Tattooing’s Last Taboo
The BBC examined the increasing popularity of tattoos amongst ‘normal people this week declaring ‘would-be prime ministers' wives have them. Lawyers have them. Doctors have them. So how did tattoos become so acceptable?’
BBC writer Finlo Rohrer suggested tattoos are now an ‘everyday thing’, particularly for women and interviewed sociology professor (and tattoo expert) Katherine Irwin, who pointed out that many new tattoos are wimpy generic concealed ones which in reality are nowadays ‘middle class symbols’.
"They (middle class people) like to play with fringe identities without sacrificing their middle class status,” Professor Irwin suggested, “They get a tattoo that is thumbing their nose at middle class society in a way that is so mainstream that it would be hard to push them out,” she said.
Skrufff man-in-Bangkok Bee, who has well as having his entire back covered by a giant centipede, has a face tattoo, was unimpressed with the general trend, declaring ‘tattoos are no longer a statement now unless it’s a fashion statement.’
“Though I don’t mind normal people getting them,” Bee added, “Anything that makes ‘norms’ more colourful is a good thing.”
The British born DJ and guitarist has long based himself in Bangkok where he DJs and plays with Futon and spoke proudly of his face tattoo, which he’s continued to gradually expand, he said.
“My first face tattoo was three white lines on my cheekbone in the mid eighties and since then I have had 2 beauty spots and a blue /jade coloured rune added,” said Bee.
“Charles Manson drew an X on his forehead to cross himself out of society; I guess my face tattoos were a similar statement. The blue Vikings used the rune I had done, they believed it could make them invisible in battles. It has worked for me in several other situations,” he added. “Facial tattoos are the last bastion of tattoos that have any effect on other people,” he said.
Despite admitting that he was barred from several gyms recently when on tour in Japan, Bee said even his face tattoo is no longer so shocking.
“Most people don’t think my blue rune is a real tattoo because they have never seen anything like it before. Either that or they can’t see me coz I am invisible,” he laughed.
He also chatted happily about his massive centipede tattoo that took 87 hours of work to be inked onto his back (spread over a year).
“I had it all done in Thailand by a Thai tattooist and his wife. It's kind of a homage to William Burroughs (he had a centipede phobia),” Bee explained, “It teaches me to overcome my fears. Plus centipedes are such beautiful ferocious creatures.”
Bee offered one piece of cogent advice for anyone thinking to follow in his footsteps; ‘never bargain the price of a tattoo down’.
“You want to be tattooed by a happy tattooist,” he laughed.
Tatttoo fanatic Judge Jules also urged caution when deciding to be inked, advising sober reflection before making the decision.
“I've got a mate who's a tattoo artist, and I was in his studio watching people come in and make five second choices from a book full of designs.
They were making rapid fire decisions about something that would be with them for the rest of their lives,” he told Skrufff.
“In my case he did a number of different bespoke designs especially for me, and I chose one after rejecting a number of his sketches as unsuitable. At best tattooists are great artists, and I'd like to think that mine count as such.”
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Article by Jonty Skrufff
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