THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF PULSATING PAULA | A VISUAL RECORD OF NEW JERSEY BIKES & INK

Pulsating Paula tapped TSY with her eye-popping photographic archive of the New Jersey bike and tattoo crowd she shot back in the ’80s & ’90s. These images speak of authenticity, grit, and good times. Looking at these raw, honest shots what speaks to me is that life itself is f’ing good, if you have the nuts to truly go out and live it. It’s not the stuff. You need to show up, be authentic, truly appreciate family & friends, where you are and what you have. When you do that you realize you have all you need.

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“Born in Jersey City. Moved to New Brunswick when I was 8. Got married to my first lay in 1973. 10 years later he bought me a camera, a Canon AE1. I still have it. Started taking photos of biker parties and tattoo events. Sent them into ‘Biker Lifestyle’ magazine who later Paisano publications took over. They came out with ‘Tattoo’ magazine first of it’s kind ever. Between the Biker and Tattoo magazines I had thousands of photos published. The 10 minute set up of my photography studio consisted of 2 flood lights that burnt the shit out of any poor person in front of them, and a 6×9 foot black cloth I got from Kmart that was tacked onto a wall. Never considered myself professional ever. I just loved doing it with every fiber in my body. I know the wonderful people I met and places I been in this journey will live on forever in my photographs. I’m so glad I was there with you.” –Paula Reardon (aka Pulsating Paula) 

pulsating paula 1970s 1980s harley sleeping biker

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SCOTT POMMIER x STACIE B. LONDON x TSY = INK | MATYLDA’S TATTOO TALES

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You gotta love social media– not always, but this particular time, HELLS YES.  So, I see on Stacie’s triplenickel555 Instagram account that there’s a pic re-gram’d of some sort of bike tattoo. I look a little closer, and– hey, I recognize that image! So here’s the deal– this cool gal Matylda in Sweden saw the pic on TSY and was inspired enough to get it inked on her inner arm..OUCH for any of you who know about tattoos. God bless the internets. I reached out to Matylda, and she was kind enough to send pics of the finished work– read on and check it out.

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Scott Pommier shooting Stacie B. London for –SHUTTER SPEED– image courtesy of Camerabag.tv

Hello from the land of the ice and snow! Hope these pics are usable — it’s winter now and we don’t have any decent light to shoot in (not exactly 30 Days of Night, but you know…). Btw, the website is awesome, and I’ve been a big fan.

Cheers,
Matylda

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AUSSIE RULES | THE NEXT GENERATION OF AUSTRALIAN PHOTOGRAPHERS

Listen, I don’t know what’s going on down there, I really don’t. I mean, it’s not like it’s something new—clearly not. After all, Australia is the land that bore and bred Rennie Ellis; country and countryside where the legendary Sam Haskins chose to live out his final days. Only two of many greats from Down Under, but those two, alone, are some pretty damn big shoes to fill. And sure enough, along comes this new group of Australian photographers—Oliver Bryce Yates, Joe Nigel Coleman, Jared Brown, Ryan Kenny and Luke Byrne, to name a few—who call home to Adelaide, Newcastle and Sydney. They’re all young, mid-twenties, on average, but all wise enough to know there is only one way to carry a torch, and that’s by forging your own path.

— Image by © Jared Brown

— Image by © Jared Brown

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HOW TO MOTIVATE THE MALE MORALE | THE PERSUASIVE POWER OF THE PINUP

Betty Grable, in what may be the most iconic pinup image of all time.  –Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though its origins can be traced further back, it was WWII that really put pinups on the map.  The pinup was a reminder to troops of what awaited back home, and as us men go, served as the ultimate motivator to the male psyche– T&A.  What can I say, we are simple creatures.  Maybe you see it as an objectification of women, but the fact is it kept soldier’s morale up in dark, harrowing and uncertain times.  It also served to launch the careers of many a young Hollywood starlet.

It’s an art form expressed through performance, photography, fashion, music, tattoos, etc., that is with us to this day.  It’s taken a decidedly more alternative bent in recent years with the popularity of Bettie Page, Dita Von Teese, Suicide Girls, etc., all of which have helped to keep pinup fanaticism front and center.  Long live the pinup.

