Old Tattoo Artists
He talked constantly about a tattoo artist in St. Louis, that he had got exposed to tattooing through, and his name was Bert Grimm. And Bert Grimm had migrated to Long Beach for health reasons, from St. Louis, and he was tattooing down there, and he just talked about — the fellow’s name was Duke, Ralph Kaufman, that I was working with.1 And in fact, he’s the guy that put my first tattoo on. And he talked about Bert Grimm, Bert Grimm, Bert Grimm. And I won’t say that I’d learned everything I could from Duke, but I was a young guy and I had been in the marines and been off to war, and you wanted to do some more traveling, I just didn’t want to sit down and stagnate in one spot.2
So, anyhow, I took a trip down to Southern California to meet some old tattoo artists, and by then I was sort of into collecting things, which — I have the world’s largest collection of tattooing artifacts now. And so I was off collecting. I wish I would have had the focus then, that I have now. But anyhow I met Tahiti Felix Lynch down in San Diego, California, and Painless Nell, and the well known names in tattooing down there. And then I went up and I visited Bert Grimm, and I got a tattoo at each one of these places. This was adding stickers to my luggage. And so I wound up visiting Bert Grimm, and he had a little tattoo shop that the guy had left and it was vacant.3 And so I made a deal with him, and I went to work, moved down to Long Beach.