i wasn't planning on getting a tattoo on our trip abroad this year; i'm running out of space for them, as i prefer to get them along my spine and i don't seem to be getting any taller, and berlin didn't feel exotic enough (ha). i then learned, via one of the david-bowie-in-berlin books i bought a month before we left, that bowie's old building in schöneberg (in which he lived from 1976-1978) boasts not one but two tattoo studios; well, hell. maybe it was time for a GIANT ARTY BARN OWL across the top of my back?
my foreign-tattoo m.o. is pretty complicated: i tend to reach out to the artist or studio i have in mind long before we leave new york, and we become penpals over the course of a few months. i drop by to say hello and chat when we first get into town, a few days before my appointment, and then get whatever lagoon-soaking or intense bathing i'd planned out of the way; then it's tattoo time. this was going to be different, as i hadn't yet settled on a specific design and we were about to leave; the black-metal guys at Studio 1 a) sounded like they weren't interested in any work but their own, which is completely understandable but probably wasn't going to work for me, given time constraints, b) were only in the building by appointment, c) had portfolios with a lot of burning nordic churches in them, which was more than a little intense, and d) seemed like they were into some less-than-egalitarian erotic art featuring ladies? one of Studio 1's artists was in new york the week before we went to berlin and i could have looked him up, but he didn't seem like the guy for me. i didn't even know Studio 2 existed, in turn, until i saw a line on Studio 1's webpage about how people should not go there. its website was pretty generic, but i've learned that plenty of lovely people have a hard time getting their digital shit together (cough). the more i read of bowie's adventures in berlin with iggy pop, brian eno, and tony visconti, the more convinced i became that i needed to embrace their spirit of collaboration and improvisation. some friends of mine got black star tattoos after bowie's death back in january, and the simplicity of that appealed to me. i could fit it below my lowest tattoo, the gothic cross i got in california right after turning 18; it was simple enough to hand over to a stranger on the spot. i decided that we'd stop in at Studio 2 after paying our respects at the apartment, and if i got a good feeling about it, well.
Studio 2 was easy to find, as it was 10 feet away from the candles and silk flowers at bowie's door. a genial french bulldog snarfled up to us, and his person apologized for him from down the hall. sprechen sie englisch? "a bit," he said, and i pulled the rumpled little image out from the bottom of my wallet.