April 2019

Well,  it seems I have been mandatorily volunteered to continue my Two Bits part of the NTA Newsletters. So here goes nothing...

I intend to continue with the NTA history in this column along with some of the funny things about what I’ve seen or have been told about some of our forefathers in this profession. Some of you never got the chance to meet some of the people I am going to talk about and so perhaps my little stories about them will help you see just how colorful (pun intended) in more ways than one they were. In some cases I will try to include some photos as well as the stories. And if you have any funny, interesting stories about our NTA members please share them with me so I can pass them along here as well.

In the 5th issue of the NTA Newsletters for the year 2017-2018 I ended the history as of Sept. /Oct. 1985 issue so I will start again here with the Nov. /Dec. 1985 issue.

We featured Artists: Paul Jeffries of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Bernd Schobler of Berlin, W Germany, John Gamble of Wodonga, Victoria, Australia and Robert Gerri of Toledo, Ohio – who had a license plate that read TATTOO for his car.

Also featured in this issue was a report that Gregory O. Colwell did for a school report. Greg is the son of Jerry C. “FLY” Colwell of Medford, L.I., NY. (Fly was a member from the get-go, June 1978- until his death in 2002.) Greg has taken his dad’s nickname “Fly”. I am going to reprint his report here as I think it is quite interesting and Greg is, himself, a tattooist in East Islip, L. I., NY and an NTA member for 18 years now. His school report on tattooing can be found below.


There were also 3 NTA Trivia questions in this issue – they were:

1. When and where was the third NTC (Club then) convention held?

2. What was the souvenir for this convention?

3. When and where was the fourth NTC convention held?

Answers at the end of my column…

Dianne Mansfield called to let me know that we lost yet another of our more colorful (pun intended) members on January 18th.  Bill Salmon – our hearts go out to his lovely wife Junko (Junii) Shimada. I know Bill and Junii met at one of our NTA Conventions but wasn’t quite sure which one it was but… Richard Todd knew. What he sent to me to is included here:

"It happened at the NTA San Diego Convention at the Bahia Hotel in 1987. It was my first NTA I attended. I was there working on the book, "The Marks of Civilization," with the late Arnold Rubin from UCLA Museum of Cultural History. It was while I was staging the photograph of Sachiko & Junko, when Bill Salmon came over to me, introduced himself and asked if he could be introduced to the woman on the left, Junii. The women spoke only Japanese I said. I told Bill he should speak with Fran (Ed Hardy’s wife) who was there with him. So, Fran did the introduction in Japanese. And the rest is history. It was about a year later when I was up in San Francisco photographing some of Ed Hardy’s work when, in came Bill and Junii. They were only married for a short time back then and Bill asked if I would photograph them together. So out of that photo session came the now famous picture of Bill and Junii. They were so much in love. Every now and then I send them a box of cards. Bill and Junii were one of the power couples in our tattoo industry, owners of San Francisco based – The Diamond Club tattoo studio. When I first heard of his passing, I immediately reflected on the good times we spent together. RIP Bill. Stay strong Junii.

Love you, - Richard Todd"

Here are the photos that Richard took of Junii & Sachiko (left photo in San Diego) and Bill & Junii (photo below about a year later). Junii’s front piece was done by Hori Toshi in the early 1980’s   and Don Ed Hardy did Bill’s back piece in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s. [See photos by Richard Todd below. Additional pictures by Dianne Mansfield and information regarding Bill Salmon can be found in the obituary section titled, Dear Departed.]

Thank you Richard for the historical contribution informing me of which NTA convention they actually met at and of course the great photos to go with it..

Note: Bill and Junii are another couple that met and fell in love thanks to the NTA conventions.] And now to continue my story about Bill.

I am pretty sure most of you have gotten to meet Bill at one of our NTA Conventions of yore. Bill was tattooed by Don Ed Hardy, also from San Francisco. In fact Bill used to work for him before opening his own studio Diamond Tattoo Club in San Francisco.

Now to the funny thing that happened many, many years ago at one of the NTA conventions (for the life of me I do not remember which one it was now but I do think it was Arlington, Texas in 1989 – however, which one is not as important as what happened). Those of you who go to the conventions know you are not allowed into any of our functions without wearing your badge – at that time we did not use wristbands yet. Well, I was coming down the hall to go into whatever function it was at that time, and there were two guys arguing at the door. When I got to them one of our many Volunteer door security people was arguing with this guy who told our security that he was Bill Salmon. He told our guy he left his badge up in his room and didn’t want to have to go all the way back to his room to get it. Well I looked at this guy and said, “Sorry sir but rules are rules you have to have your badge on but if you were Bill I’d let you in because I know Bill.” The guy said, “Flo, I am Bill Salmon!” Being a little annoyed at this guy for trying to pass himself off as Bill, I replied, “Look fella I know who Bill Salmon is and you are not him.” He looked bewildered and then tore open his shirt to show me

