She’s a model. She’s a DJ. She plays bass guitar. But most of all – Megan Massacre is one really amazing tattoo artist.
I first met Megan one hot summer day last August. I made the pilgrimage to New York with my daughter to visit The Wooster Street Social Club, the tattoo studio where she works. The studio is also the place where the TLC reality based show NY Ink is filmed. You can read about our adventure here. Today’s visit was different though.
Today, Megan was going to give me my very first tattoo and the entire segment was going to be filmed for the second season of NY Ink.
I really loved Megan’s work from the first season. She has such a unique style that was different from most of the other artists I had seen. I mean, tatting a dog dressed as a Victorian Lady or a dude getting hit by a bus is definitely not something you see every day.
Since this was going to be my very first tattoo I wanted it to be special and more than just a “picture” if that makes any sense. So when I gave her the ideas I had for the guitar I wanted I knew she would nail it. And the time was now drawing near.
I was sitting downstairs in a room adjacent to Ami James’ office. Producers and other production type folks all sat nearby with headset communication listening to what was going on upstairs. Finally, I heard one of them say into the microphone “Ok, I’ll send him up”.
And away I went.
Ami and Billy were already in the early stages of their tattoos and I slowly made my way past them to what’s been commonly referred to as “the big comfy couch”.
I sat down and peered over to see RoBear helping Megan set up her station. Several members of the film crew were in discussion with each other while others busily adjusted their equipment.
Megan was already well aware that this was going to be my first tattoo and was of significant size but that didn’t stop her from teasing me a bit.
As she was preparing her station with paper towels and ink she’d often look over at me and do her best impression of a nefarious villain by rubbing her hands together and laughing. Sort of saying “There’s no turning back now son… You’re mine!”. And in some odd way, it was almost comforting.
Finally, it was time and she called me over to her station.
The first thing Megan did after applying the stencil was to make a small line to assess what my tolerance for the needle would be. It felt like a bit of a scratch, no pain. Off we go.
For the next two and a half hours Megan tattooed me as cameras rolled. Until the production crew was ready, telling her my actual “story” was the only thing we couldn’t talk about. Anything else was fine. So it was here where we shared our backgrounds and I got some back stories about her own tattoos. I also found out that much like me, she also grew up in Pennsylvania and has a fascination for not only art but musical performance as well.
Eventually, the production crew came over and began filming me telling Megan my story and reason for getting the tattoo. I think this was where I was most nervous. Its hard to try and tell a story and use coherent sentences when people are holding monstrous camera equipment and lights three feet away from you.
At times I have to admit that the tattoo process itself did hurt a little bit but there was no way I was going to cry in front of Megan. Ok, it didn’t hurt THAT much but it did make me wonder how people deal with the pain of getting tattooed in more sensitive areas.
At one point Ami, Billy and Jessica all came over off-camera to take a peek at the tattoo Megan was doing on me. Seeing these other great artists taking an interest in my piece was very cool and during the actual “reveal” only one word came to everyone’s lips: BAD-ASS. Exactly what I wanted it to be.
People have asked me over and over what Megan is really like in person and the one word that immediately comes to mind is “sweetheart”. She is lady-like and bad ass all rolled into one. A person dedicated to her craft.
In fact, in all the time it took her to do my tattoo she didn’t take one break. Well, unless of course you count the time she went over to check out the tattoo Billy was having a problem with. (Side note: It was episode three of season two. When you see Megan come up to see how Billy is doing on his “first” big tattoo, she was actually tattooing me at the time but my segment never aired).
Also, when you see her talking about her affection for RoBear that’s also genuine. RoBear was like her guardian. He helped set up her station and brought her over snacks and drinks while she was tattooing me. I suspect that if I would have gotten out of line with Meg I would have been on the receiving end of the big guy’s boot.
The whole experience from start to finish was surreal. Although I was a bit disheartened my segment didn’t air I can’t say enough good things about it.
I mean, how may people can say they got their first tattoo by Megan Massacre with a film crew watching and being interviewed about it?
So by now you may be wondering what my story was and even more importantly, want to see the tattoo that Megan did. All will be revealed in the finale which is next.
Next: The Story and The Reveal
I’ve also grown tired of watching single bachelors choosing a soul mate from dozens of women only to read about their break up in People magazine six weeks after the show ends as they try to come to grips with what went wrong.
And please, don’t even get me started on the show about the beach.
Sadly, I began to accept the fate of having to spend the end of every night mindlessly dialing 1-800 numbers. That is of course, until I stumbled upon New York Ink.
New York Ink is a new “reality-based” show on TLC that follows the events of famed tattoo artist Ami James as he opens a tattoo studio, The Wooster Street Social Club, in the SOHO district of New York City.
The show also includes a plethora of incredible tattoo artists: Megan Massacre, Tim Hendricks, Tommy Montoya and Chris Torres. Also on board are Billy DeCola (the intern), the lovable Jessica Gahring (shop manager) and Robear (floor manager and big cuddly guy).
Being a tattoo virgin, I initially just tuned in to see what the whole tattooing process was about. What I discovered was a refreshing change from the otherwise mundane variety of shows that currently dominate the TV dial.
Most of New York Ink deals with the day to day struggle of Ami trying to make a go of it in New York. Of course, there are the clashes with staff members and all the drama that goes with it (very typical in reality shows). But what sets this show apart from all the other standards is the real “human” element. That ace in the hole being the clientele that come into the studio to get tattooed.
For in between shouting matches among staff and Ami’s frustration with the business being slow are scenes of customers coming in, getting their tattoo and telling their story. This is where the show really shines.
First, each client gives the artist an idea or sketch of what they have in mind for a tattoo. After it’s drawn up and the tattooing process begins we are treated to the back story of why the person chose the particular piece.
I’ve heard wonderful tales of people getting tattoos to commemorate the loss of loved ones, their experiences from 9/11 and even how they’ve overcome other impossible odds.
Afterwards, when the final piece in unveiled, there is a flood of emotion that both the client and artist share. Many times, at least for me, it’s very moving.
This show made me rethink my original negative feelings about tattoos. I never fully understood the real reason why some people would get one. It’s wonderful when a show can change the way you feel and New York Ink does just that.
The season finale of the show airs this week and there’s drama that an artist is leaving and Ami may also lose the shop. But none of that concerns me. In “reality”, I know Ami, Megan and the rest will all be ok.
I’m tuning in because I want to hear more stories about the art of being human.
Article first published as New York Ink: The Best Show You’re Not Watching on Technorati.