Obituary: Charles Gatewood (1942 – 2016)

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American Counter-Culture Anthropologist’s Work Broke Ground on Photography & Videography of BDSM, Body Modification, Fringe Fetishes, & More

Charles Gatewood ( passed away peacefully this morning at 12:30am at San Francisco General Hospital. The famed photographer, videographer, and cultural anthropologist, Gatewood was 73 years old.

“Charles Gatewood has been my best friend, mentor, and closest confidant,” said his girlfriend, Eva Marie. “He believed in me always, offering support and encouragement with unconditional love and kindness. Thank you, Charles, for every laugh, story, smile, and most of all, thank you for loving me.”

CharlesGatewood1 Charles Gatewood was born November 8, 1942 in Elgin, Illinois. His family then moved near Dallas, Texas, then Rolla, Missouri, finally ending in Springfield, Missouri, where Charles attended J.P Study Jr. High and Parkview High School.

From 1960 to 1964, Gatewood attended the University of Missouri, majoring in Anthropology. He graduated in 1963 with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in art history. In 1964, as he was finishing his first year of graduate work, Gatewood met George W. Gardner, a gifted student photographer. Gatewood credits George Gardner’s work and a Museum of Modern Art photography book, “The Family of Man” as influences that helped him choose a career in photography.


From 1964 to 1966, Gatewood lived and worked in Stockholm, Sweden. He enrolled at the University of Stockholm to study sociology and apprenticed with a group of documentary photographers. In 1965, after exploring Europe, Gatewood returned to Sweden and found work as a darkroom technician for AB Text & Bilder, a Stockholm news agency. At night, Gatewood took advantage of his press pass and the agency’s sophisticated equipment to photograph jazz concerts and happenings.

On April 29, 1966, Gatewood photographed the press conference and concert of musician Bob Dylan. One photograph, “Dylan With Sunglasses and Cigarette,” was syndicated and received worldwide publication; it was Gatewood’s first sale and first published picture. “Taking the Bob Dylan photo gave me faith I could actually be a professional photographer,” said Gatewood. Other celebrity photos by Gatewood during this time include Martin Luther King, Jr., Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Joan Baez, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald.

In June 1966, Gatewood returned to America and found work as second assistant at Jaffe-Smith photography studio in Greenwich Village. Ten months later, after learning studio photography techniques and advanced darkroom skills, Gatewood quit Jaffee-Smith and began his career as a freelance photographer. From 1970 to 1974, Gatewood worked as staff photographer for the Manhattan Tribune. He also photographed on assignment for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Harper’s, Business Week, Time, and other magazines.

In 1972 and 1976, Gatewood was awarded CAPS fellowships by the New York State Arts Council. Gatewood’s first photography book, “Sidetripping,” was published in 1975, with text by William S. Burroughs. The book was widely praised: A.D. Coleman, writing in the New York Times, said, “Gatewood’s work is freakish, earthy, blunt, erotic–most of all, terribly and beautifully alive.”

Gatewood’s work during this period included Mardi Gras in New Orleans (12 times), Gay Pride celebrations, and Manhattan’s downtown music and art scene. Celebrities photographed include Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, Sly Stone, Luis Buñuel, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ron Wood, Carlos Santana, Abbie Hoffman, Etta James, Gil Evans, and Nelson Rockefeller.

From 1978 to 1987, Gatewood lived near Woodstock, NY, and worked in Manhattan and elsewhere. Photos from this period include social protests, rock festivals, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, body modification, outlaw bikers, and nature photos. Celebrities include Larry Clark, Annie Sprinkle, Michael O’Donoghue, Ira Cohen, Quentin Crisp, and many others.

“Chaz was a close friend, mentor, and sometimes collaborator since 1982,” says Annie Sprinkle. “He was enormously talented, a very influential photographer, and he lived his life as art. A lot of folks in the tattooing, piercing, music, BDSM, and sex worker communities are enormously grateful for the treasure trove of images he made of us, and are much relieved that UC Berkeley will preserve his archive. He will live on in my heart and my clit.”

In 1984 the New York State Arts Council awarded Gatewood a grant to publish Wall Street photographs, and in 1985 the book Wall Street was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence for Outstanding Humanistic Photojournalism. In 1985, a feature film, “Dances Sacred and Profane,” premiered at the Antwerp Film Festival and was screened at American theaters to critical acclaim.

From 1987 Gatewood lived and worked in San Francisco, California. From 1998 to 2010, he was a photographer for “Skin and Ink” magazine. During this period, Gatewood produced over thirty documentary videos about body modification, fetish fashion, and other alternative interests. San Francisco subjects include the Folsom Fair (15 times), Dadafest (4 times), and Burning Man (4 times). Gatewood also photographed a number of nude studies during this period.

