Salon MVLIT Sp2013

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Submission fee & guidelines. Deadline for next issue is May. 15, 2016. You must be above the age of 15. See samples in Literary Latte, Review, and Gallery. The top submission(s) will be published in next issue.$10 submission fee for submissions unless solicited. Note new address: Payable to P. King, at MillValleyLit, 179 The Alameda, Penthouse Suite, San Anselmo, CA 94960

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From the STACKS archive issues:

Winter 2014-15

Interview: Catherine Coulter.

Summer 2104

Interview: From the 60's to the '9ers with David Harris.

Beat muse and poet Kaye McDonough, Claudia Chapline flash fiction, Gary Snyder & Tom Killion, poetry by Tara Namias.

Spring 2014

Graphic novels and comix special issue: Tom Barbash interview, Haiku by Bruce H. Feingold, "Book Bars" flourish, great libraries of the world, Robert Frost Marin connection, Hanging in Havana with Hem with Christie Nelson- inside Hemingway's Cuban home, Gerald Nicosia's new poetry book,Susna Brown poems, Susanna Solomon newest Pt. Reyes Sheriff Call, The final book by Mill Valley Legend Don Carpenter: Fridays at Enricos, Catherine Coulter covered from Writer's Digest, Audiobook Reviews by Jeb Harrison - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Winter 2014

TWO Interviews. The T.C. Boyle Interview, Hanging in North Beach with Louis B. Jones, rising writer Tom Barbash, Robert Frost Dartmouth lectures, Lit agent and SF Writers Conference co-founder Michael Larsen's tips for writers, preview of Forgotten: Treasure Island 1939 by Christie Nelson, The Tortilla Curtain and Herzog audiobook reviews, fiction, poetry & art.

T.C. Boyle interview

Louis B. Jones interview

Lucretia: 6 Poems

Jeb Harrison: The Unauthorized, Unofficial History of the Bolinians

Christie Nelson: Forgotten, novel preview

Grant Flint: A Terrible Wonderful Thing

"Sally Sells Seashells by the Seashore" by Merriam Sarcia Saunders

"A Streetcar Named Denial" Stage Musical Parody by Jack Barnes

Fall 2013

Interviews with Peter Coyote, DeLorean Auto's right hand man, Walter Strycker.

Summer 2013

Interviews with with pro Audiobook narrators Paul Castanzo & Simon Vance. Inside Tarzan writer E.R. Burroughs mysterious ranch.

Spring 2013 Interviews: Deborah Grabien

Barbara Davies

Sandy Shepard

Winter 2012-13 Special Beat Issue featuring Gerald Nicosia - in Stacks.





HOME | THE LITERARY LATTÉ—Stories & Poems | ON MY NIGHTSTAND—Books reviewed | REVIEWWriting and more| THE SCENE—News, Events, Resources | SALON—Interviews, Submission, Contacts|The STACKS—Back Issues

The SALON - Summer 2015

Meet and mingle with the Literati—BYO wine and cheese

Lyle Tuttle Interview                            

by Perry King

 X-ing the Eyes and .-ing the Tease—of the Tattoo Taboo

This interview took place in 1982, years before the current acceptance and trendiness of tattooing­—an interesting perspective, particularly for younger readers. Tuttle’s inking passion brought the once-shunned art of carny folk, sailors and prisoners, to a broader counterculture appeal, and he became a tattoo-superstar. Lyle Tuttle’s name became synonymous, in late last century, with the modern artistry of societally-near-tolerable tattoos. Now age 84, Tuttle has inked on all seven continents. He retired in 1990, but as a favor, may still occasionally tattoo his coveted signature. Tuttle’s shop and the museum are both still open at 841 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco.

(Photo: On the cover of the Rolling Stone: not a rock-star, but tattoo-superstar Tuttle, with unknown derriere, Oct. 1970.)

I met with Tuttle at his colorful original 7th Street shop, to see for myself that every picture tells a story.

