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Tattoo Culture > View Culturama

Philadelphia Eddie (a.k.a. Eddie Funk)

Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoo

by tattootimArtist

May 24, 2005

With nearly a decade in the tattoo business, Crazy Philadelphia Eddie is by far one of the most recognized and respected figures in the tattoo community today. His spiked pompadour, impeccable 50s-style wardrobe and trademark drink in each hand (screwdriver to be exact) makes him a standout at any social event. Eddie retired from actively tattooing several years ago, but still works seven days a week overseeing his five tattoo studios and United Tattoo Supply. Forced to leave New York City after the tattooing ban in 1961, Eddie traveled the country before settling in Philadelphia to build his empire.

In a thick, New York/Philly accent, Eddie tells wonderful tales of the days when tattooing was about drinking, brawling and lines of customers around the corner, not the high-art, appointment-only studios of today. Those who think they "suffer" for their art should take note of Eddie and his associates\' patchwork, tattooed "socks" - their legs are covered from knee to ankle with small squares of various colors, test patches for new inks they\'ve developed over the years. "Some would hold up great, others would eat a hole in ya!"

\"Troy\"I got my first tattoo when I was fifteen year\'s old. That\'s when it all started for me, in Coney Island. I was born and raised in New York, Queens mostly, but I lived in all five boroughs. I got my first tattoo and the same day got my second tattoo two hours later. I saw the money the man was making. He had an old desk with drawers and he would open the drawer to get you your change. The money would fall on the floor. Later in years, I learned from the Grecko brothers; they were always coming around to empty Max\'s garbage. One day I asked them, why are you emptying his garbage, they said, he scoops that money up and throws it in the garbage! Max Pelz, he was blind in one eye. He used to be a prizefighter. I was gonna go rob him and instead I asked him how do I learn to do this. He sold me some equipment and showed me what to do with it. I used to go home and tattoo my friends and bring them down in the car so Max could fix it or inspect it! People weren\'t sharing much in those days at all. I must have made an impression on him, because Brooklyn Blackie told me later in years that he used to see me snooping around and he\'d say, you ain\'t gonna stop that kid, he\'s determined, he\'s gonna be a tattoo artist.

The following year, Brooklyn Blackie sent word through the grapevine that he wanted to see me. I didn\'t know whether he was gonna beat me up, or what he was gonna do. So my father went down with me. We got there a little early and there was a group of people waiting to be tattooed in front of Blackie\'s shop and I start giving them my cards with my home address. And Blackie said, "I\'ll take one of them." He offered me a job and I said, "can I make $100 a week?" And he said, "I\'ll give you 50 percent." I said, "No, I\'d rather have $100 a week." And he laughed and he said, "You got it." I went to work that weekend. Sunday night my friend\'s came down to go out and play in Coney Island with me, so I said, "let\'s settle up." I kept the money in a cigar box with a little slip. I gave it to him. He said, "Well, you\'ve got $500 coming for yourself, do you still want the $100?" He handed me the whole cigar box full of money and said, "First one\'s on me

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