Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sittings 17-18 (AKA: WE'RE DONE!)

[as usual, the NSFW picture is at the end, so scroll carefully]

Date: October 12, 2012
Time: 2 hours
Breaks: 1 (10 minutes)
Location: Kings Ave Massapequa

Date: October 18, 2012
Time: 2 hours
Breaks: 1 (10 minutes)
Location: Kings Ave Massapequa
Total Tattooing Time: 55.5 hours


Praise be to our Lord in Heaven, Sammy Davis Jr. - this fucker is done.  Or, at the very least, it's done... for now.


Foolishly, I stubbed out half a cigarette at the train station and shoved it back into the pack once the cab pulled up.  After I closed the door behind me, the cabby growled through a haze of smoke, "Tattoo shop, right?"

Yeah, guess you don't mind if I relight my cigarette?

"Go right ahead," he coughed.  "How's the tattoo business going for ya?  All them damned TV shows, you must see some weird shit.  I bet you see more ass than a... uh... uh..."

Given the short length of the cab ride I figured it wasn't worth correcting him that I was a "collector" and not an artist.  The adage, however, was worth assistance.

More ass than a toilet seat, yeah, sure.  Thanks.  Keep the change.


I had bumped into Kings Ave artist Justin Weatherholtz at the Quicksand show a month beforehand (click here to catch me handling a weak stage-diver at 9:53 - bald head, black tank-top) so I was quite happy to hear Rube announce, "I wanna hear Slip" as we were getting set up.  After all, it was weird enough that a man had been shaving my ass for 10 months while listening to Sade - a little 90s post-hardcore was more than welcome.

Don't adjust your machine, I laughed after a few songs.  It's in Drop-D tuning, just like this record.

"What?" he asked, stopping the coil to hear me over the din of the shop.

Start the machine again and listen to the record, I replied.  Sure, there were overtones, but his machine was humming along in the key of D.  Ya hear that?  And I then sang him the note.

"You're the one with the trained ear," he chuckled.


It's been a long journey.

Ruined sheets, blood, scabbing, itching, flaking, exhaustion, immune system collapse, 10 months out of the gym, massive quantities of Aquaphor and alcohol - not to mention a monstrous dent in my MasterCard bill.

But there have been positive angles as well: a beautiful piece, a lot of laughs and the personal conviction that I have changed my body for the better (and also the knowledge that I've retained my ability to "pass" simply by wearing a dress-shirt cuffed at the elbows and opened a few buttons).  Oh, and I should repeat: I have a seriously amazing (and huge) piece of artwork on my body for the rest of my life.

So, I guess that marks the end of this blog...

But as Justin, Rube and Jason Tyler-Grace all asked me at the final sitting: "When are you doing your ribs, man?"

Answer: Once I get a job and pay off my mortgage.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sitting 16

[NSFW pic at the end of post - so if you're at work stop scrolling!]

Date: August 10, 2012
Time: 3 hours
Breaks: 1 (10 minutes)
Location: Kings Ave Massapequa
Total Tattooing Time: 51.5 hours

I swear the cab drivers are profiling all clients of King's Ave.  Another guy and myself got into the backset of a yellow taxi at the train station and the driver said to the other fare, "Where are you going?  I know where the other guy is headed..."

Indeed, I didn't even tell him my destination, he just pulled up in front of the tattoo shop a few minutes later.

I don't have a lot of color-commentary or story-telling to do on this sitting.  Partially because it was a month ago (this one took a long time to heal; more on that later) and I've forgotten the nitty gritty and partially because there isn't much to report.  How often can a man type, "It hurt, I was uncomfortable, we bullshitted about music?"


