April 2009 Archives

09:10 AM

bodies of inscription.jpgAlthough Bodies of Inscription by Margo DeMello was published in 2000, it's still an excellent analysis of the stratified nature of the modern tattoo world. She begins with an overview of ancient tattoo history, bringing to light some nuanced views of the European "re-discovery" of Maori tattoo culture. She describes how these people were exploited for their traditions of preserving tattooed skulls and then subsequent exploitation for general European amusement.

The modern American evolution of tattoos are also discussed in depth -- from the first known professional tattoo artist Martin Hildebrandt (who worked at a time when the tattoo artist was more of a craftsman than an artist) to the modern artistic renaissance starting with the likes of Sailor Jerry and Ed Hardy.

Interestingly, her research also involves an analysis of tattoo's most voluminous written histories: tattoo magazines.

I had never thought about the intellectual and class warfare going on within the very tattoo magazines I've been buying for years. She details the difference between the "biker-style" tattoo magazines, such as Tattoo and the more "high brow" tattoo pubs like International Tattoo, each focusing on different aspects of the art.

It's this issue of "class" that DeMello particularly focuses on, as it is often overlooked in the context of tattoo culture. In fact, there are many class issues within the community that she brings to light: for one, she describes how the current renaissance in tattoo art is, in part, a class shift from tattooing being a working class art form to middle and upper class, evident in design and artistic choices. You can even see it today in the debates over the word choice of "tatted" or "tattooed" (in some circles, it's a faux pas to even acknowledge the existence of the word "tat.")

With the current explosion in acceptance and popularity of tattoos, the cultural shifts are becoming ever more evident, and thus, this book remains not only relevant but important to today's tattoo community.

Reading around the net, I've seen that Ms. DeMello does have her share of critics: some accuse her of being elitist, an outsider posing as an insider. I don't know about the merit of these critiques but I do know that she is a scholar who has given us a body of work to be discussed and debated as the tattoo community morphs and grows.

L8r dawgs.

Buy Bodies of Inscription from Amazon.com for $17.21.

03:17 PM
marisa heart.jpgI just checked my Facebook friends list and I have 660 of the most fabulous people sharing the love.

Brian mocks me because I obviously have never met all.  I'll usually confirm a friend unless they rep in a hateful way or know my father. I also just find it tremendously helpful to this blog because I get ideas or find tattoo events through the news feeds.

And now I'm just six people away from my 666th FB friend!

Soooo, I decided to reward that ominous beastie with my usual prize: crap from my parents' attic.

Befriend me here.

And while you're at it, join the Needles + Sins Syndicate for party and event updates as well as a forum to voice your thoughts on how to make the site better.

I kiss you!
01:15 PM
jacqueline spoerle1.jpgTattoo by the Jacqueline Spoerle of Corazon Tattoo in Switzerland.

As the deadline for my book on blackwork tattooing -- like that of the fabulous Jacqueline Spoerle above -- fast approaches, I'm grateful that the boys got my back and this blog to bring you the Tattoo 411, but some of the tattoo news was too important to let it pass.

The most important:  18 Douchebag Celebrities and their Douchebag Tattoos.

No, I jest.

The Washington legislature finally has passed a measure that requires body piercers and tattooers to be licensed by the state. Up until now, there have been no regulations, so any kitchen table scratcher can scar up anyone with a low tattoo IQ. One of the people behind the measure is bod mod artist Troy Amundson. I wrote about Troy's lobbying fight for BME in 2007 and his efforts to bring safe and fair regulation of the industry. And today I toast him for securing representation "as stakeholders in body art related issues" as he calls it. Cheers to Troy for getting shit done.

In more tattoo law news, the search is on for some garbage who tattooed a gang symbol on his 7-year old son. It's a heartbreaking story of how the child returned home to his mother, distraught and ashamed after spending Easter break with his father. He tried to hide the tattoo when taking a bath but his mother saw and called the cops when he told her the story of how his father held him down while another gang member forcibly tattooed a dog paw on his hip. Justice for this gangbanger would be some big jail daddy forcibly tattooing bitch on his ass. I know, not highbrow commentary but this just makes me sick.

It's these type of stories -- the negative associations with tattooing -- that perpetuate stereotypes and result in, say, idiot zoning regulations, like this one in Vista, CA that says a tattoo studio can't be located near parks, schools or child care facilities, as well as 1,000 feet from other parlors. Imagine passing a similar reg for nail salons or barber shops. Yeah, I can't either.  

