Inked Out: Tattoo Tony’s Under My Skin Tattoo, Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Inked Out: Tattoo Tony’s Under My Skin Tattoo, Atlantic Highlands, NJ

—by , November 3, 2009

Under My Skin StaffBack in September, my band, Mean Venus was asked to play a benefit show to remember the late Anthony DiGrigorio over at Tiki Stadium in Keansburg, NJ. This is where I met Tattoo Tony, who was one of the organizers of the very successful event. Who is Tattoo Tony you might be asking yourself? Well, if you’re a reality TV junkie like myself, and you’ve watched a season or two of VH-1’s Rock Of Love With Bret Michaels, you would know that Tattoo Tony is Bret Michaels’ personal tattoo artist and one of his best friends. One of Tony’s most memorable moments on the show was when he tattooed the name “Bret” on the back of one of girl’s necks. Anyway, I mentioned to Tattoo Tony that I was in the market for a new tattoo and that I also happened to write a tattoo column for The Aquarian, and he quickly gave me his card and said, “Give me a call, bro!” So, I did exactly what he asked and took a ride over to Tattoo Tony’s Under My Skin Tattoo in Atlantic Highlands, NJ.

I have to say that on the way over to the shop, I ended up missing my turn because I was distracted by all of the Beverly Hills style mansions along the water. What was I in for? What kind of neighborhood was Tony’s shop in? Was I underdressed? I finally made it to the shop after getting lost and was greeted by Tattoo Tony who was sitting behind his desk fighting a cold. I was not underdressed. In fact, I was dressed just right. The shop was a nice little clean spot with red walls adorned with a wall of autographed celebrity photos that Tattoo Tony had collected through the years. Of course, there was a wall of “flash art” portfolios also underneath the wall of fame.

After sitting down with the Tattoo Tony, I learned that he’s been tattooing since 1984. The late Gene Bernardo, whom Tony holds in high regard, taught him everything that he knew about tattooing down at his shop Gene’s Body Art World in Asbury Park, NJ. Though he’s a Neptune, NJ, native, in 1994, Tattoo Tony felt that it was time for him to branch out and he opened up shops in Tennessee, Florida, and North Carolina before returning home to Asbury Park, NJ, to open Dark City Tattoo, where he worked for about three years. Tony opened Under My Skin two years ago in Atlantic Highlands, NJ, which is right next door to Sandy Hook. Tony says that a lot has happened within those two years with himself, his guys, and all of the TV shows featuring the shop, and says that the TV shows have definitely helped his business.

Joining Tattoo Tony at Under My Skin is another Gene Bernardo disciple named T-Bone. There’s also 18-year tattoo veteran Jersey Jay Wymbs and newcomer Oscar Arias, who’s only been tattooing for two years, but claims to have learned a lot from Tony, T-Bone, and Jersey Jay. Tony tells me that he has a lot of faith in his guys to put 150 percent into every tattoo and even says that “my artists can tattoo anything that anyone can ever want.” They all have their own styles and specialties, but they will, however, spend the time to consult every customer to assure that they have a great tattoo experience.

Under My Skin is mainly a custom tattoo shop. Tony says that when customers come into the shop now, they know what they want and come in with pictures that they downloaded off of the Internet. Tony also feels that shows like L.A. Ink and Miami Ink have opened people’s eyes to tattooing, and now all walks of life are walking into the shop from truck drivers to CEOs. As far as age goes, Tony told me that the state law says that between the ages of 16 to 18, you have to have parent’s consent, but on the average the shop doesn’t get too many underage requests.

When I asked Tattoo Tony about prices as compared to other shops, he said that his shop is very fair. If they’re doing a piece by the hour, it’s usually $100 an hour, but if he is doing a piece by the hour, he feels that he ends up cutting his own throat. For instance, this winter season Under My Skin is running a special called $300 Thursdays, and Tony says in three hours, he can pretty much sleeve somebody, but they would be paying more than $300 if he did have to sleeve them. So, I guess he really does lose money on Thursdays! Tony says that the economy has hurt business a little, but they are still very busy.