When Lyle Tuttle takes off his shirt, an unusual tale unfolds. Neck to ankle, every inch of Tuttle’s fit body is covered with tattoos from all over the world. Countless images and colorful sketches depict Tuttle's life story. A flying bat engraved by a “Dracula man he met in the southeast states,” a slinky black panther (“© 1951”), stretches from wrist to shoulder of Tuttle’s left arm, and an intricate spider web wraps his right side. Two eagles fly through the fleshy sky of his back and are bottom-lined with the words: “Duel in the Sun.”*

Lyle's "shirt."

"This back piece took 14 hours," says Tuttle. “The pain wasn't excruciating."

Yet Lyle Tuttle doesn't flaunt his body art. With a long-sleeved shirt on, pants and bare feet, no one would know he has more than fifty tattoos engraved into his skin.

"Tattoos are really a private matter… I don't like to wear a T-shirt because people come up to you and tell you to go to hell… I'm basically shy in a way."

But when Lyle Tuttle talks about his accomplishments and goals, this 50-year-old man doesn't seem shy at all. He claims to be known worldwide for his collection of tattoos, tattoo parlor, and his museum in San Francisco. His zeal is never-ending.

"I'm in the process of building the world's largest tattoo machine. It's an 18-inch tube that’ll be able to bust concrete!"

Having worked with tattoo machines for over 30 years, Tuttle has plans to use the tattooing technique for more than artwork. "I hope to open a skincare center within five years. I'm experimenting with acne and vitiligo. Tattoo removals help smooth the skin out. "

While tattoo removals leave a scar in most cases, Tuttle found that the needle which barely breaks the skin, also allows sunken pores and skin craters to" pick-up." The removal technique, according to Tuttle is an age-old trade that was polished by the British. Rather than inserting color, tattoo removals use the needle to insert a mixture of solutions. Part of the mix is like "concentrated tea."

"I do as many removals as I do tattoos. I had one removed that I had put on when I was sixteen. It was a cherry in my left leg that said, ‘here's mine where yours?’ I’ve changed since then.”

At fourteen Lyle Tuttle had his first tattoo. It took a second for him to find that first tattoo. "I lived 130 miles north of here in Ukiah. When I was fourteen I came down to San Francisco and I got tattooed that day. It was a heart with ‘MOTHER’ in it."

At seventeen, Tuttle started an apprenticeship. He used to clean up the tattoo shops to learn the trade from the professionals. "Back then it was like an old European apprenticeship… And it took twenty years to get my dues. Twenty was the magic potion."

The 1960s was a turning point for Lyle Tuttle. He opened up his shop on 7th Street in San Francisco and his artwork became recognized. Perhaps in memory of the decade itself, two flowers, styles of the 60s, circle each of Tuttle’s nipples. He had two children a few wives and became a well-known tattoo artist. He tattooed such celebrities as Peter Fonda, Bill Graham, Flip Wilson, Joan Baez, and Janis Joplin.

"There was a cultural liberation. There was children's lib, women's lib; even a tattooed lib. Janis Joplin was one of the best things that happened to tattooing. She got up on stage and said that everybody that has a tattoo likes to fuck."

In regards to whom he tattoos, he can't generalize. "You'd be surprised; you never know what's under the clothes. A man in a business suit and wingtip shoes will get a Harley Davidson tattoo. There's a lot of middle-age women doing it now. They get non-message items – flowers, butterflies. It's kind of their ‘Emancipation Proclamation.’"

Tuttle’s tattoos appear to camouflage his own smooth skin much as a pelt does for an animal. Every inch seems almost warmed by his needlework designs. He laughs as he sits bare-chested in the cool evening air. "Well, I feel like I'm sitting here without my shirt on!"

He may be covered from neck to ankle with tattoos, but with the exception of a star on his ankle, his hands and feet are untouched by needle. Tuttle heeded the advice of his elders. "The old-timers said they would kick my ass if they saw one on my hand. The first 25 years, I never tattooed anybody on the hand. I'm not a defiler; I don't like to graffiti-fy."

Tuttle preserves a type of tradition on his own body as well. He designed his own family crest with the Latin derivation of Tutt–Hill embedded below the crest of the feather and rooster. As he stands up full chested, he translates the Latin: “Chicken today-Feathers tomorrow.”

