Tag: Wooster Street Social Club

New York Groove (Part 3): The Tattoo Pre-Production

Butterflies began to fill my stomach as I ascended the elevator to the eleventh floor of the make shift studio for NY Ink. The genesis of my excitement had been building since my arrival in New York and subsequent trip downtown via the subway line, but now the reality of the whole event was starting to take shape. It was only a matter of hours now before I’d be getting tattooed in front of the camera by Megan Massacre.

As the elevator floor indicator lights reached higher and higher numbers I imagined the door opening and me being greeted by flashing cameras and paparazzi. Perhaps the catering service asking me what my lunch requirements would be or maybe some early autograph seekers.

I could picture myself wearing Ray Bans and giving half-hearted smiles to my adoring public. “Are you THE James Wood?”, one beautiful blonde female would say. “The one telling his rock and roll story and getting a killer tattoo on NY Ink?”. I’d slowly remove the Ray Bans revealing my deep blue eyes and reply, “Why YES…that’s ME!”

Reality struck fast and my celebrity euphoria got sucked out of the room like a vacuum when the elevator door opened to reveal nothing but an empty vestibule. Only a few chirping crickets would have made the moment more complete.

A simple table with a telephone sat in between two leather chairs against the wall and I chuckled a bit thinking that there would be no h’orderves or goody bag containing high-end skin-care products for me. Sadly, the only thing that rested upon the table was a single clip board containing a sign-in sheet along with a note informing clients for “NY Ink” to dial an extension upon arrival to alert the associate producer.

After signing the sheet and leaving a message with the operator as to my arrival I settled down on the nice comfy chair and noticed that a few more clients were already starting to arrive. More people to tell their story and get tattoos.

During the next few hours I met two really cool people, each with multiple tattoos already and having their own stories to tell as to why they had chosen a particular piece for the show.

Now me, being a virgin of skin-art, eagerly listened to their tales of family, hard luck, and the needle and ink process. The butterflies that I had originally felt quickly subsided as I now found myself more concerned what the threshold of pain would be like for me when needle met skin.

“It feels like an annoying scrape”, one would say. “Nah, it’s more like a stab”, said the other. Looking back, it was hard to tell if they were being honest or just trying to scare me.

Me and Jessica Gahring

It wasn’t long before the associate producer sat us all down and explained the details of what was going to happen during the course of the day.

She would escort us over to the Wooster Street Social Club and upon our arrival we would each do a pre-interview.

Afterwards, crews would begin the process of filming us getting tattooed and telling our stories. The entire process was going to be an all day affair and there would include a lot of waiting.

Bring it on.

“Is everyone ready?” she asked and the three of us all quickly rose in unison. “Onward to Wooster Street”.

As we made our way down the elevator and out onto 6th Avenue the excitement of memorializing everything music has meant to me really started to build. Deep inside though I couldn’t stop thinking about the needle.

If anything, there definitely was no turning back now.

Next: Megan Massacre

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New York Groove (Part 2): The Thing About Subways

The MTA system of New York City can be a bit daunting for the amateur subway commuter. It’s easy to find yourself lost somewhere in Gotham City if you happen to choose the wrong letter of the alphabet when boarding a train. Maybe it’s the small town boy in me but no matter how confident I am that I have chosen wisely I always find myself second guessing the decision I made the second the doors close.

I suppose that even the most seasoned of riders does a double-check every now and again just to make sure they’re heading in the right direction. For someone like me, a person who rarely visits the big city or rides a subway for that matter, it’s even more distressing. The thing is when you’re trying to make it to an appointment at the casting offices for Wooster Street Social Club (or anywhere else downtown for that matter) you definitely don’t want to wind up going uptown to Central Park. And this was no ordinary visit to the Big Apple to sight see either. My promptness was even more necessary because in this case producers and film crews were involved.

You see I was a man on a mission to get my first tattoo filmed for the second season of NY Ink and could hardly afford to be late for such a surreal and unique experience. So I took comfort in the fact that every street name I read on the subterranean wall at every stop matched the one I had on my pre-printed schedule.

