Charles Gatewood RIP


Charles Gatewood, the photographer and filmmaker who was among the first to document the underground body modification, art and sexual sub-cultures in America, has died today. He had been hospitalised after a fall from a third floor balcony in his apartment.

His work is too extensive to list here, but included stints as a photographer for Rolling Stone, Time, The New York Times and others in the 1970s. His 1975 book Sidetripping featured text by William Burroughs and documented the New York sub cultures of the era.

In 1985, he was the subject of the pioneering body art documentary Dances Sacred and Profane, and during the next three decades, he would work as a photographer and filmmaker specialising in body modification, fetishism and  alternative lifestyle. His Weird… documentary series and other films about the sexual underground remain definitive documents of their time. He would also shoot spanking erotica on VHS.

His photography remains among the most seminal body art documentation out there, and outside of his own excellent books, it was prominent in the Re/Search book Modern Primitives, which helped popularise extreme piercing and body modification to a (relatively) mainstream public.