The Mermaid Pinup, September, 2001

At Eric's station, before the tattoo. Oh, the anticipation...

My roommate also collects tattoos. So when the Tattoo Conventions come to town, we usually check them out. Normally we do a lot of looking at flash, thinking up ideas for new tattoos, and watching the guy who flew in from Japan torture someone ruthlessly with hand tattooing (using bamboo dipped in ink). I also take the oppurtunity to check out clothes and body jewelry.

We went to a New Jersey convention in September, two weeks after the 9/11 incident. So let's just say we were feeling a little odd. There was a good deal of World Trade Center and patriotic artwork, and a lot of artists donated proceeds from WTC flash sales to the Red Cross or September 11th fund. There were a lot of people receiving patriotic tattoos, as well.

I am one of those strange people who feels mentally focused after a tattoo or body piercing. It's a release in a way. The pain, the endorphins, the exhaustion, then the care afterwards; I don't know why, and I'm sure a psychologist (or other tattoo collectors) could ellaborate.

L ro R: Japanese hand tattooing (ouch!); my roommate exclaiming "It doesn't hurt. Really."; the addition of yellow in her "fiery hair"

I only mention all this to setup what happenned next. See, we're at the convention, with all these WTC reminders and people are sad 'n stuff and suddenly we both want tattoos. My roommate hadn't gotten new ink in a year, and although I had just gotten a tattoo a month earlier, it was very small. So we decided to get matching "souvenir tattoos", ie ink that means nothing whatsoever except for the fact that we were at a convention, surrounded by artists, and we wanted ink. Sounds simple enough, right? So we start thinking about little flowers, little fishes, maybe a design, and then we get stuck on the idea of mermaids. I think it was the roommate who thought of it first; I really can't remember. But the mermaid idea warped into a mermaid pinup, something reminiscent of sailor tattoos from the 40s.

We browsed through a collection of flash by Sailor Jerry. He's the dude who started the whole concept of flash back during wartime. He plastered his tattoo studio with drawings, and people started picking them off the wall. His flash has a lot of women in various states of undress; classic pinups that he tattooed on a lot of sailors. These days his flash is widely available, and retro tattoo work is pretty darn popular.

We spied a few mermaids in Sailor Jerry's flash designs. We selected one, talked about it, and then found an artist who had pinups in his portfolio. We settled on Eric Perfect from Kadillac Tattoo and we talked to him about it, he liked the idea, and he booked us both for later in the day, and before I could blink, I have a six-inch high tattoo on my leg.

The final tattoo is different from the original flash (I looked for the mermaid flash online, but I couldn't find it...). The idea is the same, but we asked Eric to make a few adjustments. My biggest request was that the size of her breasts be reduced. I mean, I like boobs and all, but the size of these things was obscene. She still has a rack on her, but believe it or not they are smaller than the original flash. We also asked that her hair be "chunkier" and that the fish part of her body be brought up to her waist. Eric added the final flair; a pool of water for her to splash in.

No, this wasn't really my idea of a "sounvenir tattoo". My roommate has a souvenir on her thigh; a one inch star surrounded by a circle. Now that's what I consider a souvenir. I originally wanted the mermaid about three inches high and on my stomach, but the artist shook his head at me, citing the difficulties of stomach tattooing. And then I looked down at my leg, and I realized I had a perfect bare spot below the caduceus and forward towards my shin, and if I put the mermaid there then it couldn't be just three inches high...And both Eric and my roommate said it would look great there...And my roommate was getting it really big on her arm...and...and...

My mermaid, right lower leg, outside. Ain't she perty?

Thus, the origin of the phrase "tits on my leg". I called a friend (same friend who is all over this website) because we were supposed to be going to a party with Kirk (my biggest fan; see announcements for details on that guy). I needed to let her know I might be late getting back to New York, and I told her I was getting a mermaid tattoo. First she scoffed at the idea of having it on my leg; saying it would detract from the caduceus. I told her to shut up, it was my body. Then she asked if the mermaid was topless. I said yes. She said, "Why can't he cover her up with shells???" and then exclaimed, "You're going to have tits on your leg!!!!"

Rooommate tattoo, right upper arm, inside. Excuse the warping; she had to twist her arm to get it all in the picture.

I never made it to the party. The tattoo took much longer than anticipated; in fact he had to finish mine in his hotel room because the convention kicked us out. It was a blessing, though; getting a tattoo is much more comfortable in an easy chair with one's leg propped on a pillow.

So when I got home (around 2AM) I called my friend on her cellphone. At this point she had a few drinks in her and the first thing she said was, "Do you have tits on your leg???" Let's just say the whole conversation revolved around this very fact, and how mortified she was at the whole concept. I assured her they were tasteful tits, even though the nipples were very red. She was still unconvinced. She told everyone at the party about the tits on my leg. They were amused. If I ever meet those people, I will be known as the girl with tits on my leg.

Which is fine with me.

Our tattoos differ only in her hair. My roommate wanted "fiery" hair, and I asked for something a little more subdued; auburn or brown. He went with an auburn with some yellow highlights. I love her, man. I think she's lovely. My favorite part is the water; the way the blue is in and out of the lines, sort of abstract. And my favorite detail is her lavender eyeshadow.

So yeah, I got some tits on my leg. And I'm thinking of getting some more. I have this blank space now on the other side of my leg which is just dying for some ink....

The mermaid tattoo in context. And a big cat.

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