If you didn't know better, you'd think tattoo conventions were sordid frenzies of "I'll show you mine" pointing -- one hand pulling at clothing, the other hand brushing along a section of skin. Peel clothing and point, move to the next person, peel clothing and point. But tattoo conventions aren't just about gawking at body art. They're about getting some too.
Let's say you're fired up to get inked by some legendary tattoo artist, but he or she lives in Atlanta, Houston, or Switzerland. This could be your rare chance, short of making a pilgrimage. Or let's say you have an original design but don't want to schlep to five different places to find the right guy. The South Florida Tattoo Expo is your opportunity to talk to artists from close to six dozen tattoo shops convened in one place... and to get the job done once and for all. No more excuses, you big baby. Besides the needling activities you schedule for yourself, you can enter or attend Saturday's tattoo contest, with 16 divisions, including Most Patriotic. At night, there are live fetish shows, and bands play Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday, including the Mary Tyler Whores and the Hep Cat Boo Daddies, featuring expo coordinator Dave Amchir.
All of this tattooing makes for a very busy place. "Anyone who comes always feels the urge to get one right then and there because of the sound, the smell," says Bianca Hennings, co-founder with husband Kirt "Sicko" Hennings of Funhouse Tattoos, which has sponsored the expo for nine years, with proceeds going to the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. See, don't let all the brandings, scarifications, piercings, and ink fool you. There's a lot of heart below all those heart tattoos with knives sticking out of them. -- Dave Amber