Tuttle says that he has about fifty tattoos covering his body and admits that he's been quoting that number for many years. He has traveled the world collecting tattoos, and as a Marine, worked in Hong Kong learning Oriental techniques.

“You get much more on a body if the tattoos are smaller, but the Japanese don't have small tattoos. They use fields of color. They tell stories about their folk gods and heroes… There is a religious magic to them. Their firemen get tattooed because they believe that they won't get burned."

Tuttle’s blue eyes light up when he starts talking about tattoo history. "Body painting has been omnipresent with man. Neanderthal man was developing tattooing when he was inventing gods."

He talks of fifth century Libyan dancing girls, Scythians of Asia, Egyptians, Africans and Polynesians who had tattooing as a major part of their culture. Europeans changed the Polynesian word" tattou" to “tottattoo” and brought the art into their cultures as well. Yet at the onset of the Inquisition, European tattooing went through a rapid decline." In 738 A.D. the Catholic Church outlawed the tattoo. Every time there was a rise in religion, religions put a prohibition on tattooing. In the Old Testament people cut themselves in mourning for the dead, then as religions polished themselves they didn't want to be associated with those ways. It's like an atavistic reversion back to primitive nature." >>

Kelli Hemmingsen with Perry. Kelli is a nurse from Walnut Creek whos tat of an old English firefighter carrying a nurse commemmorates her firefighter family heritage, and represents her firefighter husband and self. 7-18-15.

>> According to Tuttle, the Church believed that tattooing was the same as cutting the human body and "the dribble from the bibbel" said that it was a violation of the new Christian ethic. But the New World did not strictly abide by these religious mores. "The church didn't have a death hold on people here. People didn't write everything in the journals."

Lyle Tuttle has no qualms about tattooing religious symbols however. "I've done a zillion Christ heads; I have a pretty slick one."

He doesn't ask anyone why they get a tattoo unless they speak up. No place on the human body is an unusual place for tattoo by Lyle Tuttle. “Some guy came in and I put ‘I have no sister’ on his lower rib cage. I never knew what he meant.”

Tuttle realizes that there has always been a stigma with tattooing and enjoys it sometimes.

Sailors? –"Have their travel marks."

Prisoners?  –"Are creative; they have the time."

Tuttle believes that some very good work comes out of prisons. Even though it was not a freedom that prisoners were allowed, tattoos were made with guitar strings as needles, ballpoint pens and sometimes a 6-volt motor.

In regards to the stigma of tattooing, Tuttle doesn't think that America "has freed itself!" However the excitement that he gets from tattooing is partially due to the stigma. He doesn't fit the tattoo mold either: he will share his tattoo collections, in his museum, and his stories with anyone. Some tattoos are part of his private life.

“Tattoos will melt icebergs. They are sexy in a conversation piece, but it's the philosophy behind them that's the unusual thing.” He smiles and sparkles his blue eyes when he says, "When some gals see those tattoos, they hear jungle drums."

*Lyle Tuttle's back-piece “Duel in the Sun” done by legendary tattoo artist Bert Grimm of Long Beach in 1957-58.

King’s interview was originally published for Media Alliance in 1982.

Photos are un-credited web sourced.

2015 update on Tuttle in the Chron:


From the Rolling Stone cover issue-Oct. 1970.

MillValleyLit Editor Perry King recently interviewed novelists Catherine Coulter and Tom Barbash, both available in Stacks.


Recent MillValleyLit interviews include:

Catherine Coulter, David Harris, Tom Barbash, T.C. Boyle, Louis B. Jones, Peter Coyote, Beat expert\biographer\poet Gerald Nicosia, rockin' writer Deborah Grabien, DeLorean Auto CFO Walter Strycker, audiobook narrators Simon Vance and Paul Castanzo.

