By SHARON KENNEDY WYNNE, Tampa Bay Times
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — On busy Kennedy Boulevard across from the University of Tampa athletic fields, three large black flags emblazoned with “tattoo” flap in the wind outside a nondescript building . It’s the only indication that inside the shop, one of the world’s most famous movie stars has fulfilled his dream of bringing a tattoo club to life.
Once inside, the name is revealed: DC Society Ink. Set in bold capital letters against a charcoal brick wall with red backlighting, the logo resembles the cover of a comic book. That’s good, since the store is the brainchild of Marvel actor Dave Bautista.
Bautista, who has a home in the Tampa Bay area, is the star of zombie heist hit Army of the Dead and Oscar-winning sci-fi film Dune, not to mention his star turn in the Marvel Universe as than Drax the Destroyer, the adorably dense alien from the Guardians of the Galaxy films. But this recent venture is hitting closer to home.
He recently visited the store during a brief break at his home in Tampa. Sporting a red Washington Nationals cap from his hometown of Washington, DC, he admits he’s tired. He’s in the midst of an “exhausting” shoot in Atlanta for Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3, in what he said is his latest installment in the film franchise. He spends hours makeup in the leathery gray skin of Drax, an alien covered in marks and tattoos, much like the former professional wrestler who plays him.
He’ll spend the rest of April finishing the film, as well as what looks like a very fun Guardians Christmas special coming to the Disney+ streaming service later this year.
Then, on May 2, he traveled to Philadelphia to star in M. Night Shyamalan’s next film, Knock at the Cabin, another sign of his growing status as a respected performer in the entertainment industry. The lauded director praised Bautista, saying via Twitter, “You showed strength not in obvious ways, but by choosing risky roles and making yourself vulnerable.”
As his acting career really took off, he opened a high-end tattoo studio in Tampa. It’s a long-time dream.
“I’m just the money guy,” he said, praising the many architectural embellishments he dreamed up that took over a year to put in a space that was once a boxing gym. . Her partner in the business is her personal tattoo artist John Kural, who has operated in the Tampa Bay area for over 25 years.
“It’s completely personal to me. I don’t need it, my career is going well, but it’s like a clubhouse to me,” Bautista said. “I wanted to create an environment for people who want to get a tattoo but don’t want to walk into one of those tattoo parlors. It’s intimidating and scary and the average person is uncomfortable in that environment.
They used more than half a dozen reputable tattoo artists who earn up to $300 an hour to create intricate skin patterns. The name DC Society Ink comes from Bautista’s childhood home (and his motto “Dream Chaser”), as well as their hope to create a space where tattoo artists and people who love tattoos feel at home. ‘easy.
“We wanted to make it a ‘society’ where we have a sense of family, but also an upper class society,” Kural said. “We wanted to create an experience.
The tattoo dates back centuries, and in recent decades it has evolved from a sleazy image of outlaws and subculture to a dominant form of self-expression. About 30% of Americans have at least one tattoo, according to a survey by market researcher Ipsos, and that number jumps to 40% for those under 35. Bautista Avengers: Infinity War co-star Scarlett Johansson has nine tattoos, including a massive one. on her back with a lamb surrounded by roses.
Bautista’s tattoo shop has a steampunk vibe, with glossy black terrazzo floors and industrial flourishes like exposed ductwork and a chain-link fence offering a glimpse of artists at work from the lobby. There are nods to the owner’s film career with his movie posters lining the walls, like 2049’s Blade Runner and 2019’s action comedy Stuber.
It’s got luxury touches, too, with oversized black velor seats and guest look-up tables that are handmade slabs of knotty oak and cedar supported by cast-iron bases made of cogs and ironwork. gears. A soundtrack plays hip-hop and rock, but you won’t hear that buzz so easily associated with typical tattoo parlors. Tattoo machines are specially designed to operate silently as tiny needles prick the skin with ink, like mini sewing machines. Kural thinks calm is a good stress reducer.
Mia Lanz, 41, a fitness and life coach in Tampa, was recently in the shop for Kural to continue working on her first set of multicolored images down the length of her right arm, called a “sleeve” in the parlance of the tattoo. She will be needled over the course of four to six hours in multiple sessions.
“When people are younger and get tattoos, they usually regret it,” Lanz said as rapper Ludacris’ hit song Get Back played over the store’s speakers from his Apple Watch playlist. . “In my case, I’m a bit older, and that’s where you know what you want.”
In a previous session, she had a bright multicolored tiger tattooed on her forearm, and Kural added a tiger three-point crown, a bright pink hibiscus, and a hummingbird to the collage that ran from her shoulder to his wrist. Every image has meaning for Lanz, who projects herself as a fierce single mother of two “princes.”
“Some people hang their art on the wall and some people wear it,” Lanz said. “It’s like an expression of what they went through.”
DC Society Ink artists do everything from vivid watercolor tattoos to time-consuming “dotwork” that uses a series of small blobs to create a stunning visual effect. Russian-born artist Julia Penza, who has moved from fine art to creating delicate and intricate images on the skin, is one of their newest recruits.
They also enlisted Big Jay the Barber, whose real name is Justin McNab. He made a name for himself running Razorz Edge Barbershop, a favorite of WWE wrestlers and local celebrities. For DC Society Ink, he performs scalp micropigmentation (called SMP for short) on bald clients who clean shave their hair. The barber then enhances the hairline using micro-needles to deposit pigment onto the scalp.
“It’s a cosmetic tattoo that makes it look like you just got a new haircut,” McNab said as he patiently worked as the head of custom wheel and tire shop owner Willie Cameron. of Clearwater. It can take three to six hours over two or three sessions to slowly fade into a series of points in a procedure that starts at $1,200.
“I was amazed to see what it looks like afterwards,” Cameron said. “I’m like, ‘Man, that looks like hair.'”
Kural has been Bautista’s personal tattoo artist since 2006 and said he was “honored” to have been asked to join him in the business. Bautista said it was a natural extension of their relationship and his circle of friends.
“It’s a personal investment. It won’t make me a lot of money, I know that,” Bautista said. “But I have an investment in it because it’s my community and that’s what I love. These are my people.
Copyright 2022 The Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.