I know, I know- this documentary has been out for ages, but I finally got to see it last night. In a funny co-incidence, so did Bill Cohen, from the original Tattoosday! Either great minds think alike, or we’re both two halves of the same idiot.
Bill has already written his review of the documentary, and since I feel the same, I didn’t want to write some boring “I agree” post, so instead Bill has given permission to have some excerpts included here- thanks very much Bill!
The film itself was wonderful, and echoed what I consider one of the best tattoo books I’ve ever read, Sailor Jerry Collins: American Tattoo Master.Much of the book is the actual correspondence between Sailor Jerry and a young tattoo artist named Don Ed Hardy. The film intersperses snippets from the correspondence, typed out across the screen, with a voiceover representing the artist’s voice, with interviews from Don Ed Hardy, along with a veritable Who’s Who of Old School tattoo legends like Lyle Tuttle, Mike Malone, Zeke Owen, Bob Roberts, and the scene-stealing Philadelphia Eddie Funk.
Because Sailor Jerry was so suspicious of "outside forces" (i.e. the media), he never gave interviews, and the only exposure we get to him are still photographs and a rare recording of his voice from a radio program.
I found the film doubly interesting because Sailor Jerry was based in Hawai’i, my home state, and I really had an understanding of the Hotel Street area of downtown Honolulu where the tattoo shops were located, and I remember how seedy that part of town was, even as late as 1984. I also loved the one artist speaking pidgin, "Eh brah, wheah da five dollah poke stay?" This, of course, translates to, "Excuse me, where can I go for a five-dollar tattoo?"
Thanks again, Bill! You can read Bill’s full review of his Hori Smoku experience, which took part on a rooftop of all places, by clicking here!