Some guy is talking to George Maloof at the Hart and Huntington Tattoo Company's grand opening. "For 100 Gs I'll get the Palms logo on my cheek."
Maloof laughs. The guy laughs harder. I smile smugly and write down the quote, noting "smoky-looking guy with reddish hair and red flames on black shirt." He announces that he's going to have the names of his kids tattooed on his arm. "Sweet," I think, placing it in the same category of sweetness as buying your son his first lap dance. The guy moves closer to one of the tattoo areas and someone says his name. Danny Bonaduce.
So I'm not great at recognizing celebrities, but, come on, it's Danny Bonaduce. The Partridge Family was before my TV-watching days. And I used to hear Bonaduce on the radio during my college years, but I'd painted a more clean-cut, wholesome image of him in my mind. One that didn't flame.
A few minutes later, the mayor arrives quietly. Robin Leach and some 'NSync boys are to follow, all getting tattoos, real or temporary, for the grand opening of the world's first tattoo parlor to open in a casino.
Owned by freestyle motocross star Carey Hart and nightclub promoter John Huntington, the place feels more like a beauty parlor than a tattoo joint, with deep-red and black walls that have art on them but no generic tattoo displays, stainless-steel sinks, a flat-screen TV and lots of mirrors.
Hart and Huntington have a great marketing team, so there are eight cameras focused on the mayor and reporters ask what he'll get, but no one brings up the obvious question: Does a tattoo parlor deserve so much attention just because it's in a casino? The mayor apparently thinks so as he sits down to get a temporary image. Someone suggests a martini glass. He contemplates it but declines, and allows a woman tattoo artist to draw two hearts, joined, with arrows through them, and transfer it onto his arm. As cameramenlocal, plus Extra! and the Associated Presscapture it, the artist writes the initials for Oscar and his wife, Carolyn, in the hearts. Oscar's aide proclaims him "the most romantic mayor in Las Vegas."
He's opted for the temporary tattoo because, were he to get a real one, he couldn't be buried in a Jewish cemetery. This makes for interesting timing: The previous day, he'd come out against same-sex marriages because it's against his religion; now he's a mouthpiece for a tattoo companytattooing also being against his religion.
But I digress. Because as I'm contemplating the seeming disparity, Bonaduce is across the room, waiting for his real tattoo. And Maloof is asking just how painful it would be to get the Sacramento Kings shield on the inside of his upper arm ("That's gonna hurt so f--kin' bad," says Jamie White, cohost of Bonaduce's radio show), and Robin Leach is on his way in. So maybe the real conclusion from this media circus is that this grand opening of this tattoo parlor, this sexy, groundbreaking, daring move, is catering to men who women my age see as their dads.
In the corner there's a mohawked woman who seems to have more ink than epidermis and looks like she got tattoos in the days when they made a statement. I wonder what she thinks of all the cameras and celebs and the attention focused on the men. Or what she thinks of Robin Leach, who's on his way to get a temporary champagne glass on his chest. At least it's not somewhere else.