The Story of Colorado’s DIY Skater Tattoo Parlor
No Class is a DIY tattoo parlor run by skater Jesse Brocato from his living room in Fairplay, Colorado. Every tattoo from No Class is free, provided you’re at least halfway tanked when you start laying the ink on yourself. Which I think explains why the place is starting to pick up some steam among the skating community.
On a recent skate trip to Colorado, I visited No Class and had a chat with Brocato.
VICE: How did you guys get started?
Jesse Brocato: It all started one night when we found out that our friend Shane had a tattoo gun. We told him to bring it over, and he thought he was going to tattoo us, but we were like, “Fuck, give us that,” and we started tattooing ourselves.
That night I fell in love. I was like, “I’m never paying for a tattoo again.” Everyone pays thousands of bucks to get these fancy tattoos. The idea behind No Class is, why would you want a fancy tattoo when you could have a shitty ghetto tattoo?
And it took off from there?
Well, I used to make moonshine, so we’d get drunk on moonshine and then just start tattooing ourselves. Then we started buying more equipment online. Now we have three set-ups. People see our work, and they want a shitty tattoo too. I tell them they have to do it themselves. That’s what No Class is all about.
Is it hard to get the hang of it?
It took us a little while. In the beginning, we’d have the needle set way too far out, like a quarter inch, and I was going so deep it stopped the machine like a lawnmower in thick grass. It just destroyed the bone and took forever to heal. You start digging and it ends up looking like hamburger meat. You lay in all that ink, and then it heals up scarred and white.
Anything else you had to learn?
Pick the cat hair off the needle.
Does that “sterilize” it?
I mean, maybe I would have to read a little on bacteria and all that, but whatever, what we do is just hook it up and do it. We don’t share needles or anything like that. I mean, it’s happened, but you really shouldn’t do that. You think you’re clean, but you never know what you have. Somebody that actually tattoos would probably freak out if they came up here, but that’s part of it, part of the “fuck it” attitude of No Class. None of us has swelled up yet.
This Canadian Male Model Has Buzzwords Tattooed All Over His Face and Body
There’s something admirably misanthropic about getting a face tattoo. You really need to be fully committed to having a somewhat shitty life to let a stranger draw something on your face. Whether it’s a teardrop or the name of the softest rapper in the game, having a face tattoo screams: “You may never trust me with your child or gainful employment, but I’ll be damned if I care!”
Of course, there’s the rare occurrence when people with face tattoos have not just succeeded despite their regretful life choices, they have excelled as a result of their facial ink. Would Gucci Mane’s rep as “the coolest rapper in jail” be secure if his face didn’t havea triple scoop ice cream cone on it? Would Miami rapper Stitches’ video for “Brick in Yo Face” be as insanely popular if his mug didn’t look like it was decorated by a tween with an unhealthy obsession for Tim Burton and assault rifles? Could Zombie Boy have parlayed his association with Lady Gaga into his own brand of overpriced bath towels, condoms, and energy drinks if he had just been some random non-skeletally decorated Montreal skid living on the streets? The answer is a resounding: “Hell-to-the-no!”
Enter Canadian model Vin Los, the latest in the honorable lineage of people who have done stupid things to their face because, who gives a fuck? According to his YouTube video—a budget version of that Zombie Boy video that includes the very Quebecois directive to “BE ADDICT”—the 24-year-old’s goal is pretty straightforward: To become the most famous man on Earth. His face and arms already look like a buzzword checklist written by an art student with things like “FAME,” “LICK,” and “BAISE MOI” (fuck me) tattooed in handwritten font all over his toned body—which is hairless unless you count all the tiny fake follicles he got tattooed on his chest.
Objectively, without the tattoos, the man is a total babe. In fact, I admit that—even with the words “ICONIC FACE” scrawled on his cheek—one look into his deep brown eyes gave me a ladyboner. After spending hours caressing his Apollo’s belt on my HD screen, dreaming of the day where my name finally finds itself on his inner right thigh, I decided I needed to see his “iconic face” in person and find out why would a man with such a beautifully chiseled jawline would want to permanently walk around with the words “SEX BOMB” on his neck. Here’s how it went.
