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1961 Life magazine article on NYC tattoo ban

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A friend of mine found this and scanned it for me.

Since it's in Life magazine--in 1961--I expected it to be on some, "Well, thank American Jesus that's illegal now!" Instead, they seem to complain about the ban. "Effete civilization is smothering the 4,000-year-old art." I'm also intrigued that a Coney Island carney still counted his 59 tattoos, all of which had devolved into "purple pictures." About this "needles and matches" method: I assume the matches are to burn paper to create soot which gets mixed with water (or, you know, piss)?

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A friend of mine found this and scanned it for me.

Since it's in Life magazine--in 1961--I expected it to be on some, "Well, thank American Jesus that's illegal now!" Instead, they seem to complain about the ban. "Effete civilization is smothering the 4,000-year-old art." I'm also intrigued that a Coney Island carney still counted his 59 tattoos, all of which had devolved into "purple pictures." About this "needles and matches" method: I assume the matches are to burn paper to create soot which gets mixed with water (or, you know, piss)?

cool article,

when I saw the "matches" thing,I thought of it's use as in sterilizing the needles ? in those days.

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Cool find, thanks for sharing! There's probably already a thread on tattoo history, I'll see if I can find it. I have a bunch of pictures that I've saved across knowledge hunts on the internet. I think tattoo history is so magical. I think mostly because it's not very easily accessible unless you know where to look, so when you do find some good stuff it's like you just found the golden egg.

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I guess there were no women in 1961. How did we ever procreate? :eek:

I've seen pictures of women Tony D'Annessa tattooed around then (see the article in TAM about him here), and I've seen pictures of Doc Forbes probably from around that same era...opposite coast though...of him tattooing women, so women were getting tattooed then. I need to reread Sam Steward's book Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos because he definitely talks about how he wouldn't tattoo (maybe unmarried?) women other than lesbians basically because it would "ruin" women for marriage or some such nonsense. Anyway, the point is that I think that tattoos were especially taboo for women so I'm not entirely surprised that Life Magazine would completely overlook them.

I really need to get that New York City Tattoo book.

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I've seen pictures of women Tony D'Annessa tattooed around then (see the article in TAM about him here), and I've seen pictures of Doc Forbes probably from around that same era...opposite coast though...of him tattooing women, so women were getting tattooed then. I need to reread Sam Steward's book Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos because he definitely talks about how he wouldn't tattoo (maybe unmarried?) women other than lesbians basically because it would "ruin" women for marriage or some such nonsense. Anyway, the point is that I think that tattoos were especially taboo for women so I'm not entirely surprised that Life Magazine would completely overlook them.

I really need to get that New York City Tattoo book.

That could be true. I think the news/history has always been sexist in the sense that they generalize that human = man. BUUUT that's for another thread/topic :)

The NY ban has always been intruging to me, so cool find!

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