Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

A short piece I wrote after returning from Dave Yerkew's Convention in 1996 20th ann

Shotsie Gorman


First North American Serial Rights

About 1146 Words

Copyright 2011 Shotsie Gorman


The Astrodome is the world’s first posh air-conditioned sports arena--a true testament to the crass cash available from the oil industry.

In its shadow another first was being remembered this January day a twentieth anniversary of the first-ever US Tattoo Convention, This one hosted by Lyle Tuttle and Dave Yerkew.

The tattooed crowds were certainly causing a stir in Houston. “You boys in a rock’n’roll band or something?” stuttered out a dumbfounded policeman swarmed by tattooed types shopping in the boot store directly opposite the convention site. Actually, considering what there was to do in Houston in January, a loud fart from one of The Papa Johns Restaurant chain outfits called (about the only place reachable on foot from the hotel) could've caused a stir.

Across from us loomed the Astrodome, like this anniversary of first Texas meeting of the inked, has contributed its own important cultural influence. It suddenly felt the two histories have overlapped in some perverse manner. Both surrounded by used car lots and pawnshops.

Once the Astrodome’s dome construction was complete and the field was playable, the Athlete’s complained they could not see the ball through the magnification of the sun in the glass dome. The answer was to tint the glass. It worked fine. The ball could be

seen--but golly, surprise, cut the sun and the grass dies. Hence the plastic grass ASTRO TURF IS born. It immediately contributed to more shredded knees and damaged backs and deaths in football history, large chemical poisonings of those who made it overseas The high-dollar fans were cool and comfortable, like the Caesars and Romans in their forums before them.

By the way “Arena” is the Latin word for the sand that was spread on the floor of the Coliseum to absorb all the blood!

It seems that the tattoo growth over the last twenty years has produced its own share of the tinted dark tone as well. Far from it’s secretive small community of tattooers it has turned darker Multiply the growth in commercial large scale tattoo events in the last 20 years and see what you get.

I overheard a businessman talking. He had popped into the Sheraton Astrodome hotel with some business clients to have a power lunch unbeknownst to him, smack dab in the middle of the 2oth Anniversary Tattoo Convention and Reunion. On the very day there was a water main break outside the hotel. These two events causing a distinct deterioration in the lackluster personal hygiene of the tattooed and pierced participants. A startling eyeful for our Houston businesman. He glanced around with his mouth agape and exclaimed, “Say, Am I crazy, as he sniffed the air around him, or are we in the basement of the world?”

He sort of summed up many of the mixed feelings that people had there. With him, we watched a sea of youthful, cherubic faces sporting slashes of protruding metal, boiled-up burn scars with weak tribal connections, arms, necks, and torsos (mostly exposed)covered with demons composed of garish stripes of subconscious fears and unrecognizable blurs of color.

“ Am I crazy, or are we in the basement of the world.”

At first I thought I should set him straight. I should give him the ass whipping historical tour of tattooing as an art form. Instead, I laughed out loud.

Frankly, I don’t know where the next stop is on the in the elevator of the convention cult or where my beloved art form was headed in the commercial world.

While pondering this question, I looked outside the window of the hotel, at a large looming billboard across the highway from it that read: WHO’S IS IT?” DNA TESTING CALL 1-800-DNA-8888 and thought, Maybe all of our collective scars and fears are not so far from the surface, tattooed or not. Or yes we are in Texas.

I stood in my 10’X10’ Over priced booth and watched the swarm of humanity go round and round the show, looking for something. All wanted to be looked at and afraid of what everyone will see. On the stage they were shaking and hyperventilating when their wish is finally granted. All eyes on me.

Along came the stories of how Enigma, was having his skull drilled and steel bolts screwed in for a later fitting of steel horns. I guess I'd never considered if the envelope of the avant guard would be the blood brain barrier. I wondered aloud if the body manipulators had considered how Astroturf could be added in.

Another story came off the assembly line of passers-bys of suffering the pain of a surgical insertion (done in a musty mold ridden hotel room I might add!) of a plastic prosthetic under a flap of skin on his forehead. All of this blood and gouging apparently, so he could frown and form a Tim Curry devil legendary look-alike demon brow. I guess the sewing kits they provide at these hotels have some use after all.

Sorry, I guess I am suppose to say “cool dude” and be hip, but I am well more old school and a bit revolted, not by the manipulation of the body in this manner (because that is understandable in the context of ritual but for all the angst, struggle, and suffering of pain merely to portray a trite Hollywood perversion of horror, a demon created for consumer consumption. I think a sad and dangerous interpretation of a powerful metaphor of the human struggle for understanding of what dark forces lie within.

Or maybe I just don’t get it like I used to say to my old man. Yes, the entire cult of piercing and tattooing conventions is heading us fast somewhere but I don’t have a fucking clue where.

I am sure there are those who could spin logical defenses for such insertions of plastics in both playing fields just to piss off the local parent groups and conservative Christians or to enjoy the felling and damaging of an athlete.