Tattoo Tony tells me that walk-ins are always welcome at Under My Skin, and whoever doesn’t have an appointment will pick up the walk-in. For the most part, appointments are preferred especially if you want to get tattooed by Tony. You can call the shop to make an appointment at (732) 872-4092 or stop in and take your chance as a walk-in at 73 Memorial Parkway in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. If you want to see some of the work done by Tattoo Tony, T-Bone, Jersey Jay or Oscar Arias before you take a ride to Atlantic Highlands, log onto undermyskintat2.com. Trust me, when I tell you that the stories that Tattoo Tony shared with me as far as his celebrity clientele goes, like Bret Michaels, The Wild Samoans, and E.C.W.’s Balls Mahoney, I can actually write a whole other feature on him. I can actually write a whole other feature about his relationship with Bret Michaels, but for now, I had to choose to focus on Tony’s shop Under My Skin.

5 Questions With Inked Out’s Featured Artist

Tattoo Tony & Bret MichaelsARTIST: Tattoo Tony Rodriguez

How long have you been tattooing?

I’ve been tattooing for 25 years.

What was the weirdest tattoo request that you’ve ever gotten?

Some girl came in and asked for flames around her a**hole. I don’t think that she ever came back and actually got it though.

Have you ever had to tattoo any celebrities? If yes, which ones?

Yes, Bret Michaels, all of the guys from Cinderella, L.A. Guns, the original Eddie Munster, Butch Patrick, the original Wednesday Addams, Lisa Loring, Balls Mahoney from ECW, The Wild Samoans whole family, WWE Superstar Batista, the late Chris Benoit, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, and Geraldo Rivera.

Since this is a music newspaper, what kind of music do you listen to? What are some of your favorite bands?

I love all kinds of metal, hardcore, ‘80s rock, classic rock, and I even listen to the blues!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I hope that my son is following in his daddy’s footsteps, but will always be here at Under My Skin with all my guys T-Bone, Jersey Jay, and Oscar!

    reader responses
  1. I do not remember Tony, though I might have met him years ago but this one thing I do know, what he says is true about my cousin Gene, he had a heart of gold and took me in for awhile when I was a teenager. I know that there were some other younger kids always hanging around the shop in Asbury and learning the trade. Gene was like a father to many of them. So what Tony says makes perfect sense.

    Every time I think of that shop I remember Baby ,Gene’s crazy Doberman who lived in the back of the shop. One day he snapped and would not let Gene out of the bahtroom, he wa in there for hours LOL!

    S. on 6/4/2013 at 08:59 AM 

  2. Under My Skin Tattoo: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Under-My-Skin-Tattoo-Studio/201770662051

    Scars Of Envy on 5/2/2013 at 11:19 AM 

  3. I’d say Tony has cleared up the questions some, including me, had. Maybe now he’ll realize that people may have legitimate questions and should dispell those doubts right from the begining. Judging from his apparent humble and difficult backgound, I’d have to say that he’s done quite well and risen above the fray. Kudos to him! Good luck!

    Robert on 3/23/2013 at 10:43 AM 

  4. so 1st of i am tattoo tony i want to make somethings clear on here…i started working for gene at the age of 13 cleaning the studio mopping the whole 9 i earned my apprentichip!!! i started tattooing proffesionally at the age of 15 under gene and tommy..that right 15 professionally gene took me in as his son and back then there were no laws that said you had to be 18 to do tattoos just fyi!! i worked in the asbury studio where i grew up for the mst of it also opened the long branch shop for him and ran the shop in puerto rico in the early 90s…if you dont know me or the story of me and gene then there is no need to talk about it!!! ive come along way from a drug addict tattoo artist to a clean and sober father and buisness man…so all do respect if you dont know my story then why talk shit have a great day everyone

    tattoo tony on 1/28/2013 at 12:09 PM 

  5. I am so sick of people looking for the bad in everyone. Tony is a great guy. If you actually take the time to read up on him there is a bio that says that at 13 he was sweeping and cleaning the tattoo shop. He has been through alot. Just because someone has tattoos does not make them a bad person or drug addict or dealer. He as turned his life around. His son means the world to him. I am going to see tony in March. I can’t wait. People that don’t give other people a chance are the ones that don’t deserve a chance. You need to get to know someone before you make judgements just on the way they look…….LOVE YA TONY!!!

