Since the love of my life landed a job in South Jersey, I was driving her to work every day for a while. She found a job in a small town called Hammonton, NJ, also known as “The Blueberry Capital of the World.” Well, I said it before, since I began writing this column, my eyes seem to be drawn to tattoo parlors wherever they may be. On one of my earlier travels into “The Blueberry Capital of the World,” I noticed a tattoo parlor as we were driving through what seemed like a white bread town. The name of the shop was Exotic Body Works, which I later found out was the only game in town. Exotic Body Works is a goldmine, and I had to check it out!
Upon walking into the shop, I was greeted by artists Dustin Rebecca, who was working on a foot piece for a female client at the moment, and Brian Bocker, who was awaiting his appointment. As I waited for owner, Keith Titus, to arrive at the shop for our meeting, I took a look around and the place was immaculate. The walls were a clean orange and yellow with those big gigantic flip books of flash art to the left and right upon entry. The right side of the shop seemed to be dedicated to body piercing with a complete line of body jewelry and tattoo aftercare products like H2Ocean, Bacitracin, and Ink Fixx enclosed in a glass casing at the front of the shop. Behind the glass casing was owner Keith Titus’ tattooing station. On the left side of the shop is where Dustin and Brian were stationed with walls adorned with wall art that I am assuming were painted by Dustin. So far, the overall appearance of Exotic Body Works can compete with any tattoo shop in any market and not just in South Jersey, but how does the owner fare?
Owner Keith Titus, Jr. walked in to greet me and what a pleasant down to earth guy he was. It’s no wonder he is loved by this small town of Hammonton. Keith opened Exotic Body Works back in March of 1996 on his 21st birthday. Keith, who’s been tattooing for 20 years now, chooses to only surround himself by great artists that he trusts, and he found that in Brian Bocker and Dustin Rebecca, whom also handles all of the body piercing at Exotic Body Works. When I asked Keith what would draw a prospective client like me into his shop rather than going somewhere else, he told me, “The atmosphere. We have a safe and clean environment. We try to have a very warm and modern welcome. We usually have really good music playing and we have a friendly atmosphere. Plus my artists and I are very knowledgeable in the tattoo industry. ” Keith told me that Exotic Body Works is mainly a custom shop and that the flash art on the walls are mainly for ideas. His artists specialize in many diverse styles. For instance, Brian, who’s been tattooing for four years, specializes in traditional and new school Japanese art, while Dustin, who’s been tattooing for six years, is a little bit more well-rounded and can tattoo anything from portraits to black and gray to bio-mech type stuff. Keith says whatever a customer wants they will usually try to make a reality. Keith stated that being well-rounded as an artist keeps him and his shop on top of their game since people are always coming in asking for different things.
When Keith first opened Exotic Body Works back in 1996, the town shunned the shop at first because they feared that it would attract bikers and that there would be motorcycles constantly lined up on the main strip of town. Keith, who doesn’t even own a motorcycle, later proved that wouldn’t be the case. He was there to run a business and once the townspeople grew used to the idea of a tattoo shop in their town, they became more accepting of it. In fact, the mayor of the town has been in the shop to thank Keith for what he does for the community. Keith also told me that he’s even outlasted any business on that street. I thought that this was a very impressive stat.
When I brought up the current tattoo industry problem of scratch artists, Keith confirmed that it’s also an ongoing problem down in South Jersey, as well. There are many tattoo basement parties being thrown by unlicensed tattoo artists who are reusing needles. I thought this was disgusting! I know that the economy is in the shitter right now, but to cheap out on a really good and clean tattoo is really stupid and unhealthy. Keith said that he only hires the best artists who work well with customers because that is important to him. He wants his customers walking out of Exotic Body Works with an extremely memorable tattoo experience that they will be happy with for the rest of their life.
Keith told me that he gets all walks of life entering the shop. He gets anyone from kids, who are obviously 18 years and older, to senior citizens in their 70s who are getting tattooed for the first time. As for the piercing, they won’t pierce anyone under 15 years old and for genitalia piercing, 18 years and older. When Keith and I talked prices, he told me that it varies based on the artist. Exotic Body Works has a minimum price of $60, but that is for something really small. Brian and Dustin usually charge $125 per hour, while Keith, who is booked solid for the next five months, gets $150 per hour. There are block rates like $350 for a three hour block, while you can also pay anywhere from $600 to $700 for a full day’s worth of work. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are always welcomed, and are usually handled by Brian. Keith also told me his clients come from all over the country. They come from Philly, Virginia, New Jersey and New York, but he often gets a lot of his clients calling in from Atlantic City after a long night of gambling.
After going through the shop portfolios, I will have to stick to my earlier statement that Exotic Body Works is a goldmine. All three artists do amazing artwork for a shop that is tucked away in this small town of Hammonton, NJ, “The Blueberry Capital of the World.” You can take a look at their artwork on MySpace and Facebook for now. Exoticbodyworks.com is not currently up and running yet, as it’s being reconstructed and will be up shortly. You can call the shop to make an appointment or for a simple consultation at (609) 704-9266. You can even stop in on your way to Philly or A.C. The shop is located at 6 Central Avenue, Hammonton, NJ. Keith and his staff are super friendly, and will consult you every step of the way to assure that you will have an amazing tattoo experience!
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 the name of the place and whom I should ask for! Also, if you were recently tattooed, email me a picture of your tattoo with the name of the shop and artist and it may show up in an upcoming issue of The Aquarian Weekly.
5 QUESTIONS WITH INKED OUT’S FEATURED ARTIST
ARTIST: Keith A. Titus, Jr.
SHOP: Exotic Body Works Tattoo, Hammonton, NJ
How long have you been tattooing?
I have been tattooing since the age of 14. I started three weeks short of turning 15, and have been tattooing for 20 years now with 14 of those years in my own shop.
What was the weirdest tattoo request you’ve ever gotten?
I had a girl, some years ago, that asked for tentacles coming out of her vagina. It was some old HP Lovecraft stuff.
Have you ever had to tattoo any celebrities? If so, which ones?
I’ve tattooed some up-and-coming models, Brenda Lynn of Show Magazine and Miss Howard Stern 2008.
Since this is a music paper, whtat kind of music do you listen to? What are some of your favorite bands?
I used to be a metal head to the likes of Iron Maiden and Megadeth; Thrash and hardcore like D.R.I., Gorilla Biscuits, and Youth Of Today; Grindcore like Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, and my all-time favorite Godflesh; But now, I am a deejay and a hardcore electronic music geek for the past 18 years.
If they made a reality show based on your life, what would the title be?
Originally, The Shop! That was long before all of the tattoo reality shows. Now, maybe Hammonton Ink.