So... This session was all about fire - both the burning of the needle and the flames which wrap around the dragon's mid-section.  As I've mentioned before (in regards to my half-sleeves), I don't heal reds very well and this piece - as you can see - has a lot of red in it.  Unfortunately, this session was the first time when the reds didn't heal very well; in fact, that's why I've delayed blogging about this sitting for so long: I was waiting for the scabbing to finally settle in.  Fortunately, it was only in the lower-right portion of the flames (which you can probably see by enlarging the image above) and if we blast over it again, I'm sure we'll easily be able to even out any discrepancies/fallout of the color.

For no particular reason, Rube had switched over to a rotary machine for this sitting - which I always find to be more tolerable than a coil.  I'm sure there's a minute level of mechanical engineering that attribute to less pain with a rotary, but I remain convinced that it's primarily psychosomatic and perhaps even a demonstration of psychoacoustics at work.  Simply: the coil is loud and whiny, so the brain perceives it as being an implement of pain; the rotary is quiet and whirs almost serenly, so the brain perceives it as being... well... less painful.

(I was thinking about this early this week after my dentist had to give me three shots of novocaine before working on a tooth - work which I could still feel, mind you.  Perhaps if dentist's drills didn't sound like something from Josef Mengele's lab, I wouldn't sweat through my clothes every time I have a cavity...)

Rube also filled in the horns with a beautiful combo of brown/yellow which matches the horns of the dragon-koi on my right arm.  Once we fill in the dragon's hair (which we've discussed doing in a purple/lavender), it's gonna be an amazing contrast.

We're definitely in the home stretch here; the light at the end of the tunnel is growing larger and brighter.  We have to finish the dragon's head/face and bang out the last of the cherry blossoms on my right shoulder.  From that point, it'll just be small details and accent-work.

One more session... maybe two?  While it would be a shame to shutter this blog in the next month or so... it begs the question: are you every really done?


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sittings 12-15

[WARNING: pics below are NSFW because... ya know... butts]
[photo taken after sitting 13]

Date: June 19, 2012
Time: 2 hours
Location: Kings Ave NYC

Date: June 26, 2012
Time: 2 hours
Location: Kings Ave NYC

Date: July 2, 2012
Time: 2.5 hours
Location: Kings Ave Massapequa

Date: July 17, 2012
Time: 4 Hours
Location: Kings Ave NYC



Well, it appears that I've been a very naughty blogger, letting four sessions slide by without penning a single word.  Mea culpa.  The truth is, I try to let a week pass by before taking any photos so that the swelling/bruising can go down, the scabbing/flaking can subside and colors can settle in.  But, as you can see with the dates listed above, Rubendall was running full-bore (and sliding me into two cancellations), so I didn't have much time to heal in between sittings or find the time to write up the experiences.

Sitting 12 represented the beginning of the reds in the belly-scales of the dragon.  Like most people, I don't heal red ink very well.  That's not to say that I "drop" the color, but it takes noticeably longer to heal, extending my "one-week of Aquaphor" rule to about 10-14 days.  When you factor in the amount of red-work that we did on my ass and waistline - and the fact that my day to day life typically requires pants and a belt - the healing was less that quick or comfortable.

(My girlfriend noted just two days after sitting 15, however, that my body soaks up yellow ink like nobody's business.  The dorsal "fins" of the dragon - pictured at the end of this post - healed up as if Adamantium was a part of my skeletal composition).

We made some great progress over sittings 12-14 and sitting 15 was epic, finishing up all of the maple leaves, adding depth to the pearl on my right butt cheek with some very subtle lavender hues, and finishing up the bulk of the dragon's body... which leaves the flames, the dragon's head and a right shoulder's worth of cherry blossoms.

"Not to get too previous," as an Englishman I know is fond of saying... we might be done* in another two sittings.

*is it ever really "done?"


(Obviously, a month is a long time to try to get any recall of funny situations that occurred during the process, but I seem to have scribbled down a few notes.)

During sitting 12, I was laying on the table while Rube was grinding away and I heard the door buzzer chime, announcing that someone had walked into the shop.  Grez was across the room, eating his lunch right by the door, so he was the first to ask the young Hispanic man who just walked in, "Can I help you?"

