Results tagged “Michelle McGee”

02:28 PM

Michelle McGee. It's become painful to even type her name anymore.

But as long as she's still on the loose -- now doing night club "tours" to fix her image -- us tattooed women still find ourselves having to fix the image she's imposed on us all.

Granted, the negative "might as well be a bullseye" view of us didn't start with McGee sleeping with Sandra Bullock's hubs then trying to monetize her special brand of sleaze. Women who have the courage (and high pain threshold) to change their bodies in a way that doesn't conform to society's unrealistic standards of beauty can be intimidating to the weak -- and when the weak get scared, they lash out:

"I'm sorry if this offends people, but nothing says SKANK to me like a woman with tattoos and/or piercings."

That's the very first comment to the CBS News video (above) in which I was interviewed about this very insipidy. The video also includes interviews with a beautiful tattooed woman and artist Darren Rosa at his Rising Dragon studio in NYC. It pans down her backpiece-in-progress showing how artful tattoos can be, and then I come on with my usual blah blah about tattoo stereotypes. And yet, the first thing someone can think to write -- and go through the process of creating an account to do so -- is the word "skank" (in caps no less!).

So yeah, I'll keep preaching in the media to "fight the backlash" as long as skank, tramp, and trash are used to define us. Even if it's painful.

Read more of my Michelle McGee sermons here:

07:10 PM
tattooed women.jpg
Yes, yes I know. It's been a while since I've done a review, but really I've been shielding your eyes from the ugliness of the tattoo headlines, a veritable ten-car pileup.

Rubberneckers may slow down for wrecks like reality show juice-heads bawling over tattoo pain, clown-face criminals, tributes to OD'd celebs (ala Corey and DJ AM) alongside tributes to booze, and of course, the incessant coverage of "Nazi tattoo models." Ok, the Tina Fey bit on Michelle McGee was really funny.

But not all news items have necessitated air bags. Here are my less painful picks:

First up, Dallas Observer photographers, Patrick Michels and Kevin Todora, offer an extensive slideshow of photos (like the one above) from the MusInk Festival this past weekend. It's a sweet mix of rockstars, Miss Tattoo contestants, and views from the convention floor.

The Down East Tattoo Show in Maine, a smaller convention this past weekend, had an interesting twist on its tattoo competition: the judges were art scholars from the University of Maine (and not one had a tattoo). Organizers of the show say that the professors are unbiased and decide strictly on the art (and not if their buddy tattooed it), but they also are aware of good technique like strong line work and smooth shading. As one judge said, "A well-designed but badly executed tattoo just doesn't cut it." [Also check the video interview of one collector from the show.]

On the tattoo law front (my fave!):

South Carolina, the last US state that required parental permission to get tattooed for those under 21 years of age, has now lowered the age requirement to 18. Considering you don't need parental consent to go to war at 18, this seems more logical.

And while the military has certain tattoo prohibitions itself, the number of heavily tattooed soldiers continues to grow. 

Connecticut marshals fought a ban on visible tattoos and won. The tattoo policy said that "visible tattoos could pose a threat to safety and security" of the marshals. Huh? Happy that the Connecticut judiciary had the same reaction and nixed it.

And Canadian tattooists with poor spelling can relax now: a small claims court in Nova Scotia ruled that a woman who sued a studio for a misspelled tattoo was the "author of her own misfortune" as she had a chance to view the stencil before it was tattooed on her. She also didn't give the artist time to correct the work before suing. The misspelled word? "Beautiful" in the phrase "You're so beautiful." I know, it's a toughie.

Even dumber: Chicago law makers spending time and money crafting a ban on eyeball tattooing. I'll say this again: just because a couple of inmates and bod mod artists do it, does not mean tattooing your eyeball has become a trend. *primal scream*

Quick & Dirty Links:

01:37 AM

The "tattooed woman" obsession in the media has not yet waned since the unfortunate Michelle McGee graced tabloid covers for being tattooed and sleeping with Sandra Bullock's husband [her resume in a nutshell]. The upside, as I've mentioned before, is that heavily tattooed women are getting some sort of voice in the news to dispel stereotypes and address tattooing as an art form.

What's been largely left out of this discourse, however, are the stories of female tattooists, so when my friend Kari filled me in on a documentary on these artists, I was stoked.

The doc is called Covered, and based on the trailer (shown above), it appears to cover a range of experiences, from foremothers of modern tattoo like Vyvyn Lazonga who fought to learn the craft to new apprentices who say that haven't met with any discrimination at all. The film also goes beyond the tattooists and addresses how "heavily tattooed women must negotiate social sanctions from strangers, family, friends, and employers, in order to enjoy their love of tattoo artwork."


Director and producer Beverly Yuen Thompson, Ph.D. further explains what sparked Covered:

"Tattoo culture has now entered the mainstream with its exponential growth in popularity, reality television shows, and nationwide tattoo conventions. While Kat Von D might have made it to television stardom as a female tattooist, other women's voices from the tattoo community have been notably absent. When women are present, such as in tattoo magazines, they are often sexually objectified. Covered sets out to remedy these oversights by shedding light on the history of women in the tattoo industry and to share the voices and perspectives of heavily tattooed women in the United States."

