"Deep human interest and . . . amazing information" — Scientific American Charming and crude, discreet and boldly exhibitionistic — tattoos come in a dizzying range of styles and express an extraordinary range of sentiments, from "go away" to "come hither." This pioneering survey examines the background of a counterculture phenomenon that has swept into the mainstream. It approaches body art from a variety of angles, including artistic, semiotic, psychological, sociological, and cultural perspectives. Tattoo: Secrets of a Strange Art first appeared in 1933, when the majority of people with tattoos were sailors, prostitutes, and criminals. Venturing from waterfront tattoo parlors to circus midways, author Albert Parry talked to many of the great tattoo artists of the early twentieth century about their techniques. Parry was among the first to analyze the custom's subconscious motivations and to expose its erotic implications. His fascinating stories examine overt and subliminal tattoo messages of masochistic tendencies, membership in a select society, sexual fantasy and romantic devotion, patriotism, and religious fervor. A unique historical document and a compelling psychological study, this book offers a thought-provoking look at one aspect of the human drive for self-expression.