I have five brothers. Between them all, there are something like 683 pieces of art tattooed on their bodies. If you count The Lyin’ Dutchman, you can throw in another three or four to the mix. When it comes to ink, my body is something of a hairy, blank canvas. I am the lone holdout.
The line of reasoning I’ve chosen to employ is not too unlike that of an aging virgin: it’s not that I haven’t wanted a tattoo, I just haven’t found the right tattoo. If you’re gonna make a commitment that you will literally be taking to the grave, then it needs to be right for all time, not right for right now. This is precisely why the names of lovers, movies, movie stars, phases you’re in, bands you dig, vehicle manufacturers and video game platforms are all bad ideas for a tatt in my opinion. How awesome are you gonna feel with “Spice Girls” boldly screaming across your chest in ten years? Or in ten minutes, for that matter?
For years, I wanted to have a piece of art that would reflect my tastes in a location that could be kept in private if I chose and would not bring the shame upon my mother that she’s no doubt feeling upon reading this post. So, of course, the Bob Marley cover art that I might have wanted plastered on my back (complete with vague references to the religious implications of smoking pot) would not qualify as such. Nor does my hardcore love of the red Peterbilt oval. As for my favorite movie, “Snatch“? A bad idea all around.
No, I’ve never been able to decide on what exactly I wanted inked on to me; as such, I’ve resisted all the urging of brothers and friends, waiting till the idea came to me in a revelation-kind-of-style. Being in a family that inks like an octopus in an ambush, I HAVE come up with a list of all the things I don’t want. Here’s a few:
- ANYTHING with gangsta-style olde english style script. I’m not a Crip, in case you hadn’t noticed.
- Bicep ink. I have no guns, and there is no need to highlight that fact. None at all.
- Any art work that my brother Barbara has. I think he employs the Jackass methodology of selecting pieces.
- Tribal Style. Unless I start dating Pam Anderson, and then you can throw some barbwire tatts and Hep-C into the mix.
- Hometown dedications. I once asked a fellow trucker named Cricket why he had “Los Banos” tattooed all across his back (in gangster-script, no less), to which he replied, “So they know where to bury me, esse”. I know where I’m from, and Santa Barbara and Cayucos aren’t exactly towns that need any more advertising
- The Wife’s name. She will eventually wise up and leave me and this will surprise no one, including me. And the Lyin’ Dutchman has proved that you can’t ink your way back into a failed marriage. So ix-nay on that crap.
- Patrick Swayze. As good an idea as it might seem in a drunken stupor, it ain’t. Ever. I must try very hard to resist this urge.
And then without any preamble, the idea washed up in my mental tide one day: I’ve been a fan of pinup art since I saw the Memphis Belle for the first time in the early eighties. As a kid, WWII-era aircraft nose art was as close to pornography as my dad’s tattered copy of The Joy Of Sex that my brother and I stumbled across one day – minus the creepy factor of THAT discovery. As I’ve grown older, it seems that there is less and less that people won’t do in the name of lust, but there was at least an element of subtlety in the risque yet suggestive artwork of that time. I am a big fan of the detail found in the works of Vargas and Gil Elvgren. Combine it with a respect for jazz music that came in my late twenties and I’m damn near ready for three martini lunches, traveling by train in a snazzy three piece suit and buying war bonds. There’s also been of late a healthy resurgence of the pinup girl look mixed with a little hot-roddin’ rockabilly, and a dash of Gothic tramp – an all-win situation, as far as I’m concerned. The revelation had finally, FINALLY manifested. There was only one thing left to do.
I approached The Wife with the initial idea, and then the final kicker… “How would you feel about being the subject of said pinup tattoo? No names – just the model……” (see earlier stances on names)
Long story short? As soon as the very talented Sarah Rasul finishes up her sketches, I’ll be hopping a flight with Heathen #2 to the West Coast to continue a family tradition. Details to follow.