An interview with tattooer James McKenna

James McKenna is the Australian tattooer whose work is going from strength to strength with its gorgeously rich colours, clever patterns and characterful animals and women. Tattooing from WA Ink Tattoo in Freemantle Western Australia, Sang Bleu have asked him a couple of questions about his work, what the elusive SOOS is and what inspires him.

How did you start tattooing?

I knew I wanted to get into tattooing once I’d got my first tattoo in 2008. I loved everything about it, the studio, choosing a design, booking an appointment, getting the tattoo and the satisfaction once it was finished. It was a simple thought process from there, i enjoyed drawing, painting, getting tattooed and wanted as many tattoos as I could get so becoming a tattooist seemed like a great idea.

Once finishing school I went to study fine arts at university, after 3 days I dropped out knowing it wasn’t the right place for me to be.  I got an apprenticeship in a street shop through a mate’s older brother in 2008 and have been there ever since, it was definitely a right-place right-time situation for me. Looking at my drawings from then I don’t know how I got the job but I’ll always be grateful to them for the opportunity.

What is the tattoo scene like in Australia? What is good about it and what is not so good?

Tattooing in australia at the moment is really exciting. The artists are ambitious and I think theres of a lot of talent here. Working at some of the shops and conventions around Australia, I’m inspired. There are so many local and international artists that I’ve met, who’s experience has taught me a lot, and have made me feel like there is a real [...]

Tamara Santibañez chooses Sang Bleu her favourite pieces from LAABF

We asked Sang Bleu friend and fabulous New York based tattooer Tamara Santibañez to choose us her favourite pieces from LA’s desirable book fair LAABF which took place last weekend. We wholly trust her subversive and sexy taste and the results of her choices do not disappoint.

Tamara: My first time at the LAABF was a pleasant surprise as compared to the NYABF held this past fall.  While equally well-attended, the spacious layout and staggered crowds made it much more possible to browse and chat up the publishers and artists and stumble upon unexpected finds.  Below, my favorite picks from the weekend:

Death Lords- zine by Matthew Bellosi and Nathaniel Matthews

This 8×10 xerox zine combines found vintage imagery of  black and latino street gangs with images of death metal youth.  Laying the two side by side and in some cases overlaying them makes it often difficult to tell which is which, or where one stops and the other begins.  Symbols and imagery become a common thread weaving through the photos, where skulls, flames, and the like function both as band logos and as emblems on a club jacket.


For Your Eyes Only Vol. 2- Nick Sethi

WIth a plain black cover and housed in a sealed silver foil package, Nick Sethi’s zine feels pornographic before you even open it.  Inside is a collection of found photographs from the internet, each a self-portrait of a woman who has put herself in bondage or is self-inflicting some form of corporal punishment.  The intrigue of the photos is initially in the irony of restraining oneself while allowing enough freedom of [...]

Leon Mostovoy: Market Street Cinema

ONE Archive in Los Angeles are currently showcasing the recently donated, provocative photo essay, ‘Market Street Cinema’ by Leon Mostovoy that documents the personal lives of the lesbian prostitutes working as dancers in the titled San Francisco strip club between 1987 and 1988.

Transgender Mostovoy is an artist and photographer that started photographing the sex industry’s women after witnessing many of his lovers and friends making a living within it. Through knowing one of the dancers, Mostovoy was able to grant access beyond the stage of the Market Street Cinema strip club and started photographing an account of the women’s lives in the dressing rooms. The result is a series of personal photographs that show character and individuality within their profession of controlled and choreographed sexuality.

The photographs feature aspects of the dancers, their profession and their environment that don’t transcend to their stage; Mostovoy captures their relationships, the camaraderie and brief encounters with customers, as well as subtly bearing truth to the dark and often shabby preconceptions of the sex industry. Speaking on his own work, Mostovoy said that he sought to capture the ‘nuanced softness found underneath the rough exteriors of the dancers'; many of the images on display feature the women alone at a point of introspection and are melancholic in their evocation.

The series documents the struggles and triumphs of being a woman in this particular landscape. It aims (and succeeds) in normalising expectations of women within both the sex industries and homosexual culture. The photographs are hauntingly intimate and pure, a voyeuristic peep into what reads as any other 80s female pursuit by night; they retouch make-up, dance nude, inspect reflections in mirrors and smoke on the stairs. Though the title of the photo essay roots these personalities  in their place [...]