And of course it leads to personal tattoo discrimination, as Pat blogged about yesterday on Joel Madden having to cover his tattoos before boarding a flight because British Airways found them "offensive." [I love this Perez Hilton comment: "... Joel was embarrassed because 'all the people were staring and laughing! No, Joel, they were laughing because you're in Good Charlotte."]  *giggle*  Eonline.com says Joel did cover up to board to plane but will be complaining to BA. I won't be giving BA my business. If you'd like to voice your opinion to BA about this, here's their complaint form.

Quick and dirty links for y'all:

That's all I got, friends. Gonna do some more work on my book and then get ready for the Dogs of Winter acoustic show tonight at Corio. Join me there at 8pm.
10:50 PM
Well, it looks like Bobby Fisher's tattoo re-criminalization wish may be coming true after all. Earlier today, Good Charlotte's Joel Madden was forced to cover his tattoos before a British Airways crew would allow him to board a flight. Check his twitter here.

Now, I spent a solid nine minutes (let's call it an even ten) reflecting on whether or not this deserves a post of its own, and even more time wrestling with having to link Twitter. But if it means I make a few enemies on this here interweb, then so be it. It's not my intention to give Mr. Madden and his merry band of tattooed popsters more press for being merry or tattooed. But the unbelievable discrimination imposed upon him by the staff at British Airways is inexcusable -- it's not simply in poor taste. Maybe they could have gotten away with it in previous decades, but no one (regardless of your opinion of them) should have to put up with that kind of prejudice.

The icing on this bigoted cake of intolerance, is that many of his tattoos are religious, featuring #1 good time party guy and embracer of outcasts Jesus "It's Okay If You're a Social Pariah" Christ. Let's hope British Airways was just experiencing a momentary lapse in judgement. I guess I won't be carrying on my Daniel O'Connell portrait any time soon.
03:30 PM
As I'm going through the tattoo news, I'm reading a bunch about Skin & Bones - Tattoos in the Life of the American Sailor. So much so, that the exhibit deserves its own post here.

Curator Craig Bruns says, "If you have a tattoo, you really have a sailor to thank."

And so the exhibition explores the Western history of tattooing by delving into "the beliefs, mysteries, traditions, and power of the tattoo in American maritime culture."

The show opened at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philly on Friday and runs until January 3rd.

It features traditional tattoo machines, old school flash, historic photos and artifacts, a recreation of an old-time parlor, and a mini-documentary of the recorded personal stories of tattooed sailors.

There will also be screenings of Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry on May 12th (7pm) and October 2 (8pm).

Mark your calendars for the panel discussion on October 22 featuring Weiss; tattoo historian Nick Schoenberger; C.W. Eldridge, director of the Tattoo Archive, in Winston-Salem, NC; and U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Office Richard Sambenedetto Jr., whose tattooed feet are the poster piggies of Skin & Bones.

And if you're wondering what the pig and rooster on the feet mean, read the Tattoo Archive's article on the symbolism of sailor tattoos.

For more about the show, check PNJ.com.
01:03 PM


Just in case you cared where I was going to be on Saturday Evening (9/25/2009), the cat is out of the bag, I'll be at Canvas L.A., checking out An evening with Horiyoshi III. If you want an autograph from me just ask, but I digress (I'm a star in my own mind).

Don't get it twisted Horiyoshi III will not be in the building but his art will be. 50 original works of art, 10 full bodysuits (pictures I assume) and Horiyoshi's clothing line Horiyoshei The Third will be on display.

From experience, Canvas L.A. is a relatively small space and this is going to be a very popular event so I would advise getting there early. I'll be there by 8pm and out by 9pm, just because I hate crowds and I'm and old man hiding in a 30 year olds body. See you there.

12:48 PM
As I sat at the bar on Saturday afternoon waiting for musicians to arrive (and, yes, many were horrifically late for load-in), I had to do a double take as a white-haired gentleman and his wife rolled in and took the barstools on my left. My initial reaction was, "Holy shit, that is some vibrant color on that old guy's 3/4-sleeves." And then I simply realized that he was wearing one of those All-Gain-No-Pain tattoo sleeve t-shirts. Ordinarily, I would scoff and sneer at anyone who wants to "try out" the sleeved look and lifestyle, but I came to realize that these garments are totally acceptable on those under 6 and over 60 years of age. Especially if said 60 year-old sits in the front row of a 2 hour music performance in a dark club while wearing a giant pair of Foster Grant wrap-around sunglasses.