Available in Stacks



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Getting to know


J. Macon King at Don Carpenter book release, 2014

John Macon King is Publisher of The MILL VALLEY LITERARY REVIEW. John wrote and directed for Rhubarb Revue Theatre and his writing has been featured in the Marin IJ, San Francisco Marina Times, San Francisco's Beat Museum and various magazines. He has given invited readings at the Book Depot, the Sweetwater, Sausalito Women’s Club, Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club, O'Hanlon Center for the Arts, and Words Off Paper. He is co-founder of Gerstle Park Writers Salon.

King explains how MillValleyLit came to be:

Q. What was your background for this literary venture?

A. I have always enjoyed a passion for reading, writing and the creative community. While earning a Creative Arts degree I worked in a library and then as a manager at the bustling SFSU bookstore. In Marin I found a niche as a marketing consultant for LucasArts and basked in the creativity at Skywalker Ranch. In 2000 I revived the Rhubarb Revue community theater, after its seven year closure, to encourage regular folks to take to the stage and perform along with seasoned performers. This same concept I applied to MillValleyLit - mixing emerging writers with published authors. The Rhubarb continues to be a venue for local writers and talent.

Q. You have had previous experience as Editor of a community newspaper and web site?

A. Yes. Four friends and I put out an underground newspaper in high school when our work was censored in the school paper. This was small town midwest in the early 70's and the paper, and our audaciousness, were very controversial. No students had ever done that in the entire school district. We had Freshmen passing them out at the Homecoming Parade! The principal grilled the prime suspects, and really wanted to expell us, but he couldn't prove it was us. Emboldened, we printed two or three more issues. Ironically, the bigger secret was we were printing them at a local church! A sympathetic minister believed in our 1st Ammendment rights. The premier issue was called "The Dove" (you know, anti-Vietnam) and then we changed the name to "The Cynic," I suppose more properly reflecting our attitudes. At our high school reunions teachers and classmates were still talking about it.

With that depth of experience, I became Editor in Chief for The Progress TVIC newsletter which at times went to 2,500 homes in Tam Valley. After negotiating with Marin County to assume the name and site, we launched as our own Tam Valley Improvement Club site. It was really the first neighborhood web site. I soon gave up on expensive paper, printing and mailings.

Q. Besides the poetry readings did you participate in other groups?

A. I took several writing seminars including Syd Field and Robert McKee. McKee's was a huge group, but a handful of us went to lunch with him every day of the seminar. I knew the Van Ness\Polk (SF) area well so I helped pick the spots. That was fantastic. For a number of years I was the only male in an engaging Mill Valley book club led by Barbara Nelson. The women were supportive and interested in hearing a masculine perspective, which I did my best to uphold. MillValleyLit developed from all those experiences. 

Q. What other contributions have you made in the community?

A. My secret identity is the meek mild-mannered computer consultant known as Computer Whiz. I specialize in helping small businesses and home offices. Besides the Rhubarb Revue, my community activities formerly included: Vice President of the Tam Valley Improvement Club (TVIC), Founder and Chair of T.V. Services District's Revitalization and Safety Commission, President of the Marin BNI Power Lunch, Tam Valley School Technology Coordinator, and consultant to three successful local political campaigns.


click: Marin Independent Journal Paul Liberatore interviews King

San Francisco Magazine Feb. 2014

Marin Magazine June issue: "Local Literature" at top of page 30. Marin Magazine is available by subscription, on select newsstands, and a snazzy digital version at:

Mill Valley Herald's front page interview with King:




HOME | THE LITERARY LATTÉ—Stories & Poems | ON MY NIGHTSTAND—Books reviewed | REVIEWWriting and more| THE SCENE—News, Events, Resources | SALON—Interviews, Submission, Contacts|The STACKS—Back Issues




Photo credits:

Lyle Tuttle: courtesy Lyle Tuttle, Rolling Stone, and web sources

J. King at O'Hanlon Center: P. King

J. King at Book Club of California: Christie Nelson

P. King, Hemmingsen at ATT Park, SF: J. King

Uncredited photos: J. Macon King, except some stock promotional book jackets, posters, archival, or credited.


© MillValleyLit. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material without permission is strictly prohibited.

All writing, submissions, and comments are the views of the respective authors and interviewees do not necessarily reflect the views of MillValleyLit or Editorial staff.