HOT ROD TATTOO—Atlantic City, NJ
On a recent trip to Atlantic City for a holiday dinner party, I noticed a huge sign that read “Tattoo” as we drove down Atlantic Avenue. Since we were way early for the dinner, the love of my life, allowed me to pull over and run in to check the place out. The name of the shop was Hot Rod Tattoo and it was located between Florida and Texas Avenues, across the street from a Sunoco Station. Anyway, when I walked into the shop, which was decorated to look like Hawaii (there’s a reason for that), I was greeted by artist Josh Baker, aka The Baker.
Being that this was an impromptu visit, I didn’t really have anything prepared to interview anyone in the shop, but when I asked for the owner, he told me that a woman named Buffy was the owner and that she was already gone for the season. Buffy apparently splits her time tattooing and running Hot Rod in the Spring and Summer. She gets out as soon as the weather starts to turn cold and heads for Lahaina, Hawaii, where she tattoos at Skin Deep Tattoo. Now, that’s not a bad trade-off!
At any rate, I walked into a miraculously clean shop with a big sign on the reception desk that read: “Yes! You Need I.D.,” just in case anyone was wondering, and the other visual standout was this gigantic swordfish that hung on the wall to the left. There were three tattoo stations behind the reception desk where all of the tattooing is done. Baker was willing to answer any question that I had since he and Buffy were the only full-timers in the shop.
Baker told me that Buffy had been tattooing in Atlantic City since 1987, but she didn’t open Hot Rod until 1997, and now they’ve become a staple in the tattoo industry in South Jersey, being named one of the Top Tattoo Shops on the Jersey Shore. Buffy specializes in old school, Sailor Jerry-type flash, portraits and feminine tattoos, while Baker specializes in large colorful works including some amazing detail and realism. The duo seems to be making a quite a combo, though, they do rely on regular guest tattoo artists like Marco Sullivan from Phoenix Tattoo in North Carolina, Darlene DiBona from Skin Deep in Hawaii, and most recently, Amy Nicoletto (the same Amy Nicoletto from L.A. Ink), who currently visits many tattoo shops around the country.
Hot Rod Tattoo is a custom tattoo shop that takes appointments, but they’ll never turn down a walk-in, as long as time permits. Baker also said that appointments are to be made in person at the shop and require a $20 deposit, which assures the client a time and date. The deposit will be deducted from the price of the tattoo. The walk-in customers are done on a first-come, first-serve basis, so there is no guarantee that they will get to you on that particular day. That is why booking an appointment is your best bet.
Customers are always welcomed to come into the shop for a free consultation, meaning if they have an idea for a tattoo, Buffy and Baker will always consult the client before they put the needle to the skin. They’re a custom shop and they want their customers to walk out with a smile. Baker says that they also thrive to be the cleanest tattoo shop in South Jersey, as they sterilize everything in the shop on a nightly basis, and when you walk into this shop, you can tell that cleanliness is the top of mind for these guys.
When I asked him about prices, he told me they base their prices on the design and need to see the design in order to give the client a proper quote. He was able to tell me, however, that Hot Rod Tattoo has a $60 minimum and that prices range depending on size, detail and time, which is pretty standard. The piercer is Mark Wobble, and he only works at Hot Rod on Tuesdays between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Obviously an appointment is needed for that!
Hot Rod Tattoo won’t tattoo you if you’re under the influence, or under age, hence the large sign in the front of the shop. Hot Rod is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. till 8 p.m., and is located at 2506 Atlantic Avenue in Atlantic City, NJ. You can also visit them on the web at hotrodtattoo.org, where you can check out their work, or call them at (609) 340-8309 for an appointment. If you want some tattoo work done from Buffy, though, you’ll have to wait till at least April!
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 email me the name of the place and whom I should ask for at email@example.com.