For some, September means the start of school, or the start of the fall season. For me, it means that Mario Barth will once again be putting on his “Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth”—The Sixth Annual New Jersey Tattoo Expo 2007 at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, NJ. I look forward to this show every year because I get to see tattoo artists from across the country, and even around the world, do their thing.
Much like the annual gathering in Manhattan, the Jersey show consisted of six or seven aisles of tattoo artists and vendor booths. Vendors meaning clothes, tattoo machines, tattoo ink, the very sexy Suicide Girls, body jewelry, and other tattoo related stuff. Now, since I’ve been writing this Inked Out column for the past couple of years, I’ve made many new friends along the way, and many of them happened to be tattooing on this day, like my boys from Pure Ink in Ledgewood, NJ. Artists Danny Pain and Greg D were tattooing the whole time that I was there, while owners Graig B and Rich Pizzutillo along with Pure Ink artist and Saint Caine frontman John Kosco were trying to lure prospective customers to their booth. Much of the same was going on at every booth around them. I also saw my friend Paula Higgins from Ground Zero Studios in Haledon, NJ, tattooing a geisha on my bud Big Ed’s inner thigh…Ouch! As I walked around, I really started to get the itch. Hearing all of the buzzing of the needles around me was enticing me and so was the smell of the soap. Anyone who has tattoos knows what I’m talking about. That soap smells great!
Anyway, I saw a lot of familiar faces walking around, like my old friend Jimmy Gnecco from Ours, I mentioned earlier, John Kosco from Saint Caine, Louie from the band Ape Fight, and a new friend who I finally got to see do a tattoo in person, and it was amazing to watch! I’m talking about the legendary rock-n-roll tattoo artist, Paul Booth! For me, that was a highlight of the day, getting to watch him tattoo in person. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay and watch for long because sitting at Paul’s Booth was something that I fear the most in life, and anyone who knows me, knows what the hell I’m talking about.
Some of the other familiar faces at this year’s Tattoo Expo 2007 were, of course, the show’s organizer, Mario Barth, and his lovely wife Carol, along with the rest of the Starlight Tattoo staff, Japan’s Hori Toshi (known for his traditional style of tattooing by hand…Ouch!), the crew from Silk City Tattoo in Hawthorne, NJ, The Hell’s Angels, and even former Hell’s Angel and celebrity bodyguard, Chuck Zito, was there signing his book. Another highlight for me seeing the iconic rapper turned metal singer (Body Count), Ice-T and his drop dead gorgeous wife, Coco. Seeing her in person…Wow! She is a knockout!
What I always think is cool about coming to these tattoo conventions, other than seeing cool tattoos, is seeing the artists from other countries and their artwork. It was cool to see Calypso Tattoo from Belgium, Comedian Tattoo from Scotland, Darren Stares from England, Hori Toshi and Horigyn from Japan, Luca Tattoo from Italy, Mystery Touch Tattoo from Austria, and Qi Xulong, Zhang Hongmei and China Tattoo all from China. Seeing these artists just proves that the art of tattooing is universal.
Mario Barth seems to really go all out every year with this show and this year might’ve been the best yet. He made sure there was a little bit for everybody. There were seminars for art history and the laws of tattooing. There were even consultations for laser tattoo removal. Mario made sure that all of the bases were covered. For those scared of tattooing, there were Henna tattoo artists and t-shirt designers there to design shirts on the spot. For those who love to get tattooed, there were the artists, if you got there early enough to make an appointment, and there were “Best Tattoo” contests for the Best Back, The Best Color, The Best Black and White, The Best Chest Piece, etc.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you missed this year’s Tattoo Expo 2007, I hope that this has convinced you to make plans to go to next year’s. They are always fun and it’s always cool to see new things and get ideas for a tattoo you might even want in the future. And again, if you didn’t go, it just sucks that you have to wait a whole year for it to come around again!
Well, I’m off to check out my next tattoo place! If you have a tattoo shop that you want to suggest to me, please e- mail me. Send the name of the tattoo place, the address and phone number and the person to contact.