Comedian, actress, activist and tattooed badass Margaret Cho just wanted "a soak, scrub and sauna" when she went to the Aroma Spa & Sports in LA yesterday morning. She just wanted to relax and be naked. As many of tattooed people know, being naked and trying to relax in public is not necessarily an easy thing. The glares. The whispered insults. The insults not whispered.
But what happened to Margaret went even further -- she was actually asked to cover up because she was "making the women there upset with [her] heavily tattooed body." She noted that the manager and the clerks were apologetic and embarrassed to have asked her to do so; the manager was responding to the complaints of spa-goers who were largely Korean, like Margaret, and found her tattoos offensive as they remain "taboo" in Korean culture. [I've experienced similar reactions in my own Greek culture.]
What Margaret did in response was to bring light to this form of discrimination and wrote about her experience on the wonderful Jezebel blog. Here's a bit from it.
I told them that Korean culture is one thing, but this place is in Los Angeles. We are not in Korea right now. This is America. And it's not like I enjoyed looking at their bodies that much. These were all women of various sizes and shapes and some, like me, bore the marks of a difficult life. My tattoos represent much of the pain and suffering I have endured. They are part of me, just like my scars, my fat, my eternal struggle with gravity. None of our bodies are 'perfect'. We live in them. They aren't supposed to be 'perfect'. We are just us, perceived flaws and all. I am just only myself. I like a good scrub and a sauna, especially when you can watch Tiger Woods while it's all going down.
Read more of what she has to say here.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say this: TV is not killing tattooing. I know. Crazy talk, especially from a person who has been mocking reality tattoo shows from Miami Ink to NY Ink and all those shirtless promos of Ami James in between. [We even took time out of our lives to make a drinking game for the latest Ink show.] But the intense outcry today against these shows and the so-called "sell-outs" (I hate this term) who populate them has grown exponentially and really seems disproportionate to the actual harm.
The biggest issue of course is that there really isn't anything real about reality TV. Tattooing is not as dramatic and glamorous as seen on TV and many fear the shows attract people who just want to get into it for the fame and fortune. This is very true but then reality does set in for these types of "artists" to help weed many out.
And of course there's the bemoaning of the death of tattoo's magic, something I've done more times than I'd like to admit. But Kat Von D didn't put the final nail in the tattoo cool coffin. The art was securely woven into the fabric of pop culture long before the shows. Maybe I did it. Every time a lawyer gets tattooed, a biker dies. True fact.
All the foregoing blah blah does not mean I'm a fan of all the tattoo series, but I am keeping an open mind and looking at the good and bad of these programs. And that's what I did when I got an advance screener of Best Ink, a(nother) tattoo competition show.
Best Ink premiers tonight at 10/9c on the Oxygen network. You can catch video previews of the show here. I've only seen the first episode and promos, so my Pros and Cons list below reflects this and nothing more.
The judges Joe Capobianco and Sabina Kelly. Joe has been tattooing for nearly two decades and developed a tattoo style that is sought after worldwide. Joe has paid his dues. He's speaks his mind. And he has great hair. Perfect judgey material. You'll also be happy to know that he makes people cry on the show. People who you want to see cry. Bonus! Sabina was a "tattoo model" before the term was even used as a job description. [80% of tattooed women under 25 are tattoo models. True fact.] She's run a shop, she's judged and presented at international tattoo conventions, and she's beautiful. TV likes beautiful.
The host Kimberly Caldwell, seventh place finalist on the second season of American Idol. I don't get it. At least Dave Navarro on Ink Master had a lot of freakin tattoos to distract us from his overly groomed facial hair. In the first episode, Kimberly tries explaining why on earth she would be running this show by saying something to the effect that "she's all business in the front, and party in the back," turning around to reveal a lettering tattoo on her shoulder blade. I threw something at my computer screen. I think it was a Clay Aiken cd.
