About ten years ago, a Los Angeles Times columnist, desperate to find some meat for the next day's paper, convinced a friend to get a tattoo at a cheap, back-alley parlor. Returning to his hotel, the columnist tried out his story on the bell captain. The bell captain could not conceal his horror. "You made that poor girl get tatooed?" he asked. "Just for a newspaper story?"
"It was the right thing to do," the columnist said. "We had no choice. We are, after all, professionals."
Perhaps. But here at Fifteen Minutes, we are anything but. Miserable wretches, most of us, clinging to some hope that writing for the mag will somehow serve as validation for our mistaken notions that we are cool...or at least cooler than the rest of the snivelling freaks that we imagine populate Harvard. But we are definitely not, with the possible exception of Molly and June, professionals.
And FM is no L.A. Times. Hell, Molly wouldn't even give me gas money to get to Rhode Island, and the powers that be at the Crimson sure weren't going to give me some guinea-pig comper to mark up. So if I was going to get some dirt about tattooing, I would need to get one myself. I couldn't, after all, pretend that my dignity prohibited me from going under the needle. I'm already marked--thrice, as luck would have it: a pathetic whale on my right ankle, a David Smith sculpture (Voltri-Bolton I) on my left ankle, and two androgynous tangoers on my left bicep.
Indeed, what did I have to lose? An innocuousFM logo on my forearm, I thought, without ink.Just pain and burning flesh and a small, misshapenscar. After no small amount of finagling, I cameup with two hand-held tape recorders, three oldNikons, three photographers, (my two roomates,Nick and Dave, and Dan, a longstanding friend,and, more importantly, an artist) two rolls of3200 speed film, and a '75 two-door Volvo. Safestcar on the road, they say. And with Dan at thewheel, we needed all the protection we could get.It was dark, it was raining, it was shoppingperiod.
A little over a year ago--last June--Igot my first tattoo. I went to Artistic Tattooingin Providence, on Dave's recommendation.
At that time, however, I had not yet discoveredmy fascination with, and appreciation for, pain. Iwas scared. As I walked into Artistic Tattooing, Itried to force an expression of indifference ontomy face, hoping that no one would notice my badlyshaking hands. I was fighting a losing battle: thequiet drone of the electric needle made me queasy,and I could hear my voice tremble as I askedRusty, AT's master craftsman, if there wasanything to which IA-12