That last post? Meh. That’s what you get when you write something whilst simultaneously watching Rambo 3. Heck, back in 2003 that film could’ve made the argument for NOT invading Afghanistan in a cool two hours (including commercials). All the UK and US government would have to do is wheel in a TV and a DVD player, stick that in and press play. But they didn’t, and I digress.
I was the first of my friends to get inked, back in the day. We all graduated highschool, and in the following summer, the one when we tell each other we’re all gonna stay friends but not really, there were a good half dozen house parties, and in the midst of all of this, I headed to the local tattoo parlour.
Why? Not a clue. I wanted a tattoo, I was eighteen (almost) and life was getting a little confusing. The tattoo in question is not the best. Not a regret, but I think I’ve outgrown the implication it suggests. And the X-Men cartoons, still heralded as highpoints in the universe have now been overtaking by Bryan Singer’s angst ridden drek. Sorry, but I was so hoping that X-Men Apocalypse would do something different this year. Evidently not.
That was years ago. And since then I’ve steadily added to my ink collection including a Hebrew phrase, courtesy of a 5th and West 23rd St. inker, and a mocking clown who intimidates as much as he entertains. Then, back in Sept I started on a larger piece. In a mix of insanity and stupidity, words I freely associate with such an endeavour, because not only is it costing me major bank, during a time of the year where none of us is flush, but also the physiological and physical cost that goes alongside the hammering of the credit card.
For those of you reading this, who have gone down a similar path, we can all admit that there is one thought, we all have, when we’re being inked.
Primarily it comes down to: ‘Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! I’m gonna die! I’M GONNA DIE! I’m dying! I’m dying! I’m dying! Was this a good idea??? I think this was a really BAD idea!!!!! They do really great transfers these days! They do, you know! They really, really do! Jesus Christ, I’m gonna die!!!!!
For those of you un-inked, this might sound like melodrama, especially coming from someone who has a history of exaggeration and over-the-top reactions (I make no excuses). No, it is not.
And these mental ravings are only punctuated by the artist repeated asking the question: “You alright?” ever three minutes or so, whilst you grip the padding of the chair (which often resembles a dental chair), knuckles white, fluid running from your mouth, armpits and probably two or three other orifices. It’s never happened to me yet, but most chairs are covered with replaceable pleather. Easy to wipe, easy to sanitize after every client, easy to replace when the continual exposure to body salts (albeit tears, sweat, vomit, urine, etc.) rots the cover entirely, like Alien Xenomorph blood through a starship bulkhead.
If the average client excretes to level that I did back in Sept, then I guess the parlour goes through more covers than it’d like to admit. Bet that’s a pain for overheads.
So September was when the foundations went in, and in two days’ time we’re gonna start on the house itself, to continue with the construction analogy.
Not gonna post pics of the work until its finished, possibly sometimes in the New Year. But the work on Friday will hopefully cover the first rudimentary ink I had, back in 1998. This means more foundation work, unfortunately. Great! More gushing….
It was a memorable few hours, back in September. After drawing on me with magic markers, the inker went to work, and time stopped. It only added insult to injury, when I had to lie on my front, with head painfully to the side for the first hour. Like, OW! And I felt the needle too! Heck, I thought pain was supposed to be gated, dammit??? If my back feels like someone’s skinning it, why is my neck feeling like a chicken, following a nasty meeting with a cleaver? Eh? Answer me that, parasympathetic nervous system!!!!
Then he got me to lie on my side, which was fine, cos I just flopped like a damp bag of jelly. I actually left my body at that point. When Michael Biehn uttered the immortal line in the Terminator movie about how pain can be controlled by ‘disconnecting it’, I now reckon he discovered that line whilst lying on the inker’s couch.
Going into the second hour, the receptionist made me a cup of coffee. Only because both she and the inker noticed how much fluid I was losing. It was the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Rich, sweet, hotness; soon to be followed by a return to the prone position on my belly. Only this time, the inker took a piece out of the chair, so I could look straight at the floor (‘The chair could do this? Then why the hell didn’t you do this for the first hour??? My neck hates you!’) and focus on the lino, specifically the lines of the linoleum, with a stare fierce enough to melt lead.
By the end I feel like if Goldfinger’s laser broke, he could employ me as a quick replacement until he got it mended, I’d have no trouble staring through Sean Connery’s crotch.
Then you sleep in clingfilm (saran wrap) for 3 days, which is about as uncomfortable as it sounds. It’s not a problem when you have a small ink piece, like an arm, or a foot, done. But when it’s from your neck to your pelvis, that’s gonna take endurance to a whole different level. Not least of all how to apply the stuff, on your own. I’ve figured it out, but it took a lot of wrap and more patience to get everything covered. On Friday we’ll be going down my arm and shoulder, so that’s gonna be fun at bedtime, then.
But why do I do it?
I mean, the odd one or two tattoos is so common now, companies are proposing a change in the employment law. Apparently one third of UK adults have ink, from tiny ladybirds, to huge Japanese, manga-inspired pieces.
In my own instance, I wanted to incorporate a design that spoke out at who I was, what I wanted, and what I stood for. In the last ten years freehand designs have skyrocketed as the preferred option to transferred pieces; the latter seen as not exactly difficult, as all you do is spread the image over the skin and embark on an excruciating game of colour-by-number. I’m sorry, that sounds really pompous to any tattooists reading this. I apologise, point withdrawn.
It’s just swirls of shade and colour, similar to a H.P. Lovecraft fever-dream. Tentacles, wings and vines all entangled, spreading out from a point behind my scapula. It sounds odd, I know. If I was reading this without knowing what it looked like, I’d say the same.
And that’s before you consider the quotations.
Three examples. Angel, the TV series, the musical Rent, and the graphic novel The Invisibles. All three stand as pillars in my life over the past fifteen years. Their tales are timeless. And, as someone barrelling down on the big 4-0 with more speed than she’s really comfortable with, I have to ask myself, why wait?
This is who we are: there’s no day but today, nothing matters now, other than what we do right now in this moment, and I am an illuminated woman, rising like the morning star, spinning shit into gold.
I might have given most of the quotes specifics away in the last sentence, but if you can read between the lines, and know the source material, you might get what I mean.
And if I don’t blog after Friday, know that I died on the inker’s bench, sweating my pain out of every pore, but willing to suffer for my art, my soul and my path to high state of consciousness. Or at least, stronger painkiller, not to mention good coffee. I hope he has a heater on in his shop, cos I’m gonna have to strip half-naked for this one…. *sigh* here we go again.