37, mm & PIEBOING smut

busy, but up until twenty-odd years ago, tat- toos were not sported by respectable types. They were the preserve of diggers and dock- ers, the forces and the faithless, bikers and brawlers, the type of rough trade which would make Disgusted Of Morningside twitch with discomfort.

Switching from Edinburgh’s timeless, chintz suburbia to the unfettered free express- ion of west-coast America in the 19705, a tattooist called Don Ed Hardy had an idea. Instead of copying images from a set repertoire of dragons, anchors and flags, why not offer customised tattoos? Bespoke tailoring for the skin rather than off-the-peg. California said yes, the south east of England got the bug in the early 805 and in the last couple of years Scotland has been getting the hang of etching its flesh with individually designed tattoos.

Along with the new style of tattoo has come a different breed of tattooee. Tattooist Charlotte Brettle runs Edinburgh’s Venus Flytrap. ‘The vast majority of my clients are aged 25—40, middle class, working and white,’ she says. Not what the casual onlooker would assume to be your standard tattoo-bearer. It would seem that the tattoo has nearly become respectable again and dyed skin is no longer the mark of the criminal or the outsider.

Just as long as it doesn’t become too respectable or commonplace. Tattoos have to retain some ability to shock according to Brettle. ‘lt wouldn’t be quite the same if you showed a new tattoo to your granny and she just said “That's nice, dear.” (Jonathan Trew)

For details of Venus Flytrap and other tattooing and body piercing outlets, see listings page 18.

The changing face of tattoos: from E 16 THE "81’ 13—26 Jun 1997

dinburgh's Big John (top left) via an anonymous rocker captured in N


the do’s and don’ts

I On no account should you get a gui'che, that’s a piercing behind the scrotum, and then attempt a ride on the flumes at the swimming pool. Similarly, having a navel ring caught on a rough section of the flumes is likely to end in tears.

I Don't get a tattoo when drunk. Generations of sailors may have done this, but getting a 'W' tattooed onto each arse cheek so that you can moon 'WOW' at people is generally frowned upon in polite society.

I If you must have your lover’s name tattooed onto your arm then either start up by the shoulder, thus leaving room for the consequences of divorce, death and office parties, or sleep only with people whose names can be changed easily: Les to CharLes, Arm to Annette, Alan to Alanis.

I Remember that even in today's tolerant society, employers sometimes feel touchy about tattoos. facial piercings and other forms of body modification. Suspicious clanking noises coming from your pants might win friends when working behind the counter in a fetish bar, but will be less popular when applying for a job as a bank clerk. '

I Watch out for metal detectors at airports. Depending on your piercings and where they are situated, you could have a very uncomfortable half-hour in customs while they search your cavities for hidden weapons.

I Don't try and do any form of piercing or tattooing yourself. Wonky Indian ink spider webs look as crap ten years on as they first did when your mate spent a wet Sunday afternoon carving it into your back. Also bear in mind that in some less salubrious bars, having 'CUT HERE' tattooed across your throat is taken as an invitation rather than a demonstration of machismo.

I Don’t believe anyone who tells you that having your nose, navel, glans (delete as applicable) pierced doesn't hurt. (Jonathan Trew)

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aked New York (Bloomsbury £12.99) to the Spice Girls