Since the rise of the dime museum in the 19th century, tattooed bodies have been parading across stages both live and mediated. This book takes a close look at images of tattooed bodies in live performance, advertising, and photography. In so doing, the book combines the craft of cultural analysis with theories of performance while also generating a largely untold history of the tattooed body on display in the United States. Because of this unique combination, the book is truly interdisciplinary and appeals to multiple audiences. At the same time, it sustains a deep theoretical engagement with the central concepts of social and visual agency and the disruption of restrictive social norms. In the end, this study of the visual argues that the agency of images is located within, and not only in opposition to, cultural discourses such as gender, class, and exoticism.

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