Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Things NOT To Do In Nashville - Full Moon Tattoo & Horror Festival

In the past, I've taken the time to tell you, my faithful (yet sparse) readers of the wonderful and myriad events which you should attend here in the South. Today, unfortunately, my offerings are of the opposite nature... An Annual Event to Avoid. I refer to the above poster of the Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival. Well, not the poster, but the actual event. One my lovely wife and I have been looking forward to for some time.

This may be one of my more lengthier posts, so grab yourself a cold beverage and get comfy. 

On the one side, Horror Fans who attended this show got to see a lot of Stars (and Almost Stars) from Horror Movies. From Norman Reedus (Darryl on Walking Dead) to Glen Hetrick (Star of the SyFy Series Face Off) and Linda Blair (Star of The Exorcist) fans got a chance to meet, greet and photo-op with a bunch of the best. And before I get to the problems, let me say that when you add this incredible collection of stars and Horror related merchandise (personal horror paraphernalia, statuary, and even a booth to get yourself 'zombiefied' on the spot) it was easily the greatest place for horror fans (such as myself) to go and spend the weekend - especially on Easter Weekend. I've been a horror fan since I first hid behind my mother's sofa peeking at the Frankenstein Movies on afternoon TV. I had a great time in this part of the event. 

Then there is the other hand. The Tattoo part of the Festival. 

Let me state for the record, I do not personally have any tattoos, but I am not against them. No, not at all. In fact, the lovely Mrs. has a tattoo and, in fact, more than one. Tattoos are merely a personal form of expression and lots of great and respectable folks, both above and below the Mason-Dixon, have them. So, after a few longing looks at the zombie make-up and the booth with the huge library of old horror movies, we headed to the more artistic part of the show where she went 'under the needle' yet again.

There were four long isles of tattoo artists from across the country, including Amy Nicoletto from the TV show LA Ink. Though I didn't take the time to count them, I'd guesstimate about 50 booths. As my lovely other half sat with her favorite artist (the very talented and award winning Ty Latiolais of Big Easy Tattoos in Wentzville, MO), I wandered (for 6 hours I might add) and watched some great artists apply some incredible designs (and visited the aforementioned horror library to drool a bit.) Tattooed people wandered about the entire event like wounded soldiers sporting huge bandages on arms, legs and 'other' body parts.

But the problem of the weekend lay not with the artists nor with the participants like the lovely Mrs. The problem lay with whoever was backing or organizing this event. Let's start with the fact that the convention center in Nashville is big enough to hold several conventions at once. So, in addition to the show we were attending, there was also the incredibly large Middle Tennessee Anime festival in the same building. That's right, thousands of teenagers (and older folks, too) in full Cosplay filled the halls of the Nashville Convention Center while we endeavored to find our way around. Why is this a problem, you ask? (It was not the Cosplayers, as they were the most respectful of those attending the Horror/Tattoo Fest as we were of them.)

The organizers put the ticket booth for the Tattoo/Horror show on a whole separate level than the show itself. This made absolutely no sense to me. Why not put the ticket booth right outside the room where the event was being held? Not only did this confuse us, it was also problematic for those who were entering the tattoo judging contests later that night. They had to leave the show (where the judging was to take place), brave the hallways full of Cosplayers, climb up one level, sign up and then return to the lower level to be judged! All that moving around for what? It was obvious at the outset that the people running this show were more interested in the money than in the experience enjoyed by the attendees.

Let's move on to the 'judging' of the day's tattoos, if you can call it that. First, the man who was Emceeing is a mysoginist and supposed comedian who felt it necessary to insult everyone (men AND women) both on the stage and in the audience. Top that off with the fact that he couldn't seem to function unless he was drunk. He proceeded to refer to my wife as a heroine addict simply because she was shaking a bit. (People involved in the world of tattoos understand that the body may shake from the actual trauma of having a tattoo applied. My wife is not the type to get up in front of a crowd, and only did it because a) it was a great - award worthy - tattoo, and b) she was doing it as a favor for her artist. And this jerk calls her an 'addict.')

Then there were the Judges, who were also drunk or hungover. These were people they rounded up from Lord Knows Where who had no business judging tattoos (one of them even admitted to someone within earshot that he knew nothing at all about applying or creating tattoos!.) This was wildly evident when you saw the winning designs. On Saturday,. the winning tattoo was poorly drawn, poorly colored and poorly inked.

Here, perhaps this visual will help:

Why did it win, you ask? You do ask a good question. AND, I have an answer:

Boobs. That's right, Boobs. Skin. T&A.

I know, I know, a true Southern Gentleman wouldn't really call them Boobs, but in this case the woman with the winning tattoo had her tattoo right between her boobs and was happily flaunting them for the judges.   When someone gives a show like that, you just got to call them boobs. (The entrant or the Judges? In this case, both!) In fact, the winning tattoos for the weekend were those where the women (and yes, some of the men) showed some skin, flirted with the judges or gave lap dances to the Emcee. Every time a man got up to show off some great artwork, the Emcee referred to a homosexual orgy - but with less vocabulary as you can imagine. (If I had a dollar for every time he used the term "Sausage Fest"...) The best tattoos were summarily ignored because the people presenting those tattoos didn't play this ridiculous game. (One of the judges later admitted that for him, "It's all about the boobs!")

More than the joke of the judging, one must consider the time and labor involved in creating these works of art. Yes, works of ART. A tattoo artist sometimes draws and redraws a design for weeks to create just the right original design - one that pleases both the tattooer and the recipient. Then there is the time it takes to apply this design, the better ones taking hours of concentration while sitting in one position, many times skipping meals to get the design applied properly. The pain involved to the recipient is a given. What many fail to appreciate is the total heart and soul that is also put into these one-of-a-kind original designs by both tattooer and recipient. And then to treat these finished designs with derision and indifference in favor of the prurient is a travesty!

Because of all these problems, we didn't attend on Sunday but heard that a fist fight broke out backstage during the tattoo judging. Yeah, in my favorite part of the world, the South. (Now, that's class!) Now, please don't get me wrong.  I still love the South, and there are many great people who live here and treat their neighbors (tattooed or not) with the respect becoming of a true Southerner. I point out this entire fiasco as it is a glaring example of what NOT to do, and of course, what YOU should NOT to attend. 

So, you've been warned and informed. I'm sure there are other, larger or smaller yet better run shows of this nature in the South, and I for one plan on finding them. 

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