Hello, this is Gene Coffey and we’re at the New York Tattoo Convention and this is Noon. Say hello! How is the convention so far?
Hello! Like a convention… Noisy.
So, let’s get to it. How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
I don’t remember exactly, but I think I was about 12 or so.
Your friend did it?
No, I did it by myself. It was a place where a lot of people were tattooing by hand so I learned very early how to do it.
With just a safety pin and ink?
It was like a black pen with needles wrapped with thread and that’s it.
And do you still have the tattoo?
No, I covered it three or four times.
When did you start tattooing another person?
Um, maybe two weeks after that.
Same way. We were doing a lot of that. It was cool to be like the older boys, to pretend we were like adults, you know?
So you were like the cool kids because you did the tattoos?
Yeah, we were the cool kids.
Were they any good?
No, not really, but it was nice to get them anyway. It doesn’t matter if it was nice or not because at that time there were no tattoo magazines. There was no tattoo culture like we have today so just to have a tattoo, it was good. Always. It was always nice. Even if it was the worst tattoo in the world, it was nice.
What year was this? How long ago?
It was 1980 or something like that.
So then did you get an apprenticeship with someone or did you just continue to teach yourself?
No, no. We just looked. It was pretty easy. We just were using one tool and that’s it.
With a machine?
No, no, no. There was really no machine. I got my first machine in 1996. So 14 years ago. Before that it was impossible to find a tattoo machine.
So for 10 years you were just hand poking?
Yes, for more than 10 years, about 15. I did a lot like that.
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