Ink-n-Iron 2011 Redux
12:21 PM
ink-n-iron 2011.jpgWe're back in Brooklyn after a gorgeous weekend in Long Beach for the Ink-n-Iron Tattoo & Kustom Culture Fest...and really not a moment too soon as the California sun, cool breezes and laid-back dudeness were dulling our New York self-righteousness and sarcasm. But we made it back in one angry piece.

It was our first time at this monster convention aboard the legendary Queen Mary cruise ship and on its dock, which was blanketed with shiny kustom kars, vendors, and a stage that rocked with a serious line-up of bands including Buzzcocks, Fishbone, Skatalites, The Sonics, The Vandals, and other legends. It was all done up big and badass -- from buxom pin-ups to car club bruisers to bold backpieces on many, many beautiful people in various states of undress.

See photos on Brian's Ink-n-Iron Flickr set.

tattoo by tommy montoya.jpgBackpiece by Tommy Montoya

When we arrived at the convention, a queue of hundreds lined the dock waiting to get it. It was a sea of parasols and pomade and it hit me that many conventions worldwide do have their own distinct personalities. Ink-n-Iron is a Rockabilly, kustom culture Disney Land. And to me, that's a good thing. Tons of eye candy, a light and sexy vibe, and less tattoo snobbery (although we embrace that kind of thing).

The pin-up contest seemed to attract a bigger crowd than the tattoo competitions. As a side note, if you ever want to gauge "trends" in tattooing, tattoo competitions are the best places to do so. There were tons of young girls with tattoos that stretched along the sides of their lithe torsos. I heard one guy in the audience say, "The rib tattoo is the new tramp stamp." Indeed.

When the competitions weren't taking place in the Queen's Salon on the Promenade deck, Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School (LA club) took over with live drawing and attempt at a record to have 1,000 people sketch a host of posing models. I hope they reached their goal.

tattoo by Tim McGrath.jpg Tattoo by Tim McGrath of 13 Roses Tattoo, Atlanta

On the decks below, tattoo artists from all over the world filled three levels with non-stop buzz. Being SoCal, the work was heavy on the black & grey but all styles were repped with a top notch roster of artists.

Despite my incessant eye rolling and head shaking, Brian decided to continue his quest to get his toes tattooed, asking great artists to perform general dumbassness. On Sunday, he convinced Sweety of East Side Ink to needle FU on his paw. To(e)-fu. I know. I had no control over this. [Clare Goldilox did a truck on his big toe in London.]

crazy Eddie.jpg Photo of Crazy Eddie by Tommy B.

This all happened before the major drinking, inspired by the convention-wide toast to Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins in honor of the day he passed, June 12th, 38 years ago. Crazy Eddie Funk (above) took the mic and offered his tribute: "Fuck Chicago ... Fuck Sailor Jerry." No one expected any more.

Sailor Jerry actually kept people pretty happy all weekend in front of its sweet Airstream (below). The Airstream shared dock space with a cigar lounge, beauty salon tents, beef jerky vendors, among many others. Something for everyone.

Beyond the jerky, what makes a convention for me is meeting up with friends who we haven't seen since the last show in our traveling circus of a subculture. No matter how big the show and all its attractions, the greatest lure remains the growing family of tattoo freaks who have become just as much a part of our lives as the tattoos we wear. Maybe Cali has mellowed me after all.

Photo by Tommy B.

If you have your own photos from the show and wanna share, send me the links.

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