May 18th, 1944 — A variation of the old Police Gazette, that used to keep customers happy in grandfather’s day, is this collection of pinup cuties adorning the wall of this barber shop at a U.S. Marine Base in the Pacific. Barber Joseph J. Perino, a Marine Corporal from New Orleans, Louisiana, and a veteran of Guadalcanal, here trims the locks of a customer, who uses the interim for a “dream on the house.” — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Nov 23rd, 1943 — Here are members of the B-24 Liberator Bomber “Miss Giving” credited with making the longest flight mission from Australia while on photographic reconnaissance over a Japanese Oil producing city last October. The Ship fought its way through intense anti-aircraft fire and was intercepted by approximately nine enemy fighters, downing four of them in battle.  One engine was knocked out, but the plane returned to its base without injury to any crew members.  Left to right, front: S/Sgt. Aloysius Ziober, Chicago, Ill., Gunner; Capt. Jack Banks, Portland, Ore., Pilot; 2nd Lt. John Calhoun, Wenona, Ill., co-pilot; 1st Lt. Robert MacFarland, Philadelphia, navigator; 1stLt. Clinton McMillan, Chicago, Bombardier; Back Row: T/Sgt. James Ressguard, Seattle, radio-man; Sgt. Donald J. Ford, Kansas City, gunner; Sgt. James Murphy, Elkhardt, Ind., gunner; T/Sgt. Phileman Blais, — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

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ANCIENT ART OF THE JAPANESE TEBORI TATTOO MASTERS | INK IN HARMONY

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Taking off from JFK today for a two week trip that will take me on a quick stop at Tokyo, then on to Korea, China, and finally Hong Kong.  The zen and artistry of Japanese tattoo has long fascinated me, and with this trip, this post seemed only fitting.

“Oguri, known in Japan as Horihide, his tattooing name, is a famous artist and highly regarded as the pioneer that brought Japanese tattooing to American tattooists, like Sailor Jerry, and subsequently Ed Hardy, after World War II. Thus setting the stage for large Asian body suit tattoo design to change the face of western tattooing in the last half of the twenty first century. Here in his own words is his story~

“In old days, Japanese tattooists worked at their own houses and ran business quietly. They didn’t put up a sign and list telephone numbers on the book. The practice of tattooing was forbidden in Japan (until the end of World War II). The customers used to find the tattoo shops by word of mouth.

When I was an apprentice, feudal customs still existed in Japan. The apprenticeship was one of the feudal customs called uchideshi in Japanese. Normally, pupils lived with their masters, and were trained for 5 years. After 5-year training, the pupils worked independently, and gave the masters money that he earned for one year. The one-year service was called oreiboko in Japanese, the service to express the gratitude towards the masters. The masters usually told new pupils about this system, 5-year-training and 1-year service, when they began the apprenticeship.”

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Mid 20th century, Japan ~ A group of traditionally tattooed gamblers. Umezu (c), the chief of gambling, sits among them. ~ Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection

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“I slept at the master’s workplace when I was a pupil. I wanted to be a great tattoo artist as soon as possible. In the middle of the night, I picked up the needles from the master’s tool box, sat cross-legged and practiced tattooing on my thigh without the ink, remembering how my master performed. I continued to practice tattooing without using the ink. I used a thick bamboo stick for sujibori (outlining), which was about 20 cm long. The edge of the stick was sharpened, and 6-7 needles were put in order and tied up by silk thread. The length of the tip of needles was 3-4 mm. I wanted to workas a tattooist soon, and practiced incising both my thighs with the bamboo stick every night after work.I did not know how to use the tattooing tools and how to adjust the angles. Sometimes I penetrated the skin very deeply with the needles, and the skin bled and swelled. I could not tattoo by using the bamboo stick as I wanted.During the daytime I did chores. If I had no work during the day, I would sit down on the left side of my master and watch his work from the distance.

Every customer came to the master by appointment and got hitoppori. Hitoppori in Japanese means to get tattooed for 2 hours each day. If a big tattoo was to be done, the customer came by every third day. I used to keep sitting straight for 2 hours and just watching my master’s hands learn his tattooing skills. The master would say to me, ‘I’m not going to lecture you. You steal my techniques by watching me work.’ Watching is the fastest way to learn, rather than listening to the lecture, if people really want to learn something. Even though I was full of enthusiasm, my skills were not improved easily. I couldn’t see any progress at all.”

