With the economy staggering around like a middle-aged man after a three-hour session at a Golden Corral breakfast buffet, new businesses are typically greeted with a hero’s welcome. According to tattoo artist Tom Morello, however, his new endeavor has been greeted with the stagnant disdain of a disgruntled fast-food employee who wouldn’t look up from his phone if his shirt was on fire.
Morello is a self-described “outsider artist” who prides himself on working on the fringes of the tattoo industry.
“When it comes to tattoo parlors anyone can attract tough guys or Instagram models who need a barcode printed on their person to save time,” Morello said. “But I’m interested in serving those who haven’t been fully embraced by the tattoo community.”
When Morello’s angst-themed appliance store Rage Against The Washing Machine was taken over by a gang of armed homeless people in the Williams Place Park section of Seattle earlier this year, he decided to load up the truck and move to Lenoir County.
“My intent was to open a tattoo parlor for the elderly in Kinston,” Morello said. “Just because someone is pushing 90 and their skin may not be as taut as it once was, that doesn’t mean they should be denied access to a Bing Crosby or Lawrence Welk tattoo. After I hooked my uncle Morey up with a Hedy Lamarr tattoo he became the king of the mall walkers.”
Avoid the box store blues with a visit to Blizzard Building Supply, located at 405 Walson Avenue, Kinston.
While the ‘Ink For The Aged’ initiative was praised by AARP Magazine and ADOGA (The American Dehydrated Onion and Garlic Association), after sending 17 customers to the emergency room in one week, Morello was forced to rethink his business model.
“All of a sudden it hit me,” Morello said. “I used to practice tattooing on my cats Katy Purry and Walter Croncat. They were both up there in years and mainly docile, but for some reason, ramming ink into their epidermis with a motorized needled really pepped them up.”
Morello’s ‘Pet-Ink Zoo’ tattoo parlor for pets is now open for business in the old Stacy’s Restaurant space in Vernon Park Mall. One of his first customers was Bryan Hanks Show co-host Jonathan Massey.
“This is the outside-the-box thinking we need to bring Kinston back to the glory years of DuPont, the tobacco warehouses, and the Sugar Hill district,” Massey said. “I’ve already had the likeness of Bryan Hanks tattooed on the bellies of my four dogs, which makes sense because the dogs and Hanks both like having their tummies scratched.”
Next week Massey is bringing in his pet snake.
“I’ve got a neighbor who likes to borrow things from my garage when I’m not home,” Massey said. “We’re going to get the snake tattooed totally in green with a gold band at each end so he’ll look like a water hose, which should go a long way in deterring my thieving neighbor from borrowing anything else. I’m sure it’ll take a few hours to clean up the aftermath, but it’ll be worth it.”
Jon Dawson’s books are available at www.JonDawson.com.