Bodies and Social Orders
A tattoo is more than a painting on skin; its meaning and
reverberations cannot be comprehended without a knowledge
of the history and mythology of its bearer. Thus it is a true poetic
creation, and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is
grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy
unique to the mortal human condition.
- V. Vale and Andrea Juno, Modern Primitives
I started getting tattooed when I was 16. A friend and I went up to
L.A. We went to Bob Roberts and had our first tattoos. Something
little and feminine. We told him we were 18, and my one friend
has really large breasts [laughs] so that got us in.
-Deborah L.
is April 1988, in Arlington, Texas, and we are seated in the ball-
room of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. It is the Nineteenth Annual Meet-
ing of the National Tattoo Association, and the room is filled with
attendees, almost all white and all tattooed. We are eating a
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