I would have loved to see a celebrity who has a passion for tattooing. I would have loved to see Margaret Cho, who is getting tattooed by some of the best in the business and sharing her experiences being a tattooed woman on her amazing blog. A pro here is that Margaret does make an appearance as a judge. The thing is that Margaret, with all her tattoos, biting wit and dirty mouth, is not safe for a mass audience. Kimberly is safe. My mom will like her.
There are some strong tattooists on the show like Roman Abrego and Jon Mesa. Viewers have an opportunity to see what a "good" tattoo can be by those who have experience and skill.
There are some inexperienced tattooers on the show who do damage to the sad people who agree to get tattooed under the ridiculous conditions of a competition show just to be on TV.
The biggest con: presenting all the contestants as the "top tattoo artists" in America.
The biggest pro: the actual judging of the tattoos -- the dissection of the elements of how a tattoo should be crafted, which could educate a mass audience on the possibilities of the art. The drama here is largely derived from achieving the best execution of the work, rather than, say, the backstory of a transsexual war veteran who lost her cat during a house fire and that's why she wants a tattoo of Garfield engulfed in flames holding an AK-47 with Old English script that says "RIP Odie" underneath. True story.
Bottom line: I'm going to watch it. There will be moments when it will make me mad. And there will be moments when Joe schools the kids on tattooing that will make me cheer. In any case, it's entertainment. Not reality. Perhaps it needs a drinking game.
Comedian, activist, and hottie Margaret Cho, will be showing off her moves and tattoos in the latest season of Dancing With The Stars, which premiers this Monday the 20th. Represent, Cho!
I've never seen the show so I read this thingie that says, "We, the viewers, call the shots. We determine who stays and who goes each week." So how do we do that? Well, I read this thingie, which explains it all. In a nutshell, you can call or text to vote at the top of each performance until 30 minutes after the end of the show; for online voting, you have until 11am (Eastern Time) the next day.
So, vote for our own version of "hot inked chick" and keep her dancing, or have people like The Situation of Jersey Shore and Bristol Palin (Sarah's daughter -- yeah, I don't know why she's on either) taking away her air time. [Ok, The Situation should be amusing as well.]
Curious about Margaret's tattoos?
Artists who have worked on her include Ed Hardy, Chris O'Donnell, Mike Davis, Kat Von D, Nathan Kostechko, Andrew Moore, and Barnaby of Mom's Body Shop. She's blogged about these experiences here.
The fabulous Shawn Barber has also painted Margaret -- a portrait of her while getting tattooed by Mike Davis -- and that painting is the cover of her ChoDependent album, which includes soon to be classics like "Eat Shit & Die." The ChoDependent tour starts today in Vegas and will hit tons of cities across the US and Canada. Check the list of dates here.
Kick some ass, Margaret!
Tonight, The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco presents Shawn Barber's Tattooed Portraits: Snapshot,18 new works capturing the spirit and soul of tattoo artists and collectors.
I've been a fan of Shawn's Tattooed Portrait series since he began it in 2004, particularly for the seductive, fluid renderings of tattooists, whether it be full portraiture or intense focus on their hands. Tattoo artists can be hard people to crack, to convey their soulfulness beyond tough exteriors, but Shawn's open, friendly nature brings down those barriers and the results are very personal and engaging.
One of my favorites is actually not of a tattooist but of actress/activist/hottie Margaret Cho, who is shown (below) getting tattooed by Mike Davis and sucking on a loli (the minx!).
Read more about Shawn's work in his Fecal Face interview. Also check his latest book Forever and Ever available for purchase on his site.
The Shooting Gallery show opens at 7pm tonight and runs until September 8.
Tons of tattoo stories topped the headlines, and I've trolled through them all to bring ya the good, bad and the whatthefuck.
N+S keeps our focus on stellar tattoo art, like this fresh work from Jondix in Spain (who's part of my upcoming Black Tattoo Art book); however, we will on occasion link to examples of the WTF if only to feel a sense of unbridled tattoo superiority. And so, behold COED Mag's What Were They Thinking gallery.