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1946, Tokyo, Japan ~ A Japanese tattoo artist works on the shoulder of a Yakuza gang member. ~ Image by © Horace Bristol

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“One day, the master’s wife asked me to split wood. (Pupils normally call the master’s wife ane-san or okami-san. The master’s wife looked so happy when I called her ane-san. So I called her ane-san during the apprenticeship.) One day while I was splitting wood in the back yard, I got hotter and hotter. I was in a sweat, and took off my shirt and trousers. Ane-san came and asked me to take a rest. She brought a cup of tea for me. Then, Ane-san happened to see my traces of the needles on the thighs.

She was surprised and said to me, ‘How did you get scars on the thighs? Do you practice tattooing by yourself?’

‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘but I cannot tattoo well like the master does.’

‘Have you ever seen my husband’s legs and ankles?’ she asked again.

‘No.’ I said.

She continued, ‘His whole legs are covered with tattoos. You know what I mean? He told me that he practiced tattooing on his legs with the ink when he was a pupil. That’s why his legs are all black. He also told me that a tattooist needs to learn by tattooing his own body to become a professional tattooist. There is nothing to replace human skin. So you have to learn tattooing by using (tattooing) your body.'”

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DON’T DO THE CRIME– IF YOU CAN’T DO THE TIME | A THUG’S LIFE ARCHIVE


“Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion… while truth again reverts to a new minority.”

–Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

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Circa 1972, NY– Prisoner reading in his cell with photos of women covering the walls in Tombs Prison. — Image by © JP Laffont/Sygma/Corbis

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Circa 1954– L.A. Gang Squads.  Image by George Silk for LIFE Magazine.

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Circa 1993– South Central LA 40th Street Gang members show off scars from bullet wounds. — Image by © Mark Peterson/CORBIS

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All my friends know the low rider, the low rider is a little higher. The low rider drives a little slower, low rider is a real good goer.

 

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Tattooed inmates of the California State Prison. — Image by © Ted Soqui/Corbis

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It’s so easy to laugh. It’s so easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind.”

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LA GANG LIFE | DICKIES, THUGS & GUNS THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF ROBERT YAGER

When I was 11 or 12 years old, I learned all about the cholo firsthand. I had been born and raised in NY, when in grade school we suddenly uprooted and headed out West for a new start. After a brief stint in Anahiem we finally settled in Arizona– and we were flat broke. For a good many months we (mom, stepdad, sis, myself, and our Doberman pup) lived in a tent out in the alien desert north of Phoenix.

When the family finally scraped up enough money through my mom waiting tables at some greasy spoon and my stepdad running screw machines, we rented a rundown, roach-infested 2 bedroom trailer in Glendale, AZ.  I’ll never forget that place as long as I live.  The trailer park was directly across the street from the Glendale High School. It was anchored by an old, once-stately mansion that was cut-up into cheap apartments, and was surrounded by a sad assembly of rundown trailers and a couple white-washed shack homes.

It was the first time in my life that as a White, I was a minority– and boy did I stand out. I was a lanky stick with shoulder length, fiery red hair that I wore parted down the middle, and to top it off I also wore glasses. This was before the days of designer frames, people. I don’t think there was such a thing as cool glasses back then. I felt like I had a bull’s-eye painted on my forehead. I was fresh meat in a school of tough-ass kids who looked like nothing I’d ever seen before.  The guys all wore pressed Dickies khaki pants, white tees, and hi-top white Chuck Taylors. The uniform didn’t change, except come winter a large untucked flannel shirt, also pressed, and buttoned up to the neck was added to the ensemble. They looked as foreign to me as I must’ve to them. And the funky music, well I’d never heard anything like it– man, I still have Rick James’ “Give It To Me, Baby” ringin’ in my ears…

I quickly learned that if you start runnin’, you’ll be runnin’ the rest of your life. Better to stand and fight– even if you get your ass beat, you can still look yourself in the mirror, and maybe even gain a little respect. Soon enough I’d hear them say in the halls that I was ok– I put up a good fight. Damn if it wasn’t the roughest school year of my life– but I wouldn’t trade those days, even if I could. The cholo brothers taught me to stand up and not take any crap off of no one. I don’t by any means advocate breakin’ the law, but I do advocate findin’ your voice and letting the world feel the weight of who you are.