I glanced at the floor for a minute and when I looked back in Grez's direction, I could see that the visitor had undone his pants and Grez was solemnly frowning and shaking his head.  There's no fucking way that guy just whipped out his dick while Grez is eating, I thought... foolishly.

"OH, GOD!" Grez screamed after the guy walked out.  "He asked me if we do cover-ups, so I asked to see what it was he wanted covered up...  It looked like someone had thrown a handful of hot asphalt on that guy's junk!"

Sorry, man... nobody here can help you.

What blew my mind is that the guy was in a short sleeved shirt and had no visible ink.  I can only speculate why he went straight for the cock-tattoo as his inaugural ink.

This, of course, led to a conversation about a "Sack-O-Lantern" tattoo... which, gentle reader, I will leave up to your imagination.


Sitting 14 involved a trip to Massapequa via the Long Island Railroad.  I've never had a problem catching a cab from the station to the shop, but today was a different story.  I was told that it would be a 45 minute wait, so I set out for the shop on foot.  The walk there was fine... but let me say that one should never attempt to take a 20 minute walk BACK to the station with a freshly tattooed ass in 90 degree weather.

Sweat and lymph on the under-carriage lead to some impressive discomfort.


Sitting 15 was back on the Bowery in their open floor-plan, my pants down around my knees, with a few young women getting tattooed around me.  I'm not exactly the bashful type, but I wondered if they had factored in "half-naked dude" when they mentally prepared themselves for their tattoos that day.

My girlfriend arrived halfway through and subsequently posted a few photos of me on Instagram (follow me @doctorgrosz).  Later that night, I got a text from the guitarist of my punk/hardcore cover-band which read: "Where did you get tattooed today?  I think my friend Chloe was there at the same time getting work from a visiting artist from Madrid..."

I replied, "Well, if she had green hair... yup.  We were there at the same time and she had a front-row view of my ass-crack."

[the results of sitting 15]



- Horitomo of State Of Grace in California will be hosting a Fudo Myo-o drawing/design seminar at Kings Ave NYC.  There's a few spaces left and you get a free copy of his great book, Immovable (we have a copy here at the house).  Registration and event information can be found here.

- I had the opportunity to design some concert posters for the Fishbone / Paranoid Social Club concert that was a part of the recent C.B.G.B Festival here in NYC (they're 11x17, full-color on 12pt cardstock, suitable for framing).  I'm really pleased with the way they turned out and I have 10 copies up for sale with a "Buy It Now" price on eBay.  If either of these bands (or porn legend Vanessa del Rio) are up your alley, I'd really appreciate it if you bought one.

After all... this backpiece ain't cheap, lemme tell ya.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I've had a session every week for the last three weeks, so expect an update and some pictures once the scabbiness settles in a little bit.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sitting 11

Date: May 4, 2012
Time: 2.5 Hours
Breaks: 1 (five minutes)
Total Tattooing Time: 38 hours

I had just rolled out of bed and I noticed an 8:45am text from Rubendall: "I have a cancellation at noon today if you want it.  Let me know."

"I left a message at the shop last night," I replied.  "I'm definitely taking it.  Seeya then."

The night before, I had left my phone at home as I traveled to a neighbor's house for a few Manhattans and a rousing game of scrabble (as much as I love Words With Friends, you occasionally gotta roll analog).  So, when I returned home to discover a voicemail from the shop manager, I promptly rang up the shop to confirm the appointment.

When I arrived at the Massapequa location, Rube said, "That was a funny message you left last night - were you out drinkin?"

"Yeah, but I didn't think I'd had that much to drink," I replied.

"Well, ya didn't sound drunk, but you definitely sounded like you were trying to hold it together," he laughed.  "We've all been there.  That's why I texted you this morning to see if you were still feeling up for it."

With a waiting list like Rube's (booked through 2013), there's no way in hell I'm ever turning down an open appointment.


