Menu

TATS & RINGS, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, 1955

Tattoos on Miami Beach

A well dressed tourist out on the town casts a long hat-wearing shadow. He strikes a casual yet confident pose near, but not too near, a guy who quite clearly knows what it feels like to get a tattoo and maybe even hang from tender body parts that people don’t usually hang from. This guy is a walking billboard for tattoo art and a sampler platter of styles for you to be inspired by.

Is that a mushroom cloud on one leg and a Native American on the other? Is that a swallow I spot on his right shoulder and some thorny roses on his left inner thigh? And how about that skimpy swimsuit! Is that uniform? Perhaps the belt keeps it from falling off when he’s hanging. OUCH!

In the realm of vintage photography there is no question this slide falls into the “The folks back home will never believe this!” category. I’m sure the folks back home were shocked! I’m shocked, aren’t you? And it’s fifty years later.

I was inspired to share this salty slide with you while talking to a mysterious yet approachable guy last Saturday night at a party. I couldn’t help but notice that he had tattooed flames burning from the neckline of his torn t-shirt. Turns out he’s a tattoo artist at Incognito Tattoo, a tattoo parlor in Pasadena. Explaining that I collect other people’s old slides he asked if I’d ever run across any shots with tattoos. Well, here it is! For all I know the guy I was talking to is covered from head to toe, too.

According to the legend the first tattoos in the United States were done at the turn of the last century in Chatham Square, a seaport in New York City. And the first man called a tattoo artist had trained as a wallpaper designer. Of course! That means tattoos and wallpaper are related.

Here’s to the well dressed tourist, Mr. Tats & Rings, and YOU!