August "Gus" Wagner (16 June 1872 - 10 June 1941) was a tattoo artist and performer.read more
Gus Wagner's Tattoos
Gus Wagner was a merchant seaman, who traveled around the world from 1897 to 1902 and claimed to have learned to tattoo from tribesmen in Java and Borneo, who showed him how to use their traditional hand-made tools. After getting more than 250 tattoos by 1901, he described himself as "the most artistically marked up man in America," and he started to travel with circuses and sideshows as a circus performer.
Gus met Maud Stevens Wagner at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, with whom he exchanged a romantic date with her for a lesson in tattooing. He married her October 3rd, 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri.
As a mentor of his wife, Gus taught her how to give traditional "hand-poked" tattoos and Maud became a tattooist herself, becoming the first known female tattoo artist in the U.S..
After leaving the circus, the couple traveled all over the country creating body art. Together, the Wagners were two of the last hand-poke tattoo artists, working without the aid of modern tattoo machines. They had a daughter, Lotteva Wagner, who started tattooing at the age of nine and went on to become a tattoo artist herself.
He died June 10th, 1941 in Chase County, Kansas. Gus and Maud are both buried in Clements, Kansas.