Samuel Steward (1909-1993), also known as Phil Andros, Phil Sparrow, and many other pseudonyms, was an American writer, university professor, tattoo artist, and unofficial collaborator with Alfred Kinsey’s Institute for Sex Research.
In 1936 Steward was summarily dismissed from his second teaching position, at the State College of Washington at Pullman, as the result of his sympathetic portrayal of a prostitute in his well-reviewed comic novel Angels on the Bough, though he taught at other universities afterward.
During a 1937 trip to visit Gertrude Stein in France, he also met with many other literary figures, including Thornton Wilder, Lord Alfred Douglas (the lover of Oscar Wilde), Thomas Mann, and André Gide. He later detailed these encounters, some of them sexual, in his brief memoir Chapters from an Autobiography (1981).
Steward met sex researcher Alfred Kinsey in late 1949 and subsequently became an unofficial collaborator with Kinsey’s Institute for Sex Research. During his years of work with the Institute, Steward collected and donated sexually themed materials to the Kinsey archive, gave Kinsey access to his lifelong sexual records, introduced him to large numbers of sexually active men in the Chicago area, and provided him with large numbers of early Polaroid sex photographs which he took during the frequent all-male sex parties he held in his Chicago apartment. He also allowed Kinsey to take detailed photographs of that sexually-themed apartment. He ultimately donated large numbers of drawings, paintings and decorative objects that he himself had created to the Institute.
In spring of 1950, at Kinsey’s invitation, he was filmed engaging in BDSM sex with Mike Miksche, a New York-based erotic artist also known as Steve Masters. At Kinsey’s specific request he also kept highly detailed journals and diaries of his daily sexual activities, and chronicled them in a secret card catalogue he referred to as his “Stud File.”
Starting in 1957, he began contributing short stories based on his many sexual encounters to the Zurich-based homophile magazine Der Kreis (“The Circle”), to which he also contributed essays, reviews, and homophile journalism.
In the 1960s Steward began writing and publishing his erotica under the name of Phil Andros, initially doing so with the Danish magazine Eos/Amigo. Some of his early works described his fascination with rough trade and sadomasochistic sex; others focused on the power dynamics of interracial sexual encounters between men. In 1966, thanks to changes in American publishing laws, he was able to publish his story collection $TUD with Guild Press in the United States, under the pseudonym Phil Andros. By the late 1960s, Steward started writing a series of pulp pornographic novels featuring the hustler Phil Andros as narrator.
Steward lived most of his adult life in Chicago, where he tattooed sailor-trainees from the US Navy’s Great Lakes Naval Training Station (as well as gang members and street people) out of a tattoo parlor on South State Street. He later moved to the San Francisco Bay area, where he spent the late 1960s as the official tattoo artist of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. As a leading tattoo artist of the 1950s and ’60s, Steward was mentored by Milwaukee-based master tattooist Amund Dietzel. Steward in turn mentored Cliff Ingram, aka Cliff Raven, and Don “Ed” Hardy, later known simply as Ed Hardy, encouraging both to practice the Japanese-style tattooing he himself most admired. After retiring from tattooing in 1970, Steward wrote a social history of American tattooing during the 1950s and ’60s, which was ultimately published as Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos: a Social History of the Tattoo with Gangs, Sailors, and Street-Corner Punks, 1950-1965 (1990).
In 2011 the book Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade, by Justin Spring, received the Geoff Mains Non-Fiction Book Award.
In 2012 Samuel Steward was inducted into the Leather Hall of Fame (as Sam Steward).
In 2017, the art installation known as the San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley was installed; in it Steward (among others) is honored with a bronze bootprint displaying her name and a short statement about him.