So, if you didn't make it to the show on Saturday, I've got some video footage up on YouTube from a cross-section of performers at the Lapdance Academy Saturday Saloon Salon Series:

- Sam Barron performing "Dead Flowers"
- Emily Zuzik performing "Don't Pay the Ferryman"
- Matt Whyte (of Earl Greyhound) performing "Holy Immortality"
- The Knuckleheads and their questionable "Cancer Song"
- Alex Walker performing his interpretation of "The IRS" from Guns N' Roses
- and yours truly performing - "Jesus on the Mainline" and a medley of Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" into Donna Summers' "She Works Hard for the Money"

subrosa_spring_bri.gifAnd also let me add that Dogs of Winter will be opening for West Virginia's stoner-metal trio Karma to Burn at the Sub Rosa Party in Danbury, CT this evening at 10pm. If you live in Fairfield county, this is a show not to be missed (you didn't hear it from me, but we'll be covering some Ride The Lightening era Metallica)!

I'll be playing a solo set this Sunday 4/26 at Mr. D's in Yonkers at 7pm (you know you've made it when you're playing a bar near a horse-racing track).

The Dags will also be playing a stripped-down acoustic set next Tuesday 4/28 at Corio (a burlesque joint in TriBeCa) and back at full, ear-bleeding volume again next Friday 5/1 at Sub Rosa Party, because we just can't get enough of that sex-a-licious Danbury music scene.

And with that... I should probably get back to rehearsing.
12:29 PM
punkmedics.jpgHappy Earth Day, y'all!

If you're looking to be green and gorgeous, check out my friends, PunkMedics.

This indie, animal and earth friendly company, based in Canada (and who doesn't love Canadians?!) manufactures, wholesales and retails vegan skin care products that are made of natural plant and botanical ingredients from organic sources. Not only are they free of animal by-products (and obviously animal testing) but they also do not contain any parabens, sulphates, petroleum by-products and GMO materials.

I particularly love the Punk Medic's Tattoo and Piercing care. The Tattoo Shield -- which is only $5 --
helps to heal new tattoos (once the skin has closed up of course) and keeps older tattoos looking new with its ingredients of Grapeseed, Hemp, Sweet Almond and Sunflower oils.

For those looking to stretch ear lobes safely, try their fabulous Holey Butt'r, which includes Karanja oil, an all-natural antiseptic and antibacteria agent.

And for my bikers out there -- motor and fixed gear -- check the Punk Medics Road Rash line -- sprays, lotions and balms that prevent as well as sooth skin irritations for cool riders.

Here's where your shopping stimulates my economy:

If you buy from Punk Medics ArtFire Store below, Needles + Sins will get 20% of the sale -- money that will go to server costs, promotion, and naturally, our bartenders.
12:42 PM
Jondix Tattoo2.jpgTattoo by Jondix of LTW Tattoo in Barcelona, Spain -- one of the many featured artists in my upcoming book on blackwork tattooing due out this Fall. More black tattoo photos to come. 

I'm just getting over the food and ouzo orgy that was this past weekend's Greek Easter celebration, a Brooklyn backyard bacchanal where chasing around unsuspecting guests with a lamb tongue on BBQ tongs is not only encouraged but specifically laid out in the Bible, right next to promoting "opposite marriage." [See the gory Greeky pix on Facebook.]

Lucky for me, the news was not as juicy as our giblets, so I didn't have too many headlines to trawl through, but I did catch a few tasty treats on the net. Here goes:

More people are getting medic alert tattoos, prompting the medical community to address the legal and ethical issues behind them. Over the years, I've seen A LOT of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) tattoos, particularly on people over 70 -- like this fiesty Kiwi who sparked debate worldwide last year over the enforceability of DNR ink. In the US, a mere DNR tattoo generally won't cut it. You need to back up your wishes with a valid DNR Order. Better use of those tattoos would be alerts of serious allergies, pre-existing conditions and even blood type, but hell, the jewelry has been doing a good job at that, so save ya skin for art.

In a reminder of how tattoos were once put to horrific use, Auschwitz camp survivors were reunited Sunday at Israel's Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. The AP reports:

As terrified teenagers 65 years ago, Menachem Sholowicz and Anshel Sieradzki stood in line together in Auschwitz, having serial numbers tattooed on their arms. Sholowicz was B-14594; Sieradzki was B-14595.

The two Polish Jews had never met, they never spoke and they were quickly separated. Each survived the Nazi death camp, moved to Israel, married, and became grandfathers. They didn't meet again until a few weeks ago, having stumbled upon each other through the Internet.

[...]  the name Sieradzki on the Web site didn't ring a bell. Then Sholowicz, 80, saw the man's number and he froze.

"I rolled up my sleeve and sure enough -- I stood exactly ahead of him in line at Auschwitz," he said. The discovery "was a moment of great emotion, great excitement. We went through it all together. We are like two parallel lines that never met."

He called Sieradzki the next day. They recently met halfway between their homes in Haifa and Jerusalem, and a photo of them and their tattoos appeared in an Israeli newspaper.

