The Look: Extensive tattooing, piercing, scarification and other body decorations (including sometimes hair and make-up styles) which derive from or have been more loosely inspired by that of tribal peoples.
The Time: Implicitly part of the ‘Tattoo Renaissance’ which flowered in California in the late ‘60s. Also implicitly part of the Punk subculture of the ‘70s. But the concept is given a name and a lifetime of research and experimentation by Fakir Musafar in the ‘80s. The 1989 RE/Search book Modern Primitives brings the work of Musafar and others to a wide, international audience.
The Place: California, USA – but inspiration from tribal peoples all over the world.
Influenced: Played (and is still playing) a key role in making tattooing and body piercing acceptable to the mainstream.
Born Roland Loomis in South Dakota in 1930, Fakir Musafar was since childhood fascinated by ‘primitive’ (and what society generally saw as ‘barbaric’) tattooing, piercing, scarification and physically and psychically demanding tribal rituals which he saw in publications such as National Geographic, Compton’s Picture Encyclopedia and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It was in the later that he learned about a 19th century Persian Sufi named Fakir Musafar who had been famed far and wide for his penchant for piercing himself with daggers and who became known as ‘The Human Pincushion’. Inspired and fascinated, Roland Loomis decided to give himself a new name and a new identity.