Many of the tattoos shown are featured the book No Regrets: The Best, Worst, & Most #$%*ing Ridiculous Tattoos Ever but there are some new gems like the Hasselhoff Ode and Chris Farley memorial tattoo. Looking at them, I feel better about myself already. And that is the power of tattoo. [Thanks, Father Panik, for the
UFC's Alan Belcher did not make the WTF list with his deformed Johnny Cash portrait tattoo.
As for the bad ...
I really don't know what's worse: Canada's CTA excessive use of "tramp stamp" in a removal story (and quoting a doc who says women can't get epidurals because of them -- not true) or starting off the article with reference to some shmuck who wanted a corkscrew tattoo removed from his penis. CTA did get the title right though -- Laser treatment is not quick fix. For stupid.
Then there's this going-to hell-bad: Texas Man Sought for Unpaid Bill for God Tattoo.
And the badass...
Burn Magazine's Eye of the Beholder story/photo by Anton Kusters who is documenting a Yakuza family in Kabukicho, Japan. One of our faves, Susanah Breslin, has been guest blogging for Boing Boing and included this powerful image in her collection of wondrous things.
This one is pretty wondrous to me ... "Man resurrects friend's ashes into tattoo." Granted, this isn't the first time I've heard stories like this but I always get goosebumps at the thought of actually wearing a loved one in my skin. I think it's a beautiful tribute but I wonder if anything else gets carried over in the ash. Just sayin.
In good news ...
Reuters reports that there are less Iraqis getting tattoos used to ID their bodies, and instead are opting for artful ink. In 2005 and 2006, I blogged, on Needled.com, stories of how many caught in the mission-accomplished zone were getting identifying information tattooed on various limbs in case they were mutilated. One Bagdad tattoo artist said that, while many young men today are coming in for motifs like dragons and tigers instead of their names and addresses, he still keeps a low profile "for fear of being attacked by extremists who see his work as being prohibited by Islam or too Westernized."
A couple seeking to open a tattoo studio in Tempe, Arizona who had their business permit revoked won the right to open up shop, again. The city had appealed a court ruling in favor of the couple but to no avail. When will cities learn to stop wasting money on these suits and allow studios to open, thereby bringing more money into city tax coffers?
In celeb tattoo news ...
The LA Times reports that High Voltage tattoo, featured on the reality show LA Ink, is now a top tourist destination along with Kim Kardashian's clothing stores and The Hill's hot spots. The article says, "The manager of High Voltage Tattoo estimates that 90% of its customers are fans of the TV show." So I guess that makes only 10% serious tattoo collectors?
I'm no hater, but I'm not lovin the show either, especially after reading in Inked Mag that top tattooists Hannah Aitchison and Kim Saigh won't be returning to the show because of their lack of drama. I prefer my artists drama-free, thanks, and if they have more time for yoga practice before opening up my skin, well, the better. [Although a faux Aitchison/Saigh lesbian relationship would've been a hot episode.]
The new season will get plenty of drama with the addition of Rock of Love hot mess Aubry Fisher.
By the way Kim's new Vans are out. Nice.
Also check Margaret Cho's tattoolicious cover for Unzipped [a gay adult industry mag is obvs NSFW]. Her new show Drop Dead Diva premiered this week and is a comedy with body image as its central theme, one not uncommon to heavily tattooed peeps. I loved it.
Ashley Tisdale got a tattoo. Yeah, I don't care either.
Another autograph tattoo, this time, Paul McCartney. Let it
Cameron Diaz sports a faux tattoo on V Mag in her tribute cover to Madonna.
And of course ...
More Michael Jackson tribute tattoos.
I wanted to share this fabulous video to the fabulous song, San Francisco by Jill Sobule,
which includes footage at Everlasting Tattoo. Tattooists Mike Davis and Henry Lewis give good face in this video directed by our personal goddess and savior, Margaret Cho.
The record comes out on April 14th. Pre-order it here.