It was a short session today - all blue fill on the lower back (pictured above and below the waistline of my kimono), all sitting upright in a chair.  This time around, I managed to get comfortable in the chair and I actually found it a lot easier to deal with than lying face-down on a table.  Sometimes the table is fine; other times I just can't get my neck comfortable or the pillow positioned properly or my beard winds up getting mashed into my mouth.  As I've said before, every sitting (or "laying") is different and you never know how well you're going to hold up until that needle punctures the skin.

This session was pretty smooth sailing, presumably because we weren't running over a lot of bone (fortunately, we've already knocked out most of the lumbar/sacral area with the black/grey shading).  What I really love - and what I hope is apparent in the photographs - is the way that the scales are showing through the water.  It's always fascinating to me to see the way color and grey shading interact, creating depth and dimension.

With any luck, we'll be able to finish up the remainder of the blue scales at my next sitting - which includes the claw on my right buttock and the tail on my left - at which point we'll continue on to finish the face and begin the belly-scales in red.

Until then... summer is here, kids.  If you're gonna spend any time in the sun (even just through the window of your car) don't forget to break out the 50-SPF sunblock and protect your investment.

Oh, and in case you're interested in a female perspective on the bodysuit process, my lovely lady recently had her hips/ribs done by Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo.  She blogged about her process over here.


[Ed. Note: I realize that this blog entry is almost four weeks overdue.  Admittedly, I scabbed up pretty good and couldn't get a decent photo during the first two weeks, but I promise to stay a little more on top of the process.  But, shit... life is what happens while you're trying to blog.  

Or something like that...]

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sitting 10

Date: April 17, 2012
Time: 3 hours
Breaks: 1 (10 minutes)
Total Tattooing Time: 35.5 hours

We've begun the face!  

While I've caught a few glimpses of it in the mirror, I'm glad to have finally gotten my girlfriend to take a few photos so I can actually see it.  I'm incredibly happy with the shades of blue that we've chosen (and that my body has accepted the pigments*), as well as some of the very subtle greens that Rubendall has added to the whiskers around the face.

The areas around my lats/armpits have gotten exceptionally scabby - as usual - but it fortunately doesn't look like I'm on the verge of dropping any ink.  Once again, a million thanks to my caring girlfriend for diligently lubing up all the hard-to-reach spots on my spine.

This session was at the Bowery location, so we were paid a visit yet again by the very talented photographer, Joe Lucas, who's been documenting a few of my sessions as well as Rube's other clients.  While he doesn't have a website just yet, he told me that all of his tattoo-centric images (along with video interviews with the artists) should be online shortly.  I'll be sure to keep you posted once that launches - I've seen a few of his prints and they're gorgeous.

As you can probably tell from the images, today was a LOT of spinal work which always pushes my sanity to the brink of collapse.  I can't lie: when it came time for a smoke break, I ran up the block to the Spring Lounge to  quickly grab some liquid anesthetic.  The problem was, my hands were shaking so badly from the adrenaline/shock that I spilled half a vodka-tonic in my lap.  Undoubtedly, everyone sitting around me must have thought that I had one brutal, Bukowskian case of the DTs.  All I can say is: thank the gods above for creating the straw.

For the second half of the sitting, we worked on the left side of my ribs and kidneys, which was a walk in the park after all that grinding on my spinal column.  Not a lot of chit-chat during this session, excluding when the shop-manager wanted to talk to me about the latest Camus book he had just finished (I'd like to rub that discussion in the face of anyone who thinks that people who get tattooed are idiots).

Sadly, I didn't take any notes right after the sitting and the last 10 days were a whirlwind that swept my mind clear of any minutiae; I promise, gentle readers, that the next post will be a little richer.

Until then... keep calm and get tattooed!

* - The peony on my right arm (which you can see below) didn't take the blue inks too well on the first pass.  Fortunately, that problem isn't presenting itself with my back.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Pictures and write-up of last week's tattoo session coming soon...