Yesterday, FirstWeFeast.com reported that Jayceon Terrell Taylor, the rapper known as The Game (or just Game), was refused service at Houston's Restaurant in Pasadena, CA on Sunday because the manager allegedly said that his tattoos were threatening to customers.
The tattoos in question were on his arms and not the LA Dodgers logo on his face or the President Obama portrait on his torso. His sleeves include portraits of 2Pac as an angel and G-Unot -- which I find threatening to good taste -- but it's not like they are gang tattoos (or ones that could be identified as such). And so it appears that it was the manager's personal fears and prejudices that led to the total sh*tstorm that one with over a million Twitter followers could easily unleash. The hashtag "#DontEatAtHoustonsPasadena" began trending, leaving the restaurant to extinguish Game's flame by asserting, according to Grub Street, that the manager was only "enforcing its strict dress code that requires sleeves" (not the tattooed kind).
The problem is that these dress codes are often subjectively enforced. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that a bunch of non-tattooed arms have been bared at Houston's before. Also, the manager supposedly told Game that his tattoos were "threatening," and did not simply say that tank tops were not allowed in the restaurant.
While the Game was able to mobilize his Twitter masses to get Houston's attention about the problem, many of us don't have that kind of clout.
Last week, Jeffrey posted in our N+S Facebook Group that he was with friends who wanted to celebrate a birthday at San Antonio's The Riverwalk; however, a number of places along the strip had a "No Neck or Facial Tattoo" policy. Jeffrey said that he's had his hands tattooed for ten years now and his neck tattooed for four and this was the first time he's had such a problem. His post led to an interesting discussion with differing opinions: Shouldn't private establishments be allowed to set their own dress standards? Are tattoos considered "dress"? Are the policies there to protect against having gangs in these establishments? Or as Elaine stated, "And/or does it also function as de facto discrimination against certain ethnic groups?"
Feel free to share your opinion in the group under this post or hit me up on Twitter.
The postscript to Game's story is that he ended up taking his business to California Pizza Kitchen, tweeting: "Went 2 #CPK & they were happy to let me, my tank top & tattoos in 4 lunch. The mgr Kong even gave me a FREE desert." Manager Kong is a smart man.
And really, that's how I plan to play it myself -- take my money to places that will appreciate this "Handsome Ass Redhead" ... and maybe even give me free dessert.
[Thanks, Nick Schonberger, for the link.]
Photo via Wate.com
On more than one occasion, my tattoos have gotten in the way of getting food and drink. A seaside restaurant in Greece made it clear they didn't like my tattooed kind and ignored me until I left. A bouncer at an upscale rooftop bar in Manhattan informed me that "this wouldn't be my type of place." In the end, I was happy not to give my money to such places, but it did put a damper on my good time. I don't do well with people getting in between me and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
That said, private establishments do have a general right to have dress codes and to deny those that don't fit their "type of place" as long as the discrimination is not based on a protected class, like religion, race, and sex, among others.
Last week, Bubba Brews, a restaurant on Norris Lake in Maynardville, Tennessee, told a tattooed patron, Mike, to cover up his tattoos, and so he did what many people do today ... he called the media claiming tattoo discrimination. Check the video below.
But something about this incident didn't have me waving the tattooed freak flag and instantly supporting claims of injustice. The owner of the restaurant was tattooed, and the news cameras showed that there were plenty of tattooed patrons. It was the content of the tattoos that were the problem. Aside from his classy, "I <3 Strippers" throat tattoo, he also had work that said, "Don't be a dick," and a rib piece that was blurred out, which was a youthful mistake. Considering there were kids at the restaurant who were trying to read his tattoos, they asked him to keep his shirt on. He didn't like that.
I don't think it's unreasonable for a restaurant owner to worry about losing family clientele, and as such, ask a patron to cover up that youthful mistake, but still offer service. If I was the restaurant owner, I would have offered Mike a free drink in exchange for him putting on a shirt and being cool.
