Huck Spaulding Tattooing Battle Royale Backpiece - Video Now Available

Posted by Kayla Gronseth on

Huck Spaulding Tattooing Battle Royale Backpiece

Huck Spaulding shading battle royale backpiece
A never-before-seen video of Huck Spaulding tattooing a battle royale backpiece is now available on Vimeo. The original 25-minute long film was captured on 16mm Kodachrome film in 1972 by a man named Bob Hanson at Spaulding's home studio in upstate New York. A photographer, artist, filmmaker and part-time tattooer, Hanson was deeply integrated into the New York underground tattoo scene during the ban in the late 1960s and 1970s. 
Hanson documented much of the NY underground during that time, taking photos of everyone including Ed Hardy, Thom Devita, Bob Roberts, Tony Polito, Huck Spaulding and many more. Many of his photographs can be seen in our Lost Love 2 book, which was dedicated to Bob.
Left to right: Bob Hanson self-portraits
When we purchased the Bob Hanson collection, the bulk of the items were photographs and negatives. Included in the midst of all of this were two 16mm film reels that were unmarked and not labeled. We weren't sure what the film could be of, considering Hanson's career did not stop with the world of tattooing. However, we held the film strip up to the light and saw what we thought could potentially be Huck Spaulding tattooing.  
Left to right: Thom Devita & Bob Hanson, Thom Devita & Larry finished back pieces photographed by Hanson
We spent probably 3-6 months researching and figuring out the best place to bring the reels to, in order to properly digitize them without compromising the reels. We found an incredible studio in southern Denver, Colorado that was fit for the job. The company was able to scan and digitize both reels without altering any of their original character such as light flares and other effects that time had taken on the film. The film company verified that the reels are the original film that ran through the camera during shooting, and confirmed that there were never any duplicates made.
Left to right: Larry's finished back piece (not photographed by Hanson), Larry's back piece after 1st session and Larry's back piece after 2nd session (both photographed by Hanson)
To our knowledge, the film has never been shown publicly or hardly seen the light of day. It is our understanding that the film sat in storage on Bob Hanson's property for many years, untouched.
The video that is now available on Vimeo is an edited clip of the full-length film. The only place that this film, in its entirety, has been shown outside of our home was at the recent Tattoo Historical Society convention held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We worked with Gabriel Jacobson at Storyteller Creative in Colorado Springs to create this shortened version of the film that is now available online. 
Huck Spaulding and Paul Rogers had done this backpiece on another man before named DC Paul in the 1950s. The backpiece being tattooed in this film is on a man named Larry in 1972. At the end of the clip, there are closeup shots of some tattoos done by Sailor Jerry, captured by Bob Hanson as well.
Left to right: Photographs of DC Paul's Battle Royale back piece circa 1950s
We are excited to finally be able to share this with you. If you have any questions about the film, feel free to reach out to us at
*Please note, this film and any clips or screenshots are copyright of Yellow Beak Press.

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