Guest Blog: Evian Tattoo Convention Redux
My Brooklyn homies, Chris Budd and Gene Coffey of Tattoo Culture just got back from last weekend's Evian Tattoo Expo in France and had a blast. Today, Gene takes over Needles & Sins to offer his review of the show.
Also check Gene's pix of the convention on Flickr.
By Gene Coffey
After a short train ride from Geneva, Switzerland to Evian, France, Chris Budd and I began our Evian Tattoo Convention adventure. A quaint little town on the lake that borders Switzerland and France, Evian seemed an odd place to put on a tattoo convention. We arrived Thursday, a day before the show began, and the town felt sleepy and unaware of the potential madness that was about to descend on it. Old french couples, poodles in tow, strolled the cobblestone streets peering at the obvious outsiders dragging our luggage noisily towards our hotel. Check-in. Drop bags in rooms. Let's see what Evian has to offer. We headed to a little pub at the end of the block and grabbed a bite. Cheese crapes and coffee presented by an angry old french man in a restaurant that stunk of the old mangy dog pacing the floor and leering at the customers. It was going to be a loooooong weekend.
The sun rose behind a backdrop of mountains, marking the entrance of the weekend and the beginning of the convention. We headed over to the Palais des Congres for Friday morning set-up. The space is awesome: three floors with a fountain outside, a beautiful facade, a stage and skylights. We were greeted by Dats, the organizer of the show, who was warm and welcoming even under the obvious pressures of putting on such a shin dig. We headed upstairs to our booth. It was huge and directly under the skylights. Our booth-mates hadn't arrived yet, we I began to set up.
Destiny and fate had prompted me to shave my beard just days before leaving New York, but I opted to leave the mustache intact. Then as our friends Noon and Xoil from Needle's Side arrived I was overjoyed to behold that both of them were also sporting the most dapper of manly mustaches too. Instantly we became the Mustache Men. Patrons began to file in and the air filled with the buzzing of machines and murmurs of french. Cheek kissing abounded.
Within an hour of the convention starting, I already had a customer and the tattooing began. I felt a bit like the odd man out in our booth. I didn't know anyone there and didn't speak any french, so it was a great escape to go right to work. A couple hours later I had finished the piece and was pumped to walk around and see what everyone was up to. Chris had already made the rounds so he stayed in the booth and I wandered the isles. The caliber of artists in attendance was superb. Kevin LeBlanc, Adrian Dominic, Horitada, Tommy Lee, Olivier, Brent McCown and many more made for a well rounded selection of styles from around the world. The day marched on at the usual pace of every convention until...
The most horrible, soul crushing, embarrassing, pathetic display of unashamed human behavior ensued as the GodGirls took to the stage for the "Sexy Show". I can honestly say that it was the first time in my life where I have seen a hot, naked girl and been so entirely turned off that my penis almost inverted itself and tried to turtle head its way back into my abdomen. The first girl to come on stage to dance and strip in what I suppose was some mutated French version of burlesque was best described by Chris when he turned to me and said "She looks like a deaf person trying to dance to music she can't hear." And it went downhill from there. I'm all for public nudity, but MY GOD!!! If your going to do a "Sexy Show" perhaps a little rehearsal in front of a mirror might do a bit of good before you go on stage and make an "ass" of yourself.
Friday ended. Saturday began at 10a.m. The convention was packed with people by 11. It was really great working with Noon and Xoil. Their work it so happy and carefree that everyone who came up to our booth instantly broke into a smile. They taught me a few key phrases in french which helped me to spread my American sense of humor to the unsuspecting french people. "Bonjour. Voulez-vous sentir ma mustache?" was my favorite.
The weekend was one of the most positive tattoo convention experiences I have had. The attendees were all friendly people. Very few d-bags. No biker brawls. And lots of amazing tattoos! It was sad when it ended Sunday night. Gear was packed. People faded away. Quiet returned to this little french town. But not before 25 of us went to have one last bash at a local restaurant. Good food and great new friends was the perfect way to end the convention.
One of the great things about Evian is that it is a 40 minute ferry ride away from Lausanne, Switzerland. Home to Filip Leu. Monday morning Chris and I headed there to visit him. He was super welcoming. Gave us some coffee and we hung out for about an hour. It was awesome to see his shop and his artwork. It felt like a tattoo mecca. As people (about 30 of them) arrived we took it as our cue to break out. We said our goodbyes and it was all over.
Au revoir, Evian. Voulez-vous sentir ma mustache?
See more of Gene's Tattoo Work on his Flickr Portfolio.