It is time to get a new tattoo. So the quest has begun to find a new tattoo shop. See, when I first decided to get a tattoo, I searched high and low for a shop where I felt comfortable enough to let someone jam a gun filled with needles into my body to leave a permanent mark. In total I went to oh, eight shops? Most of the time it went something like this:
I open the door to the tattoo shop. The inside is dimly lit and smells vaguely of cigarettes and disinfectant. Kid Rock is playing on the stereo. While this would normally be a deal breaker in all regards, I was new to the tattoo world and trying to stretch my horizons a bit. The bored looking white girl with the crew cut, nose ring and star tattoo on her wrists give me a look that all at once says “Here we go again” and “I only do girls.” I explain to her that I want to get a tattoo and I’m looking for a shop then I ask to see a portfolio. Starr (I named her Starr in my head. The second “r” is what makes her special)
glares for a fraction of a second, letting me know I suck at being a customer and retrieves the portfolios for me. I sit on the red leather couch and begin to thumb through the pages. Skulls. Tits. Skulls. Tits. Spider-skull-tit-beast. Sigh. I thank Starr for acknowledging me as a human being, return the portfolio and get the fuck out of there.
Finally after seeing any combination of spiders, skulls, tits, Osama Bin Laden, urination, eagles, sports things, knives, and Bettie Paige in tattoo form I found a shop. Hope swelled in my breast when I walked in and Etta James was playing on the stereo. A smile blessed my face when the receptionist (who was named Martha)
was friendly, courteous and answered all my questions. My adrenaline glands vibrated like a pair of honeymoon underwear when I looked through the portfolios and saw….art
. Gorgeous portrait tattoos of mothers, babies and grandfathers. Japanese Koi fish in all hues, vibrant and flowing on smooth white skin. Demons and dragons and flowers and all manner of beautiful things. There was talent in these books. There was style and substance. There was not a single fucking shitty meaningless tribal tattoo to be found.
All I had left to do was meet the tattoo artist. This was the tricky part for me. The only tattoo artists I had met previously were what some people would not identify so much as tattoo artists (in a classical sense)
and would be better qualified as meth dealers
. Needless to say, I was nervous. So I get introduced to the guy. His name is Jeff. He’s got a beard and glasses (Yay!)
and a lovely button down shirt on (not a torn Slayer shirt yay!)
and he smiles and shakes my hand. I remember to breathe again. We talk for a minute about Etta James on the stereo. It’s his CD. I tell him I like to collect crucifixes and that I am very nervous. He laughs and tells me how he collects anything to do with Norse mythology. Then we both talk shit about Thor comics and laugh a lot. I relaxed and felt like a person again rather than an extra in a National Lampoon movie. Over the next few months as I slowly paid off my tattoos and had the work done, I got to meet everyone there. The lesbian tattoo artist named Reecey would tell me about how she thought her girlfriend had become too fat to fuck. The piercer guy and I talked Warhammer 40K on smoke breaks. The owner, also named Jeff, was the tattoo artist for Poison during their hay day. It was brilliant and a wonderful time for me. Everyone had a story and I’d often hang out there until closing just to listen to them talk.
Sadly, like most good things, it ended. Jeff moved on to a shop in Arizona. Reecey left to take care of her mother who I later found out had cancer. Piercer guy got fired for getting drunk and groping Martha. Owner Jeff hired new people but by then my tattoos were finished and it felt insincere being there since I didn't know them and I had no tattoos sitting in my heart, waiting to come out. That was many moons ago and once again, the tattoo sings to me. So I am on a quest to find another shop. A well-lit place filled with characters and decent music where I’m not made to feel weird for being the only guy without those gauged out ear plug things. I’ll find it. I have time and patience and though it’s taken me a long time, I’ve finally learned not to do something unless it makes my heart sing.
So yeah, this was supposed to be an Occam Thoughts blog but it turned into a tattoo story. Go figure. Anywho, I hope all of you have a lovely weekend. Oh and fucking skip that new Castlevania game. That camera was designed by some sort of seizure-bot and Jean Luc is way phoning it in on the narration. One of the biggest disappointments I've encountered this year, except for maybe Splatterhouse. That is water boarding in video game form.