By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Tired of working in perpetual violation of the law, Moon moved to Florida in 2000 and quickly gained popularity for tattooing the South Beach fashion crowd. "Globetrotters," he says. "I'm a gay guy; sometimes membership has its privileges."
It's impossible to keep up with Moon in conversation. He warns that "ADD will kick in" and that he's "gonna fuckin' fly everywhere" during the interview. In 60 seconds, he segues from an anecdote about a chimp ripping off a guy's testicles to commentary on urban sprawl to a Christopher Walken impression. Over the course of the morning, he launches into profanity-laced tirades against the guild and discusses the three aspects of the proposed law that disgusted him most:
"It said essentially that anyone with a contagious disease cannot get tattooed and anyone with a contagious disease could not tattoo," Moon exclaims. "If it passed, I was [going to take] out a full-page ad in the Sun-Sentinel saying 'Stevie Moon is looking for HIV-positive clients to tattoo' just to say 'Fuck you — come get me.' " Moon says he sent out information about the possible effects and constitutional murkiness of the proposed law to 1,500 gay-friendly blogs, newsletters, and tattoo websites across the world to stoke an uproar.
Moon's second concern was that anyone coming into the state would need to get several letters from already-established tattoo artists granting them permission to tattoo in their city. "If you wanted to come into Fort Lauderdale and open up shop, you had to get a letter from me giving you permission to fucking tattoo in my town. Dude, talk about protectionism. This was so gross to me."
The third was mandatory apprenticeships. "Did these guys read books on Lucky Luciano and how to do this stuff? This was the birth of the tattoo mafia in Florida," Moon says. "[The guild] wasn't looking at the big picture of tattooing after they're dead and buried. They were being very American, standing with their nose touching the mirror, and that's as far as they could fucking see... And they tried to sell it by saying, 'This law will get rid of the scratchers, more money for your shops.' I don't have to tell you what it reeked of."
Moon reached out to lobbyists and lawyers and called his anti-guild brethren up to Tallahassee. There, they came face-to-face with Hannong and a few guild members for what could have been an epic battle royal of burly tattoo bros for control of the industry. But rather, Moon says, Hannong's and the guild's jaws dropped when the lobbyists explained the long-term ramifications of the bill.
The two factions made nice and forged an alliance to get the bill killed in committee. Then they collaborated to draft a new version of the bill, which passed in 2010 and, according to Moon, is "common sense." Now tattoo artists must obtain a yearly license that costs about $60 and score 70 percent on an exam about blood-borne pathogens. Each shop must also register yearly, which costs about $200, and pass an inspection from county health regulators.
The new law says that tattoo parlors must have "walls, a floor, and a ceiling," prohibits animals in shops, and explains, "There shall not be a direct opening between a tattoo establishment and any building or portion of a building used as living or sleeping quarters." It lays out rules for maintaining an autoclave and details the various forms of permission needed to tattoo minors. Those found in violation can be fined $1,500 per infraction and get hit with second-degree misdemeanor charges — three of which equal a felony. The burden of enforcement falls on county health departments, but state Sen. Sobel says that enforcing the program will be "cost neutral" and that the state will start profiting from the fees by the second year of enforcement. Arguably, one of the biggest selling points is that the law safeguards public health.
"It was the angriest infection I've ever seen," Homan tells New Times, describing one freshly tattooed, "swollen, red, angry arm" that he had to treat. "I've been in the Navy, seen battle wounds, and this was just over-the-top. I thought, 'If we can't cure this, we're going to have to take the guy's arm off.' " Homan doesn't recall whether a professional artist or a scratcher did that tattoo, only the intravenous drip of powerful antibiotics needed to control the infection.
"Staph organisms are out in the environment everywhere," he explains. "They're under your fingernails, in your mouth, on tabletops, on utensils, around your rear end. Your skin is a barrier, but when you put them under your skin, they divide, multiply, and cause huge problems. People die from those things."
Staph infections can be caused by dirty equipment — the tattooist's fault — or by poor hygiene and lack of proper aftercare — the recipient's fault. Gathering reliable epidemiological data on infections and diseases caused by tattoos is difficult for a number of reasons, but in 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated 44 cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — a nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterium commonly referred to as MRSA — that were linked to 13 unlicensed tattoo artists in Vermont, Ohio, and Kentucky. "Nonsterile equipment and suboptimal infection-control practices" were the likely culprits, according to the report.
