Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s first time with a woman leaves him hooked.
Last week I did it again with a female artist named Friday Jones. The first time I did it with her was in New Orleans a few years ago. Truthfully, I had been planning it for a long time, preparing by looking at special sites on the Internet. My friend Susan encouraged me by explaining the process, and so I decided to do it during her birthday weekend getaway to the Big Easy.
On that first meeting in November 2007, Friday welcomed me into the small room she was using temporarily while in town.
“I like to move around. I’ll probably go to Marrakech, next,” she volunteered.
I breathed a sigh of relief at the cleanliness of the tiny cubicle—much cleaner than many gay bathhouses I’d visited. (Alphabet City’s Episode 13: Babylon has a particularly funny story of a visit to a Bangkok sex palace)
My partner Juan Pablo accompanied me on that first visit. I hoped he’d find it sexy. But in the end, he couldn’t bear to look.
“It’s your body, do what you want,” he said.
Before I did the deed, he escaped to the bar next door calming his concerns with live jazz and strong beer.
I asked Friday what to expect. She grinned.
“It feels like a sunburn or a cat scratch. No pain, no gain.”
And with that, she fired up the needle.
Electric Ladyland Tattoo on Frenchman Street was my introduction to inking.
For my first tattoo, my overriding concern was how would I would respond to the inevitable question, “Why did you choose that?”
Tribal markings that appear sexy on other gay boys seemed impersonal on me. A picture of my beloved Bichon Frise dog Frida struck me as super faggy. Lucky for me, my initials are the same as my partner—so that could have been a quirky option, and useful in case of a break-up. But ultimately I decided it was too self-indulgent. Icons from my upbringing—cowboy boots, Lone Stars, Longhorns—were briefly considered and discarded for their irrelevance to my current life.
Embarrassingly, my inspiration came from reality TV. My friend Becca tipped me off that an episode of Miami INK featured a compass tattoo. Bingo! A perfect reference to my love of travel and with just a touch of pirate sexiness.
I quickly discovered that telling people you’re getting a tattoo is akin to telling them you’re pregnant—whether you want it or not, everyone has a piece of advice or a story or a question. Some frequent comments:
“Don’t end up with a shamrock like my drunk uncle!”
“Do you want to see my naughty tat?”
“You don’t seem like the kind of guy to have a tattoo!”
I’m never quite sure how to respond to that last comment. Is that supposed to be a compliment?
Much to Juan Pablo’s chagrin, the tattoo experts were absolutely correct in telling me that I would get addicted. In the course of one year, I added two more tattoos, including a symbol of the Green Lantern (in a naughty area, no less) and the vintage plane from Casablanca (on my chest practically screaming “I’m a guy with a tattoo!”).
Why did I become a tattoo exhibitionist at 40 rather than getting inked in my 20s? Probably because for the first time in my life I am proud of my body. I actually look in the mirror and think “that guy looks good.” Most of my life I’ve struggled with weight issues and occasional eating disorders. But in the last few years with the support and encouragement of Juan Pablo and the rest of my NY friends family, I’ve been able to lose weight and feel sexy. And the tattoos are a symbol of that empowerment.
After my last visit to Friday Jones who set up shop in New York at Senses Salon, I’m well on my way to a sleeve—custom created artwork fanning out from my compass that includes symbols from my favorite cities: Sydney Opera House & Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, and a Lady Liberty-Chrysler Building combo.
Clearly, my taste in tattoos is not exactly the scary and aggressive dragons-and-demons. And that’s why I’m glad I did it with a woman for the first time—Friday was gentle and non-judgmental and encouraging. And she left me begging for more.