A Senator Walks Into a Tattoo Parlor...

The best visits to tattoo studios are usually spontaneous, but Hollywood Sen. Eleanor Sobel is not your typical patron. She has scheduled an appointment at 10 a.m. Monday at Stevie Moon Tattoo NE 26th Street in Fort Lauderdale. There she'll meet her foe-turned-friend, Stevie Moon, who earlier this year led the revolt against the bill Sobel sponsored in this past legislative session, which he says would have over-regulated Florida's tattoo industry.

Moon wasn't against regulation, per se -- just the kind of regulation that bill called for. A statewide debate between tattooists erupted in the comments field of this blog last February, and that was the start of Moon's activism. The campaign apparently won him the respect of Sobel, who has consulted with Moon in crafting a bill that he and his new supporters across the state can support.

Sen. Sobel, is that you?
Sen. Sobel, is that you?
Flickr: HeadOvMetal

"It was incredibly exclusionary," says Moon, of last session's Senate Bill 1130. An early draft of the bill required new tattooists to get approval from existing tattooists -- a provision that could have led to bribes and shakedowns. It would have excluded tattooists visiting as a part of a convention. And it would have dealt out harsh penalties for those who tattoo someone with a communicable disease, or for the tattooist who has a communicable disease -- meaning that someone who was HIV positive could neither get nor give a tattoo. (Conscientious tattooists already take health measures that would guard against HIV infection or that of any other communicable diseases.)

The bill that Sobel will introduce in the legislative session to come will add safety to the industry without discouraging newcomers. If passed it will create licensing guidelines for tattooists, similar to those for piercers. That is, required training in blood-borne pathogens, universal precautions and continuing education. Sobel will be talking about the bill at her appearance Monday.

But it's not just a publicity stunt -- or at least that's what Sobel has stressed to her new friend in the tattoo industry. "She told me, 'For me to do a bill, it's necessary for me to visit a tattoo studio,'" says Moon. "She really wants to be more informed."

Yes, but if Sobel really believes in this cause, she simply must get a tattoo. Preferably, two enormous angel wings on her back, befitting her new role as the Tattoo Angel.

"I've discussed a few options, and she hasn't settled on a final design," Moon says, facetiously, adding in a more serious tone, "I would be honored to put even the tiniest butterfly on her ankle, but I have a feeling we're not going in that direction."

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