May201116
NYC Tattoo Convention 2011 Redux
04:18 PM
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A belly dancing sword swallower. A professor of body modification. A biker bouncer getting his nursing degree. And a balloon clown dressed as a rabbit named ToTo. They are just some of the beautiful tattooed attendees and performers at the NYC Tattoo Convention who -- along with top tattooists -- made this fourteenth year of the show such a success.

[For more photos of the show, see Brian's Flickr Set.]

It's hard not to be biased, however. It's my hometown convention, one that I have attended for over a decade. So much has changed over this time in tattooing, but the organizers keep to a solid formula that works:  well respected and experienced artists in a variety of genres, from tebori to blackwork; off-beat entertainment; quality vendors within the tattoo community; and good bartenders. That formula attracts collectors from around the world who come specifically for the convention.

From Stockholm to Staten Island, they arrive at the historic Roseland Ballroom on Harleys, in wheelchairs, on top of stilts, and in strollers. In various states of undress, they are on view before hordes of tattoo paparazzi. When not under the needle or vying for the next appointment, they push towards the stage to see acts like Natasha Veruschka, a six-time Guinness World Record holder, swallow 22-inch swords while shimmying.

sword swallowing.jpgAnd whether preening or gawking, attendees are interacting. Strangers become good friends, even if just for a few hours, and love connections are often made. For such a hard city, New York's convention is one of the world's friendliest tattoo shows.

Y'all proved that to me. I had put out on Facebook and Twitter that rewards would be bestowed upon those who come up to my Black & Grey book signing table and say, "Marisa, you are so much *taller* in person than I imagined." Mere Needles & Sins stickers and buttons cannot convey my ego's gratitude, dear readers (especially after so many years of hearing the opposite). You rock.

It especially rocked having a table next to Marvin and Doug Moskowitz who were signing copies of The Last of the Bowery Scab Merchants, a beautifully packaged, two audio CD set that holds the amazing stories of their father, Walter Moskowitz. At their table was also the legendary tattooist, anthropologist and author Mike McCabe, whose tattoo books line my shelves. It was an honor to be in such company.

During the tattoo competition (which seems to grow longer each year with full body work), I left our table by the stage to shmooze, shop [thank you, Father Panik!], and ensure my next tattoo appointment with Dan of Calypso Tattoo, who is shown below briefly trading personas with Brian.

brian and dan.jpg You'd think in this time I'd manage a decent photo or even a Tweet, but I was too busy playing with ToTo and his balloon animals to come through. I'm sorry. Thankfully, Brian picked up my slack for Needles & Sins, and two of my favorite fellow tattoo bloggers also have convention coverage:  Check out Bill's photos and review on Tattoosday, and be on the look out for updates from Nathan of KnuckleTattoos.com.

I haven't found much on the show from mainstream media. NY1's video is the only one worth a quick look. I also did a Flickr search and found great shots by Veronica Ettman. Hit me up if you have video and photos you'd like to share.

I'll sign off today by sending much love to the new and old friends made at this convention. You make these events so much fun.

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EDITOR IN CHIEF:
Marisa Kakoulas
CONTRIBUTORS:
Miguel Collins
Craig Dershowitz
Brian Grosz
Sean Risley
Patrick Sullivan
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