One guy who really doesn’t need any more publicity regarding his tattoo shops is Starlight Tattoo owner, Mario Barth. This guy has shops all over the world, puts out his own ink and every September, hosts one of the biggest tattoo conventions on planet Earth, bearing the same name as this column. On my recent trip to Las Vegas for the Mötley Crüe residency, however, we stopped in at Mandalay Bay and came across one of Mario’s two shops in the City of Sin. I have to say that I was impressed. The funny thing is that it took me to be in Las Vegas to check out the shop of a Jersey boy. I’m sure there’s irony in there somewhere.
Anyway, when we walked into the shop, which was placed right in the middle of the casino, we were greeted by one of their sales people. To my surprise, the person who greeted us was an old high school friend named Eric Thatcher! Eric had moved out to Vegas almost 10 years ago to work in mortgages and ended up loving Vegas so much, he stayed out there. It was great to see him and it made it easier for me to ask questions about the shop. I asked him if he ever told Mario that he too was from Jersey, and he told me that Mario actually did his first tattoos and did remember him. Eric gave us a quick tour of the small, but very clean shop. I have to admit, though, that Starlight Tattoo Las Vegas didn’t look like your typical shop. It looked more like a retail store with all of the rock star jewelry, t-shirts, and other tattoo swag. Behind the jewelry display cases were three open stations where the tattooing was done.
I asked Eric if they get a lot of foot traffic since they are in the middle of the casino, and he told me that they are mainly busy on weekends, but for the most part, the artists are constantly working with clients. He said that their clientele come from all over the world since many of them are tourists who are in Vegas for the week or weekend. Occasionally, there will also be a celebrity sighting because fortunately, Mario’s name is attached to the shop and he has kind of become an artist to the rock stars.
As Eric showed us around, I couldn’t stop thinking about how small the shop was compared to Hart And Huntington Tattoo at the Hard Rock Hotel and Vince Neil Ink at O’Shea’s Casino, which I reviewed a few years ago, but the location of the shop was perfect. The sounds and ambience of slot machines and people winning money really make you want to spend money and buy swag in the shop or even get a tattoo. Eric introduced us to a few of the artists on duty. We met Chad James, Jericho Sepulveda and Ron Gilmore, all of whom were hired personally by Mario himself. Obviously, if Mario is going to stamp his name on something, he’s only going to hire the best to represent him. The other artists at Starlight Tattoo Las Vegas included Alex Moreno and Jose Hurtado with body piercers Sarahfina Somnambulist and Mike Braley, another fellow Jerseyite.
Since they are in the middle of a casino, the shop needs to maintain its cleanliness, so all needles are single-use only and all of the machines are autoclave sterilized on a nightly basis. When I asked Eric about clients scheduling an appointment, he told me that clients usually come in with their ideas and the artists usually consult them, free of charge, until the client is happy with the artwork that they’re about to put on their bodies. Then they would schedule an appointment either in person or by phone anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. any day to pick a time and date for their session, then they would need to leave a non-refundable $100 deposit, which goes toward their tattoo session. It seems Mario has kept his same New Jersey policies in Las Vegas as well. I asked Eric about walk-ins since I’m sure there are a lot, and he told me that they do walk-in appointments if they have the time, but they do recommend that if a client is in town for a few days to stop by on one of the first days they are in town to have a consultation with one of the artists, then schedule the appointment for the last day they are in town.
My next question was about the age limit since you have to be at least 21 to be in a Las Vegas casino. He told me that their age limit is 16 years old and the child must have a photo ID in the form of a driver’s license with a photo or a passport, and their parent must have an ID present as well, with a matching last name and address. My last question for Eric was about pricing, of course. I wanted to see how comparable Mario’s prices were to his Jersey shops. Eric’s answer was that they price their sessions based on the size of the piece. If a client wanted a quote, they would need to describe or attach in an email the artwork they’d like to get including size in inches and placement on the body. Since I couldn’t get a real answer out of Eric, I decided to look up some reviews regarding the prices here, and the one thing people kept on saying was that the shop was overpriced, but the work is amazing. Well, one quote that this shop seems to thrive on is that “Cheap tattoos aren’t good and good tattoos aren’t cheap.” I think I would have to agree with that!
If you’re spending a weekend or a few days in Vegas, I urge you to check out Mario Barth’s Starlight Tattoo Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Hotel And Casino located 3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South. Mario has another shop at The Mirage also, but we never made it over there to check it out, but if it belongs to Mario, I’m sure it’s over the top. For an appointment or more info, you can call them at (702) 255-7827 any day of the week from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. or log onto their website, starlighttattoolasvegas.com. Make sure you ask for my bro, Eric Thatcher, and tell him that I sent you. Not sure what that will do, but I’m sure he’ll appreciate that I’m sending business his way! My next Inked Out review will be in Jersey. I promise!
Well, I’m off to check out my next tattoo spot! Who knows what state it will be in! If you have a tattoo shop that you want to suggest, please e-mail me the name of the place and whom I should ask for at email@example.com.