A Day With the Colored People

Nothing screams, ‘Look at me!’ like a tattoo. So what do you do in a room packed with hundreds of people who arrived to be looked at? Well, you take pictures.

I just happened to be in such a situation on Sunday, at the Sheraton, where more than 100 vendors, tattoo artists and schwag merchants had camped out for a weekend of peddling wares and tattooing the masses.

I asked a couple of people some questions about tattoos, but none had much of an answer. I found it disappointing that people colored with ink, ink that screams, ‘Look at me!’ couldn’t articulate the appeal or allure. Dozens of people in all shapes and sizes and in various stages of undress lied on matted tables. Tattooists leaned in on them, their inking machines in hand, exhibiting the cold intimacy of doctors with stethoscopes. It seemed no one had much of anything to say. Many among the tattooed perused the Internet on their phones. Some stared into the ether. One woman read a book.

Somehow we managed to avoid paying the $20 admission, which, upon leaving, I was super happy about.  When we tried re-entering after stepping out, a heavily tattooed man asked to see our wristbands. I thought to keep walking, but then the security woman asked louder, so we left. We had already done all the looking we cared to do. The thing with these people is that, after a while, they all begin to look the same and you wonder if they were ever worth looking at, at all.


  1. Iris says:

    When I first started to get tattooed, I thought it was cool. It set me apart, it felt rebellious. Then I realized that because of my work people were starting to respond to my body in positive ways.  Growing up brown  and chubby in a small town I was constantly targeted for things that I felt were out of my control.  The more tattoos I got the more people paid attention to the beauty of my body. I could control this. I am often asked “why” I get tattooed. Many of the people who ask me this question already have a preconceived notion as to why I do it; attention. No matter what answer I give will make them change their minds.  I think ink is beautiful. Do I need more than that reason?

  2. nathan says:

    Thanks, Iris, for the thoughtful comment.

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