Philly Tattoo Convention 2011
It seemed like all of Philadelphia was at the Sheraton City Center Hotel for the annual tattoo convention this past weekend. Driving over, we saw massive billboards on the highway as we entered the city as well as bus stop ads on numerous street corners; we even heard promos on repeat over the car radio. I turned to Brian and said, "That's the way to pack a show."
We didn't anticipate, however, just how packed it would be. Like most major shows, there was a line to get in but this seemed to bottleneck, leading some to elbow their way to the front of the line. Throngs of people pushed up the escalators to the reach two floors of booths where over 200 artists and vendors were waiting for them. And there was more pushing through the aisles to get to tattoo appointments or just watch others get work. There was plenty to watch. It seemed that most artists, at least Saturday, were candidates for carpal tunnel syndrome with their non-stop needling. Money was made.
Artists ranged from legends to a few newbies. You couldn't miss Philadelphia Eddie when you walked into the main tattoo room -- always with a sharp suit and sharper tongue. He was signing his book "Tattooing: The Life and Times of Crazy Philadelphia Eddie," which is filled with wild stories as expected. [You can buy it online here.] Next to him was another old school bad boy, Stan Moskowitz, who tattooed excited fans looking for a piece of history. Further down the aisle was Annette LaRue of Electric Ladyland Tattoo in New Orleans who promised me some good stories from her decades of tattooing for an upcoming interview. And there were countless others I had a blast hanging out with in scarce quiet moments.
Actually, "quiet" should never be used in the context of the Philly show. It was raucous, complete with hardcore from Murphy's Law and bikini bull-riding. A guy in a zombie Gumby costume paraded around taking pictures with aspiring "tattoo models." Plenty of preening throughout the hotel. Sailor Jerry Rum specials swilled in plastic cups. As is the case at most shows, booze is boss. But what you didn't see were biker fights of two years ago with a strict "No Colors" policy in effect. It's great when not all tattoo stereotypes are represented.
If any of this post sounds snotty, well, I quite literally caught a cold at the show and had to bail earlier than expected. But these dysfunctional family reunions make me happy nonetheless and it was worth the trip.
We only took a few photos of the show, posted here on Flickr, but Snakegirl Productions's Flickr pages have plenty of great shots. Some pics are also being posted on the convention's Facebook wall. If you have images of your own you'd like to share, hit us up.
UPDATE: See photos from the show on Driven By Boredom -- many not safe for work.