SPIDER WEBB Weaves Plain Skin into Matrix of Meaning!
Tattoos the Flesh of A Nation!
Thousands Ensnared by Insane Body Art!

SPIDER WEBB first tattooed in the sordid parlors of yesteryear’s Coney Island. He put panthers, roses, and scrolls on sailors, gangsters, and cops. Today he puts abstractions on rock stars and the beautiful people. Thus he bridges two worlds — one almost forgotten, the other fresh. His body of work reads like a history lesson for the future — especially the stuff he did on Vanessa Del Rio, Annie Sprinkles, and other porn stars.

Imagine Spider, beer & joint in hand, examining some broad’s smooth, sexy skin. Imagine him & her discussing the panoramic pictures and dizzying patterns appropriate for her body’s largest organ. Picture him — a combo of draftsman, dermatologist, and pervert — doing the designs on her in a kinda-painful, semi-scientific ceremony. Unbelievable!

Spider has written many books on tattooing (including the classic Pushing Ink), built from scratch incredible whacked-out tattoo machines, pushed ink into stars & harlots, cavorted with Hollywood’s trashy elite, and tattooed illegally in NYC. He is a Grandmaster of Flash, a Sultan of Skin Art, and a King of Ink.

He drifts in and out of fame, kicking back at his Connecticut digs, lighting up and hanging with his lovely wife Sharon. Not so long ago he was doing just that, when those religious fanatics destroyed the World Trade Center. He went into psychic hibernation, executing tons of flash inspired by that awful day. The flash coalesced into a show at Clayton Patterson’s Outlaw Art Gallery in NYC — a disturbing display of tragedy, majesty, and energy.

Thank you Spider for taking time off from drinking, smoking, hanging out, and bullshitting in order to get down with us herein.

Q: What’s an appropriate introduction for you?

A: I’ve said this a million times: All really good art is revolutionary, it’s fuckin‘ controversial, it’s upsetting, it’s hard for a lot of people to swallow — I know it’s upsetting when I tattoo a fetus, or I make a tattoo machine with a chunk of the World Trade Center and then I add a piece of human bone to it — this isn’t Norman Rockwell shit, and that’s its particular charm.

Q: What upsetting images have you put on people?

A: A hundred years ago, when it wasn’t fashionable to have your face tattooed, putting a pentagram on a guy’s fuckin‘ forehead and tattooing his face — I got a lot of flack for that shit. That was back in ’75 or so. When I work I’m thinking, Is it politically and morally and every-other-fuckin‘-way incorrect? I hope it is.

Q: And what if it isn’t? What if it has redeeming social value?

A: Then it comes under the category of “labor.”

Q: What about beauty?

A: That can only come later. It comes after people learn to accept the shit. An artist has to go through the evil stuff first, because you’re cutting a path that eventually becomes a goddamn road. You got your macheté out. But somebody’s gotta go out there first.

Q: How did you get started?

A: I started when I was fourteen years old, at Coney Island. It’s been downhill ever since.

Q: What was the first thing you did?

A: I was just allowed to hang around the shop and watch, and then one day they let me fill something in. It was coloring a scroll that had god-knows-what in it — “mom” or “Bambi” or something written on the fuckin‘ thing — you know, I was just pushing the color into the skin —

Q: What was the first tattoo you got on you?

A: Actually, a scroll with “mom” in it. The second one was a skull with a snake comin‘ out of its eyes.

Q: How old were you?

A: Fourteen.

Q: Who gave it to you?

A: Brooklyn Blackie. It’s still my favorite.

Q: What have you gotten since then?

A: I got to the point where certain images didn’t mean anything to me anymore. The skull and snake weren’t important anymore. What was important was something that meant more to me. An artist friend of mine who died, his sister wanted his logo tattooed on her, and when I was done I flipped the machine over to her and said, “Now you tattoo this logo on me, too.” That kind of exchange is important. I’m not looking for tattoo art from great talent — I’m looking for somebody with a fuckin‘ heart.

Q: What’s happening in tattooing these days?

A: Two of the greatest things that ever happened were, one, that women started getting tattooed, and two, so did the rich. I said, “That’s the fuckin‘ perfect combination for an asshole like myself.”

Q: Tell us about tattooing women.

A: It’s a nicer, softer canvas. Better attitude, smell better, they look better — for the most part.

Q: Does it arouse them?

A: It depends on what after-shave I’m wearing. It depends on your bedside manner. So — bingo — you had women gettin‘ tattooed. And then came the sports figures. No one in the tattoo world expected it. And then, here comes the blacks. They account for quite a bit of business now. Everyone’s gettin‘ a goddamn tattoo — it’s like gettin‘ a haircut.

Q: What kind of money do you charge?

A: I don’t know. I usually ask people to tell me how much it’s worth to them. I don’t have to give them prices because I’m not interested in whether I do the tattoo or not. Talkin‘ to a tattoo artist is like talkin‘ to a fuckin‘ plumber. Here’s the price — once everything is understood, you just jump in. You don’t think about money; you think, This is cool, I’ll do the best I can. At that moment, time and money don’t mean jack-shit anymore. You’re free, and it just flows.

Q: Is your stuff considered expensive?

A: Yeah. It’s still an underpayed fuckin‘ racket. It’s piece work. This is shit money. You have to get it onto a level that is fair. In the old days I used as a reference how much money a psychiatrist would get. A shrink in those days was gettin‘ a hundred dollars an hour. I said, “Well, that’s what I’m gonna charge.” Which was outrageous in those days, but I figured, I don’t leave mental scars, I leave real cool colorful ones — I should get double.

Q: Absolutely.

A: Let me tell you something — I’m talking about art that kills. The concept of art as a weapon is as old as man himself. It’s called “propaganda.” When you create art that people will kill for, you’re gonna get yourself in some serious shit, you know? Good propaganda can kill a lot of people. I take that responsibility. I just hope it’ll kill the people I want dead.

Q: I like that.

A: Thanks.

Q: That’s an excellent ending right there.

A: Okay!

To Contact Spider:
Spider Webb Street Shop
158 West 15th Street, New York City 10011