In the morning of Saturday, October 8, local tattooing legend Eddie Funk passed away. R.I.P. Philadelphia Eddie.
“Crazy Eddie” started tattooing in Coney island, NY, in 1952. When New York City banned tattooing in 1961—he was one of the defendants who took the fight to the New York Supreme Court—he moved to Philadelphia, opening a shop at Ninth and Cherry. From crazyphiladelphiaeddie.com:
In the 1960s, Mr. Eddie Funk opened several tattoo shops on Race Street in Chinatown, Philadelphia. Deemed as urban blight by city planners, this cityscape was home to bums sleeping on the streets where prostitutes worked, despondent drunks dwelling in flophouses, and industrious grifters and downtrodden–yet honest–characters hustling and gambling for easy fortunes. Amongst the handful of tattooers in this neighborhood, Eddie hung his flash on the wall, unpacked his stencils, mixed his inks, started tattooing, and joined the fray.
In the mid-nineties (as part of a long-standing feud with his son Bill Funk, owner of Body Graphics and No Ka Oi Tiki Tattoo), Philadelphia Eddie set up two shops on 4th Street—right down the street from us at Infinite Body Piercing. He has since sold out his stake to his employees, who continue to operate the studios under the Philadelphia Eddie name.
He recently drafted his memoirs, and explained what made him decide to write the series of books on his life:
My fourth wife, while I was in the hospital with a heart attack, cleaned out my safe and took all my retirement money. So I had to do something so I could earn a few dollars, so I could get a drink. So I decided to write the story of my life.
In later years, Eddie could be seen on 4th Street, walking his toy poodle and sporting his signature hairstyle with blazer and wide-collar shirt. He was a throwback to another time, a hard-living tattooer who refused to compromise.
Featured image of Philadelphia Eddie in 1976 courtesy of carlbrennalt.com.