By Mike DeBonis and Victoria St. Martin
Reblogged from: www.washingtonpost.com
Some popular impulse purchases — tattoos and body piercings — could soon become less impulsive if District health regulators have their way.
A mandatory 24-hour waiting period is among the provisions included in a 66-page package of draft regulations governing the “body art” industry released by the city Health Department on Friday.
If the waiting period is adopted, D.C. will become one of a very few places in the nation where a person cannot walk into a tattoo parlor and walk out with a tattoo.
That’s exactly what Marcela Onyango did Friday afternoon, when she got her mother’s birth year — 1961 — tattooed on her rib cage at Fatty’s Custom Tattooz. It’s something the 25-year-old has been thinking about since her mom died three years ago, and she said she doesn’t think the government should make her wait another day.
“That’s stupid. I think you shouldn’t tell people what to do,” Onyango said. “We’re all adults. It’s not their business.”
The proposal is a sticking point for those who work in the industry, too.
It’s “honestly ridiculous,” said Paul Roe, who operates Britishink, a tattoo parlor on H Street NE. Roe, 45, testified in favor of a D.C. Council bill allowing the Health Department to regulate body art establishments because rules setting standards on hygiene, record keeping and licensing make sense, he said.
The waiting period, he said, does not.
“Why not 24 hours’ waiting time before shaving your head?” he asked.
City officials insist that the rule will protect the public. Najma Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, said the new regulations were mandated by a law the council approved last year and are mainly intended to prevent “serious health risks.”
The rules include mandatory hepatitis B vaccinations and biohazard training for all tattoo artists and body-piercers as well as strict requirements on the use of needles, inks, gloves and other equipment. With the exception of certain ear piercings, tattoos and piercings would be banned for those younger than 18.
The proposal’s future is far from certain. The public has 30 days to comment on the draft rules, and it is not uncommon for regulations to be toned down as a result.
Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), said Gray has “serious doubts about the regulations as proposed” and will consider the comments received before issuing final regulations.
Gilda Acosta, an artist at Fatty’s, said roughly half her business comes from walk-ins, so the proposed rule would hurt.
In her small work space near Dupont Circle, where she’d just given Onyango her tiny, numerical tattoo, Acosta said most customers have thought out their artwork for a long time before they take a seat in her leather chair.
“It would definitely be a direct hit to my income if I couldn’t tattoo people who come in and want work done on the same day,” said Acosta, 32, who has been tattooing for a decade.
The body art rules are the latest product of a city government that has occasionally struggled to reconcile its socially liberal sensibilities with a zeal for regulation. The effort to craft rules governing the operation of food trucks spanned four years and was not resolved until lawmakers directly intervened this year. Rules governing the city’s tightly controlled medical marijuana program run to nearly 120 pages.
Before the D.C. Council passed the body art legislation last year, the tattoo and piercing business was not subject to special regulations — unlike Maryland, Virginia and most states. Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) said she introduced a bill after learning the District was one of the few places in the country that did not regulate its industry.
The waiting period is based on rules in at least two Wisconsin municipalities, but it is all but unheard of in cities as large as Washington. Roberts said it is meant to save body art consumers from permanent consequences they might come to regret — particularly if they seek tattoos or piercings while drunk or otherwise impaired.
“They can’t be responsible for themselves, as well as the person doing the work on them,” she said. “We’re making sure when that decision is made that you’re in the right frame of mind, and you don’t wake up in the morning . . . saying, ‘Oh my God, what happened?’ ”
Most reputable tattoo shops turn away customers who are visibly intoxicated, Roe said. Codifying that practice, he said, would make more sense than preventing sober and consenting adults from getting tattoos or piercings on demand.
“Simple regulation is effective regulation,” he said. “Overregulation will kill the profession and drive it underground and make it less safe for everybody.”
Alexander said she doubted that an employee of a body art parlor would be able to determine whether a customer was under the influence.
“If you really want to get it,” she said, “then what’s 24 hours?”
If you’d like to help stop these efforts, a group of tattooers started a petition on change.org. You can sign it here: http://www.change.org/petitions/city-of-washington-dc-stop-the-proposal-to-regulate-tattoos-piercings-including-a-24-hr-wait-period
If you’d like to contact someone to voice your concerns on the topic, please contact:
**Time is of the essence. A decision will be made next monday, September 16th. Please spread the word and help by signing the petition or contacting Angli Black. If this passes in DC, other states will follow.
By Hunter Spanks
1:41pm August 29, 2012 and Lizzy finds herself back in Georgetown at Jinx Proof Tattoo for the sixth session on her back piece by Dave Waugh. A mystical piece complete with unicorns, naked women, hidden cocks and butt plugs just to round things out. Dave prepares a message table as they harass each other in preparation for the session to start. I’m sure this is just to work out the nerves. At least on Lizzy’s part. Dave seems cool as a cucumber as always… (more…)
It has been almost a year since session four and truth be told I still have not submitted part four to TAM yet (it is up now). So I have hopes that I will get both of these to them pretty quick (that didn’t happen). The banter with Dave is great. We talk about a recent trip to Niagara Falls and being grilled by the border patrol on the way back in and Lizzy and I making up stories about us meeting on Christian Singles or that she was a porn star and that I met her on her site. It is now 1:36 p.m. and the buzzing of the machine starts and session five is underway… (more…)
By Hunter Spanks
Getting a back piece is quite a commitment physically, mentally and financially. For all the reasons stated above this installment takes place a bit over a year ago. We knew Lizzy would not be able to come back for another session for quite a while so I held off submitting it to the TAM Blog. Little did we know that it would take so long. We hope to be on more of a regular schedule from here on out… (more…)
By Hunter Spanks
On a sunny June 6th here we are back in Georgetown at Jinx Proof for session three on Lizzy’s backpiece from Dave Waugh. Today he will concentrate on background on the left side of the back, kidney and rib area. Ouch. That’s okay, Lizzy brought a friend with her. His name is Dr. Numb. A topical numbing cream suggested by Dave. The cream has been applied and covered with Saran wrap and parts will stay covered as Dave works until he begins to work on them. Right at 2 p.m. Dave’s needle strikes the skin and they begin to talk about things being thicker and longer. So they are off to a good start… (more…)
By Hunter Spanks
So after a rainy drive down from Baltimore we are back at Jinx Proof for Elizabeth’s (Lizzy) second session on her back. Lizzy seems a bit anxious as we get here but that’s understandable, tattoos hurt. Based on the little I have started on my own back it is quite uncomfortable… (more…)
Earlier this year [a friend of mine] Elizabeth approached me about doing a back piece. Not just any back piece mind you, but a big-ass unicorn back piece. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to do this because for years I had been toying with drawing a somewhat similar idea, and I thought she’d be the perfect candidate for it.
When Crash asked me to write for the TAM Blog I said, “Yes, of course.” Then it hit me; “Now I have to think of what to write about?” Well, I am happy to say that with a little patience it has fallen into my lap.
Dan Sinnes: Yeah, but I still stayed in Luxembourg a lot. Because I still had a girlfriend at the time, and two dogs. But when I had the opportunity to do guest spots, I’d do it. After I had my break-up and I was by myself, I put it to the max and I went to the United States and traveled as much as I could, alone. (more…)