Baxter's Blog


Posted in Gallery, History by misterroadtripper on June 30, 2010

November 1997


Spider Webb has been an indomitable force in the world of tattoo art. He was the first in so many creative areas. Recalling just one incident back in the ’70s, Spider exhibited—in a dramatic departure in what had gone before in the rather staid world of tattoo—half-naked, tattooed models at a very highfalutin art gallery in the heart of the Big Apple.

As his longtime friend Gatewood recounts: “The year was 1976. The place, the prestigious Levitan Gallery in New York. A heavily tattooed leatherman was playing ‘Amazing Grace’ on the bagpipes as I walked into the glittering exhibition space to see artist Spider Webb’s recent work. Hanging on the smooth white walls were giant photographic blowups of conceptual tattoos (showing, for example, digital time, tattooed on human skin). There were pictures of geometric shapes adorning body parts, plus a six-foot enlargement of a ‘tattoo brushstroke’ (an homage to painter Roy Lichtenstein). It was, I thought, one helluva curious show.

Even more interesting was the colorful crowd: Magicians and groupies, witches and priests, tattooed women with cut-out costumes revealing tattooed tongues licking sexy pierced nipples, and preening gay men with tattooed snakes slithering into secret hiding places. Adding to the frenzy were several television crews with lights and microphones, plus a hoard of flashing photographers, all circling the evening’s star, Joseph Patrick O’Sullivan, the celebrated body artist known as Spider Webb.”

Even more interesting was the colorful crowd: Magicians and groupies, witches and priests, tattooed women with cut-out costumes revealing tattooed tongues licking sexy pierced nipples, and preening gay men with tattooed snakes slithering into secret hiding places. Adding to the frenzy were several television crews with lights and microphones, plus a hoard of flashing photographers, all circling the evening’s star, Joseph Patrick O’Sullivan, the celebrated body artist known as Spider Webb.”

Spider was arrested for tattooing in front of Manhattan’s Museum of Modern, and, just in case somebody missed it, the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (for inking porn star Annie Sprinkle). All this in protest the city’s then ban on pushing ink. Who will forget the tattooed fetus, the thousand X project (a large X made up of one thousand tiny tattooed Xs), his flamboyant crowd-pleasing style, his electric crutch? But nothing approaches Spider’s dedication and almost-crippling months bent over a drafting table drawing poster after poster to commemorate the horror of the 9/11 tragedy (“Death from Above—The Drawings of Spider Webb,” Skin&Ink, November 2007). New York was Spider’s city and he poured out his heart in mourning its loses.

Books about and by Spider are countless. Among his Schiffer titles ( are Military Flash, Tattooed Women, The Big Book of Tattoos, The Great Book of Tattoos, Heavily Tattooed Men & Women, Historic Flash, Dragon Flash and Spider Webb’s Classic Tattoo Flash.

Presented here is a small sampling of Spider’s collection of over four thousand pieces of hand-drawn, original flash art. Reproduced in both simple pencil-line and finished-color renderings, this perfect reference portfolio is Spider’s gift to budding artists and seasoned pros alike. Our grateful appreciation and heartfelt thanks to this legendary pioneer and unforgettable character. It was Spider who made innovation and outrageousness a sorely-missed attribute in this incessantly diluted world of body art. Truly, when God made Spider Webb, She broke the mold.

Long live Spider Webb’s eagles. Long live Spider Webb!


Charlotte, North Carolina


Posted in History, Humor by misterroadtripper on June 30, 2010

Here’s a bit of silliness from back in November5 1997. To show how early it was, this “quiz” was printed on the back-outside page, instead of a starter-kit advertisement, which, with the backing of C.W. Eldridge, Hanky Panky and Jack Rudy, we banished from the pages of Skin&Ink and, soon after, all the other tattoo magazines pulled supplier ads selling starter kits from their back covers. Tomorrow, look for more of 1997… a story about and artwork from Spider Webb.


By Professor Dickie Smartman, D.C., C.P.A., A.K.C.

Think you know something about the needle art? Discover your tattoo IQ with Skin & Ink’s totally scientific test of knowledge and intelligence. Remember: A perfect score means you’re perfect!