What kind of guy cant find a job with a degree in the medical profession? That is the ONLY area hiring.
It someone can't get a job in the medical profession, then I sure as hell don't want him anywhere near me with a needle.
I am just fine with cheap dummies getting crappy tattoos from their buddies. No real harm done to anybody and it ought to be perfectly legal. The current law criminalizes what ought to be legal to the sole benefit of the current tattoo businesses.
That makes it obnoxious.
With tattoos, the old maxim is you get what you pay for. While your buddy may throw some ink on you for twenty bucks, most likely its gonna look like you payed twenty bucks on it an you will end up forking over more to make it look right.I have my loyalties to Formula Ink and I have seen some tattoos they have had to fix from some fly by night guy in a backroom. They are not expensive and go really good work. You might as well just go to a shop with an artist you like and have it done right the first time instead of suffering through some really bad ink.
Pimping out the entrepreneurs. A lot easier than earning money by working for it and the more competitors you can run out of business the better.
This whole scheme is merely a way to limit competition and run up the cost instigated by existing businesses and sold to do-gooders who have never ever seen a regulation they didn't love.
The losers are the public who has to pay more and small time tatooers who can't earn an income.
Damn liberals, lawyers, legislators and industry weasels. You ought to be able to buy a permit and hunt them.
This bill was made up by the tattoo guild for the purpose of better health regulation not to have more clientele for themselves. To me that's childish whining coming from most likely a "scratcher" whose portfolio wouldn't get him in the door of any decent tattoo shop. Cut the hippie crap out about the government too. But i digress, the fact is, its illegal to tattoo out of the house anywhere in America, and its fuckin easy here in FL to walk into a tattoo shop, even with a sub par portfolio and be hired on the spot. Of coarse you only get about 25 to 30 % cut of the tattoo and good luck with getting return customers. Facts are, you are lazy and couldn't handle a real apprenticeship because you were brought up with no morals or respect, and YOU are the "industry weasel" as you so elegantly put it. The fact is that Florida is the least regulated of all 50 states. I am from MA, and there you need a two years apprenticeship, blood borne pathogen, first aid and CPR training. A college level anatomy class just to get your license. SO quit whining!!! Secondly, tattoos have always been expensive!! Where the fuck have you been?? I have seen these 100 dollar half sleeves and 50 dollar portraits. To each his own if they like it and think it resembles whom ever but i bite my tongue if ever asked. on a side note: An apprenticeship isn't just to teach you to take a needle and make a line on skin. A real apprenticeship not only teaches the art form but the way to take care for the shop and everything in it. And later when you open up your own shop its second nature to run it. Secondly teaches you how to properly set up and break down a station with out cross contaminating everything as you go. Cause FYI: Aids isn't the killer you really need to be afraid of, its hep C. Hep can stay alive but dormant for 2 weeks, HIV dies instantly upon hitting the air. On the art side, teaches an artist to take what was drawn or brought in by a client and turn it into a tattoo-able design that will last the ages. Somethings that look good at the moment it is done can fall apart with years a wear on the skin.
You're an idiot. 95% of regulations exist because the people being regulated failed to act responsibly in the first place, usually leaving someone sick, injured or ripped off. There are scores of examples, the most recent being the "toxic tush" fake doctor who was injecting "Fix-a-Flat" into people's asses. I'm sure she envisioned herself to be a "freelance artist" as well.
Every trade that potentially impacts public health is licensed and regulated, whether the licensee is a brain surgeon, paramedic, or hair stylist. Similarly, dozens of skilled trades require certification and apprenticeship as well (electrician, carpenter, etc.). Are you seriously suggesting that someone who uses invasive techniques via thousands of needle pricks should be held to a lesser professional standard than any of these other examples?
If you want to continue playing the role of the poor victim whose "artistic expression" and earning ability are being stifled by "Da Man", then restrict your "art" to drawing on people with a handful of Sharpie markers. But if you want to be treated as a legitimately talented artist, then grow up and become professional about it the way thousands of others have done.
Besides, if it was YOUR arm rotting off with MRSA, I bet you'd be crying "There should've been a law!" and scrambling for one of those do-gooder liberal lawyers to file a $10 million liability suit on your behalf.