Photos by Bobby Viteri, Styling by Miyako Bellizzi
The Young Punks of Disneyland
I’m standing in front of Space Mountain worrrying I won’t be able to find the Neverlanders Social Club. It’s an ordinary Sunday in Disneyland in November—sunny and beautiful in that Californian way and packed to the gills with tourists—and I’m concerned I’ll miss them in all the hubbub. They told me they’d be decked out in their Disney gear, but a lot of people here are wearing park-themed merchandise. Then I see them coming and realize there was no way I could have missed them.
There are more than 30 Neverlanders moving toward me as a pack, cutting a path through the crowd. They’re wearing handmade mouse ears and hats, and many of them are covered in tattoos—they look like one of the minor gangs from The Warriors, or some cult in a postapocalyptic wasteland where Mickey Mouse is worshiped as a deity. Each member has a patch of a character that represents his or her personality—the 30-something couple who founded the club, Angel and Cindy Mendoza, are Donald and Daisy Duck.
Everyone is staring as I walk with them to It’s a Small World, a boat ride at the tip of Fantasyland. As we round the Matterhorn Bobsleds, “regular” park-goers snap photos of the Neverlanders as if they’re celebrities. People point; parents tell their children to take note; jaws drop. Angel says with a shrug that they’re used to this commotion by now. When you’re the biggest Disneyland fans in the world and wear that love on your sleeve—literally—you’re bound to get some odd looks.
Aside from emo stars, the sparrows tattoo is probably the most cliché of all scene tattoos. For ladies, anyway. Dudes who have sparrows tattoos have bigger problems on their hands than being cliché. There are two places you can get the sparrows. The first is on your hip bones, which is a delightful way to let anyone about to get into your pants for the first time know that this territory has already been charted by the singer of a mid-level screamo band.
Porn Sites Are Paying to Remove Tattoos of Their Logos from Hostgator’s Face
The media keeps telling me that, thanks to the new LA condom laws and the fact that the internet exists, the porn industry is flat broke. But if that’s true, how can they still afford to get their logos tattooed on to my friend Hostgator Dotcom’s body and face?
Hostgator and I got to know each other when I interviewed him about selling his skin as advertising space to porn sites so he could afford to feed his family. After that article was published, one of the companies who had tattooed their logo on to Hostgator’s face decided they felt bad and offered to pay for Hostgator to have all of the tattoos removed. Which proves three things: 1) that online journalism CAN change lives, 2) that people who run internet porn sites are human beings with souls, and 3) there comes a time in every man’s life when he must get the tattoos of porn websites removed from his face.
Anyway, Hostgator emailed me the good news so I thought I’d call him up to congratulate him. It turns out he’s doing great and his kids aren’t starving, but he also has some worrying new plans to make money.
Hostgator with his kids.
VICE: So, great news, man. What happened?
Hotsgator Dotcom: Yeah, so the website cam4.com is going to pay for the tattoo removal on my face. They advertised on my face a long time ago, read the VICE story, and decided they wanted to help me—they’re just doing it to be nice. I had my first laser removal treatment last week.
Did they apologize for getting them done in the first place?
No, they said that they appreciate me advertising for them, but that if I don’t want them any more, then they’re happy to remove them.
In Cuba, Tattoo Artists Make More than Doctors and Lawyers
This year, a 52-year-old politician named Miguel Diaz-Canel was appointed vice president of the ruling Council of State in Cuba, making him a likely future leader of the country. Some Cubans hope he will lead their country into a new era. One reason: while he was governor of Villa Clara province, he sponsored a tattoo festival.
Today, when Cuban Americans journey back to their native country for visits, they frequently come bearing gifts for friends and family, ranging from sunglasses to flat-screen televisions. Che Alejandro wants something else: tattoo magazines, ink, and needles. “Right now there are only a few people bringing tattoo supplies to us,” Che Alejandro, who is known as the godfather of the Cuban tattoo scene, told me. “You can’t get a license to import them, so they have to bring little things in luggage and sell them to you. Many times it’s not the best quality.”
