Tattoo Day at Bryan Ray Turcotte’s

Every so often punk-rock expert/memorabilia collector Bryan Ray Turcotte (of MOCA TV’s Art of Punk series, Monster Children’s issue 40 and numerous other epic endeavors) posts a few flyers up on Facebook and calls his buddy Pinto over for Tattoo Day at his music company Beta Petrol‘s office in Los Angeles. Since they started having Tattoo Day two years ago, over 100 clients, friends and strangers have been inked. 

So how’d you meet Pinto?

My friend Savage James, whom I’ve been friends with for years and years, he’s an artist. At one point I was telling him how I like it when tattooists come to me. I think it’s funner to just do it in a more informal setting rather than in a shop. He just said, “Oh yeah, my dude will do that no problem.” So I had him come up to the office so Savage and I could get tattooed here. Then that turned into two people going like, “Oh can I get in on that?” I figured, why don’t we just book him all day and let everybody go crazy. How much could it be? So he came up and we probably had five guys the first day. Me, Callie, Savage James, Jason was here—it was the crew. Then it just dawned on me that we could do it all the time. And I can invite anyone to come. And for the company as promotional thing, it’s great. I’ve tattooed all kinds of clients. So we just started doing it. Any time I ask if he’s ready, he’s like, “Yep.”

How many tattoos have you had from him?

Thirty? Or more. I mean, all of my tattoos, this is all him. Except for a few. I have a Scott Campbell one on my shoulder. I had practically nothing when he started. I love it. I’ve tattooed so many people now. I mean, not me personally, but I see people all the time. Maybe a hundred people have been by these things. We’ve done this like twenty times.

Is it usually here at the office?

We’ve done it here, New York and San Francisco. We did it at a hotel room in San Francisco. That was a crazy story. We had been drinking and I realized that Pinto must have been drunk. I was like, “Oh wait. Okay, now the crew, they’re all going to continue doing this.” They went to another room and continued going on until four in the morning. And they were all hammered and they all tattooed each other.

So Pinto was drunk tattooing and then he let the three non-tattoo guys have at it. Everybody was just like “Yeah!” They all now have tattoos from each other. It’s crazy. Jason’s says “I punched Morrissey in the face” right across his chest. They woke up the next morning and I was like, “You guys did something stupid. I know it. I know it.”

But David Pinto’s came out great. I’m like, “Dude, that’s like artistic.” It’s fucked up on purpose. It’s rad. It came out awesome. But I remember Jason describing it to me. He said, “That was the grossest thing that I’ve ever done.” Because unless you know how it feels, he’s like, “It just went in! It was soft and I couldn’t deal with it.” He was getting all sketched out, just like gouging his skin out with the needle. But yeah, we’ve also done it at the shop in New York. We’re actually talking about bringing Pinto to France with us and doing it at Cannes. ’Cause he’s down. He’s down for anything. And he’s just a machine. Once you get him started, he’s really good. And now I just look at him as part of the crew. I love being able to just pay him. Anything I can do to help him. He’s really sweet.


What are some other funny stories?

Man, we’ve got so many funny and crazy stories. There’s always one dude who shows up and wants something huge and bogs everybody down. Usually it’s Jason Baker, who’s downstairs. So we call it “The Baker.” We haven’t seen yet who will be the Baker today.

What time did he start today?

Ten o’clock and usually he’ll go to around ten at night if we have enough people. The San Francisco one was crazy; that was like a 12-hour one. There were just so many people there. Non-stop, all day long. I had to shut some people down, “I’m sorry. I know you’ve been waiting a long time but he just can’t keep going.” Usually it’s pretty easy. There’s not a big line. People are cool or whatever. But sometimes it gets crazy and there are people everywhere and it goes late. It’s fun.

And I love it when sometimes people show up with no idea. This girl, Holly and this guy, Jed who are just clients, they showed up and they were like, “Just go for it.” They just let Pinto do whatever.

Holly got this free-style lettering. Her whole leg was hand done with crazy lettering. She threw out this poem and told him to go nuts. She told him to do whatever size he thought made sense. And he made it huge. And then Jed just told him to do something traditional. And Pinto did this crazy traditional wolf on him free hand. I was like, “Damn dude. That’s talent.” That was probably one of the coolest tattoos I’ve seen. All of my stuff is like, “This is what I want exactly.” I draw all of mine out and they all have different meanings. I wish I had the guts to tell him to do whatever he wanted. But that tattoo was badass. It was bitching.


Is it just by word of mouth or do you promote these things?

We usually do flyers and we post them on Facebook and shit. Just so people know.

Sometimes people show up that I’ve never met before. They’re just like, “Oh hey, I heard you were putting on something.” I’m like, “Oh hey, go for it.”

Who else have you been tattooed by?

Scott Campbell came and tattooed me here, which was awesome. He just showed up with this handmade gun. So we filmed him doing the tattoo on me for this film series about Crass. He woke up one morning, made the gun out of an engine and a pen, and just showed up with the gun and the ink. So he tattooed me and then gave me the gun, which is so crazy. It’s literally like handmade with a phone charger, a VCR engine, a pen, a fork and a needle. Its full prison style.

Does he often make those things?

As far as I can tell, only for friends. His tattoos are like $5,000. There’s like a two-year waiting list. But because we wanted to film him and because we’re friends, he’s like, “I’m in town. I’m going to show up. The cameras ready?” I said, “Yep.” Then he just went for it and didn’t charge me or anything. I mean, it’s fucking awesome. He’s an amazing artist. So that’s the kind of shit that …

That’s the kind of magic that happens here?

Yeah, always.


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