Gatewood’s documentation of alternative culture in San Francisco is unmatched. His photo books from this period include “A Complete Unknown,” “Burroughs 23,” “Badlands,” “True Blood,” “The Body and Beyond,” and “Primitives.” Pocket Books also published “Hellfire,” a novel, in 1986. His collection of books may be seen at

“I worked with Chaz from 2008 to 2010, but you couldn’t really call it ‘work’ – our interaction was always full of fun and play,” says Kelly Shibari. “I’m forever grateful to him for all he has taught me about the nature of entertainment, of baring your soul, of throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks, and having no regrets. I will always love you, Chaz – the industry has lost a great cultural icon and trailblazer today, but you will live on forever in your work, and in our hearts.”

“Charles Gatewood, the man known as ‘the anthropologist of the forbidden’, has been documenting America’s sexual underground and alternative subcultures since the 1960s,” explains Fetish newsletter “TheFetishistas.” “And though his name may not be that familiar to some younger pervs whose knowledge of fetish history is not that broad, the chances are that even these people will instantly recognize some of his best known images… Gatewood’s work can be traced back to photographs that appeared in the late ’80s ReSearch publication “Modern Primitives,” the seminal work on body modification cults and characters, which introduced the original Modern Primitive, San Francisco’s Fakir Musafar, to a much wider audience.”

“Much of the activity that Gatewood documented on the margins of society in the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s is now part of contemporary youth culture,” continues TheFetishistas. “Today, tattooing is commonplace, and pop stars regularly appear in SM-influenced attire. As sexual and body modification practices once seen as radical and taboo become increasingly accepted by the mainstream consciousness, Gatewood’s photography can be seen as showing the way.”

Over his expansive career, Charles Gatewood received numerous awards, including:

1974-1977 — CAPS fellowships in Photography, NY State Arts Council

1975 — American Institute of Graphic Arts award

1976 — Artist in Residence, Light Work, Syracuse University

1980 — Awarded publishing grant by the New York State Arts Council

1983 — New York State Arts Council fellowship for “Wall Street”

1985 — Art Director’s Club Merit Award

1985 — Leica Medal of Excellence for Outstanding Humanistic Photojournalism

In addition to numerous private collections, Charles Gatewood’s images have been archived in over a dozen libraries and universities across the United States. The Gatewood Archive is currently curated at the Bancroft Library at University of California, Berkeley; the Bancroft is the university’s primary special-collections library.

Charles Gatewood posted a video about his archive on YouTube in 2012 prior to its curation at the Bancroft; to view, visit An additional six video interviews, where Gatewood discusses his works, are located on the Charles Gatewood channel on YouTube; to view, visit (Note: “A Complete Unknown” is in reference to a Bob Dylan quote, not Gatewood.)

The Gatewood Archive contains several thousand vintage and modern silver prints, 250,000 slides and negatives, plus contact sheets, proof prints, personal papers, correspondence, over a thousand books, and special collections. The archive also contains master edits of 36 Gatewood videos, plus three films (including a copy of “Dances Sacred and Profane,”) and a selection of prints by other fine art photographers.

Of his work, Charles Gatewood said in 2009, “I’m kind of restless, in that I want to try all of the different styles, different subjects…then let history sort it out. I don’t know what some future historian might think is my best work, and I don’t care. It’s my job to make it…let somebody else sort it all out later.”

A memorial service is currently being scheduled to be held at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco; more information will be forthcoming.


The Addict Expose: Dollhouse Bettie 2014 Collection Preview

                    by Cora

Dollhouse Bettie has been on my favorite lingerie stores list for ages. I’m talking before I started the blog. I really like how they bring authentic vintage, retro pinup, and modern day lingerie all together under one roof. I imagine it’s a lot harder than it looks to maintain a really cohesive, coherent brand when you’re stocking lingerie from so many disparate brands (not to mention time periods!), but Dollhouse Bettie does it wonderfully well.

Lately, they’ve been adding more and more in-house designed products, and I’m really excited to announce the debut of Dollhouse Bettie’s own range, which they will be exhibiting at market next week. Of course, many of these items are in their shop already (like the Stella Marais), but the notion of other boutiques stocking these pieces is really quite quite exciting. Oh! And they’re also made in San Francisco by a small team of seamstresses, so if ethically-produced fashion is important to you, add this label to your list.

I had an opportunity to view the final collection and sketches during a brief trip to San Francisco this month (if you follow me on Instagram, you may even recognize those sketches), and it’s really intriguing to me how much the final, end product looks like the original concept sketch. Speaking of sketches, I would love to have any one of these framed and put on my wall. They’re simply beautiful in their own right.

Favorite looks for me include pretty much everything in the ‘Atomic’ range (those red/black pieces), though that sweeping gold, floor-length dressing gown (from the Satine Collection) is pretty amazing too. The remaining two lines are the ‘Juliet’ range, made from beautiful white lace with soft pink accents, and the aforementioned ‘Stella Marais’ range which is navy and white striping. What do you think of their debut collection? And do you wish more boutiques designed their own lines?