Before too long the train came to a stop at the Canal Street station and I hurriedly departed. After quickly readjusting the backpack I was carrying over my shoulder I made the walk up the concrete staircase and into the bright morning sunshine on the Avenue of The Americas. The hustle and bustle of traffic and people mindlessly walking in step to get to their destinations reminded me that I was not in the small town of Easton, Pennsylvania anymore. This was the big time.

Me and Tommy Montoya

I pulled out my phone to check the time and was relieved to see that I still had an hour before I needed to be at the studio. It’s times like these, the in between arrival and actual appointment times, when nothing but coffee will suffice and I quickly spotted a Starbucks and made my way inside.

A contented smile came across my face as I sat down with my Venti bold. My biggest challenge upon arriving in NYC was to take the A-Train (or 8th Avenue Express) down to Canal and into the heart of SOHO with time to spare.

Mission accomplished.

Next: The Tattoo Pre-Production

New York Groove (Part 1)

“Back in the New York Groove” was a song written by Russ Ballard that first appeared on the 1975 album “Keep Us Off The Streets” by the British glam band Hello. As a musician I know this because well, I looked it up.

Who would have thought that three years after it first appeared on vinyl that song would indirectly become part of my life?

It was 1978. The year the members of KISS, the biggest band in the world at the time and with enough glitz, makeup and pyrotechnic prowess to make even the great Liberace and his golden candelabra melt, all simultaneously released their own solo albums as a gimmick. “New York Groove” was a song covered by guitarist Ace Frehley on his solo album of the same name.

As a nine-year old boy, KISS was the world to me and Ace was always my favorite member of the band. Not just because he had the coolest face makeup but also for the way his sunburst Les Paul guitars would literally catch fire during his solos. Ace’s antics were one of the main reasons I picked up a guitar with the dream to “Shout it Out Loud” and “Rock and Roll All Nite”. As far as I was concerned Ace Frehley was synonymous with rock and roll and suffice to say, his solo album quickly wore out on my turn table.

So it’s kind of ironic how thirty-three years later that particular song, New York Groove, was selected to be the theme for NY Ink, the reality-based television series on TLC. For those who may not be aware, NY Ink follows the trials and tribulations of famed tattoo artist Ami James as he attempts to make a go of a tattoo studio in the SOHO district of New York City.

What’s even more surprising is the notion that the melody for “New York Groove” kept running through my head as I looked out the window of the bus that was carrying me to New York City to get my first tattoo from Megan Massacre, tell my own musical “story” and have the segment recorded for the second season of NY Ink.

In my family being of age and still a tattoo virgin is frowned upon. The inside joke being: “You can’t consider yourself a “Wood” if you don’t have at least a little ink”. Most of my relatives have been tattooed at some point or another but I never was. Quite frankly, I would have been perfectly content with being the only black sheep in the family.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon NY Ink that I began to give being tattooed serious consideration. The artwork and stories I had heard really had a profound impact on me. More so than any “cool” factor would in me getting needled. And my own story would sure be one for the books.

From an early age I was a guitarist with a dream to be a rock star. You know, right up there in the same league as KISS, Survivor, and Bon Jovi. Yeah, that was going to be me.

I even remember writing  journal entries about “making it” while in high school. At one point I’d pretend my journal was a Rolling Stone magazine interview. I’d write questions that I’d want the interviewer to ask me and then answer them in full ‘rock and roll’ mode. I’d muse about who I’d be collaborating with, the up coming summer tour I was about to embark upon and what I did when throngs of female fans sought my attention. Little did I know at the time that one day the dream was going to come true but in a most unusual way. I couldn’t wait to tell the story and have it memorialized.

Me and Ami James

As the bus slowly rolled into the Port Authority Station a feeling of excitement and anticipation filled me. I slowly departed and made my way into Manhattan not really sure if I was more excited to tell the story, get my first tattoo from an artist I greatly admire or the fact that my experience was going to be filmed and possibly air on a television show.

In any case all I did know was that Ace would have been pleased. Today was going to be an interesting day.

Next: The Thing About Subways

The NY Ink Announcement

I’ve waited six long months to be able to tell you this story. No seriously, I’m not kidding its been that long. I’ve had a five-part blog that’s been in the works since last September and at last I’m finally able to reveal it.