Alas, I suspect the youth culture, and cognoscenti will interpret these comments as evidence of my totally un-hip perspective.

This road will dead-end sooner than later. In the end I can’t help but wonder what will become of those who have chosen it.

I am admittedly confused by my participation in this strange convention cult and by my mixed feelings toward the evolution of it. It was in many ways like a Hollywood horror film, or like a religious one, all of this is after all is said and done a commercial property not some profound statement on the inner life.

I was beginning to identify where the real horror was. The well heeled air-conditioned fans of the astrodome watching their prize gladiators being led across the Astroturf of the modern coliseum the rest of us to be manipulated with plastic worlds and six burner stoves their blood splashed across the world for granite counter tops in the new kitchen. All while their souls are ripped to shreds by fear.

Eventually I did turn away from the astrodome looked around me. I just felt I wanted to put my arms around some of the younger people parading by, despite their stink , praise their scratchy tattoos, pat them on the back and say it’s all right.

But that would be totally uncool…


Recommended Comments

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Last Sparrow Tattoo Sponsors

  • Blog Entries

  • Blog Comments

  • Posts

    • Thanks. And u just made me laugh, I guess my comment sounded conceded, and I did not mean to sound that way. I guess I'm in freak out mode because it's so on display. I don't think anything will ever meet my expectations because of where it is. So on display. My friend is actually going to my tattoo guy BECAUSE of this tattoo. Removal is not an option. I wont do that. I do have crippling anxiety due to having multiple sclerosis. I'm overly critical of this tattoo. The design is a sun with sun rays  that wraps around and up over my shoulder and a lotus below it. I don't like flowers. Just lotuses. Haha. So it's not your typical flowers down the arm tattoo. It's actually a unique design. I love yoga and zen things although from my post...I don't sound so zen. Haha. I've been going thru it now since summer started. I would say it's going in a while. I wear it out, got a compliment from someone at the gas station, I just don't look at it myself with it. It makes my stomach sink. Like I ruined myself. I'm ocd about it. I continue to get tattoos tho. I dont want to be a lunatic over it either. I always said I would never tattoo my upper arms and I did. And for the life of me, can't figure out why I did that. I was living in the moment I guess. So, if the reality of the tattoo doesn't meet my expectations,  what do u do for that? Add to it? Thank you for responding to me. I appreciate it a lot. I feel like I lost my mind over thos. I just got another tattoo on my forearm, and love it, it's smaller. Maybe that's why. I don't know. I allowed thos to be placed somewhere I never wanted ot, I approved it loved it afterwards and now....maybe cause it's so on display. I'm not used to having such big visible tattoos. Like, why cant I just be cool about it. I LOVE tattoos. 
    • "I'm very fit and complimented all the time how tone my arms are" So if you were fat and out of shape it would be OK?  🤣 Tattoo Anxiety is not unusual, but it really depends on how long it goes on for. Has it been weeks, months, years? You really don't have a lot of options. Despite what laser removal centers would have you believe, you'll never get totally rid of it. Any cover up will need to be even bigger and bolder, don't let any "artist" tell you differently.  Given the tone of your post, "I'm very fit and complimented all the time how tone my arms are," "My artist is extremely talented, there is not 1 shaky line, crooked line," "The line work is out of this workd, perfectly straight," "Everyone loves it" it sounds like the reality of the tattoo doesn't meet your expectations.
    • Hello, So I'm new here and reddit is just awful people so, I wanted advice. So for some reason, I allowed a tattoo be blasted down my arm. My fault I know. I'm very fit and complimented all the time how tone my arms are. So, I got a sun over a lotus tattoo. My artist is extremely talented, there is not 1 shaky line, crooked line, and hes not cheap. Hes been tattooing me and my husband a long time. The line work is out of this workd, perfectly straight. Its a bold tattoo. All black. Everyone loves it. But for some bizzare reason, I can not look at myself in the mirror at this tattoo. Has this ever happened to anyone before? It's healed, but all I do is cover it and hide it. Has this happened to anyone? It turned out bigger and bolder than I ever imagined. From my shoulder to about 3 inches above my elbow.   
    • Good luck. Job hunting sucks. I got laid off from a company after 20 years and it took six months to find a job. I was in the dreaded “middle” management role at an IT company. A little over two years later my new company was  bought out and they did a “restructuring” which means the people doing the work get fired so the people sitting on their fat asses get fatter.  I couldn’t find what I really wanted so I just retired. Might be a good time to think about switching fields.
    • The only "amazing" thing I've been doing lately is job hunting. Honestly, it’s stressful. I’m always worried about having enough money for basic expenses and stuff each month. There are lots of jobs on Layboard https://layboard.in/vacancies/jobs-in-uae/jobs-in-dubai/speciality/baker, where I’ve spent most of my time. I sent my CV to several companies and I’ve got decent baking skills, even without formal training. So I hope they'll give me a chance to do a test task or something to show what I can do. 
  • Topics

  • Create New...