Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat is an iconic image. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t really surprise me when Denise mentioned she wanted a tattoo of it on her. She certainly wouldn’t be the first person to get one. BMEzine.com has featured many Cheshire Cat tattoos, but we’ll get into the different variations later.
Of course, my immediate reaction to this idea wasn’t exactly the one she had hoped for.
“Awesome!” I said, my eyes widening at the possibility. “American McGee’s Cheshire Cat is really sweet! That would be a wicked tat!”
“No,” Denise responded tepidly, sensing my reaction before she had even spoken. “I meant the Disney one.”
SIDE NOTE: I despise Disney. With an unerring furvor. Every classic story they’ve touched has made America just a little bit stupider. As a child I could overlook this because I knew no better. And I can’t fault that the films are, in general, entertaining. But outside of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, every animated Disney movie not made by Pixar has taken a classic story and bastardized to a horrific degree. That in and of itself is bad enough, but children raised on these films have actually gained a distaste for the original stories because they don’t match the Disney version.
When Hercules came out, that was the final straw for me. It took classical Greek mythology and turned it on its head. Hera was a kindly mother figure and Hades was a villain? This is simply forcing Christian ideology onto the characters in order to make Hell evil. And the addition of talking animals in every fucking film is simply absurd.
“Really? No, wait. Don’t answer that. I don’t want to argue.”
“Good,” she said. “Neither do I.”
And that was that. For months, we didn’t talk about it or mention it. I began to concentrate on my own golem design and nearly forgot about hers.
Since the start of my journey, Denise has mentioned several times how she’s tried to get her tattoo and things haven’t worked out. She was all set to get it when Anthony asked her to wait till he got back from an underway. So she waited. When he got back, they argued about where to go. Denise liked one shop on Guam while Anthony liked another. So she didn’t. And then the trip happened.
I have a great deal of empathy for the situation because it’s similar to mine. I was all set to get my tattoo mid-May when my trip got moved up, my artist got sick, and I suddenly ran out of time.
We’ve also discussed her plans for the tattoo, and while I’m still not a fan of Disney related artwork merely on principle, I’ve warmed to the idea of her tattoo. Perhaps my negative reaction kept her from informing previously, but the plan is for an Alice themed leg sleeve with Alice falling down the rabbit hole at the top and Wonderland residents surrounding the base of the Cheshire Cat’s tree at the bottom.
The more intricate design seems more agreeable to me, and though I’m still encouraging her to have custom art instead of Disney, that opinion has become a rarely stated one. There are plenty of choices out there: there’s the wicked ink blotter version of the Cheshire Cat (seen at the top); there’s the original woodcut version; there’s the American McGee’s Alice edition (my personal favorite); and there’s myriad custom jobs (as seen on the BME search). Not to mention that most tattoo artists get more into tats they design.
In the end, though, it’s her tattoo and I’m sure she’ll be happy the way it turned out. For her first tattoo, she got a Latin phrase tattooed on her, and the chosen syntax and spelling didn’t seem to match what I found listed online. One of our friends contended it was proper, and though I argued for changing it to the more commonly found syntax, in the end, the tattoo came out beautifully.
Boredom is an everpresent companion on Guam. In this case, I began to notice the wealth of tattoo parlors on the island. In the Philippines, very few people had tattoos. At the go-go clubs, Denise and I actually played a game looking for body piercings and tattoo, but we only found a couple. Guam, on the other hand, has many.
Last week, I suggested we visit some of these tattoo parlors so I could see what was up on island, and perhaps break the tie between Anthony and Denise. Denise prefers Tribal Images while Anthony (and the rest of the boat) likes Lots of Art. “Maybe,” I told her, “I’ll even look into getting mine done here.”
SIDE NOTE: There are a few big issues with getting a tattoo here. Firstly, it’ll be a little more expensive than doing it stateside. Probably not significantly, but enough to make me think twice. Secondly, I know direct sunlight is bad for fresh tattoos, and being on an island where I plan to swim and snorkel regularly doesn’t bode well. I’m pretty sure the salt water won’t help either. Lastly, I’ve yet to see a parlor here (solely from the outside) that doesn’t look like a creepy hole in the wall. Even nice places here are laid back enough that they’re more about substance than style, but it doesn’t make me feel the most comfortable.
Admittedly, I have already been thinking about getting my tattoo abroad, but that was mainly when I considered doing it in Prague in October so I would get it while in the city of golems. It would be a pretty cool connection.
A week later, we still haven’t made it into any of these parlors. Part of it has been lack of opportunity. Part of it has been lack of drive. Part of it has been the sheer number of parlors. In addition to Tribal Images and Lots of Art (their main sign has an apostrophe in lot’s, which is simply confidence inspiring), Low Tide Tattoo, Hope4Pain Tattoos, Oka Point Tattoo (which may or may not actually be in Guam), Dark Rose Tattoo (site under construction), and a number of parlors which don’t have websites, including one that unfortunately spells it “tattooz.”
A tattoo by Art of Lots of Art (snagged here).
I have, however, begun doing research online. Apparently Low Tide is the only certified studio on Guam. Harv, who owns and runs Low Tide, is a mentor to both Tribal Images and Lots of Art (formerly Body by Art), which speaks reasonably for both. Plus, despite hours of searching, Low Tide had the vast majority of online recommendations (Lots of Art had one too, but it was the only one).
While the artwork was ok, I wasn’t seriously impressed by much at any of the websites. Hope4Pain had some good tattoos in thier portfolio, and Tribal Images had several, but all in all, many seemed just a little less polished than I had hoped for. Compared to Twisted Sol, there’s simply nothing that’s drawn me to a specific place yet.
I’m hoping that I’ll make it in to three or four of these shops in the next week to form a better opinion, but it’s doubtful I’ll get any work done here. It’s probably better that way.