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xmag.com : October 2000 : inknpink

In the 1700s, Capt. James Cook brought to the western world a tradition that would inspire entire generations. Upon reaching the shores of a distant Polynesian island, he discovered a ritual of pain and ink. These primarily naked peoples were adorned with what they called Tatau, meaning, "To Tap." With plates of sharpened boar tusk fixed to a weighted stick, a long and arduous ritual was performed. By tapping the sharpened tusks into flesh and adding dyes to the puncture wounds, an indelible design was left, marking the subject in beautifully intricate patterns. Tattoo. Being an art form built on the sensuality of erotic fantasy and visual stimulation, it's no wonder some of the most divine dancers today are looking at tattooing for further expression.
It was the cryptic dancer, Sage, who said, "This is a strange and

wonderful thing on my body."

Peter, a nine year veteran tattoo artist, explains it this way: "Tattooing is a tool for transformation if you choose to use it." As its roots suggest, this "dermagraphic" rite brings out mysticism and spirituality in the people who participate in it. Philosophical and intrapersonal expressions are made possible through the tattoos exotic dancers wear, not unlike Felony, who boasts impressive work on her back and sleeves. However, she finds incessant, mundane queries about her tat's tiring. Questions, if any, should be a bit more substantial than, "Did it hurt?" Pain is relative. Sin, a dancer at both Union Jacks and Acropolis, agrees. She would rather you sit quietly than make idiotic wisecracks about a dancer's tattoos.
Some say nothing is sexier than a woman with a tattooed back. Placement is key. No matter what the design, location makes all the difference. A flowing continuity between muscular definition and artistic design can take a good tattoo and make it great. Without losing sight of the deep personal connections we can have with our tattoos, it's important to remember they are seen by other people, as well. It was the cryptic dancer, Sage, who said, "This is a strange and wonderful thing on my body." With almost 70 hours under the gun, it would take more than looking at her ink to imagine.
Tattoos are personal and need to be respected as such. Only the fact that they are permanent is why we sometimes get to share them with the world. By no means are we critics of art or design, even if we have the credentials. Especially in the case of beautiful women. To appreciate is divine, to
disrespect is pathetic. Our cultural affinity for the Playboy girl-next-door look makes these dancing art collectors a rare breed indeed. For this reason, tattooed women in this competitive work environ may find it more difficult to succeed. However, we should never make a judgment on artists solely by their image. The founder of Tattoo Legacy, James, remarked, "I don't have to be your best friend and you might not even like me. Just let my work speak for itself."
There are definitely light and shadow sides for both the exotic dancing and tattoo professions. I believe this is why they seem to go hand in hand. For both, on one side you have a projected/perceived mystique or fantasy; and on the other, they are real people with talents and jobs. In both cases, those lines get blurred and boundaries get crossed that shouldn't. Both professions show respect for beauty and elegance. Both are feared for being taboo. For these reasons, we embrace these two vocations. And we agree, they don't make for strange bedfellows at all. Rather, they should be joined at the hip, the thigh, the ankle, the back or wherever the ink and the dancer's pink decide to come together as one.



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