SUB CULTURE by Iain McKell has been re-immersed into the world by Wild Life Press

Steve Terry is the man behind the incredibly good publishers Wild Life Press. If you don’t know about them they’ve created some of the most exciting counter culture publications of the last few years, most notably Bound by Night a book that we explored last year on Sang Bleu which delved right into the contemporary voguing scene in New York with a harrowing reality and humanity. . However, his most recent venture has seen him do something a little bit different, rather than create a whole new book Terry has repackaged one of those books which is so rare and prized that its very name between book collectors is like that of a mythological creature. SUB CULTURE by Iain McKell documented the suedehead and two-tone scene of England in the 70s, and rather than McKell being a voyeur to the scene this iconic photographer was an insider to it, making the photos excruciatingly raw and personal. We spoke to Steve to find out more about this goldmine of a book and how he’s gone about re-packaging so many original copies of it and re-immersing it to the world. Out of all of the rare books in the world, why did you want to re-publish this one?  . I had been after a copy of this book as had many other people I know for years. Its status among collector’s was almost mythical. I usually work with artists on new projects, but I could see a way of presenting Iain’s book that added something fresh while still preserving the integrity of the book itself. I have not technically ‘re-published’ it. I have repackaged it. It is a copy of the original 1979 book together with a new bromide photo print presented [...]

Milla Reika


I met Milla Reika (ミラ嶺花 ) when shooting a Hans Bellmer inspired bondage video for the upcoming Sang Bleu 7 in Berlin with Gestalta and Cathy Walsh at Lee Wagstaff’s Rise Gallery. She was finishing a long few weeks session of rehearsal for Cirque Shibari and about to fly back to Japan. I asked a her a few questions afterwards to get to know a bit more about her.


You are originally from Australia but you have been working as a bondage rigger and performer for few years in Japan and internationally now. Were you already doing this profession before moving to Osaka? Could you tell us how you got started?

No, for me I only really realised Kinbaku and BDSM after coming to Japan. I had never placed foot on a stage in my life nor considered this profession previously. Often I think back and wonder how in the world did I end up here. I was (and possibly still am) quite a spontaneous and live by the moment type.

My interest in Kinbaku first appeared when came across a Kinbaku photo book in a tiny sex store in back streets of Amsterdam. This was when I was 19 and aside from that it wasn’t until I went to Japan 5 years later that I came across it for a second time.

A year after arriving in Japan I was fortunate enough to meet an English girl, Ellie Streichholz, at a fetish event, whom later introduced me to a SM & Bondage Bar, Matrix. After going along as a customer and expressing interest in learning Kinbaku, I was then invited to work there as an apprentice Mistress (Dominatrix).

Working at Matrix opened up a whole new world for me, which I dove myself [...]

Ten Questions: Cokney

After several back and forth email conversations spanning a number of months, for a moment it seemed as if the “Ten Questions” interview with Parisian-based tattooer and graffiti writer Cokney was never going to happen. Understandably so, as 2014 has been a busy, although productive year for this young French artist, with several guest spots throughout the world, a number of exhibitions, and a full time position at Hand In Glove tattoo shop in Paris. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to meet up with him at this year’s edition of Art Tattoo Montreal this past weekend, where he was awarded the prize for “Tattoo of the Weekend”. Among that discussed were his introduction to tattooing, his constant appetite for travel, and one of his other pursuits – graffiti writing. Keep reading below for more, and be sure to check out his Instagram and website for a number of other photos.

For those who are unfamiliar with your work, could you please introduce yourself? What does ‘Cokney’ mean and why have you chosen to tattoo under a pseudonym rather than your real name?

I live in Paris and work at Hand In Glove tattoo shop. I discovered tattooing through the skinhead and punk culture in the early 2000’s. During this period I used to go to every Oi! and reggae-rocksteady show. With few young skinhead like me, we started to do everything together, we decided to organize ourselves as a band. During the evolution of this band I had my first vision of tattooing, something more brutal, a tattoo that take its power from symbolism more than aesthetic beauty. On the side I was also actively painting graffiti on trains and subways… The name “Cokney” was formed, and continues to be my [...]

Stills from Chris and Cosey’s music video for their song Rise in 1989


In 1989 Chris and Cosey made this exceptional song Rise and to accompany it they made this equally brilliant fetishistic music video. The film was made at the height of the music video’s popularity and almost parodies the kind of MTV friendly editing, dancing and art direction. This is contrasted with Cosey’s beaming confidence as she lets the camera shoot her up skirt as she dances, high heels walking on hands, drumsticks hitting women’s arses and a personality-less gimp mask provoking the camera. The beat of the song is accompanied to the most satisfactory balance of handcuffs hitting the floor, Cosey’s orgasmic body writhing all over the place and shots of electric drum machines.  It’s a work of art in its own right both sonically and visually and its brightening up our Friday morning.