It's a slippery slope argument, though. What really is an offensive tattoo? Is it one of those "I know it when I see it" standards? How does one balance the rights of a private business owner to keep a certain reputation with the rights of tattooed people not to be denied the right to be served?
I don't think these are easy questions. But in this particular instance, I think someone who has tattoos that have to be blurred out on TV should take some responsibility, put on a shirt, and follow his tattooed mantra, "Don't be a dick."
What do ya think? Share your thoughts on our N+S Facebook page or Tweet at me.
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.
This video was made to sell beer. But it also has a little message about discriminating against big scary tattooed men.
Many thanks to the fabulous Stephanie D. for the link!
According to NBC Dallas, 30-year-old Texas mom, Samantha Osborn, went to Six Flags Amusement Park with her husband to celebrate his birthday but was denied entrance because an employee said her guns and roses tattoo was violent and offensive. As you can see from above, the tattoo is a chest piece of six shooters and some flowers--not an homage to Axl's Chinese Democracy album so it clearly could've been worse.
The employee said the tattoo was as offensive as a swastika and those with swastikas are banned from the park by policy. While park managers do have discretion in denying customers access if they feel their clothing is "inappropriate or vulgar," the code does not mention tattoos. Oh, but she was offered the option to buy a $5 t-shirt to cover up. Customer service!
I like that Osborn didn't just let the incident go. She complained and got an email apology from the park, which means little really, but perhaps she motivated the company to draft better policies where employees can't discriminate at will. And with the press she's getting, maybe other companies will do the same. Meanwhile, she'll be taking her funnel cake cravings elsewhere.
Abstract Tattoo by Amanda Wachob of DareDevil Tattoo.
I got some private messages last week admitting a forbidden love for the truly WTF tattoo galleries linked to in the news review, so before I get to the real newsworthy items, I'll satisfy more guilty pleasures with this first one:
It's a fun photo essay that includes Joe Letz's flying penis tattoo on his leg, the Hawaiian shark teeth on Brent Hind's face, and Jeffree Star's JonBenet Ramsey & Sharon Tate portraits.
To cleanse that frightening bunch outta ya mind, check out the exciting tattoo artistry of Amanda Wachob of DareDevil Tattoo, who experiments with abstract forms and conceptual design but can also do a solid, clean traditional tattoo. I met Amanda at our launch party Friday and she told me about an abstract tattoo project she's working on -- also mentioned on DevilCity Press -- where 8-10 people will be chosen to get a large tattoo, free. More details on that coming up later this week.
Amanda's conceptual art got me thinking of the lines and dots found on the oldest recorded tattooed person: Otzi the Iceman; however, a recent news item discusses how his tattoos have proved to be medicinal, not aesthetic. The article explains:
"There are groups of one, two, three, four and seven tattoo lines parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body, and so they're parallel to Chinese acupuncture meridians." The cross-shaped tattoo on his knee, and another one on his left ankle, also lay over Chinese acupuncture "trigger points," the researchers believe. Strengthening their argument is the fact that the soot-made markings are located on parts of the iceman's body not typical for tattoo displays, diminishing the notion that they served a more ornamental, aesthetic function.See a video on how the first tattoos were created.
Despite the millennia of tattoo history, many still think it's an unsavory fad. Here's yet another weekly news item on tattoo discrimination -- this time, an Ohio town does not think tattoos are a "fit."
But this prejudice is not so surprising after also reading weekly stories of idiots who use the art as a gimmick like this guy who got a tattoo to win a PalmPre phone. Of course, with the cost of the tattoo (and subsequent lasering I'm sure), he coulda just bought the PalmPre and been spared our mockery. Mock, mock, mock.
Some may also mock this dude above who proposed marriage -- permanently -- but today I'm feelin the love and just grateful that Caroline said "Yes." Now, let's hope the marriage lasts.