the Third Eye he has tattooed in the middle of his chest right under his face and says, “Flo, look, it’s really me!” My answer was “OMG! I didn’t recognize you” and I hadn’t because as those of you who know Bill, he is like a chameleon, he changes his looks daily – even more than once a day sometimes and at that moment he did not look at all like Bill Salmon. We had a big laugh at that and it’s funny because at every convention after that he would always come up to me and say,” Flo it’s really me!” And I’d reply, “Look Buddy I know Bill Salmon and you’re not him.” And we’d laugh. But we didn’t do that little skit of ours this past April in Orlando at the last NTA convention and I missed that. But now I realize why. Bill lost his battle with cancer and died Jan. 18th. We’re going to miss you! Our hearts and condolences go out to Junii his loving wife. Rest In Peace!


Answers to the Trivia questions: 

1.) Tyson’s Corner in McLean, Virginia in 1982

2.) A mug

3.) Phoenix, Arizona in 1983

Both conventions were held in the month of March.


Tattooing The Skin

Reprint from an early issue of the National Tattoo Club


By Gregory O. Colwell


Tattooing is an art. It is an old and worldwide custom of decorating the surface of the skin. The word tattoo comes from the Polynesian languages of  Moar, ta, and Tahitian, tata.

Tattooing was done in early times by honored and well-paid specialists. It is usually done by pricking in designs with an awl or needle dipped in different colors. Some patterns are sewn in by drawing under the skin, a thread which has been dipped in color.

Others are made on certain dark skinned races by a process called cicatrization or scar tattooing. This is done by repeatedly cutting the skin in the same place so that when it heals a raised scar is left.

Some of the tools used were pointed needles of shell, clan tortoise, bone from birds, animals, humans or fish, or stone flint.

Many African tribes mark their boys by rubbing ashes into great gashes on their faces and bodies. This causes swelling and healing with a purple color. In some tribes no girl is eligible to marry until she has been elaborately tattooed.

Sometimes tattooing is a mark of courage. Designs were sketched onto the skin with charcoal mixed with water or oil. Among certain men it was used as a permanent record of personal achievement.

Medically, tattooing has been used for blood-type identification and to help conceal unsightly body markings.


Bert Grimm, Paul Rogers, Doc Webb, Bob Shaw, Lyle Tuttle, D.E. Hardy, Jack Rudy, Bob Roberts, Mike Brown, Shotsie Gorman, Wild Bill Hill, Neil Grant, Danny Danzl, Sailor Vern, Ossie Jobson – just to name a few. And my dad, J.C. Fly.


It takes a special kind of person to draw and tattoo on the skin. The machine that is used is a bell type vibrator with a tube and needle bar and needles from 1 to 10 and forty bright color pigments. A large selection of tattoo designs. All equipment sterilized by an autoclave.

[Editor’s note: Here Greg had drawn a picture of a tattoo machine, tube, needle bar and dots to show a 1, 3, 4, 6 and 10 needle clusters. – Unfortunately it wasn’t included in this issue.

Next Greg had one of his dad’s fliers inserted into the folder. – again I don’t have one just wanted to let you know everything that was in this report from Greg.]


Beauty operators are in great demand for clients with birth marks and loss of pigment in skin, especially on hands and face.

Tattooing with proper shade will match the natural skin tone. Also tattooing eyebrows, rouge and lipstick. Ladies lips are given kiss proof lipstick and permanent rouge by a clever tattoo artist. Eyebrows are curved and colored with pigment by use of the tattoo machine. This is not often done but, in some cases if the hair is a brownish, red or black and in some cases if it is grey.


Tattooing animals such as chinchillas, rabbits, foxes, dogs, etc. The ear should be washed clean inside with a disinfectant and thoroughly dried. Dip the needles in ink while they are vibrating, then tattoo anything you like with a full assurance that it will still be there after the pelt is tanned. Simplify things by following a system: If all last season’s adults were marked uniformly, say ranch initials or trade mark or both, were put in the right ear and the number on the left. But, an A put after the number in the next years pups. Then the next years pups put a B and the next years a C and so on. Do odd number to males and even numbers to females. The tattoos then automatically indicate the origin, age, sex and give the tattoo identification of the mate.


Tony Danza, Susan Saint James, Janis Joplin, Dick Van Patten, Redd Foxx, Steve Allen, Pearl Bailey, Glen Campbell, Sean Connery and many, many more.


Charles Conrad, Rosalind Elias, Lady Randolph Churchill, King Frederick IX, Barry Goldwater, Admiral Halsey, Czar Nicholas II, Eugene O’Neill, Walter Winant, Michael Pollard and many, many more.

The above photo ^^^

This is a photo of Greg’s 10th tattoo he put on. Greg was 11 years old.

Oh, and by the way, Greg received a B+ on this report written in Nov. or Dec. 1984 in AZ.