The Trials of Tattoo Couture
Last night, Brian and I went to the opening of Friday Jones Fifth Avenue, a salon and spa where Friday will be offering custom tattooing or "tattoo couture." [Yeah, I know I coined that term for Needled.com back in 2005 but I sold the rights to Rivr Media, so if they didn't bother to trademark it, more power to Friday's lawyers in taking it.]
Anyway, it was a scene. See my bad photos here.
Fashionistas and Chelsea Boys preened for the cameras, of which there were many. Hotties in various states of undress vamped across the salon to show off Friday's work in a "tattoo fashion show" and Aubrey O'Day (yeah, I didn't know who she was either) got her finger tattooed with the words "Je ne sais quoi," which is French for Dannity Kane can suck it.
Some tattoorati were in attendance like longtime NYC artist Darren Rosa of Rising Dragon, Bill DeMichele of Tattoos.com, tattooist and documentarian Clayton Patterson, and special guest, the legendary Lyle Tuttle.
In fact, I thought the appearance of Lyle was perfectingly fitting. Back in the 70s, some criticized Lyle for courting the media, like appearing on Johnny Carson or the cover of Rolling Stone, as well as celebs like Janis Joplin, Cher and Peter Fonda. The same criticism has been thrown at Friday and both seemed to throw it all right back last night as all toasted (with Hpnotiq!) to their successes.
The tattoo spa concept that Friday is working opens up tattooing to a broader spectrum of collectors, people who like their couture in many forms, pop music on the stereo, and a mani-pedi to add to their Je ne sais quoi. And that's cool. While I prefer my studios to be metal blaring, green soap smellin dens of iniquity, I acknowledge that many can be intimidating and not comfortable especially for nervous first timers. Friday is indeed charming and puts people at ease.
BUT -- and it's a big ole but -- I do disagree with the "pain-free" tattooing she offers, as she tells W Magazine:
You can get a massage beforehand. Also, I've partnered with a doctor so we can get you anesthesia or even a Vicodin.Me, I think tattoos should stay painful. There, I said it.
Many of my good friends disagree, saying that if I believe tattooing is all about the art, who cares if someone numbs the skin beforehand.
But tattoo is more than just the art, it's the experience. They are today's rites of passage for many, and part of that is because it's painful and not easy.
On the subway home from the party, Brian said " I miss when tattoos were a cool kids club." And I agree. It wasn't a club of the beautiful or rich, but one of the badass. The more you have the more respect because, well, it freakin hurts.
The pain is what binds us because we have literally suffered for our art. And when you finish a session, you feel stronger for it.
We can still have tattoo spas with rose petal pedis, but let's keep the thorns as well.