is, by availability, often very one sided, Jim always featured as diverse a lineup as contributions would allow in PFIQ.
Issue #4 featured a “Who’s Who” article on Alan Oversby, AKA Mister Sebastian.
Happy New Years from Sacred Debris!
Today marks the start of our 4th year as a blog. I hope that you folks enjoy what we’re doing here. The site is still in a state of semi-hiatus but I’ve got a few new posts in the works so check back (or better yet- subscribe!) soon. As always: likes, shares, comments and tips are appreciated.
This photo dates back to the late 1970s and features a very dashing tattooed/pierced gentleman. No artist/model credit was included with the 35mm print.
From the background it appears to have been taken in the mid-1970s at Cliff Raven’s studio in West Hollywood at or near the completion of my first tattoo. ~ Jim Ward
It’s always a treat when piercing and tattoo history intersect; here we have The Gauntlet/PFIQ’s Jim Ward with a freshly worked on tattoo by Cliff Raven. Inspired by Japanese tattoo designs, Raven’s work was bold, clean and made to last.
Tattoo by Alan Oversby; 1970s. Scanned from the original print.
A few weeks ago I was tagged by multiple friends in a Facebook post from a tattooer who’s been doing male pin-ups; archetypal poses gender swapped with big bearded beefcake. The comments ranged from amused to aggrieved with almost everyone agreeing that it was ‘about time’ that someone was doing them.
Of course, there’s really nothing new under the sun. Male pin-ups, particularly homoerotic ones, have been around for a lot longer than social media. Cliff Raven, Sailor Sid, Phil Sparrow, Alan Oversby… anyone who was tattooing a clientele that appreciated the sexuality of tattoo culture was likely to have done one.
Though they weren’t always as explicit as this amazing piece by Sebastian. It dates back to the late 70s and still packs a punch.
Sacred Debris Sandbox members should check out the FB group for a much raunchier part of the design!
I could be wrong, but I think that the heavily tattooed gentleman in this (amazingly candid and charming) photo is Rufus from Rochester who’s made a few appearances here on SD. It’s hard to tell. Either way, the black graphic back piece blast-over caught my attention and put the print on the fast track to the Sacred Debris update queue. Continue reading →
I met Star as the tattooed lady at a San Mateo carnival 10-in-1 show back in 1975. She was also the magician’s girl in the sword box. We connected then and were friends for some 15 years afterward. We did a few shows together and also took pictures in my garage studio with my bed of nails. Stars was a “biker’s girl” and later moved to Florida. I pierced her genitals and she appears in early Gauntlet photo shoots. ~ Fakir Musafar
My buddy Scott recently discovered a few vintage photos of Fakir Musafar and his friend Star in the collection of Bob Hanson and was kind enough to send them over to Sacred Debris.
Star appeared on the cover of the inaugural color issue of PFIQ 1 photographed by Fakir.
PFIQ #15. The previous fourteen issues featured illustrated cover art, primarily by Bud Larsen. Issue #15 also contained a tribute to Ethel Granger by Fakir and an article on Carl Carroll who’s bisected penis appeared in Modern Primitives. ↩
I’m sure it’s just because of the ‘no nudity’ restrictions of Instagram/Facebook but it’s still a little strange to see hundreds of piercings a day on my social networking streams and have the great majority of them be above the neck. Now that I’m in my forties I’ve earned the right to constantly remind people that yes, back in my day we had to walk uphill, in the snow, with no shoes on to have our guiches pierced, with externally threaded jewelry and we liked it.
All of this curmudgeonly rambling is a reminder that genital piercings used to be a piercer’s bread & butter and the ‘king pin’ of male genital piercings was the ampallang. Once thought to be potentially fatal if performed incorrectly (the urban legend went that piercing into the corpus cavernosum would cause uncontrollable bleeding that could result in exsanguination) the ampallang is generally considered to be the heaviest male genital piercing as far as healing time and sensation.
Back in the 1970s when these photos were taken- featuring Sailor Sid Diller performing the ampallang- some piercers felt that the pain factor of certain piercings was ‘brutal’ or ‘barbaric’ and, already on the fringes of subculture, would use injectable anesthetics to make the process easier on their clients. We touched on this in April of 2014 with the editorial A lesser ritual with some comment section dialogue on the concept of “earning” a piercing in tow…
My opinions on the subject are fairly predictable; I’m for the client’s right to not experience the pain of a piercing as much as I’m for a piercers right to refuse to use legally or notsolegally obtained anesthetics. Once the ampallang is pierced there can still be a period (days, weeks) of pain, discomfort and bleeding so to anyone who keeps the piercing (my own was abandoned) has, in my book, earned it.
As always, I encourage you folks to share your thoughts in the comments section.
(this post was written and it’s photographs edited at Disney World)