All the equipment tattoo artists need is either illegal or unavailable in Cuba. Autoclaves, which sterilize tattoo needles, are banned. This has forced tattoo artists to improvise. They fashion makeshift machines from baskets, medical supplies, and pressure cookers. Being a tattoo artist in Cuba is hard. But it makes Che feel that he is expanding space for personal expression in a country where individuality has long been frowned upon. Tattoo supplies are hard to find, so Che has innovated. He draws designs from his skateboard and comic books. He makes his own needles, and when working to complete a larger, more intricate tattoo, he offers big discounts to customers.
“We are going too slow,” he said, assessing the pace of change in Cuba. “We need to step up. People die waiting for freedom.”
I Tattooed Porn Sites on My Face So My Kids Wouldn’t Starve
In 1990, Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, dreaming of a future in which all barriers to communication were torn down and people everywhere could bask in the glory of an interconnected global world. Two decades later, a man had the URLs of multiple porn websites tattooed on his face. It seems as if the internet has reached its logical conclusion.
Call me a prude, but it’s always been a general rule of mine to not tattoo pornographic websites on to my face. But for Hostgator Dotcom—née Billy Gibby—it didn’t take a second thought. Faced with unemployment and a pending eviction, he did what any good father would do: Sold his body, face, and legal name as advertising space to over 40 companies. In that sense, it’s a pretty sad story, and one that’s indicative of how few options America’s poor are faced with these days.
Anyway, when I heard about Hostgator, I thought I should get in touch because, a) I wanted to give him some more coverage to help him make more money to feed his kids, and b) I wanted to know what it feels like to have “Pornhub.com” tattooed on your face. Turns out it doesn’t feel that great.
VICE: Why, Hostgator? Why?
Hostgator Dotcom: Well, I used to just sell tattooed advertising space on my body, but no one was really buying it. I was laid off at the job I had, my family and I were gonna be evicted, and I needed a way for us to survive financially. I didn’t want to do anything illegal and I didn’t have any friends I could borrow money from. I looked for jobs but couldn’t get one, and I couldn’t allow my wife and children to be homeless, so I thought I’d sacrifice my face so that they could have a place to live. I didn’t want to do it—I really didn’t—but I also didn’t want my kids to be homeless.
That’s very noble of you. How many people are you supporting?
Five kids and my wife.
And I’m guessing Hostgator isn’t your given name?
No, I sold my name to Hostgator.com for $15,000 (£9,966).
Wow, I might have to sell my name if you make that kind of money.
I’m actually trying to sell my name again right now. I’m trying to get in The Guinness Book of World Recordsfor the world’s longest name. So if Golden Palace buys my name, then I’ll be Goldenpalacedotcom Hostgatordotcom.
And it flows so nicely off the tongue. Doesn’t that breach your contract with Hostgator, though?
No, because I still have Hostgator.com in my name.
True. What are some of the websites you have on your face?
What do your wife and kids think about that?
My kids are still young and they accept me for me. My wife is OK with it, but she wants me to get the ones on the face removed, so that’s what I’m working towards now.
So you regret getting the porn sites tattooed on your face now?
Yeah. I did it for a good reason, but I wasn’t thinking rationally at the time. I have bipolar disorder, which I’m not trying to use as an excuse, but I wasn’t thinking as rationally as I am today. I take medication now and I’m more rational.
You have “Let It Be” tattooed on your butthole and you’re not into the Beatles???
I’m not against the Beatles, I know a bunch of their songs, but I’m not a huge fan.
Then why did you get “Let It Be” tattooed on your butthole? Are you not into anal sex?
No, I’m into anal sex, definitely. I got it because we got drunk and it was just a really funny idea and my friend said he’d do it for free. I sat on it for a couple days and was finally like, “Man, I’m gonna get a butthole tattoo that says “Let It Be” with a bumblebee flying out!”