This AP photo of the men has also been widely circulating around the Internet.

auschwitz tattoos.jpg
The small numbers needled in Auschwitz have been some of the greatest modern day symbols, not only serving as reminders of the genocide but also of survival and unity, as shown in the article.

Auschwitz tattoos have also had an impact on modern Jewish culture in relation to young Jews wishing to get artful ink, with the dark stigma carried over (beyond biblical texts on body markings).

For the best discussion on Jews and tattoos, read Craig Dershowitz's interview with Rabbi Henry Harris.

In more news on culture and tattoos, the Isle of Man's Manx Heritage Foundation is photographing people with Manx tattoos for a new promo campaign. The most popular tattoo is the "Three Legs of Man" symbol, which Wikipedia says originates in the legend that the Celtic god Manannan defeated invaders by transforming into the three legs and rolling down the hill.

If only there was as good a story behind the San Jose Shark Man.

02:03 PM

robotic tattoo.jpgOn Wednesday, I gave you the first in a series of amazing tattoo works and tales of their creation, Colin Dale's 3D Celtic Tattoo. Before I begin a crazy Greek Easter weekend filled with musical men in bonnets and a full lamb on a spit in my parent's backyard, I'll leave you with this:  an incredible robotic sleeve on Peter Stauber by Mike Cole, with the story on the work told by Peter's fabulous wife Chris. Enjoy!
How Mike Cole Made My Husband Part Robot

By Chris Stauber                            

I'm not quite sure of exactly when we first were introduced to Mike Cole. Once we did take note, his drawing and tattooing biomechanical geometric shapes quickly drew Peter's attention. Through the Internet, they booked their first appointment at the 2004 Houston Live Fast Show. The appointment had a rocky start as the plans were really schemed out by the two parties' wives. Once Mike and Peter got their stories straight, Mike worked out the colorful crazy Demondoll lettering for Peter's stomach ... and this tale began.

Peter sits like a rock. Artists find his skin a pleasure to work on. For whatever reasons, his pasty white Irish flesh takes on and holds in ink.  At the Houston show, I was having my standard Tim Creed appointment when our friend Jason from Next Generation Machines began chatting with Tim and I. He brought up the idea that someone should do their entire arm like some sort of transformer robotic equipment. Peter had long been considering a collection of robots as a sleeve but to actually be the robot was a whole new concept and level of thinking. When the words came out of his mouth, I told Jason he needed to walk right over to Peter and Mike and repeat his idea. Jason did and the following conversation took place:

"You in to it?" asked Mike.
"Yeah," said Peter. 
"Cool," ended Mike.

And that was that.

[On Friday of the convention, the little Demondoll stomach piece took Tattoo of the Day. It was a good start to both their working relationship and their friendship.]

mike and pete.jpgAt the November 2004 Dallas tattoo convention, Mike had the arm's line drawing in a sketchbook. The entire thing looked like it was drawn using rulers but it was all free handed. Mike went to work on the main outline using, at first, light colored markers and working up to darker ones to make the final lines. He built the major sleeve linework up freehand on Peter's arm that session.

After that first sitting, they worked through countless appointments filling in the lining and adding shading, texture, glowing goodies and even some alien hieroglyphics.

It took them five years and a few cross state border moves, but with persistence, they completed it. Mike and Peter agree to call it at about 60 hours but we will probably never know the true amount of time put into the sleeve between the bathroom, dinner, and smoke breaks.

I enjoy seeing it everyday. And know this: my husband does thoroughly enjoy pretending to shoot at me with his laser gun.
02:23 PM
parkside_poster_150.gifNow that we have Passover, Easter and Tax Day behind us, it's time to celebrate with another afternoon of FREE live music at Parkside Lounge!

Saturday, April 18th - 2pm
Lapdance Academy Presents:
"Death, Taxes & Resurrection"
317 E. Houston St. (at Attorney)
New York, NY

We'll be welcoming our newest additions to the lineup (The Celebration of Man, Samuel Barron, Seth Berkowitz of Lucky Ghost and Matt Whyte of Earl Greyhound) as well as performances from all your old favorites (Alex Walker, Emily Zuzik, Dorie Colangelo, Len Xiang, The Knuckleheads and yours truly)!

Everyone is encouraged to dress in the "Easter Best" now that spring has sprung - and what better way to spend a 70 degree, sunny saturday than in a dark LES bar? It's a FREE SHOW, but the hat will be passed and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Save The Music Foundation.

And speaking of FREE...

