Here we go, the second day of the tattoo expo. I was psyched now because my goal for the day was to get more info not just on the tattooing industry, but to dabble in the piercing side of things as well. Unlike tattooing, piercings are bit different. Some will say they get them because they like being “different”. Others say the taboo factor is big. There are just some things that shouldn’t be pierced and, well, that’s what they pierce. And even with piercings, there is a fashion aspect involved. Some people think that someone with an unusual piercing lives on the edge just a bit, is a chance taker, and maybe a little bit of a bad boy/girl. Fact being, to some that is erotic. So I set out to get my info for the day. And I did just that, as well as a few other things! Let’s go…
So, I’m back and this day is totally different than last night. For one, its busier. Not a ton more people but definitely more than yesterday. It’s funny–no matter who or how many show up, we all had something in common: an interest in ink. Second, on-site tats are EVERYWHERE! Needles were buzzing at just about every booth, and everyone who is anyone was getting one. I noticed that men getting a tattoo act very similar to how women act when they get a manicure. “Okay, I’ll sit here, this won’t hurt and if it does you’ll never know it. Just make me feel relaxed and you make it look awesome.” The only difference is manicure customers leave with pretty nails–tat customers leave with A&D ointment packets and a body part wrapped in Saran Wrap.
I made my rounds, meeting the people I didn’t get a chance to get to meet yesterday, making connections with people who may be of great interest to me in the future when it comes to my writing. I promised I would meet up with two of my very good friends, Larry & Colleen, who used to work for the actual sponsors of the event (Spaulding & Rogers Mfg and Spaulding’s Tattoo World), which I did. That was fun as hell. Going and learning is great, but going and learning with experienced friends is even better. During my way through endless introductions, showing off body parts drawn with ink and flashing jewels in places where they usually aren’t, I got to meet Karla. She was one of the selected “piercers” at the show, and boy was she was busy! I’m still in shock at what people will pierce, but that (and the displayed photo album) goes beyond words. At the show, however, she was doing basic mainly G-rated piercings (but COULD do others if a customer wanted). Noses, belly buttons and ears were in demand at the expo. Those, I can handle that. In fact I have had my belly button pierced for almost 10 years now and I think a belly ring can be very attractive on a girl. Plus the pain involved in getting it is SO nothing. Personally, it was no big deal.
Then I happen to run into my cousin Alyssa who had just gotten some fresh ink. We chatted it up for a little bit, looking at her newest piece. Looked good, jazzy design. After a while, I spotted her again as I was on a writing break. She came running up to show me her latest “investment”(?)–an ear piercing on a very painful-looking part of her ear. She told me it was called a “tragus”. I began researching: a tragus piercing is the piercing of the tragus, a piece of cartilage which projects from the ear to essentially be a defense barrier to the ear canal. Tragus piercings are generally not very painful, due to the small number of nerve endings there. The hole itself is usually made with a small gauge hollow piercing needle, and the typical piercing jewelry would be a small diameter captive bead ring or small gauge style post depending on the piercer’s preference. I can’t deny, it looked interesting..it look fun, it looked erotic, it looked trendy, it looked sexy! Yeah…. that sounds like the things I’m often, sadly, looking for nowadays to help with my midlife crisis. I wasn’t completely sure, but I thought I wanted one. I kind of told my two friends I might be “interested” in one. Yeah…..wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong thing to say out loud. Before I could swallow my gum, they were handing me forms to fill out, taking my information off my license, having me sign consent forms, and making me wish I HAD taken that extra shot of tequila when I had the chance. Oh what the hell did I just get myself into?
One thing about me? If I start it, I finish it. If I say I’m going to go buy five boxes of Girl Scout cookies, I will buy five boxes of Girl Scout cookies. If I say I’m going get a tattoo on my wrist, I will get a tattoo on my wrist. And if I want to get something pierced, it WILL get pierced. I wasn’t afraid of the pain. Holy Swiss cheese, I’ve dealt with more pain in the past several years then you could imagine. This would be a breeze. I know the routine: blow out, jam your foot into the table, yell an obscenity or four, and it’s over. Piece of cake.
Karla was fabulous. And SOOOO professional. She kept me informed about each thing she was doing before she did it, showed me the sterile tools she’d be using, how she was going to do the piercing, then went to town. Honestly?… the forms took longer than the piercing did! Of course I had to make things difficult by having thick cartilage and needing two “jabs” instead of one, but I did fine. But how did it look (other than red, painful and a little bloody?) Honestly, it looked AWESOME and I was thrilled! She instructed me how to take care of it, then gave me an instruction sheet as well. She reinforced the the “don’ts” and off I went. Pierced tragus and all.
Yeah, remember when I said I wasn’t coming home with more holes than I left with? Cancel that. I realized right then, though, that I was POSITIVE I was done coloring or piercing anything else for the rest of the weekend. Things like this must be done in personal moderation. If you’re not 100% ready to do it, you are just not ready. Period. And that’s okay. Better to plan forward than to regret back.
As my ear calmed down, I decided to sit down in the lobby and do some writing and people watching. Let me just say that if you are a people watcher?…you will NOT be bored at a tattoo convention. It’s at least a two large beverage experience. Soon, a few of my new tattoo friends decided to join me and we made a regular party out of this break. Everyone had a story–good or bad–and it was our job to discuss the “what if’s” and the “I bet’s” for each interesting attendee we saw. No one was exempt! Everyone was watched and graded like a Siskel & Ebert movie review. (Read my “Do’s & Don’ts” section for more on this.) If we didn’t stop after an hour, we probably could have stayed all night entertaining ourselves. Sad, yet oh so funny.
I hung around for a little while more, talking to artists and customers again, getting their views on what was going on around them. I noticed no expo attendee seemed to be upset. It was a group of proud and happy people, and that’s all that mattered. And that’s awesome. I was getting tired so I decided to call it a day. On my way to the door, however, a very (drunk) pretty girl named Allison ran up to me and HAD to tell me how “freaking gorgeous and sexy” I was. SO MUCH SO, she had to introduce me to her husband who was getting a shoulder tat around the corner. (Insert the words “extremely uncomfortable” here.) I thanked her for… I don’t know, hitting on me?… but I was heading out. I turned and made a bee-line straight for the door. Phew, close one. Keys in one hand, iPad in the other. Check please–I was done!