Cleveland.com has a new feature called Tat Chat where they "celebrate body art" and "find folks with interesting tattoos and the often even more interesting stories behind them."
My favorite blog find this past week, however, was Coolhunting.com post on Carlos Alvarez Montero, and his photographs of the counterculure in NYC and Mexico City -- particularly the heavily tattooed.
Quick & Dirty Link time...
Tattoo by the Jacqueline Spoerle of Corazon Tattoo in Switzerland.
As the deadline for my book on blackwork tattooing -- like that of the fabulous Jacqueline Spoerle above -- fast approaches, I'm grateful that the boys got my back and this blog to bring you the Tattoo 411, but some of the tattoo news was too important to let it pass.
The most important: 18 Douchebag Celebrities and their Douchebag Tattoos.
No, I jest.
The Washington legislature finally has passed a measure that requires body piercers and tattooers to be licensed by the state. Up until now, there have been no regulations, so any kitchen table scratcher can scar up anyone with a low tattoo IQ. One of the people behind the measure is bod mod artist Troy Amundson. I wrote about Troy's lobbying fight for BME in 2007 and his efforts to bring safe and fair regulation of the industry. And today I toast him for securing representation "as stakeholders in body art related issues" as he calls it. Cheers to Troy for getting shit done.
In more tattoo law news, the search is on for some garbage who tattooed a gang symbol on his 7-year old son. It's a heartbreaking story of how the child returned home to his mother, distraught and ashamed after spending Easter break with his father. He tried to hide the tattoo when taking a bath but his mother saw and called the cops when he told her the story of how his father held him down while another gang member forcibly tattooed a dog paw on his hip. Justice for this gangbanger would be some big jail daddy forcibly tattooing bitch on his ass. I know, not highbrow commentary but this just makes me sick.
It's these type of stories -- the negative associations with tattooing -- that perpetuate stereotypes and result in, say, idiot zoning regulations, like this one in Vista, CA that says a tattoo studio can't be located near parks, schools or child care facilities, as well as 1,000 feet from other parlors. Imagine passing a similar reg for nail salons or barber shops. Yeah, I can't either.
And of course it leads to personal tattoo discrimination, as Pat blogged about yesterday on Joel Madden having to cover his tattoos before boarding a flight because British Airways found them "offensive." [I love this Perez Hilton comment: "... Joel was embarrassed because 'all the people were staring and laughing! No, Joel, they were laughing because you're in Good Charlotte."] *giggle* Eonline.com says Joel did cover up to board to plane but will be complaining to BA. I won't be giving BA my business. If you'd like to voice your opinion to BA about this, here's their complaint form.
Quick and dirty links for y'all:
That's all I got, friends. Gonna do some more work on my book and then get ready for the Dogs of Winter acoustic show tonight at Corio. Join me there at 8pm.
Well, it looks like Bobby Fisher's tattoo re-criminalization wish may be coming true after all. Earlier today, Good Charlotte's Joel Madden was forced to cover his tattoos before a British Airways crew would allow him to board a flight. Check his twitter here.
Now, I spent a solid nine minutes (let's call it an even ten) reflecting on whether or not this deserves a post of its own, and even more time wrestling with having to link Twitter. But if it means I make a few enemies on this here interweb, then so be it. It's not my intention to give Mr. Madden and his merry band of tattooed popsters more press for being merry or tattooed. But the unbelievable discrimination imposed upon him by the staff at British Airways is inexcusable -- it's not simply in poor taste. Maybe they could have gotten away with it in previous decades, but no one (regardless of your opinion of them) should have to put up with that kind of prejudice.
The icing on this bigoted cake of intolerance, is that many of his tattoos are religious, featuring #1 good time party guy and embracer of outcasts Jesus "It's Okay If You're a Social Pariah" Christ. Let's hope British Airways was just experiencing a momentary lapse in judgement. I guess I won't be carrying on my Daniel O'Connell portrait any time soon.