Odds are you illegally download music from the internets. There's also a strong chance that this racks you with such guilt that you lie awake in bed at night thinking about all of the bloated, soulless industry fat cats artists that you've stolen money from. Well, my friends, I have the question for you: what if artists actually gave their stuff away for free, on purpose, and it was actually good?

Crazy Talk, I know, but that very thing is happening at the newly launched Lapdance Academy.

Lapdance Academy is a collective of musicians who believe that the best things in life should be free: love, fountain-soda refills and DRM-exempt mp3 releases! Head on over to lapdanceacademy.com to download a free copy of Alex Walker's classic crowd-pleaser, "White Gown," and my shanty-town sing-a-long, "Lydia The Tattooed Lady."

We'll have plenty of more releases coming in the near future (including "From Soil To Shale" by Dogs of Winter on 5/12), so be sure to join our mailing list and follow us on the social networking platform of your choice:

Smell that? That's the smell of Free! And in this godforsaken economy, we need to embrace all the Free we can.
01:41 PM
statSized.JPGWhile perusing Google's new Google Scholar, which searches the dark web and helps you find academic works and research papers, I found some very interesting tattoo related articles.

One article in particular caught my eye.

Tattoos and body piercings in the United States: A national data set, written by Anne E. Laumann, MBChB, MRCP (damn that's a lot of letters) and Amy J. Derick, MD. In the report they explain how the participants were chosen and statistics were computed. The report is only nine pages, but I went ahead and pulled out some of the more interesting numbers:

  • 24% of respondents have Tattoo's -- 22% Women, 26% Men
  • 14% of respondents have Body Piercings
  • 37% of respondents have had military experience
  • 58% of respondents have spent >= 3 days in jail

Here are some of their juicier conclusions:

  • At all levels of education, the prevalence of tattoos was significantly higher among those of lower education.
  • Of those with tattoos, 76% had been in jail for 3 days or more multiple tattoos.
  • Recreational drug use was significantly more common among the tattooed.
  •  Body piercing varies little by educational status. However, as with tattooing, body piercing occurs more among those who partake in risky activities such as heavy drinking, drug taking, and actions that lead to incarceration.

I've hung out at enough tattoo studios, so the conclusions did not surprise me, but this fact did:

"We found no difference in tattoo prevalence between ethnic groups with presumably all gradation of skin color, except that tattoos were twice as common among those with Hispanic ancestry than all other ethnic groups combined. Presumably permanently decorating the skin is a fashion or a cultural practice rather than appearance driven."

This could be a holdover of past cultural ties to earlier non western tattoo methods, which is an interesting sociological observation, but one for another day.

Interesting, the very first book in the References is one of my favorites, Margo DeMello's Bodies of Inscription -- a review of which will be my next post. Later, dawgs.
01:33 PM
celtic tattoo.jpg
I'm starting a new section on N+S on interesting tattoo projects, and the stories behind them. Not stories of the dog that died and that's why I got this Kanji on my shoulder, but stories meant to inspire and inform on the creative tattoo process. I'm snotty like that.

Here's the first in the series: Colin Dale's 3d Celtic Tattoo.

Colin's tattoo was a culmination of a project started on his own leg last February in California and involved various artists in the process. The original idea was to design a piece of Celtic knotwork that wrapped in an unbroken piece around the entire leg -- not just a band but also running from top to bottom in a three-dimensional tattoo encompassing the entire calf.

The design came from Pat Fish, aka The Queen of Celtic, a master at knotwork. The design was then given to her technical assistant and webmaster Colin Fraser Purcell who then made a 3D template that could be wrapped around Colin's leg in a cone shape. Pat then applied the design ... and got it right the first time!  Not an easy task, even for someone as experienced as she is. Pat then spent 3 hours adjusting and freehand drawing it to fit before she even started to tattoo. The original outlining ran into the early hours of the morning.

Colin returned home and began to thicken up all the lines himself. This was actually more painful on the hip joint and lower back than the actual tattoo. [Imagine tattooing while touching your own toes for 2 hours at a time!] This was followed by Colin dot-shading all the negative spaces on the instep and shin. Unfortunately the tattoo wasn't finished in time for the Northern Ink Xposure convention in Toronto, but Colin took the opportunity to have Cory Ferguson to fill in the negative spaces in the left side and back where he couldn't reach. Cory is another talented award winning artist and friend who specializes in the pointillism technique combined with mandalas and tribal patterns.

After this was completed Colin took it down to Alex at Rites of Passage who did all of the greyshading of the knotwork. Alex specializes in Black&Grey and Portraits work, so this was sort of like asking da Vinci to paint a ceiling...with a roller. But it was decided that a simpler more graphic approach was the best way to compliment the Celtic style and complete Pat's original vision.

