Greek Tattoo and Heavy Metal Show Saturday
This Saturday, March 21st, in Astoria, NYC, I'll be at Metal Mayhem hard rock and tattoo show at the Stathakion Center -- a place normally reserved for clergy visits, dinner dances and any type of event designed to matchmake nice Greek girls with nice Greek boys. Which is what makes this event so freakin fantastic as there will many in attendance and none of us would ever be considered "nice" by the community standard.
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
Despite the great tattoo work coming out of Greece -- like this piece by Greek Tattoo Hellenic Stixis who specializes in Hellenic motifs -- acceptance of any type of body art remains largely taboo, especially outside the big cities like Athens or Thessaloniki. So much so, that when I visit my family every summer, I wear long sleeved tees to the beach covering up my arms, back and torso work.
I do this outta respect for my family, but also because those stares are heavy, and often not pleasant. [In any case, covering my tattoos in the sun has kept them looking fresh.]
There is an unbearable heaviness of being Greek and tattooed for reasons that echo back to ancient times when tattooing was used to mark slaves and criminals, considered barbaric and against the perfect body and mind ideal.
But times are changing and tattoo studios there are popping up exponentially. It's also anticipated that the Third Annual Athens Tattoo Convention will attract even more people this May.
Back in the US, though, the anti-tattoo mentality remains strong among the Greek diaspora, many of whom retain their values and beliefs from the year they immigrated here, which is why this event is pretty bold and pretty awesome: Greeks and Greek Americans coming outta the closet together undressed and showing off tattooed skin. Can I get an Opa?!