I’ve got good news, bad news and great news! I’ll explain them all to you in that order:

Good News: Last summer, I submitted a request to be a candidate for Season 2 of  the TLC television show NY Ink and was actually chosen to have my segment filmed for the show!!  I got to travel to New York City, go on set for the show, tell my story and get my first tattoo done by none other than Megan Massacre.

After it was all over, I started to write a blog about my experience. And that blog got so large that it led to another blog. Which led to another. And another…. Before I knew it, I had written five parts.

Bad News: Season 2 episodes began airing in December of last year and my segment never made it to air. (Although they did show a glimpse of my session in a transition from one scene to the next). It’s too bad because I already had my IMDB application ready and several agents and publicists on stand-by. Sadly, I had to tell them the bad news. (Hope you all realize those last two sentences were a joke).

Anyway, through out the season I was already pretty much aware that my segment wasn’t going to make the final cut but I was contractually obligated not to say anything about my time on the show until the last episode aired.

Which was last night.

So…..

Great News: Starting Monday I will begin posting the blogs from my experiences on NY Ink. From the ride in to the city, to being on the set, getting tattooed by Megan and meeting most everyone from the show. You’ll also get to hear my “rock and roll” story and see the final work of art.

Although obviously a bit bummed that my segment didn’t air I have absolutely no regrets about it. It definitely wasn’t your typical tattoo experience.

If you’re already a fan of the show and are sad that its over here’s one last NY Ink story you didn’t hear.

One that I’m excited to finally be able to tell you about.

See  you then.

My Visit To Wooster Street

It was in the early morning hours of August 16th, 2011. I was making my way down stairs well prepared for my trip with my daughter to New York City. It was her 10th birthday and we would celebrate it together by taking a day trip to the Big Apple.

As I descended the staircase I could hear the faint trickle of light rain on the rooftop and became a bit discouraged. I peered out the kitchen window to assess the current state of the weather and could see droplets of water sliding down the glass in the early morning gray light. “Just a shower”, I thought to myself wiping the sleep from my eyes.

“Are you still going today?” my wife asked as she poured herself a cup of coffee. She knew I had been planning this day for quite some time and wondered if Mother Nature choosing to pick a fight with me at the last-minute was going to change my mind.  But that mother-nature bitch was going down today. “Yeah, we’re still going”, I replied as I filled my cup. Indeed, today was going to be a good day.

Arriving in New York City, Jillian and I immediately took the “N” subway south to Canal Street. We were most definitely on a mission. Our goal was to visit The Wooster Street Social Club and Megan Massacre from the TLC show NY Ink. Of course, if you’ve been playing along at home, you already know that it’s my goal to get on the show next season and get tatted by Megan.

We got to the shop just as it was opening at 11am. Inside, I noticed Billy DeCola, the “apprentice” from the show, mopping the floor. For a minute I forgot that this actually was a place of business and not just some studio with actors in it.  Surely,  a big star like Billy would be having his nails done or reviewing a script or something but pushing a mop?

 

 

 

 

 

We wanted to hang out and see if Megan would show up. It would be a long shot but we knew that going in. She usually only comes in if she has appointments.

Since her assistant handles all of those there was no definite way of knowing.  Billy told us that she usually comes in around 1 or 2 if she has appointments so we decided to go grab something for lunch and then come back afterwards.

After lunch, we made our way back to Wooster Street under dismally gray clouds (but no rain) to wait it out. And we waited. And waited. No Megan. At one point Billy offered to send her a text to see if she was coming. She texted him back and said she’d be coming in shortly. So we waited. And waited. Surprisingly, no one from the studio seemed to mind our loitering. On the contrary, they were all hoping right along with us that Megan would be in.

It wasn’t long before all the water I had been drinking all day had warranted a trip to the restroom. After finishing up, I opened the door to exit and saw that the person we had waited hours to see was now standing behind the reception desk. Megan had arrived and Jillian was oblivious to it.

I quickly called Jillian over and we both got to meet Megan. We did the photo-op, had her sign a few things and discussed our love of the show.

