Get Stuffed 

Tattoo you?

Squeamish tales of permanence part of tattoo appeal

Thinking of getting a tattoo?

These days, strict regulation of tattoo shops by health boards keep worries at bay, but consider some aspects before stepping into that long, leather chair.

"Tattoo" is a word that originated from the Tahitian word tatu, meaning "to mark something."

A cultural tradition which dates back thousands of years outside of North America, tattoo services have been available locally in Whistler for the past eight years.

Black Ohm Tattoo Shop, is open six days week in Function Junction. On a daily basis, tourists and locals walk two flights up to the simply decorated tattoo parlour to have their arms, shins, and torsos adorned.

And the emphasis really seems to be on decoration, versus the concept of willingly undergoing some pain that some of us non-tattooed people envision.

Tattoos are the new portable art of 2002. You get to take the canvas, everywhere you go.

The Pain

Most tattoos heal within seven to 10 days.

"Anyone who tells you it doesn’t hurt, though, is lying or was drunk," says local resident Dan Sabey who sports one on his arm.

"You have to keep perfectly still, and they might hit a nerve ending and you want to pull away but you can’t. You bleed a lot," he adds.

The after care process includes applying a lotion to the tattoo daily, until the scabs soften and fall off.

Sabey got his dragon done at Ace Tattoos on Hastings Street in 1983. He took about two hours to choose a design.

Brian "the Butcher" did the tattoo, whom he describes as a "400-pound biker who wasn’t having the best day."

"He said ‘hey kid, what’s your name’ and I knew I wasn’t going anywhere!"

Most people say that his tattoo looks tasteful.

"The bad boy thing. I’ve had a couple of girlfriends that were kind of attracted to it.

"It’s exciting," he adds.

According to the FAQ on a Web site maintained by Stan Schwarz (, "The pain comes from the cluster of needles on the tattooing machine piercing your skin very rapidly.

"You’d be amazed how quickly your body releases endorphins, which dulls the pain significantly."

Interested customers need to inspect an artist’s portfolio closely before obtaining a tattoo of their own.

"Look for any problems in the quality of their work," says one staffer at Dutchman Tattoos of New Westminster.

Tattoo artists say avoid the aspirin and alcohol, which thins the blood, and avoid "scratchers" at all costs.

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