Photo via Instagram.
VICE: How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
Vin Los: I was about 16 or 17 years old. I got the Le Coq Sportif logo. Then I got words tattooed on my arms, and that’s when I decided I would never get another image or drawing tattooed. Drawings don’t mean anything to me. It may sound like I have bad values or something, but my tattoos aren’t just for me. I want to be an image for people to look at, something that has an impact. Everybody who sees me is bound to ask questions: “Why fame? What’s his life like?”
So you like it when people look at you that way?
Yes. A puzzled stare is one that’s gonna last. I want to create a myth, a mystery. A lot of people ask me if I’m scared I might regret it one day. If I was indecisive, I don’t think I would write on my face.
How do you pick the words or expressions that go on your body?
It’s very superficial. I’ll go on YouTube and listen to all the big hits and I’ll just take words from these songs. For example, “Top of the World” is from the song by The Cataracs, but it’s also what I want. I want to rule the world. As for the city names, it’s to show that we are all on the same level. Borders still exist, but not to the same extent. Whether you’re like, in Zurich or Sydney, I personify all of that. I want to embody pop culture. You could look at me in a hundred years from now and really get the idea of what pop culture was like in the early 2010s.
You say you want to be the most famous man on Earth. Why are you so fascinated by celebrity culture?
I’m still trying to figure out why I’m so passionate about it. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. And not just people, but also fame which applies to products like Starbucks for example. It’s all around the world. The marketing aspect really fascinates me.
Avoidsex on the beach: “Sand gets everywhere” is the cliched advice. Arguably more persuasive is the advice that, these days, so do people’s cameras.
—A Girl’s Guide to Not Being a Dick This Summer
Catching Up with One of Our Favorite Photographers, Teen Witch
Andrea Sonnenberg, a.k.a. Teen Witch, has been a VICE staple for quite some time now. But if you’re just joining, us here’s an apt description from that one time she was employee of the month:
Andrea Sonnenberg, a.k.a. Teen Witch, is a 21-year-old self-taught photographer from California. Ryan McGinley first hepped us to her, and fellow VICE photographer Sandy Kim is her best friend. She’s obsessed with super-esoteric things like skateboarding and partying and tattoos. Sometimes she gets topless for no reason, and she recently got the letters “SVU” tattooed on her because she loves Law & Order so much. Her photos make San Francisco look like a big, pretty party full of wild-haired weird girls, and everything looks like the funnest time. And when she’s not running around with her crazy friends, she spends her time working at an ice cream shop. We foresee great things coming from this one.
Great things indeed. Sure, things have changed a little for Teen Witch since, mainly her age and primary occupation (she’s 24 now and no longer works at an ice cream shop), but luckily the rest remains unchanged. She’s still putting out countless zines and has had a couple solo shows, as well as buttloads of commerical work, resulting in her photos being plastered onto everything from T-shirts to skateboards.
In the past, we’ve let her photos speak for themselves, but considering that it’s been a couple years since we last heard from her, we thought it was time to catch up and find out what she’s been up to.
VICE: So you quit your job at the ice cream place. How does it feel?
Andrea Sonnenberg: Yeah, I just quit my job of seven years. I started scooping ice cream at Bi-rite Creamery here in San Francisco and eventually became a baker and worked in the kitchen for my last three years there. Quitting and moving on feels incredibly exciting and liberating, but I also have a tough time dealing with change, so to finally take the plunge has also been something hard for me to do and accept.
Does this mean photography will be your main focus?
Yes. I hope I can use this time to focus my energy solely on photography. It was challenging to balance working two jobs and also being involved in so many photography projects with super stressful deadlines and not as many hours of free time to work with.
Here are some fashion photos of women with temporary tattoos, shoulder handbags, flared jeans, and more stuff we used to like.
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.
—What Your Regrettable Scene Tattoo Says About You
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.”