After this collaboration of three great artists, plus to artist/collector himself, the Three Dimensional Celtic was completed.

And that's just one way to get a kickass tattoo.
12:55 PM
It's been a while since I gave you a shopping post, and I can't think of a better way to get back into it than with this bit of badassness:  KYODT.com, Kill Yourself of Die Trying Leather Goods Greats!

When I heard my girl Amina Munster created this new company of customized belts, guitar straps and dog collars -- in addition to her vida loca of modeling and photography -- I asked her to make something special for me. And I'm happy to say that nothing holds up the jeans over my Greek booty better than my Badass Bitch belt.

Belts generally run between $60-70 and are available in a different colors, embossing, and buckles. Check the gallery for a look at the different options.
12:14 PM
tattoo-480.jpgPhoto by Corey Kilgannon for The New York Times

The NY Times blog recently discussed how tattoos are hurting job applicants, especially in this tight economy. And while Bobby Fisher has decided to raise a tattooed middle finger to corporate America, I've never had a problem covering up to pay my rent -- and even welcome the reprieve from the usual stupid questions.

Hey Bobby, just see how "FUCK 401(K)" knuckle ink brings the dumbasses out to play? You'll be invited to every post-collegiate frat party on the Upper East, my friend.

I may have most of my torso and and sleeves covered in tattoos but it's the little one on my finger that has given me the most trouble because it's hard to conceal. And I'm not the only one. The popularity of head, neck and hand tattoos has soared, leaving us with limited cover-up options like hats, ascots, and gloves. Better for ballrooms than boardrooms.

There is the make-up option.

As the Times writes, a public advocacy group in East Harlem, Strive, teaches how to cover-up tattoos with cosmetics, along with providing resume and interview training.

The latest tattoo concealer make-up comes from none other than Kat Von D for her Sephora line.  At $25 a pop, it comes in three different shades (light, medium, and tan) but none for those with darker skin tones.

Reviews are mixed so I plan to head to Sephora and pick up the light shade for my hand to see if it really is dumbass questions proof.
12:17 PM
Photo by James Macari for Contributing Editor.

I just had to take a break from my first book deadline because the recent tattoo news has been ... well, as fun and fanciful as the Obama Chia head. Ch-ch-ch-cheezy! Love!

The headlines covered everything from celeb tattoo snafus to inked ad campaigns to new regs facing the industry, but let's first kick it off with something for my ladies and gay boys ...

... Contributing Editors spread of the hottest tattooed professional models, shot by James Macari. yummmm

Two of the models are repped by UGLY Talent, a talent agency with offices in NYC and London that specializes in alternative beauties, like the heavily inked. They also have a great online store with cool tees. [Thanks, Evan!]

Those boys can even make Hanzi and Kanji look hot. And speaking of, while that tattoo trend may be fading in the US, Chinese tattoo lovers are going for lettering in English. The Miami Herald offers some interest facts on tattoos in China like this one:

"Tattoos have been around for nearly a millennium in China. Perhaps the most famous one graced the back of Yue Fei, a famous general in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 A.D.) whose back read: 'Serve the country loyally.' Legend has it that his mother ordered the tattoo as inspiration."

Over time, however, tattoos became the mark of criminality in China and only until recently has that stigma started to wear of.

In the US, the single-needled style tattooing learned in prisons and on the streets of LA have been touted as fine art works these days. Case in point: Yet another article on the fabulous Mr. Cartoon whose cholo art graces the bods of rappers, rock stars and Skid Row's finest. My favorite line from the article comes come Brian Grazer, who's doing a film based on Cartoon's life: "The mainstream is coming around to his aesthetic, not the other way around. He doesn't change. He's still hard-core. He's a gatekeeper to that world."

Cartoon is listed as one of the top tattooists in Playboy's Top Ten Tattoo Parlors written by Inked mag editor Jason Buhrmester. It's an impossible task picking only ten out of the country's best but Jason did hit my favorite shops and avoided the TV show studios. Kudos.

Manlier Perrier-1.jpgAll this tattoo testosterone got bubbly Perrier's attention. This new ad shows them trying to be "manlier" via tattoos. giggle. [Thanks, Chris!]

In tattoo geek news ...

Gizmodo gives a shout to the Neuma tattoo machines.

Neuma, light weight airpowered machines, was developed by the fabulous Carson Hill in 2000. Now Neuma has released the Neuma Hybrid: an electric motor module that transforms the pneumatic Neuma into an electric Neuma. I'll have a full post with details soon.

Wired looks at sites that collect geek and science tattoos.

And this is what happens when geeks get drunk.

11:31 AM
Scott Campbell of Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn is consistently in the news for tattooing celeb clientelle, but it's his first major solo art show this weekend that's making headlines today.

