TAT A Day With Danzl

Discussion in 'Vaginarium' started by Buttons, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. Buttons

    Buttons OT Supporter

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    I've decided to post a random tattoo story, article, interview once a week. These will be transcribed from books, tattoo magazines or other websites. I'm doing this mostly just for some discussion in the body mods forum and to help educate people on the traditions of tattooing and how it came about.

    A Day With Danzl by Mr G

    Early in my career, over twenty years ago, I took my first tattoo road trip to a familiar city, Seattle, Washington. In the mid 1980s, tattooists still guarded the secrets of their trade. Tattoo shops were few and far between. Seattle, like most major cities, had only two or three shops. In that era, there were no tattoo reality shows. There were only a few books or magazines on the subject. It is hard to imagine but, back then, there were only a couple of conventions a year in the whole world.

    Travelling to distant, established shops by introduction and through invitation was a way to gain valuable experience. It was a great honor to call upon the owner of The Seattle Tattoo Emporium, Danny Danzl. Danny had been tattooing since the 1930s. My teacher, Bert Rodriquez, had worked with him in the past and recommended I call on the famous Tattoo Man.

    Danny welcomed me into the shop like I was one of the family. I was introduced to his partner, P.A. Stephens, whom I had met at a national convention in 1987. I was also happy to greet Sailor Cam Cook, who was working there. I knew Cam from his days at Henry Goldfield's Tattoo in San Fransico. This was indeed a crew of topnotch professionals, and I was excited to gain any knowledge that I could from my visit.

    I was in the shop for only a short time before I put my foot into my rookie mouth. Behind the dummy wall, at the far side of the shop, I saw a rack of custom machines. As I approached to get a closer look, I spewed the unspeakable: "Do you mind if look at your tat guns?"

    Everyone and everything in the shop became deadly quiet. I may as well have addressed a room full of church ladies with my usual four-letter words. I knew I had screwed up. I could easily have been told to get the hell out, and never come back. Worse yet, I could have been physically thrown out, which was not unusual treatment for dumb fucks back then. Instead, I was lucky. I was about to learn a very important lesson at a painless price.

    Danny Danzl looked straight at me with his stern, dark eyes. His '30s pencil mustache seemed as sharp as the razor that created it. His signature green painted straw fedora gave off a wizard illumination above my head, as I shrank like a fool. Just like in a car wreck, everything moved in slow, psycho-motion. Everywhere I looked there was flash on the wall staring at me. My adrenaline rush seemed to intensify the smell of freshly waxed floors, alcohol and green soap. From under his paisley, silk ascot the surreal electric voice box slowly ground out like a Tom Waits song. The words are forever etched in my memory. "Kid. NEVER call a machine a gun!"

    This awkward moment became a major lesson in my early journey as a tattoois. These intense words came from a well-respected master. I was the travelling student of a sercret art, trying to get my foot in the door with a man who had tattooed over fifty years. I had said something very stupid. I already knew it was incorrect, but the words "tat gun" had just slipped out.

    I immediately apologized and promised never to use the "tat gun" phrase again, as love as I lived. I was sincere and Danny was a gentleman. He knew I had heard him loud and clear. Lesson learned. Apologly accepted. I believe that the humility to stand corrected and the desire to go past that moment, even though I felt like an idiot, was an important step forward in my tattoo career.

    Danny ledChinchilla and me into the backroom. We passed through the dummy wall and into the secret inner sactum of tattooing. We spent a couple of afternoons behind the curtain of earned privilege, feasting on any information we could soak up. In that short visit other guidelines from Danny became gopsel in my own practice.

    Does it really make a difference what word you use to describe the tools used in this ancient trade? It does if you are serious and want to learn from experienced tattooists. Professionals who have been in this business a credible amount of time screen what information they are willing to share by how honorable or deserving the inquirer is. As a great tattoo legend once told me, "Why cast pearls before swine?"

    If you are reading Tattoo Art 101, then I'll bet that you are trying to learn something from these pages. To expand your horizons. The best way to learn anything is to respect the people who have had the knowledge handed down from generation to generation and to seek out advice from tattooists with many years of experience.

    Calling the tattoo machine a "gun" is a remark that will make a bad first impression on many veteran tattooists. If I hear that remark, then I know someone has no respectable experience. Little or poor training. No roots in the business. The term "tat gun" or "gun" usually comes from prison tattooing or back street non-professionals. It indicates to me that the person using the phrase hasn't been around the scene long enough to know any better or that they are too bull-headed to be corrected.

    To use the word "gun" instead of machine once or twice out of ignorance is part of the learning curve. I have met some rookies that think it is funny to challenge an old timer by spouting out "gun." After a few years under their belts, the tat gun crew may realized that by being ill-spoken they have alienated some pros. They may have missed a valuable opportunity to learn so much more.

    Tattooing: as ancient as time, as modern as tomorrow

    --- Mr G
    [email protected]
    www.triangletattoo.com
     
  2. eelliiss

    eelliiss Active Member

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    Very good read. I like how he describes how underground it was when he got started. Something about the "good old" days in any profession always intrigues me. I respect the people who had to go through the growing pains and ostricism of this artform for the people of today to so openly enjoy it. It simply is amazing.
     
  3. Buttons

    Buttons OT Supporter

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    52 views and only 1 reply? :wtc:
     
  4. Buttons

    Buttons OT Supporter

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    :hsugh: No

    :rofl: I did have this idea in mind for awhile to post old tattoo stories/interviews but after thinking about it I thought this one would be the most appropriate for the first. I'll be posting more just to help educate people on where tattoo traditions, customs and "rules." came from.
     
  5. eelliiss

    eelliiss Active Member

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    You should post something about super traditional American tattoos. I don't know a whole lot about them, but I would like to. Like the whole 1/3 color, 1/3 black, 1/3 skin look and theory behind that shiznit.

    Word.
     
  6. BarbaraWaltersPegleg

    BarbaraWaltersPegleg Irish Guido

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    Great read AB, awesome.
     
  7. Buttons

    Buttons OT Supporter

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    We've got some good ones here at work that I'm going to work on posting.

    Thanks. :wavey:

    I'll be posting some more educational ones plus some that are just fun stories to hear about road tripping to get tattoos...



    PS. Here's a fun quote from a tattoo legend.

    "Calling a tattoo machine a gun is like calling your mother a whore." - Lyle Tuttle

    If you don't know who he is google him.
     
  8. XxvODvxX

    XxvODvxX New Member

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    Very good read. Thanks AB.
     
  9. Bacardi 151

    Bacardi 151 New Member

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    Nice read!
     
  10. XTREME COCKSUCKER

    XTREME COCKSUCKER New Member

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    At first I thought this said "A Day with Danzig". Awesome read nonetheless.
     
  11. meshuggahn

    meshuggahn New Member

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    tat..and gun...ouch.

    Thanks for the read AB.
     
  12. Hellraiser M.D.

    Hellraiser M.D. OT Supporter

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  13. Lindsay Loo

    Lindsay Loo ミ★ Mikel's POZ Partner ミ★

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    in for this since im going on a road trip (of sorts) for my implant :wiggle:


    also, btw good read. :bigthumb:
     

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