A Few Thoughts on Tattoos

March 5, 2013

Adam Levine, from the cover of Maroon 5's Overexposed

I've always thought that tattoos are sexy as hell.  Perhaps this has to do more with the sexiness of the person sporting the tattoo, but a tattoo's like a merit badge, isn't it?  It proves that your dish is not just good-looking, he or she is tough, too.  And can take pain, or at least is vain enough to withstand pain in the name of beauty, which is kind of like being tough.

In "Cowboy Valentine," I thought it might be a cute touch to give Caleb a tattoo.  In my mind's eye, it was a simple Sailor Jerry-style thing, a heart with a sword through it and the banner Heartbreaker.  Corazon's name means heart in Spanish. . . and yes, it's true, I like my metaphors in the form of anvils.  It's a Valentine's Day story about a cowboy deflowering a virgin, after all.

In "The Craftsman," my protagonist Adam is a cabinetmaker with a full-sleeve tattoo of dragons and cherry blossoms.  Danielle finds tactile pleasure in running her fingers over the designs, which are slightly raised on his skin, like etching or embossing.  In one scene, Adam is swimming in crystal blue water, and Dani's looking at the colors come alive in his tattoos.  Adam's tattoos make him a Disneyland of sensual imagery and lots of fun to write.   

I'm reading the 2008 Spice anthology What Happens in Vegas, which happens to have a great cover, featuring a man's back tattooed with the book's title.  Bravo.  Nice design.  I'm reading the first story, "Hot for You" by Jodi Lynn Copeland, and it is excellently written.  The first-person narrative ping-pongs between the two main characters, Jack and Carinna, and offers two views of the same conversation and same situations revealing how people misunderstand each other...and then have very hot sex.  Natch.

The 2008 YA novel Graceling by Kristen Cashore features a main character named Po who has bands tattooed on his arms.  It's meant to be attractive to women in his culture.  I don't know why this detail stayed with me.  The book itself as a whole is fantastic.    

My favorite types of tattoos: full-sleeve, full-color, Japanese-style, rockabilly-style, Sailor Jerry tattoos on very sexy, manly arms.  Celtic designs and Scottish clan badges (Och, aye!) are also acceptable, but those should be one-off.  Don't get crazy.  In my opinion, the only acceptable style with which to go balls-out nuts is Japanese, a la yakuza.  I learned from Jake Adelstein's book Tokyo Vice that a lot of Japanese gangsters get liver cancer because their full-body tattoos keep them from sweating out toxins.  True story.

I don't know about those upper-chest tattoos that a lot of young men are getting nowadays.  Think of the guy in Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" video with the phrase "The Sky's the Limit" tattooed right over his pecs (He's damn cute, by the way.).  Though I may like my metaphors in the form of anvils, I don't know about getting your motto tattooed on your chest like that.  It's like shouting at strangers.  I don't like shouting at strangers.

Unless, of course...they're hot men with tattoos, in which case,...I'm driving by and honking my horn.  "HEY, BABY!" *beep beep*

I give Jason Momoa's tattoo an A+++.
David Beckham, nicely done.

I don't know who this is.  The tattoo is a B- at best, but the abs more than make up for it.

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