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NORMAN ROCKWELL AMERICANA | THE TATTOOOIST, CIRCA 1944

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The Tattooist, ca, 1944 — Norman Rockwell.

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Simply no one captures the idealism and essence of vintage Americana like Norman Rockwell.  You can generously apply all the cliche descriptors enthusiastically, and without remorse — EPIC, ICONIC, etc. — because never have they been more appropriate.  1942’s “The Tattooist” above has long been one of my favorite Rockwell works– so I thought I’d share some of the history behind it, via the Tattoo Archive

Norman Rockwell worked from various staged photographs while painting The Tattooist, which was used as The Saturday Evening Post cover on the March 4, 1944 issue.  In Fact, Rockwell used photographs as an aid in doing most of his paintings.  Rockwell had many willing participants in his town of Arlington, Vermont.  For the actual tattooist, he used one of his fellow illustrators from the Saturday Evening Post, and a neighbor, Clarence Decker, as the sailor.  This was Schaeffer’s only appearance as a central figure in a Rockwell illustration.  Decker was ‘Master of the Grange’ in Arlington, and shows up in quite a few other Rockwell illustrations.  For The Tattooist, Rockwell borrowed a tattoo machine from the Bowery tattooist Al Neville.  Rockwell obviously consulted with Al Neville, along with former sailors to insure the accuracy in his painting The Tattooist.

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Staged photo of Clarence Decker (left) used by Norman Rockwell for 1944’s The Tattooist. Via

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The Tattoo Archive received an email from Ross Mosher, who is the great, great nephew of Clarence Decker, the sailor model for The Tattooist, which read–

“Clarence didn’t have a single tattoo in real life.  Also the last name on his arm is Betty– that’s because my great, great aunt Belle told Norman that if he put her name in the painting, she wouldn’t speak to him ever again.  So Norman crossed the L’s and added a Y.”

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BTC BRISTOL TATTOO CLUB | THE SKUSE FAMILY — GENERATIONS OF KILLER INK

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vintage tattoo postcard Al Schiefley Les Skuse

Dueling tattoo legends & bosom buddies– Al Schiefley (left) & Les Skuse (right)

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Yep.  On a tattoo kick again.  Check out these sick pics and you’ll know why.  This ain’t no Miami Ink — this is Olde School, Hard-Ass Tats.

The legendary tattooist, and founder of the Sandusky Tattoo ClubAl Schiefley lived and worked out of Sandusky, Ohio where he opened his famous Pearl Street shop that dutifully operated for over a quarter of a century.  The photo above was taken back in mid 1950s during Al’s travels abroad, and shows him seemingly double-teaming a well-inked young lady (with a strange sense of humor) alongside his host and fellow tattoo master — Les Skuse, President of the famed Bristol Tattoo Club.  While in Bristol, Al had the honor of being tattooed by Skuse, as well as the respected London tattooist, Rich Mingins.

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Les Skuse tattoo parlor

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THE FOREFATHERS OF TATTOOING | “CAP” COLEMAN & PAUL ROGERS

The Legendary August "Cap" Coleman's Tattoo parlor in Norfolk, Virginia --1936.

The Legendary August “Cap” Coleman’s Tattoo parlor in Norfolk, Virginia –1936. Photo by William T. Radcliffe © The Mariners’ Museum/Corbis

Before Ed Hardy and even Sailor Jerry, there were a couple of guys who are widely considered the forefathers of American Tattooing– August “Cap” Coleman, and the youngling he heavily influenced and mentored, Franklin Paul Rogers.  When you trace the history of tattooing, a good chunk of the great flash icons can be traced directly back to these American masters.  They blazed a counterculture trail back when the only guys (and gals) that sported body ink were either in the service, criminals, or circus and sideshow freaks.  Tattoos were not taken lightly. Nowadays, ink has lost some of it’s original rebellious sting– but for the bearer, it often represents a deeply personal story and is worn like a badge of honor.

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"August "Cap" Coleman personally manned his legendary tattoo parlor six days a week.

August “Cap” Coleman personally manned his legendary tattoo parlor six days a week, circa 1936. Photo by William T. Radcliffe © The Mariners’ Museum/Corbis

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