Most of the questions have one correct answer:

1. The most common tattoo image is:

  • A sideways view of a skull with a Mohawk haircut
  • A rose
  • Man’s Ruin featuring the likeness of Paula Jones
  • Comedy/tragedy masks
  • Comedy/tragedy masks as clowns
  • Rock of Ages
  • Bettie Page standing
  • Bettie Page crouching
  • Bettie Page sitting
  • Jesus looking uncomfortable

2. The most famous living tattoo artist in America is:

  • Zeke Owen
  • Ed Hardy
  • Spider Webb
  • C.W. Eldridge
  • Eddy Deutsche
  • Vyvyn Lazonga
  • Lyle Tuttle
  • Brian Everett
  • Philadelphia Eddie
  • Joe Vegas

3. The most famous living tattoo artist outside the USA is:

  • Horiyoshi III
  • Sabado
  • Hanky Panky
  • Permanent Mark
  • Tin Tin
  • Little Vinnie
  • Ron Ackers
  • Stephane Chaudesaigues
  • John “the Dutchman”

4. The most used tattoo ink color used by tattoo portrait artists is:

  • Black
  • Watered-down black
  • Very watered-down black
  • Black so watered down that it looks like dirty water

5. The very first person that most professional tattoo artists-to-be tattoo is:

  • Their girlfriend
  • Their best friend
  • The biggest nerd they can find
  • Their priest
  • A United Airlines flight attendant
  • Dennis Rodman
  • Mr. Grapefruit

6. The most effective way to get rid of an unwanted tattoo is to:

  • Have it lasered off by a competent dermatologist
  • Have it expanded and made more intricate by someone who knows what they are doing this time
  • Have it scarred over in a voodoo ritual with a flaming chicken beak
  • Have it photographed and submitted to the Merde of the Month page
  • Not have it applied in the first place

7. When you have a tattoo applied, be certain that the tattoo artist:

  • Washes his hands
  • Washes his hair
  • Washes his clothes
  • Washes the floor
  • Wears surgical gloves
  • Does not smoke in the tattoo area
  • Sterilizes all tattoo equipment in an autoclave
  • All of the above

8. The best method for dulling the pain while being tattooed is:

  • A beaker full of tequila sunrises
  • Aspirin
  • Maui wowie
  • Crushed ice
  • Codeine
  • Self-hypnosis
  • Having a friend take your place

9. The most popular place to have a first tattoo is:

  • Your face
  • Your shoulder
  • Your forearm
  • Just above your heart
  • Your hip
  • Your ankle
  • Amsterdam

10. The cleverest story to tell your mother when you get your first tattoo on your biceps is:

  • I got drunk and haven’t the foggiest idea how it got there
  • It washes off
  • What tattoo?
  • This isn’t my arm


1. A rose. Second most popular is the word “Motherfucker”

2. Joe Vegas, because he’s been in more trouble the last three months than all the others combined

3. Hanky Panky. It would have been Stephane Chaudesaigues, but no one can pronounce his name

4. Black, two-to-one. If you’re Running Bear, the answer is sumi

5. Mr. Grapefruit. The artist’s own thigh came in second

6. Not having it applied in the first place is the right answer. If the tattoo is on someone else; dump ’em

7. All of the above

8. Having a friend take your place. Everything else hurts

9. The answer is, of course, Amsterdam

10. All are correct. Another answer might be: “Pardon me, madam, you must have me confused with someone else”

Score one point for each correct answer:

A perfect score of 10: You cheated

8-9: You still cheated

6-7: You need a life

3-5: You had some grade school kid answer for you

1-2: Big deal, so you guessed right a couple of times

0: There is still hope that you are not, as yet, hooked


Posted in Letters by misterroadtripper on June 29, 2010

Based on an interview I did with a reporter from the San Jose Mercury News, in which I was asked to comment on the overall health of the tattoo industry, based on my fifteen years of editing the nation’s top tattoo magazine, here’s a letter that I received:

