There are three conversations that come up amongst gay men and gay couples every little while. Adopting, new furniture and the acquisition of new tattoos. While the first two are brought on by the nesting instinct that really only comes about by spending a good deal of time in your own city and abode, the Tattoo conversation always gets a shot in the arm when you find yourself in a foreign city.
Fuck postcards, fridge magnets and Facebook updates, I went to Singapore and I have a huge purple dragon on my shoulder to prove it! I don’t by the way, just going with the emotion…
Anyway, so Paul and I have been talking about getting another one each for a while, so I do some asking around at work and find out the place to go is called Visual Orgasm. Yes, that’s right, Visual Orgasm. There is something weirdly Singaporean about naming a tattoo shop this. It doesn’t translate into any kind of a joke in Chinese or Malay, it’s just sometimes when the locals go crazy with the English, it does go kind of crazy.
But then I supposed it beats the Haji Lane Tattoo Studio. Anyway, I digress…
Paul and I find the street and go inside with that weird sort of apprehension that you do when you go in a place like this. You feel like you’re about to get the dismissive once over by a tattooed bulldog of a guy with fifteen piercings in his face and blue hair and you are going to feel like the middle class white bread try hard that you fear you might secretly be.
However, in the Visual Orgasmic studio, that kind of LA salon attitude is nowhere to be found. Instead, there’s some really nice kids working there, tattooed to blazes but all smiles and how can we help you?
Paul and I tell the guys the kind of thing that we’re thinking of doing and the chaps hand us a couple of reference books to have a squiz at. We flick through and see that there are some excellent designs. It’s nice to feel confident about a place that’s going to give you something that you’re going to carry around for the rest of your life.
What a breath of fresh air I think, and how nice to be getting a tattoo without a whiff of LA in the air anywhere.
And that was when she exploded into the studio. Right on cue, a 5’3″ piece of bleached hair, fake boobed Hollywood trash erupted into the store and sucked every square inch of air out of the room.
Hollywood Trash: OH MY GOD! THIS IS TOTALLY THE PLACE!
As the skin peeled off our faces from the acidic wash of her high volume Valley Girl twang, Paul and I turned to take in the scene.
She was loud. I mean, obnoxious American loud. The kind of loud Yankee tourist you hope never to share a small space with. And the fact that there was a whole life going on in the store before she arrived, never even occurred. The shop, like the universe, revolved around her.
Wrapped in a white sarong cloth to offset the augmented tan orange of her skin, she looked a bit more like an Ancient Roman servant girl on holidays.
Just when I thought this couldn’t get any more clichéd, to one side of her was her Sugar Daddy. Of course. I mean, of course. 50ish, grey haired, Hawaiian shirted and whipped. He did make some small contributions to the conversation, but the whole spectacle of HT Girl turned everything else in the shop down to -11.
From somewhere beneath her robes HT pulled out a small, rumpled piece of paper with a number and a name on it. No doubt scribbled down in a bar where her voice had been competing with the DJ and peeling the paper off the walls.
Hollywood Trash: IS STEVE HERE? I WAS TOLD THAT I TOTALLY HAVE TO ASK FOR STEVE BECAUSE HE’S LIKE THE BEST ONE HERE.
By now I’m looking back at the staff who have all reeled back about a metre to take the whole of this spectacle in. It’s like they’ve encountered an alien; supremely assured of her better culture and oblivious to all as she sets out to conquer this foreign land. They all look at her and blink, trying to process this thing in front of them.
Staff Guy 1: Steve isn’t here.
Hollywood Trash: OH NO! IS HE COMING BACK?
Staff Guy 1: No, he’s on holidays.
Hollywood Trash: OH OK, GOD. WELL CAN ANYONE ELSE DO MY TATTOO?
Staff Guy 2: Sure, what’s the design?
Hollywood Trash: I WANT TO GET MY NAME IN CHINESE CHARACTERS.
I nearly choke. You can’t make this stuff up.
Hollywood Trash: MY NAME, IS DESTINY.
Ok, that’s just too much. I turn back to Paul who is gazing at me wide eyed and smiling. We just look at each other as encyclopedias of information are exchanged and understood.
Hollywood Trash: DESTINY. I THINK IN CHINESE IT’S ‘FATE’.
By now the tattoo crew have recovered and realize that they could probably tattoo ‘white girl for sale’ on her and she wouldn’t have a clue.
Tattoo Guy 2: So your name is, Destination?
The other guys behind the counter smile.
Hollywood Trash: OH MY GOD, NO! DESTINY! OH MY GOD, IF I GET HOME AND THERE’S DESTINATION ON ME, I’LL BE LIKE, REALLY PISSED. AND I HAVE TO GET THIS DONE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I’M ON A TOUR BUS AT 6 O’CLOCK AND THEN I RETURN TO AMERICA!
Like there had been any doubt of her country of origin. It’s at this point that Paul and I take our cue and leave the little shop of horrors, returning to the thick, humid air of Haji Lane.
Still a few more weeks in Singapore before we return to our destiny in LA.