Gus Wagner - classic of handpoke tattoosPublished on 04.30.2017
Famous circus artist Maud Wagner is considered the first female tattoo artist in the United States.
It is worth noting that her tattoos were not the only highlight in the performances, in which she participated. She was also an excellent gymnast and aerialist and presented the miracle of the flexibility of the human body.
Maud Wagner was born in 1877 and left this cruel world in 1961. During one of her tours, she met another circus artist who introduced himself as nothing but a "man - a work of art, the most famous in America."
Thus he called himself, due to the abundance of tattoos on his body.
They got married, and Gus, that is Maud’s husband, infected her with passion for the art of tattooing. He not only covered her body with tattoos, but also taught her the craft. At that time, electric tattoo machines already existed, but Wagner preferred to work in the handpoke art.
It is safe to say that Gus and Maud Wagner are considered classics of the handpoke tattoo style.
Gus Wagner (his real name was Augustine) was a sailor, and as such he spent a great part of his life in the long sea campaigns. When he retired from the merchant navy, his body was covered with 264 tattoos. It is worth mentioning that Gus and Maud had a daughter named Lotta. She did not become a fan of tattoo art the same way her parents were, but at the age of 9 she actually tattooed herself.
In New York, the South Street SeaPort Museum opened an exhibition dedicated to handpoke-piercer Gus Wagner. The diamond of the exhibition is his travel diary, in which he collected everything that caught his sailor's life path. One way or another, it was always connected with the art of tattooing.
Notes, newspaper clippings, sketches made with his own hand make a considerable value not only for tattoo lovers but also for those who study the life of Seafarers of that historical age.
"I have dedicated my life to study tattoos, but I still cannot explain why so many people want to have them. I do not know ... Maybe it's vanity, but I really like wearing the pictures I bought while traveling. Each character means something to me," Gus Wagner wrote in his diary.
Gus and Maud Wagner had been a tattooed couple their entire lives - a welcome attraction for numerous Sideshows. They not only demonstrated their undershirt beauty, but also tattooed all who wished to have one done via the handpoke method. It’s curious to note that the exhibition presents the tattooing tool used by Gus Wagner at the end of the XIX century.
Just by visiting this exhibition you will see more than 50 individual tattoo flashes of that time, three tattoo albums and two albums with photographs. All of it is taken from Gus Wagner’s the private collection.
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