Tattoo Legend ‘Bowery Stan’ Moskowitz Dies at 87
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.
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.