This photo of Matt Lodder, a ‘heavily tattooed art historian’ struck me for a few reasons.
Firstly, it’s just a beautiful photo of a beautiful man, in a setting he looks very comfortable in.
Secondly, it gives us a glimpse of some of the accoutrements that go with being ‘heavily tattooed’. The bottles of ink, the holding your arm out as if you were about to be injected, the way people who get tattoos are often amongst other people with tattoos, as if it is in some ways, though I hate the word, a ‘community’.
Thirdly, maybe partly because it is a black and white photo, this picture reminded me of a book Matt recommended to me, that I haven’t read yet, about Samuel Steward, who lived through most of the 20th century, and who was a tatooist, a tatooed person, and a historian. And a ‘sexual outlaw’. It made me think about the history of tattoos, which Matt happens to be writing a book about! The photo made me wonder if being ‘heavily tattooed’ makes you an outlaw in any way, either sexual or otherwise, even, or especially in the heavily metrosexual culture of 2011.
This is an extract from an article about Samuel Steward:
‘When the author Justin Spring finally tracked down the executor of Samuel Steward’s estate, he had no idea what this sexual outlaw and little-known literary figure had left behind after his death in 1993…
Ultimately Steward abandoned university life and entered the tattoo artist’s demimonde full time, but his determination to indulge his sexual identity fully came with enormous physical, professional and psychological costs. In Mr. Spring’s telling, the frustrations of living in this closeted era combined with his obsession drove Steward to alcoholism and prevented him from living up to the early promise he showed as a novelist. He suffered through long periods of dark depression, loneliness and self-destructive behavior. Dangerously violent characters and sex fascinated Steward, and his overtures and adventures frequently landed him in the hospital.
“He paid the price for being himself,” Mr. Spring said, “but at least he got to be himself.”’