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Modern Primitives: An Investigation of Contemporary Adornment and Ritual

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  489 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Modern Primitives is the Bible of Body Modification, including tattoo, piercing, and scarification. An amazing 30-page interview with Fakir Musafar, as well as in-depth interviews with Ed Hardy, Lyle Tuttle, Leo Zulueta, Bill Salmon, Vyvyn Lazonga and other tattoo giants is featured. This book describes non-tribal people who felt and responded to strong "primitive" urges. ...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published May 1st 1989 by Re/Search Publications (first published January 1st 1989)
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Mustafa Al-Laylah
Jul 21, 2008 Mustafa Al-Laylah rated it it was amazing
The RE/Search Journals were my late teen year's version of pop-up books of alternative culture. Each and every one of them were the supreme arbiters of what was cool and imminently subversive. They served as field manual and survival guide to the pre-Net world of unique subcultures that were both dangerous and strangely delicate.

Modern Primitives was the first of the journals I had picked up shortly after reading Gibson's Neuromancer for the first time. The synthesis was a profound one which ev
When this book came out in 1989, it presented something which was still reserved for an extremely marginal subculture: full body tattooing, scarification, piercing of everything you can imagine, and more.
A lot of the photographs in this book were quite shocking to me in my mid twenties. It didn't stop me from buying the book though. :-) Nothing was hidden. I felt physical pain and cringed quite a bit from looking at some of the pictures. It certainly didn't convince me to imitate them. :-) It's
Sep 06, 2008 Howard rated it really liked it
In an alternative history of modern culture, this would be like the Book of Mormon, or the Fountainhead, or Dianetics, or something; something that is completely absurd, contradictory to every bit of evidence, immediately dismissed as a bizarre novelty by almost everyone, but so boldly asserted, and so seductive to a certain sensibility, that it becomes central to an ongoing parallel subculture, which slowly, ignored by most, ridiculed by the mainstream, becomes powerful and self-perpetuating ov ...more
Dani Smith
Jul 25, 2010 Dani Smith rated it liked it
Should be three and a half stars. I enjoyed the fascinating profiles looking into the pierced, tattooed, and overall modified and came away with a new appreciation for the ritual and psychological aspects of being a tattooed person (and one who tattoos others).

I do wish that there had been a little more anthropological narration looking into history and world culture and a bit less interviewing (most of the book seemed composed of interviews).
Mar 06, 2009 Peter rated it liked it
This actually seemed shocking when I first read it. Some how looks pretty tame now, especially having recently seen Genesis P-Orridge on the street in the cold light of day.
Jun 14, 2008 Thomas rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Freaks, Geeks and Outcasts
First time I opened this book it actually revolted me and I had to put it down. I'm still not sure why I bought it a few weeks later. Loved it and inspired me to finally get a temporary tattoo. (The picture and accompanying story of the dude that surgically split his wee wee down the middle is still a little tough to stomach. But it's a great picture to photocopy and include in your Christmas cards to aunts and uncles.)

Sep 21, 2013 Windowshady rated it it was amazing
This book had no small role in the rise in popularity of tattoo and other body modifications, especially throughout the 1990's. Definitive, informative and entertaining, Modern Primitives interviews dozens of tattoo artists, body modification experts, ritual participants and relevant odd-balls who provide insight into body modification history and culture.
sam kim
Aug 29, 2007 sam kim rated it liked it
wildly intresting for anyone who is just beginning to look into body modification. there are many more specific books on the subject, but this gives a great overview, interviewing many predominant figures in the body modification circle.
Jyllian Martini
Mar 25, 2008 Jyllian Martini rated it really liked it
This book was so important to me when it came out. I was lucky enough to meet and even be tattooed by several of the people in it. It is dated now, but it was wonderful then.

And just look how much Genesis P-orridge has changed since then.
Jan 01, 2009 Zoomusicguy rated it really liked it
Not for the week of stomach although much of this is stuff you see on the streets of any major city nowadays.
Jul 24, 2013 Travelin rated it liked it
Not my interest or habit, more anthropological interest. Do you have Prinz Albert in a can? Well put him back!
Apr 22, 2010 Kelly rated it it was amazing
If you're into piercing, cutting, tattoos, or body modifications of any other kind, then this is worth your time. The entire Re:Search series is very well done. A cult classic.
Sep 06, 2014 Yunweixiaobao marked it as to-read
Shelves: subkultur
“Modern Primitives is the Bible of Body Modification, including tattoo, piercing, and scarification.”

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Japanese-American writer and publisher. He also played keyboards for the later famous power trio Blue Cheer.

In 1977 he started to publish the punk fanzine "Search and destroy" In 1980, he began publication of RE/Search, a tabloid format zine focusing on various counterculture and underground topics.

RE/Search later became always a format for books, of which Vale is a regular contributor.
More about V. Vale...

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“A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition.” 233 likes
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