Monday, November 17, 2008

Tattoos and Good Taste

About twice a year, I hear from my godfather. "Hear" is a loose term; what I get is a copy of his tattoo directory. For 15 years now, he's made a business of publishing a catalog of tattoo parlors and piercing places across the US and the world. He often attends tattoo conventions, and as a former professional photographer, he takes photos.

Frankly, since I already suffer for art every time I get a rejection letter, I have no interest in enduring pain to put someone else's art on my body. However, as a writer, I have had characters get tattoos, from my nurse Sachiko who did it to explore her "wild side" to the nuns of Our Lady of the Rescue, who get wedding rings tattooed when they take final vows. Still, I find it hard to believe some of the "art" that people put on their bodies.

Let's talk basic good taste. There may actually be a place where skulls with large flowery eyes are an attractive decorating idea--but on your kneecaps? Chibi Golem in purple and red? Or what about colorful carp? On the buttocks? I'm telling you: your spouse had better have a sense of humor or your love life is toast--with a fishy spread. Then there was the woman with Our Lady of Guadalupe tattooed into the valley of her chest. I'm not sure the thinking process that goes behind having the Mother of God peeking out of your bra. Even worse, the artist did her with a man face.

On that topic--how about checking the actual talent of the artist? One guy had something tattooed to his eyebrow--I could not tell if it was an ice skate blade or a sideways kite. Do you really want someone's first impression of you to be "What the heck is that?" I saw one photo of a woman with an ugly nurse tattooed on her chest. Is her husband supposed to fantasize that he's having an affair with a disfigured Florence Nightingale?

I did see one that was tasteless, but funny at least: a large, orange Buddha tattooed on the guy's side. Buddhaside! At least, when the guy's belly gets bigger, so does Buddha's. Plan ahead, right?

The piercings can get even more bizarre. I saw one young woman who had eyelets inserted along her back so she could lace it up! Never mind how it looks--how do you ever lean against anything again? How do you sleep on your back?

There's a magazine that advertises in the catalog. It's called Pain. Talk about truth in advertising. Now if there were only one that was called, Pain with Good Taste...

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