Love & Sex

Tools of Attraction: Tattoos

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Connor, 29, art director

Describe your tattoos for me.
I've got more traditional tattoos. A gypsy girl, and some roosters, some ducks.

Do they mean anything special to you?
Not really, just whatever I like at the time. I've got this rooster because my friend and I got matching tattoos. We live on opposite ends of Australia and when we got together, we decided to get tattoos.

Do you think you get a lot of sexual attention for your tattoos?
I don't know. Maybe. That's the plan. But I don't know how well it works.

How much did the tattoos cost?
About $4,000 total. And I'm going to try to get some over here again.

Do you find you're ever stereotyped for having tattoos?
I don't think so anymore. Everyone's got tattoos these days. Luckily I work in a job where it does really matter so much, so it doesn't affect me work-wise.

Are tattoos a turn-on for you?
Oh yeah, absolutely. I'm worried that it's a bit "now." I've always had girlfriends with tattoos, but in twenty years it might not be as cool. 

Erica, 29, youth-outreach director

Tell me about your tattoos.
The one on my chest says "passion to inspire," so it really embodies everything that I live for with my work and my life and the arts. I want to make sure I'm always inspiring people, whether it's through storytelling or writing —  anything I do. It's just encouraging people to do something with their lives. It means the most to me, definitely.

Do you find that you get a lot of sexual attention because of your tattoos?
Maybe not the kind of attention I'm looking for. I love my own tattoos, and I appreciate some others, but I'm not a huge fan of tattoos on other people. I get attention from the ones I'm not into. I get touched by a lot of people like, "Is that real?”

Do you think there are certain preconceived notions about people with lots of tattoos?
Yes and no. I work in the music industry, but you throw me in an industry where there aren’t as many girls like me around, and I'd get judged  more. Sometimes you get parents who don't want their kids to see. Not often, but it happens. Usually it's more, "Hey girl, I like your ink!"

How much would you say you've spent on tattoos?
A couple thousand. I've developed relationships with artist friends though, so sometimes there's a sweet deal.

Delorian, 23, publicist

What do your tattoos mean to you?
My chest piece says "In God I trust." It isn't so much a biblical meaning, or standing by the bible, as much as it is believing in something else — being spiritual. I also have my grandma's lips on my neck. She's not so old that she's about to die, but I thought it would be cool to have her lips versus someone's random lips. Her initials, her lips.

Are tattoos a turn-on for you?
Yes. Not when girls go all out, but I live in Brooklyn and I see a lot of chest pieces. I know those are sort of "out there" but it's sexy. I wouldn't marry her, but to have fun.

So you wouldn't marry a girl with a tattoo?
No no! If she was cool and we were vibing each other other. But if she has full-blown chest pieces, that's a little weird.

Do people ever treat you differently when they see your tattoos?
I think they do, until they really meet me.

How much did all of your tattoos cost?
Probably $2,000 all together. And I'm about to keep going. I'm actually on my way to Williamsburg to see if I can finish my neck.

Paula, 18, food service

Tell me about your tattoo.
It's this painting by William Blake. It's called “The Union of the Soul with God,” a man's idea of what God looks like to him, and just being embraced by it. I try to keep my tattoos spiritual because it's a positive thing for me.

Do you find you get a lot of sexual attention for your tattoo?
I definitely get a lot of attention. Just today a hobo on the street asked me about my tattoo.

Do you find you people treat you differently because you have such a big, visible tattoo?
Definitely. People say, "Why would you want to do that to yourself?" but it's my body and I like it, and it's part of my style and my lifestyle. When I'm in a wedding dress someday, I'm going to be showing it off.

Are tattoos a turn-on for you?
Absolutely. Sleeves on guys are sexy. They just are. Artistic people are attractive. When people think of tattoos, they think, "That had to hurt" and it's mostly shading that hurts the most — but it gives off the impression that a guy is a little tougher.

What's the worst kind of tattoo?
Even if you hate your tattoo after a while, it still has a story behind it. Even when I hate my own tattoo when I'm an old lady, I'm going to look at it and think "It was good times when I was that age." I guess the tribal thing is kind of cheesy too. The Mike Tyson kind of thing. It's a little played out. But as long as it's original and has a memory attached to it, it's going to be a good tattoo.

Brandon, 27, hairdresser

Tell me about your tattoos.
All of them have meaning. Even if they don’t look like it, they have meaning from the person who did them. I have a really terrible tattoo on my leg, but it was only the artist’s third time doing tattoos, and he's one of my best friends.

Do you have personal relationships with all your tattoo artists?
I've become close with them all; only three people have ever done my tattoos, so they have become close friends of mine.

Do you think you get treated differently because of your tattoos?
I'm from the South, so in the South, definitely. Here it's a bit more understood.

Are tattoos a turnon for you?
I think girls should remain girly. So as long as the tattoos are girly, it doesn't really matter.

Where is the sexiest, girliest place for a woman to get a tattoo?
I like a thigh tattoo and a rib tattoo. Those are cute on girls. And those you don't even have to see — you can cover them up easily.