    Christa on 1/24/2012 at 10:56 AM 

  6. it seems there are a lot of people out there who just want to shit on any one’s parade who is doing more with their life than they are. take a look in the mirror and look at you own past before you start bashing a guy who went through hell and came back with a new found lust for life and made something of himself. just remember, we all love the folks who support us, but it’s the haters who give us the drive to do more and push forward. i’m proud to call tony my friend, many say it, few really are.

    dude on 5/10/2011 at 09:56 PM 

  7. i’ve known tony since we were kids. what most of you don’t know is that many of us came from broken homes. gene and his family took tony in as one of there own. gene didn’t let him tattoo as a child, he let him clean up around the shop, much the way many apprenticeships start. i started to teach my daughter how to tattoo at 15. she’s not a professional YET!!!!

    dude on 5/10/2011 at 09:49 PM 

  8. It was nice to meet Tony at the Quiet Riot concert in Batesville, however it would have been much nicer if I hadn’t had the girls with me and had to leave early! Hopefully we’ll have the chance to meet again someday!

    Lea Daulton on 4/16/2011 at 12:56 AM 

  9. i think this guy used to sell drugs in asbury park

    Jason on 1/12/2011 at 06:49 PM 

  10. I found this looking for a tattooist in New Jersey. Hey Dalyack: First of all, YOU should learn to spell. It’s “tattooing,” NOT “tatooing.” 3 t’s. Second, you should also learn to punchuate and capitalize properly if you want to critisize others. And third, and this goes to Victoria George as well, you can’t work as a tattooist until you’re 18. From what I Know of Gene Bernardo, he NEVER would have allowed an 11 year old to work in his shop…and it does seem as though this “Tattoo Tony” was about that age when he says he started tattooing. And what parent would have allowed that? I don’t know Tony and I have no ill will toward him. I wish him nothing but luck and good fortune. But tattoos are an important part of my life and I do think there is something not right about his story and maybe he should come clean. I’m also surprised that Mr. Louie didn’t pick up on this when interviewing him.

    Robert on 12/18/2010 at 04:48 PM 

  11. I found this looking for a tattooist in New Jersey. Hey Dalyack: First of all, YOU should learn to spell. It’s “tattooing,” NOT “tatooing.” 3 t’s. Second, you should also learn to punchuate and capitalize properly if you want to critisize others. And third, and this goes to Victoria George as well, you can’t work as a tattooist until you’re 18. From what I Know of Gene Bernardo, he NEVER would have allowed an 11 year old to work in his shop…and it does seem as though this “Tattoo Tony” was about that age when he says he started tattooing. And what parent would have allowed? I don’t know Tony and I have no ill will toward him. I wish him nothing but luck and good fortune. But tattoos are an important part of my life and I do think there is something not right about his story and maybe he should come clean. I’m also surprised that Mr. Louie didn’t pick up on this when interviewing him.

    Robert on 12/18/2010 at 04:46 PM 

  12. For all you critics first of all learn how to spell i’ve know this guy for a long time he’s been tatooing since he was a kid look at his references tat’s dumbass

    Dalyack on 11/10/2010 at 09:46 PM 

  13. for all you scepties my daugter sarted drawing since she was 5 years old. by the time she was 12 yearsshe could do profeshanal anamia carttoning. now at 18 she could do portres of people like a photo. you can do any thing you set your mind to if you want it bad enought.

    victoria george on 10/22/2010 at 01:05 AM 

  14. this is cool i did not realies you have done all of this.i wish you all the best. your florida freind vicki. ps i just found you by looking for a good tatoo artess

    victoria george on 10/22/2010 at 12:59 AM 

  15. there is definitly something not right about this guy and I do not think I would trust him to do a tattoo. the numbers about his age and years tattooing do not add up. I wonder why the reporter who wrote this article did not pick up on that.

    Lisa on 7/24/2010 at 11:40 AM 

  16. Please , i no those #s DO NOT add up, writing the answers 4 test on ur arm in the 6th grade isnt the start of a Tattoo career …now agin , how loooong?? o’h and when u Tattoo Bon-Jovi then brag

    Bee on 3/15/2010 at 01:10 AM 

  17. According to Tony’s myspace page he’s 37. That means he would have been about 11 in 1984 when he started tattooing. The math doesn’t quite work.

    Mike Knight on 2/8/2010 at 03:59 PM 

  18. That Tony is adorable! Of course, I just found out he is also my cousin! FB is a wonderful thing – that is how I was able to get in touch with your mom, Virdae! Beautiful work, Tony! My daughter, Breezy, is also loving the art of tattooing! Maybe you two will meet up some day!
    Best to you! Your cousin Tina

    Tina Laurila on 1/26/2010 at 11:01 AM 

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