The film is recently released and will start making the film festival as well as academic circuits. Will keep you posted on screenings.
12:24 PM
tattooed women NY Post .jpg
Today, I'm in the NY Post because I too slept with Sandra Bullock's husband I'm a tattooed NY woman, and as the headline proclaims, "In-your-face tattoos aren't just for home wreckers -- lots of New York gals have highly visible body art."

Aside from the repeated use of the word "tats" (you know that triggers my gag reflex), the article does a good job (for The Post) of getting across the message that women make up a large part of the heavily tattooed, and no, we're not all celebs and strippers.

Ethan Morgan of East Side Ink, who has been tattooing for two decades, said in the article that half of his clients are us gals, adding "They [women] are getting large tattoos, and they're really picky about their work. It's cool."

And it is cool, despite the negative press from the ill-famed Michelle McGee, whom I wrote about last week; indeed, it's because of McGee that this type of discourse about the tattoo community is in the papers at all. This negative gives voice to the positive; at least it gave me a chance to do my usual tattoos-as-a-fine art shtick to an audience beyond you pretty people.

Just walking through the door of my local town hall bodega, the owner Ralf yelled out, "There's our work of art." [He also said, "Feel like a rock star, Red? Don't let it go to your head."]

Alas, not everyone gets it. If you read the comments to the article, you'll see these quotes:

"Who wants to marry that? Or have that be the mother of your children. The tattooed trash look is for a 1 night stand or at best she will date her look heroin dealer/junkie."

"As my son once remarked: 'tattoos make you look stained'."

"Maybe that's the new art, hang a tatooted [sic] person on your wall!"

Ok, that last one was funny.

The irony is the most tasteless comments come from anonymous trolls who call us "trashy." Close-minded comments following these tattoo articles are too common, and in response, I often give the old tattoo cliche: 

The difference between tattooed people and non-tattooed people is tattooed people don't care if you have tattoos or not

I encourage you to offer your own thoughts in the article forum. I know it'll be done in the same vein as you live your life: artfully.
10:27 AM
Michell McGee NY Post cover.jpg
About a week ago, the tabloids began their frenzied coverage of Michelle "Bombshell" McGee, a self-described "tattoo model," who not only had an affair with Jesse James who's married to actress Sandra Bullock, but also served up the details of their trysts in an effort to "cash in" and become "famous."

I was going to ignore it or link it as a small footnote to a news review here, but as the week went on, the news stories moved beyond this tattooed woman and became about tattooed women. From newspaper covers to radio shows like Howard Stern to gossip blogs and comment forums, words like "skanks," "sluts," "whores," "trash," "idiots," "fuckups" ... became to attached to all of us, so I can't ignore it.

Over the weekend, I sought to write this post, a diatribe against a stupid girl. The first draft was an angry rant. The second was an attempt at humor. But neither conveyed how I really feel. I feel sad.

And so this post isn't entertaining. It isn't a call to arms against the media. It is a shout out to young women, and men as well, to let them know this:

Being tattooed should be an expression of love and how beautiful you feel about yourself, not a cry for others to give that to you.

michelle mcgee.jpgWhile Michelle McGee stands as a blaring example of the latter, she is not alone. The title "tattoo model" has become a sought-out occupation amongst many. "Tattooed Vixens," "Hot Inked Girl," "Painted Pin-ups."  Countless young women vie for these titles rather than M.D., J.D., or Artist in Residence.

Watch this video of "Sexy Miss Tattoo" to see how ugly these contests can be.

Some blame the magazines and websites for exploiting these girls, but really, they wouldn't be able to have these features if no one sent in their naked or half-naked photos.

Inked Magazine, (which I write for so the hypocrisy is not lost on me) has a Girl of the Day, who you can "share with your friends." A girl a day. One picked out of hundreds who upload their photos to the mag's site. [To be funny, I did a feature early on in this blog called "Objectified Tattooed Man" and barely got one a month.] 

Granted, the essence of tattoo magazines is to show tattoos, to show skin, and the more tattoos you have, the more skin you'll show. But it need not be done in a way that evokes the "skank" and "trash" tramp-stamp of approval.

Not an easy task, however. Next week I have a photo shoot for a magazine article where I talk about being a tattooed lawyer (and also promote my book). And it has been really tough to find something to wear to show the art on my arms, back, stomach and ribs without looking like ... well, Michelle McGee. I've thought about ditching the shoot altogether but I want more professional tattooed women in these mags and hopefully we can start that trend.

It can still be sexy -- because I believe tattooing is sexy in itself -- but as the recent headlines have shown, today's tattooed "bombshell" is more likely to be a post-traumatic mess. Our weapon of mass seduction should be the allure of strong women and men kickin ass to further their lives and, thereby, society's perception of the tattooed.

So thank you, Michelle McGee, for showing us the ugliness to inspire greater and more beautiful things for ourselves.
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