Monday, July 19, 2010

Tattoos and Piercing -- Graphic Art in Denver's Baker District

[a short article i wrote for the Denver section of Examiner.com almost two years ago]

On December 5th, 2008, I witnessed a glorious spectacle in Denver’s Baker District.  The event occurred at "Tattoos and Piercing", Baker's premier tattoo and graphic art parlor.  The spectacle was a First Friday art show hosted by Santiago and Yay-Yo, a father and son duo, and catered to a packed audience.  The patrons were almost uniformly dressed, in reds, blacks, or grays, representing their street affiliations. It was a relatively peaceful gathering, nonetheless, but also a lively one. The catering included free beer and food and a hanging lady who dangled by hooks inserted into the skin around her knee caps for nearly a half an hour.  That’s right, I said free beer!

While the spectacle raged on and nearly 300 people watched from every angle, several patrons were getting graphics burned into their flesh in the form of tattoos.  Custom graphic tees, mural style graffiti, and a wide range of art work by the shop resident artists were sold to dozens.  As the resident disc jockeys spun Spanish and Mexican infused hip-hop tunes, the party billowed out into the streets and set the tone on that Friday night for all residents of Baker walking to and from other music and bar venues.

I had a chance to interview Santiago, father to Yay-Yo, the shop’s owner and this First Friday host.  “There’s gonna be a hanging tonight,” Santiago said in a quiet, subdued voice.  He offered me some beer and disappeared.  The man, all clad in black, worried me at first as to who was going to be hung until I saw a woman dressed in a black shirt and black jean shorts get hoisted to the ceiling on hooks through her knees and swung in a 10 foot arc.  Where else can you go for such a spectacle? “Tattoos and Piercing” on the first Friday of every month, and nowhere else.

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