Tattoo Legend ‘Bowery Stan’ Moskowitz Dies at 87

Posted on: April 13th, 2020 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Moskowitz family

Another loss.

From the pioneering tattoo family, the oldest living electric tattooer and pre-ban tattoo artist, Stan Moskowitz, nicknamed Bowery Stan, passed away last week of heart-related issues.

The Moskowitz family is legendary.

In the 1920s, William Moskowitz, a Russian immigrant, opened a barbershop on the Bowery. By the late 1930s, he learned to tattoo, thanks to a little help from his friend Charlie Wagner. In pursuing both trades, Moskowitz the newcomer quickly realized that tattooing was more lucrative than hair-cutting. With a wife and three children to support, the choice was a no-brainer; thus a family dynasty was born.  Willie taught his son-in-law to tattoo and then his sons, Stanley and Walter. The brothers later created a line of ink called Bowery Ink.

The tattoo community affectionately refers to the legendary Moskowitz brothers as the “Bowery Boys.”  No doubt a different type of B’hoy for the mid-twentieth century.  These guys were game changers, operating multiple tattoo shops on the Bowery for many years. During the Health Department crackdown in the 1960s when a Hepatitis outbreak led to closure of all city tattoo parlors, the Moskowitz brand relocated to Amityville, and opened one of Long Island’s first ink spots – S & W Tattooing.  Walter passed away in 2007.

From Last of the Bowery Scab Merchants by Walter Moskowitz:

In Chinatown, we moved to 52 Bowery…We were the very last of the old-timers left on the Bowery. That’s how we came to be called the Bowery Boys. My brother and I moved from the Bowery some time around ’58.

I’ve been tattooing before every one here was even alive. I’m almost 75, which is a miracle in itself. My family had been in New York since 1908. My dad was originally a barber in Chinatown. Charlie Wagner taught him how to tattoo in the ’20, but he owned a barber shop. He would leave a guy with half a shave. You know, a guy falls asleep dead drunk, he’d leave him there and tattoo three or four guys and come back and shave the other side.

1939-1941. New York Municipal Archives

52 Bowery

Stan and Walter, Long Island shop 

Stan, Last of the Scab Merchants, No.4 Bowery

Anyone inking themselves owes a huge debt to Bowery Stan. His legacy lives on. May he Rest In Peace and continue knocking skulls with your ball-peen hammer. G-d Bless.

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