Opening tomorrow at the O.H.W.O.W. Gallery in Miami, Make it Rain takes the visual language of tattooing and moves it from skin to sculptures, paintings, drawings and photography.

For more images from the show and other works, check out Cool Hunting's review.
02:32 PM
jacqueline tattoo.jpg
I'm been quiet here because I'm on deadline for my book on blackwork tattoos, but the boys have been blogging wonders, albeit cranky ones.

Blackwork is everything from traditional tribal tattooing, like the timeless Polynesian tatau ...

to neo-tribal made famous by Leo Zulueta and Trevor Marshall ...

to the dotwork technique mastered by artists including Xed Lehead, Dan DiMattia, Erik Reime and Colin Dale, among many others ...

to modern interpretations of non-traditional tattoo motifs like this henna-inspired work above by the fabulous Jacqueline Spoerlee ...

to the all-black graphic art of Yann Black, Jeff, Boucherie Moderne, Noon, and other French avant garde tattooists.

So that's what's keeping me busy these days, but I'll be back tomorrow with your news review.

03:09 PM
koi_boots.jpgAs we continue through a month that is immortalized in rhyme for it's persistent precipitation, I feel the need to discuss Umbrella Etiquette - a "lost art," if you will, in the bustling metropolis of Gotham.

Rule #1:
Unless you are wearing a gold buttoned jacket in front of the Ritz-Carlton or you're carrying a bag of Big Berthas behind Tiger Woods, you are, under no circumstances allowed to be wielding one of those gigantor-brellas worthy of a PGA tour.  While I appreciate your desire to exist in a bone-dry kineosphere when the weather is inclimate, you're an inconsiderate asshole to the rest of us.

Rule #2:
While on the issue of umbrella-circumference, please keep this formula in mind:

H*(1/2) = D(u)

Simply put, you don't get to weild an umbrella that has a diamter larger than half your height.  Case closed, end of story, no negotiating.  I shouldn't be seeing any of you little Hobbits walking around with what is essentially a House and Garden gazebo over your head.  The only thing as annoying as catching an umbrella's tine my eye (see Rule #1) is having my lit cigarette crushed into my hand because Toulouse-Lautrec and his Shroud of Unnacountability decided to stop short to answer a phone call (which, it goes without saying, is NEVER a reason to stop walking).

Rule #3:
When exiting the subway station, wait until you've reached the sidewalk before opening your umbrella.  Its rather unlikely that you're related to a Wicked Witch out West, so a few seconds of moisture isn't going to return you to the soil and loam of the earth.  The confined quarters of the staircase is NOT the place to suddenly extend the neurotoxin laced quills of your umbrella like some horrifying, urbanite blowfish.

Rule #4:
Upright, you assholes.  UPRIGHT!  It's bad enough that you swing your arms like some hyperbolized George Jefferson, but when the sun comes out long enough to justify closing your umbrella, I should never find myself the victim of an impromptu sidewalk vasectomy that would make Mengele wince.

Rule #5:
The building is under construction, so the sidewalk is now even narrower than usual and it's beneath covered scaffolding.  Either close it up or raise it up, Mr. Scoops.  Otherwise you're going to find yourself in a close-quarters death-match that will put that Uma/Darryl trailer park scene in Kill Bill to shame.  Oh, and I'll be taking more than your one good eye...

Most of the civilized world thinks of us New Yawkers as fast-talking, foul-mouthed, over-caffienated busybodies who wouldn't piss down your throat if your stomach was on fire.  Personally, I think most of this assumption is false; there is a camraderie that exists between us Folks of the Five Boroughs.  A sense of kindred-consciousness amongst all of us who pay far too much for rent and yet feel like we have to apologize to panhandlers.  Snake Plisken might not be on the island yet, but it's a prison in which we're all doing time and these foxholes force us all to believe in a higher power...

But Fuck Almighty, it's JUST RAIN!

09:17 AM
It's possible that my high school girlfriend feels a sliver of vindication for her Honors Psychology diagnosis of a sixteen-year-old Pat Sullivan: low self-esteem.

Yesterday, Becky "I Really, Really Regret Getting a Tattoo" Pugh of the Telegraph UK, reported on a study by psychologists at Liverpool Hope University that links tattoos with self-esteem, quoting that "tattoos are not just fashion accessories, but are driven by a wide range of factors associated with self-esteem."

The odd little article doesn't give much more information than that. And Pugh's assertion that tattoos are a sign of low self-esteem isn't quoted from the study, so maybe it didn't actually link tattoos with feeling blue.

