Tattoos are fascinating, scary, artistic, colorful, storied, eerie, exclamatory, fiery, crude, fabulous, painful, and crafty. Once taboo, tattoos are now mainstream for many parts of America. No longer the sign of sailors and other military men, no longer the omen of bikers and their babes, tattoos are for all those who want to permanently ink a story onto their own skin. Ink—that’s the key word here. Permanent—that’s the other one. Tattoos are a permanent change in colors on the skin. Unless you’re Cher—then you can get them removed with a laser for a pretty penny.
No one can just pick up a needle and splash on a tat (another jargon word!). Enter “Miami Ink,” an up-close, inside peek at the men and women (actually, just one woman) who create these permanent pieces of art. Ami James, Chris Garver, Chris Nunuz, Darren Brass, Kat Von D, and Yoji Harada allow people into a world that used to be secretive, elite, and mysterious, at least for those of us who have always been fascinated by tattoos but still can’t find the nerve to walk into a shop to get one.
Each week is a documentary about the boys and gal in the shop as well as all the personal stories of the customers who get tattoos. These stories range from covering up old tattoos, getting tattoos in memory of lost loves, to getting tattoos in celebration as well as parents and children getting tattoos together.
In addition to the stories about the customers, we follow the lives of the artists. Yes, artists. Can YOU draw a permanent portrait using a needle on someone’s skin and make it all pretty? Nope, didn’t think so. They can. That’s art. The camaraderie and the pranks between the boys are priceless. The business side is interesting. And the skill involved is amazing.
The good points:
1. Ami is a hottie. And he narrates the whole show, too.
2. Kat Von D is one rockin chick, and seeing her next to her husband is quite a trip. She’s sort of Elvira meets lead singer of Heart in a good way. Her husband is sort of the non-descript guy up the street who’ll pump your gas for you even though he doesn’t work at the gas station.
3. Yoji is hysterical. He’s an apprentice in the real sense, not the Donald Trump sense. He’s learning about tattooing which means he does all the grunt work. He also just had a baby; well, he didn’t, but his wife did.
4. Chris Nunez had his mom tattoo him. How awesome is that?
5. Darren broke his arm which sucks for someone who relies on arm-mobility for a career. But now he’s back, better than ever, tattooing up a storm.
6. Chris Garver is, as the show says every single episode, one of the best tattoo artists in the world. I suppose he’s in competition with the best tattoo artist in the world who’s on the rip-off show Inked on A&E that relies on its Vegas location and owner Carey Hart fame for interest. (Though I must admit that the guy with the eye patch who can still tattoo is pretty cool—note to Miami Ink: Get a one-eyed tattoo artist ASAP).
7. Have I mentioned that Ami is hot? Well, he is.
8. Black rubber gloves. That’s what they wear when they tattoo. I’ve never seen them used anywhere before. They’re kinda cool. I want a pair. Just to wear sometimes to pretend I’m that cool.
9. Pain is funny. People need to realize that needles quickly drilling onto skin has got to hurt. Holding back tears becomes an art form for some.
The bad points:
1. Ami owns a pitbull. Me no likey pitbulls. I’m kinda sorta scared of dogs in general, so the pitbull is a no go if it’s in the shop so my chances of ever being on Miami Ink to get a tattoo are severely diminished. As if they were high in the first place.
2. Kat does these portrait tattoos that are highly disturbing. Can someone explain to me why anyone would have the need or desire to have someone’s exact portrait scarred into his or her skin forever and always? I understand that usually it’s an in-memoriam thing, but still. Freaky. Absolutely freaks me out how someone’s exact face is plastered onto someone else’s skin using permanent green/black ink. Chills.
I’d say that the good points win. Plus, in case you haven’t noticed, I have the hots for Ami. Surprised? I think this is the first time since I’ve been writing for the Shack that I’ve had a thing for a guy who’s not gay!
[b]And THIS is why I love reality TV[/b]: We get an extended glimpse into a world that was for so long outside the mainstream. It proves that tattooed people are not always freaky people. They’re just like you and me. And maybe one day, I’ll be one of them. Hmmm. Needles. Pain. Maybe not.