From: erik rieth

Date: Tue, June 29, 2010 4:55 pm

To Bob Baxter:
In lieu of your inappropriate comments regarding the industry in the Mercury News (that) “tattoo businesses thrive, despite recession… ,” my partner Luke Stewart and I are asking you to cancel any plans you might have had to feature us on your blog (i.e. Gatewood’s article). I’m sure our problems with the information you chose to disclose to the general public go without explaining. I’m especially surprised at your indiscretion given the flap Skin&Ink caused several years ago by an article that I believe was written by Pat Fish regarding the same info you chose to elaborate upon here. As a writer and editor of a tattoo magazine, it’s puzzling how you can be so ignorant about the sensitivity of the facts & figures you choose to talk about. There are issues of trust in the tattoo community that are blatantly abused by you. Are you trying to encourage more scratchers to start tattooing after they’ve read that they can charge “$120 to $300 an hour”? are you trying to get the IRS to audit us? If you’re not, you’re doing a great job of it, anyway. Be assured that we’re not alone in our outrage over your comments & that word of mouth over this is spreading as we speak. We will be sure to distance ourselves from any projects and endeavors you embark upon in the future.

—Erik Rieth, Luke Stewart

Seventh Son Tattoo

San Francisco, California

*  *  *

Dear Erik and Luke:

I never saw the article in the Mercury News, so I’m not sure how they “quoted” me. I say a lot of things in my interviews with reporters, including my warnings about scratchers in the business and how they are ruining the credibility of the industry.  I have always been careful in my writings not to encourage untrained, untalented, unsupervised people to enter the tattoo trade. What a reporter takes out of context is beyond my control. Also, to think that the IRS hasn’t a clue about what has been going on in the tattoo industry, money-wise, for the last fifteen years would be rather naive. And to think that, what with nearly 40% of the population being tattooed, the general pubic is unaware of how much tattoo artists charge is almost impossible.

If you or your shop doesn’t wish to be included in the excellent project that Charles Gatewood has put together to promote the top shops in San Francisco, so be it. But for me to be categorized as someone who is trying to harm the industry is just plain bogus. Even minimum fact-checking with, for example, would show the success of the tattoo industry today. Do you really think that nobody notices there are over 450 tattoo shops in Los Angeles alone? Thirty-five in Modesto! Hey, it’s not a secret anymore, guys. Every article you read about a name artist quotes him or her as saying, “I’m booked for six months or a year ahead.” Jeff Gogué, in every interview that I’ve ever read about him, says he’s booked ahead for a year and a half.

I heard the same comments about Pat Fish’s story years ago, and the fears that the IRS would suddenly swoop down on tattoo shops. It didn’t happen then and it won’t happen now. Believe me, pal, the IRS is waaaaaaay ahead of you… and that article in the Mercury News, no matter what it said, isn’t news to anybody.

Thank you for your heartfelt comments and best wishes to you both.

—Bob Baxter

P.S. It used to be that, when someone did well and was able to charge a respectable amount of money for their services (even in a down-turned economy), they were proud of it. They weren’t attempting to divert attention from their success and skulk around, hiding the “good car” down the block and behind a tree. Most people I know are proud to be artists, proud to be able to support their families and the families of their employees with their artistic skills. And do you think the IRS doesn’t know about each and every tattoo shop from the moment they take out a business license? Hey, I’m not saying you should flaunt your success; just accept it like an adult.

*  *  *

Dear Bob Baxter:

Thanks so much for posting Erik and Luke’s letter. Now I know exactly where NOT to get a tattoo when I’m in San Francisco. I’m absolutely loving your blog. I should have registered and logged in to tell you that sooner, but these guys are the first to incense me to the point of actually doing it. Thank-you for sharing so much with us. Now, I have one request: more Uncle Tim, please!



Posted in ANNOUNCEMENTS by misterroadtripper on June 29, 2010


Posted in Gallery, Letters by misterroadtripper on June 29, 2010

Mike "The Freak" and his wife, Carolyn Cadaver. Photo by Lidia Carr.

Dear Baxter:

I am an award-winning tattoo artist and have been tattooing for ten years professionally. I absolutely LOVE THE ART! I learned the practice in San Jose, California and tattooed while living in Portugal for four years. I now live Gibsonton, Florida and work at Fatink in Sarasota. I prefer to do custom work and recommend to anyone, “Do not get flash.” With every tattoo, I do it to the best of my ability and learn everything I possibly can to improve my skills.