That said, the more I think about it, tattoos + self-esteem is kind of a no-brainer. Obviously getting tattoos and having tattoos gives something to the owner/wearer. If it didn't, no one would get tattooed. And the same goes for tattoo artists. What I've often found, though, is that the heavily tattooed (not just some sorority girl that got a little "tat" on spring break) tend to have backgrounds with little patches (or long spans) of instability or an upbringing that was less like Leave it Beaver and more like Roseanne -- which isn't to support Pugh's snarky tattoo regret, only to "report" my own findings. (And it doesn't mean that plenty of inked-up individuals didn't have the happiest and best of childhoods!)

But to suggest that people who get tattoos do so simply because of low self-esteem boils down the proverbial tattoo melting pot, with its thousands of years of art, history and craft, to a diluted, watery mess. Kind of a bummer, but if people want to go ahead and diagnose my tattoos, then that means they probably won't ask me "the story" behind them. And that means a better ride on the subway for everyone.
11:57 AM
true love videos.jpg
My friend JD just turned me on to this 10-part video series called True Love, where three filmmakers from Milan travel across America's East Coast to capture the work of the best tattooers working in the old school tradition.

According to their YouTube Channel, the series seeks "to focus on various aspects of tattooing, but most of all on the relationship tattooer-customer, from the point of view of the same customer."

The artists include the crew from Smith Street Tattoo, Olde City Tattoo, Chad Koeplinger, Hunter Spanks, Nikki Balls, and newcomer Bailey Hunter Robinson.

Check 'em.

04:06 PM
I almost feel guilty posting this, not only at the last minute, but because it will bump the coolest old lady I've ever seen beneath the fold, as it were (and I can eagerly announce that story-boarding for an animated video of Dogs of Winter's track, "Beneath the Fold" has already begun).  But let's not digress before we even get the damned car out of the garage...

fb.gifI would like to extend an invitation to all of my five-borough friends for an event this evening: a set of my acoustic, solo material at Fat Baby in the Lower East Side.  I will be taking the stage (or should I say, planting my narrow ass on a bar stool for an intimate serenade) at 8pm sharp, the cost is 7 bones and if you tell me you arrived via Needles and Sins, I'll be sure to buy you a beer of your choosing.

Hell, if I see enough adorned bodies, I'll be sure to play an extra-special version of Lydia The Tattooed Lady, just for you.


02:02 PM
103 year old woman gets a tattoo.jpg
Photos by Martin Foldgast for NU Magazine April 2009

Tattooing someone's hands and face may be illegal in Denmark but that didn't stop my friend, tattooist Colin Dale from satisfying the birthday wish of a 103-year-old rockin grandma bent on getting inked.

Colin went to the nursing home in Copenhagen where Karen Fredso Larsen lives and hand-poked a ring on her finger that symbolizes natural force and energy. Karen loved the Nordic mythology and petroglyph tattoos on Colin's beautiful wife Nanna and chose a design along those lines instead of a peace symbol, her original idea.  [If you scroll down, you can see Nanna showing her tattoos to the curious centenarian who even asked for a peek of her body art below the belt line.]

colin dale tattoo.jpgWhen commenting on whether the tattoo hurt, she said, "I have experienced so much in my life that this is nothing."
09:35 AM
I'm lovin watching the progression of my friend Sarah's horimono up close and beautiful, but you can check out it out yaself through her blog Evolution of a Backpiece.

The wonderful Stephanie Tamez of NY Adorned is creating the serpentine-centered work that evokes The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Nothing could better embody temptation more than beautiful tattoos on a beautiful woman.

The blog also reminds me of one of the first online tattoo chronicles by the great Keith Alexander (a dear friend who was taken too soon in 2005). He too documented the progress of his backpiece -- also tattooed at NY Adorned -- by Chris O'Donnell.

What I love about all these personal blogs is, not only watching the works evolve, but reading about healing techniques, the relationship with the artist, and the stories behind the design.

Tattoo geeks rejoice in all the bloggy goodness!
05:09 PM
I was planning on doing an April Fool's post but last year's Tattoos for Tots on Needled almost met with criminal charges.

So I decided to play it safe and recommend picking up Skin & Ink's Yearbook -- a monster 184-page tattoo review of their favorite photos and stories of last year.

Turns, out the joke is on me:  One pick was Lisa Marie Jankowski's Big Ten Questions with me. And while I'm flattered they republished it, there are a few minor changes like, oh, not being married, not living in Belgium, and no longer editing Needled ... and no longer wanting to change my name to Marisa Lou Retton. The last one being the greatest shock to all.

One thing that remains, my maniacal laugh. Hope you had some giggles yaself today.

Check out the issue though for great tattoo images and interviews with artists.
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