***Cora is a 25 year old knickers junkie who started writing because her  friends threatened to tape her mouth shut if she didn’t stop talking about her underwear. As a blogger, she interacts constantly with the people this industry needs most—customers. The Addict Expose is all about bringing you, the lingerie store owner, the perspective of the lingerie consumers.  She welcomes lingerie lovers of every nation and persuasion to her blog, The Lingerie Addict. ***

via McPete Sez Newsletter.

Dollhouse Bettie Debuts Designs at CurveNY

Dollhouse Bettie Launches Wholesale Division
Dollhouse Bettie, the well known SanFrancisco retailer of authentic vintage, pinup and vintage inspired lingerie will debut their line of original designs at the upcoming Curvexpo trade show, at Javits Convention Center in New York, February 23­25, 2014.
Previously, Dollhouse Bettie original designs were only available in their Haight­Ashburyboutique, or via their online website at

Now, customers everywhere  will be able to see,  touch  and  try  on these lacy confections in boutiques around the world.

Dollhouse Bettie draws inspiration from their vast archive of authentic vintage lingerie and foundations,  bringing the elements of timeless glamour and retro sex  appeal to their line.
Dollhouse Bettie designs and manufactures all of their in house styles at their 2400 square foot  production  facility  located  in  the SOMA district,  in the heart of downtown San Francisco.

Dollhouse Bettie had its humble beginnings selling online in January of 2004 and is approaching a milestone ten year anniversary. They  opened  their brick­and­mortar shop in March of 2007 in  the  world famous Haight­Ashbury district  of San  Francisco.  Since then, the company has been growing steadily,  building a loyal following of fans worldwide. They
have been featured in Daily Candy, WIRED, and The 
Huffington Post. Daily Candy called them the  “Best  place to transform into a pinup.”  They have won Best 
of the Bay awards from every major SF publication  and readers poll. Until now, Dollhouse Bettie original
designs have only been available at www.dollhousebettie.comor in their San Francisco boutique. Their debut at Curve marks an important transition  in their development. Soon customers will be able to  see,  touch, and try on these delightful styles in shops around the

As an aspiring designer, founder Michelle Metens spent years 
attempting to find US based  factories that could sew her line. Production  houses with the  right equipment are few and far between, and those  that do still exist domestically wouldn’t entertain doing business with
a new player who wanted repeat production in small quantities.
Metens was met with defeat at every turn.  In a last ditch effort to find a factory, in 2010 she traveled to Vietnam,
spending two weeks working with a small production
house. The results? For a small business it  is actually more costly to produce overseas and impossible
to have consistent quality control. Ultimately  the  solution was to build a local factory from the ground up, and
learn how to create the products in house.
Metens says, “I’ve come full circle. Nobody wanted 
to work with us domestically and it was heartbreaking. This process has been one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects
of being a small business owner, to arrive at the conclusion that we just had to do it on our
own. Being able to implement ethical vertical 
production methods, and oversee the
development of a design from concept to finished 
garment is truly exciting and unique. It
allows the  entire creative team an intimate  level  of  involvement with all aspects of our production  process.”

Dollhouse Bettie strives to create the highest quality 
vintage­inspired lingerie, designed for a perfect fit  with modern sensibility and impeccable styling. The 
2400 square foot San Francisco atelier  houses  every aspect of their production operations. As the small
business continues to grow, providing jobs to local 
designers, technicians and seamstresses  remains  central. They are proud to make all of their lingerie in 
the USA and are committed to being at the forefront of domestic manufacturing.
With their roots in retail Dollhouse Bettie understands 
the business from the buyer’s point of view, and this  gives them a unique perspective. As a buyer and boutique
owner, Metens understands how important  it  is to  find styles that will actually sell in a brick and mortar store
or online website. With the experience of selling in 
their own retail venues, the production team  can  revise and perfect a garment, and test its appeal 
before committing to mass production. They regularly send design  samples  to  the  boutique, asking shoppers to try on
new styles and give feedback on the look and fit, 
and not surprisingly, shoppers love the opportunity to participate in new style development! 
By making the most of this invaluable resource,  Dollhouse Bettie eliminates the guesswork,  taking a big part of the risk factor out of  the  equation for the buyer.
Dollhouse Bettie is excited to present their line 
at Curve Expo, current collections are available  now.  For more details about Curve or to book an 
appointment with Dollhouse Bettie send a direct  email to, visit, or stop by the Dollhouse  Bettie  booth during the show. Curve Expo will be held at the Javits
Convention Center in midtown Manhattan on February 23rd,
24th and 25th, 2014.  

via McPete Sez Newsletter.