It was at that point that I also needed to take care of some business. So I told Megan that if I get on the show next season I wanted her to be the one tattooing me. To which she said she would be honored to.

There was indeed a feeling of victory at having accomplished our mission, albeit we had to wait a few hours. But before making our way back uptown and the long bus ride home we decided to stop down and see the World Trade Center site.

With the 10th anniversary of that horrible day arriving and having never been to the site at all it seemed appropriate to pay our respects.

I must admit that I am definitely not the best person to go along with when trying to follow a map. Black Beard the pirate can rest easy in his watery grave knowing I’d never be able to locate his booty. On more than one occasion along the way Jillian was miffed at her father’s inability to maneuver the streets of Manhattan.

Eventually though, and with the help of a local at a Starbucks, we found our way there. We stood in awe looking at the new Freedom Tower under construction with its steel beams rising into the New York skyline. About halfway down the street was a preview of the 9/11 Memorial that is set to open a few weeks from now so we went inside to check it out.

Truth be told, it was very hard not to cry being reminded of all the horrible events of that day so I didn’t even try. No one, no matter how tough or how many tattoos they have can look at this and not walk away a different person. Life is too precious.

As we made the trek uptown and prepared for the long bus ride home, the sun finally began to come out from behind the clouds. What started out as perhaps a rain dreary trip actually ended with sunshine. And hope.

I peered out of my window seat on the bus as Jillian fell asleep on my shoulder and watched the Manhattan skyline fade into the distance. This was definitely one birthday we’d both remember for a long, long time.

Get Me On NY Ink

I am a man on a mission and I need your help. I want to be a reality TV star. Let me first give you some background as to why:

A few weeks ago I posted an article on Technorati (and this blog as well) about my affinity for the TLC reality show NY Ink, a show dealing with the drama of opening a tattoo studio in the SOHO district of New York City. A tattoo virgin myself, I loved not only the drama and beautiful artwork but also the real stories people told on why they got their particular tattoo.

Much to my surprise the article was Tweeted and linked to by Ami James himself, the star of the show, and owner of the Wooster Street Social Club where the show is filmed.

A few days ago, NY Ink was picked up for a second season and Mr. James again graciously Tweeted the link to my article but this time also included it as an entry on his own personal blog:

Having been inspired not only from the attention to my article but also from the show itself, I decided to make it my mission to try to get cast on the show for season two.

In addition to the article (with over 500 Facebook “likes” and almost as many Re-Tweets), I’ve also had the opportunity to make contact with several of the show’s stars via Twitter.

One caveat of getting on the show is that you will have to pay for your tattoo as a regular client. There are no “perks” for being there other than being on television and getting to tell your story. You pay as any normal customer would.

I’m told that the cost may run as high as five times the price of a tattoo at a typical studio but I am willing to pay the price.

So, without any further adieu, here are the reasons why I believe I’m the ideal candidate to be cast next season:

#1. I’m a tattoo virgin whose had mostly negative opinions about tattoos until I watched this show.

#2. I do have a good story to tell about my rock & roll days and dreams coming true.

#3. I am a huge fan of Megan Massacre’s artwork. And she’s from Pennsylvania too so that should count for bonus points.

#4. I have my own group on Facebook with the sole purpose of getting me on NY Ink.

#5. Megan Massacre (The Artist) knows I exist:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#6. Jessica Gahring (The Shop Manager) likes my taste in poetry and quotes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7. Robear (The Floor Manager) has “Favorited” one of my Tweets:

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, so those last three aren’t really reasons but they’re still pretty darn cool none-the-less.

Let’s be honest here folks. I don’t have the pipes to be the next American Idol. And there’s no way I’d survive a day in the African Safari outback on Survivor (especially without bacon and Count Chocula). But getting my first tattoo and becoming a bad ass on national TV?.  Now that’s right up my alley and is SO rock and roll. Will it hurt? That I don’t know but I’m willing to risk it.

So what can you do? It’s easy. Join me on my quest for reality show immortality and help spread the word by signing up for the Facebook group “Get James Wood on New York Ink Next Season

Who knows? Someday soon you just might see me getting needled by Megan Massacre! ~ And if so, I promise not to cry.