For a city with (many) citizens and tourists wandering the streets with tattoos, from the lonely one to the whirlwind of many; I only saw two tattoo shops. One was on the St. Charles line headed out to the historic and beautiful Garden District while the other was on Frenchman St. The nickname of the Big Easy is beyond fitting with “easy” easily being filled in for any community to event to transportation except for tattoo shop locator. I could spot tattoos in any direction I looked but no tattoo shops unlike in the Bay Area. Take note that I can see the pros and cons to each and will explore further on this topic of shops, in this article and future ones to come.
The first shop caught my eye as we were on the St. Charles Line cable car headed out to the Garden District. I was taking pictures of the aged iron, wood, brick, and stone architecture elegantly placed in many fashions as one of the oldest and most efficient cables cars carried us through a historically rich city. I have been on lots of public transit all over, and I must say that the New Orleans cable cars and free, yes free for pedestrians, ferry was efficient and timely like New York City’s public transit though unlike my hometown’s cable cars, MUNI and BART. This was yet another pro placing New Orleans, The Big Easy, in my top ten destinations. But back to the lone shop- it oddly shared its location with a Law Office (see insert photo) and was in more of a residential area than a location with heavy foot traffic. Maybe the owner of the tattoo shop is also a lawyer?
The second shop I stumbled upon was Electric Ladyland Tattoo (see insert photo) on Frenchman St. while wandering in and out of the local bars hosting communal jazz jam sessions of the local talent. The one that we spent the most time in had a communal hippy-ish Bay Area feel to it with yet another open arm feeling the Big Easy embraces and teaches. Horns blazing and bassist holding it down with soft drumming and occasional lyrics kept half the bar dancing the humid night away from low twenty year olds to forty plusses. Any who, back to the shop, as it was around midnight the tattoo shop was closed. The layout looked large, maybe two store fronts brought together into one shop. From what I could see from the outside, the one side had various private stations and the right side of the shop had walls covered in flash. There were some individuals hanging out front with arm and neck tattoos drinking the night away as skateboarders did tricks up and down the street to the local musicians. This shop would compare to one of the many you may find in San Francisco’s Mission district.
So in five days in New Orleans and many miles explored, I saw various tattoos with only a few shops. It was also Southern Decadence week on top of the already over the top Bourbon St. combined with hot humid weather, so clothes were minimal for most with tattoos clearly visible. It kept me thinking, why so few street shops in the touristy areas? I only have speculations so if you are a New Orleans resident and know why please share with us!?! Is it so the tattooists don’t have to work on primarily drunk people? Is there no market for such? Are there city ordinances that prohibit tattoo shops in most neighborhoods of New Orleans? Please do share!?! To be honest, it was a nice change to see so many tattoos with so few shops, as I can’t think of many major cities I’ve been to over the past few years with an abundance of tattoos and not a tattoo shop every few blocks.
The Big Easy, New Orleans, as stated above has easily entered my top ten destinations after my first visit! The hospitality was like no other from people on the streets to restaurants to hotel clerks to the cops to D all of the citizens I encountered! If you like to eat, here are the main spots we ate at and all were exceptional from the front of the house to the back of the house; NOLA, Dante’s Kitchen, Domenico, Cochon, Café Du Monde, and Ember’s Steak House plus the corner street greasy spoon snacks! If you haven’t been, I encourage you to go, as it is a very tattooed traveler friendly city with 24/7 entertainment that drowns out the humidity! We also did a swamp tour with Captain Ted after being told by friends it’s a must and sure enough it was! Afterwards, I crawled in the alligator’s mouth then some parents thought they would place their kid in its mouth as well (see insert photo). Then on the drive to the airport with our near fatal hood flying up shattering the taxicab’s windshield on the freeway incident (see insert photo) our driver had a smile. He called for another cab to get us and within five minutes on the side of the road a cab from another company, mind you not the one he called, pulled over to make sure we were okay. New Orleans, see you again hopefully sooner than later! Until then….enjoy the more photos at my profile from this trip.