Crowdsourcing Mornings Stuff

Crowdsourcing Mornings: Tattoo Mike – The Story Of The Illustrated Man

Welcome to the Crowdsourcing Mornings segment!  Every weekday morning, Geek Alabama talks about and features one crowdsourcing project from crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others.  The hope with Crowdsourcing Mornings is to feature and help a project be successful and reach its fundraising goal.  Please enjoy today’s featured project!

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TATTOO MIKE is the biography of queer artist, tattoo icon, and American sideshow legend Michael Wilson. Diagnosed at age 10 with a life threatening disease, this is the story of a man fated to a short life and the choices he made to live those years by rules of his own design. Leaving a mentally abusive and alcoholic home before finishing high school, Michael immersed himself in San Francisco’s gay Castro neighborhood in the 1970s with close ties to the drag performance group the Cockettes.

Moving on to New York he would get his face tattooed and start performing on stage at the newly formed Coney Island Sideshow, a position that would bring with it celebrity on an international level. Michael acted in underground films, modeled for top fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier, and Geraldo Rivera wanted to interview him for his daytime talk show. In his time Michael was the most recognizable tattooed person in the world.

Tattooing was banned by law in New York City from 1961 to 1997. For the tattooists who stayed and worked illegally, this was a period of creative and cultural revolution. The work which was done then has directly contributed to the social acceptance and mass appeal of tattooing today. This renaissance brought a previously unseen skill set to the community and an opportunity for women and gay men to establish themselves in the business.

In apartments across Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Michael got his face tattooed in the early 1980s, 20 years into the 36 year ban. Sideshow also experienced its own resurgence of popularity, and with his face freshly tattooed Michael worked the first full season of the first new sideshow the country had seen in over a decade, down at Coney Island.

The largest collection of Michael’s artwork ever assembled has been brought together for this film. Michael wanted to be an artist who could support himself with the work he made but showed so few people during his lifetime. The images beautifully hint at his rich interior life, a yearning for love, sex, and sense of humor. People who knew him from the sideshow or tattoo events are often surprised to find out he painted at all.

As of March 14th, this project has raised $22,000 of their $20,000 goal. This project has 2 days left to raise as much as it can. For a pledge of $10, you will get one postcard.  For a pledge of $35, you will get a digital screener of the film.  To learn more and to pledge money, go to:

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