—Mike “The Freak” Oureque


Posted in Gallery, Pinups by misterroadtripper on June 29, 2010


Along with daily mail from tattoo artists and collectors, I receive inquiries and diskettes from photographers, both amateur and professional. While most of the photos are not published, some are perfect for sharing with Road Trippers in our Gallery. These pretty samples are from Tammy Nize,  a Southern California lenslady whose website is


Posted in Uncategorized by misterroadtripper on June 27, 2010


In order to bring to you exciting tattoo stories, Bernard and I have traveled to many remote locations around the world, places like Apia, Samoa and Atglen, Pennsylvania, where our publisher, Schiffer Books (who put out our book, Tattoo Road Trip—Two Weeks in Samoa), just happens to be headquartered.

The Hand-Poke Posse, (left to right) Travelin' Mick, Inia Taylor, Me, Keone Nunes and Capt. Caveman in our sporty lavalavas.

Keone Nunes hand-pokes my leg, Hawaiian style, with Capt. Caveman. Note that Keone wears no gloves (he never touches the skin) and the Capt., who is stretching, does. Double-thick, white ones, in case Keone slips and pokes his stretcher, by mistake. Au!


Posted in Gallery by misterroadtripper on June 27, 2010


More pix from Maury’s trip to the annual Mermaid Parade in Coney island (where the bunnies are). By the way, click on the images to enlarge.

Add an Image


Posted in Helpfull Stuff by misterroadtripper on June 27, 2010


In the tattoo world, there are a bushel basket of words that we use everyday, but where did they come from? Or, more properly, “from where did they come?” (which, I believe is more correct). In any case, here’s a few that you and I utter all the time. Hey, now we’ll all be super-erudite… and know from whence we speak.

—Bob Baxter

G-string: First used to describe an Indian’s loincloth (breechclout) in the 19th century, it could be that some fiddler in the West compared the heaviest of violin strings, the G string, to the length of sinew or gut that Indians tied around their waists to hold up their breechclouts. Or perhaps it was simply an euphemism for “groin,” an indecent word at the time.

Coney Island: The site of the annual Mermaid Parade, Coney should really be pronounced to rhyme to with honey or money, the adult long-eared rabbit (Lepus cunicula) after which the Brooklyn, New York community was named. Well, it became rather embarrassing, especially in local churches, so it got pronounced Cō-ney, so as not to upset the more fragile members of the population. By the way, type in Coney Island in the Search Bar to see Maury Englander’s fabulous photos of the yearly Mermaid Parade.

Crapper: Named after Thomas Crapper, an Englishman who developed and manufactured the modern toilet bowl. So, next time you use his wonderful invention, be sure to give this important gentleman a respectful tip of the lid.

Tattoo: It is believed that Capt. James Cook was the first European to record the practice of tattooing, when he sailed the Endeavor on his historic exploration of the South Seas in 1769. He noted that the Tahitians cut their skin and injected black dye that left a permanent mark. He called the practice tattowing in his diary, an approximation of the native word tatau, isn’t that right, Marshall Bruce Mathers III?

Pork Chop: Used by tattoo artists to describe the small, easy-to-apply tattoos that walk-in customers usually get and which help pay for the artists’ tasty necessities of life, like beer, eggs and, yes, pork chops.

P.S. Do you have some favorite tattoo-related etymologies that you’d like to share with us? Email us the best ones and we’ll publish them for all to see. Let’s show people that tattoos lovers possess both good taste and brains! And, while you’re at it, include some photos of your tattoos.


Posted in ANNOUNCEMENTS by misterroadtripper on June 26, 2010


Be sure to  keep checking in. (“Did you see my mouth move, when I said the word “Be”?) Always new, always fresh… tattoos and tattoo stories to amaze and delight. There’s something posted every day of the week. Click the Fortune Cookie on the website and see a list of the latest additions. Tune in for new articles, new features, plenty of new pix and lotsa ink.

Don’t let someone else say it for you. Be sure to click on  Polls and cast your votes for The “Voice” of the Tattoo World and What is Your Favorite Tattoo Stuff?

And to go directly to the website, simply…

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