You didn’t spell it like a bumblebee. Why?
I don’t know. It’s funny. It’s cool. I like it. It’s unique.
But, but, but—
You sound like you’re disappointed that I’m not a Beatles fan and there’s no huge meaning behind it.
I thought you were the world’s biggest Beatles fan!
I’m totally not!
Three Gothic Tales from Austin, Texas
by Amie and Clancy Martin
The Hotel San Jose
“I’ve stayed in this hotel at least 15 times. Trust me, you’ll love it.”
Clancy had shown me the video tour of our suite at the San Jose Hotel. It looked like The Hermosa in Scottsdale (except at The Hermosa, each guest has her own adobe casita). It looked like the Altis Belem in Lisbon (except the oceanfront Altis Belem is fancier and I prefer the San Jose’s APC.-style simplicity). It looked like Philip Stark’s hotel in Hong Kong, except the suites there are bigger, cleaner, and more stylish, with individual touches, like a beaded rocking chair from Africa, and the Stark boutique hotel has free breakfast, free snacks downstairs all day, and cocktails and cake in the afternoon.
When we checked in the staff was strangely surly. They acted like clerks used to act at cool record stores in the 90s.
“That’s the only problem with this place,” Clancy apologized. “They’ve always acted like that. But otherwise it’s great.”
We were in the largest suite but they couldn’t check us in for several hours. “Check-in,” they said, “is at three.” Apparently there is a great demand in Austin, Texas for $700-a-night suites. All four had been booked the previous night, according to the clerk in a newsboy hat, and none had been cleaned. He offered to hold our bags.
Things went from inauspicious to bad. It may come as a surprise, but when I get angry I go crazy. We were finally checked into our room at around five. That night, Clancy and I had the worst fight we’ve ever had. I broke the bottle of “Rainwater” that was provided free of charge. I shouted.
Two bearded, hipster security guards arrived. These two young men in black were in over their heads. Not knowing how to handle noise complaints (one said there had been four, and one said there had been six), they seemed to have come to our door thinking, “What would the officers on Cops do?” One had a Maglite. I sensed they were frustrated they couldn’t arrest me. I felt like they wanted to award Clancy, who gets quiet and—in his own words—exaggeratedly polite when he is angry, a Man of the Year Award.
The next morning a hotel manager called the room. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
Clancy said that was fine, but that she would have to credit us for the second night’s stay. She said, “No, I won’t be able to do that.” He was firm. They met in the courtyard, next to a tiny black-slate wading pool and the little boutique where the Hotel San Jose sells Toms shoes and $25 neon-green flip-flops.
“I’ve had complaints. You’re going to have to leave,” she said.
Clancy said, “That’s the business you’re in. I’m sure we’re not the first couple to have a fight in this hotel. Are you married?”
She shook her head.
“Well, one day you will be, and then you’ll understand that married couples fight, and you can’t decide when and where you’re going to have a fight with your spouse.”
He returned to the room. “We’re staying.”
Things went from bad to worse. The entire staff had been gossiping about us. That was understandable, but the strange thing was that they wanted us to know it. No one would look us in the eye, except to express contempt.
“This is fun,” Clancy said. “I feel like the unpopular kid in high school again.”
The next morning we sat at Joe’s, the pleasant coffee shop owned by the hotel, located on the other side of the parking lot. We debated about whether or not we should write this review.
What can I say? It’s a boutique hotel, like any other. We behaved badly. But there’s a reason The Four Seasons, The Rosewood, The Mandarin, and my little places such as the ones mentioned at the opening send their future managers to The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. While there, future managers work for a year, starting in housekeeping, or as busboys. It is because for a hotel to be good—let alone great—only one thing is required: courtesy.
In the new episode of the Thom deVita Tattoo Age series we explore the neighborhood in which Thom lived and worked, the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We also go into the types of tattoos Thom did, and what it took to talk someone into getting a tattoo that was a little out of the ordinary.