The Official Blog for Tattoo Artist Magazine

Baltimore Tattoo Convention: On the Road in Maryland

By John

Baltimore single-handedly wiped me out… Well, actually, one night with Hunter Spanks wiped me out! And how about those Orioles, huh? Anybody? No… okay.

I love the Baltimore Tattoo Convention because I get to spend three days with Hunter. Except, that particular weekend we crammed three days into one night! So off we go…

Hunter picked me up at the airport and for the first time that I can remember arriving early enough in a city to sit down and eat breakfast before the show started. This would prove to be important, considering I have already been up for seven hours, and I would come real close to pushing the, “I’ve-been-awake-for-24-straight-hours” barrier by the end of the night.

Before the show started I had to meet up with our new TAM representative in the Northwest, Nicki Kasper. I trained her all weekend how to sit at the TAM booth and not go completely crazy…

We got our booth assignment and I started going over the finer points of the tat con pageantry and frivolity that we would encounter over the weekend… -I think she’s got it?

The Baltimore convention always has a great balance of new and old talent, including Krooked Ken, Dave Wah, Tom Painter, Philadelphia Eddie, Hunter, (of course) Uncle Pauly, Kike Castillo, Bill from Waverly and Chris Quidgeon… just to name a few.

Kike Castillo

Friday night came to a close, and as per usual a majority of people working the convention pack-up early and hit the bar. At this point I’ve been awake for nearly 20 hours and I’m about a six-pack deep… Closing time.

Hunter comes over and starts to ask me what I want to do… “This is your town, man… I’m just along for the ride…” I said… To which he replied, “Strip club?”

Strip club it is…

The last time I was at a strip club, was exactly the last time I hung out with Hunter in Baltimore! In fact, we hadn’t seen each in so long that we actually sat with our backs to the stage and talked to each other for hours completely ignoring naked and half-naked women walking by. One of the strippers even said something to the effect of, “Are you guys just going to sit there and talk all night?” Answer: “Yes. Yes we are.” And for the most part we did, occasionally and halfheartedly throwing a couple singles on the stage for each new girl…

Tattoo by Hunter Spanks

This time around was slightly different.

We cab it over the Ritz, I flash my Illinois ID to the bouncer and he informs me that once I’m inside I should show my ID to a “weird looking, skinny guy with glasses named, Parker.” I asked the door-guy why, and he said Parker would be more than happy to buy me a drink. Cool. The best drinks I’ve ever had have been free ones… I find Parker, and he is exactly as described; a wiry, thin, slightly nervous dude with glasses.

“Are you Parker?”  I asked.

“I don’t know, depends on what you want… if you wanna kick my ass or something, then no, I’m not Parker,” he said half joking and half serious.

I explained to him that I was supposed to show him this, and presented my ID. Parker lost his shit! “I’m from Illinois too!” he exalted. Then he five-high-hugged me and told the bartender to get my friends and I “whatever we want” to drink. Awesome!

We started talking about the Midwest and he showed me his ear-of-corn tattoo on his forearm that said, “The Midwest is the Best…” I also have an ear-of-corn tattoo on my leg (I know, us Midwesterns is weird) and then we discovered that we both grew up in the same small city in Central Illinois! Crazy! What are the odds?

Tattoo by Mike Aul. This is mine... would have taken a picture of Parkers but camera use is frowned upon in strip clubs...

From that point on I don’t remember much. Free drinks, shots, strippers, VIP access, the works… I think I actually walked out the club with more money than when I went in… All I remember is that I really wanted to “make it rain” but for some reason I couldn’t pull the trigger. Oh well, there’s always next year… By the time I went to sleep I had been up for 25 hours, 13 minutes and 47 seconds… Fade to black…

The next day Hunter and I got the idea in our heads that we would try to catch the second game of a Baltimore Orioles double-header. They got rained out the day before and it was perfect timing, because we could go watch the game and be back before the convention was even over.

After all, Camden Yards wasn’t too far from the convention. So the plan was hatched and I was all ready to go. I walked over to Hunter’s booth around 8 p.m. He was gone?

I never saw Hunter again the whole weekend… He was MIA. Ha-ha. I also didn’t see the Orioles play either… Damn. Hunter, you owe me a ballgame!

This man was last seen at the Baltimore Tattoo Convention. If found give cigarette and return to Have Fun Be Lucky Tattoo.

So after that plan bombed and the show ended I decided to quickly run to a liquor store because Maryland has weird laws about buying beer… I pull on the handle… Locked! Shit! I looked at the sign on the door and the owners inside and I knew this was going to be a tough sell to get them to open the door.

Baltimore is one of those cities (one of the last) that still retains somewhat of an urbanized ghetto in the downtown area. I’m not saying it’s a rough place… but downtown Baltimore has a way different feel to it at night than downtown Chicago, that’s for sure…

So I wasn’t excepting these liquor store-owners to open their doors to me, a raving idiot dressed in black and wearing a hoodie! But when they did, I thought it was nothing short of a Charm City miracle…

Yuengling and cinnamon whiskey… goodnight…

Thanks to Hunter Spanks, (I hope someone finds you…ha-ha) Nicki Kasper (look for her in the TAM booth in Eugene, OR) and Troy Timpel for grabbing our boxes and keeping them safe… Cheers! See y’all in Fresno!

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