Heels & Picks: The friendliest Massacre ever
BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser
When flicking my way through social media on my phone, there always seems to be one post in my feed mourning the loss of meaningful human interaction in this digital age.
I’ll see it alongside an image of 10 people on a sidewalk — all of them staring at their smartphones — with some silly caption about a zombie apocalypse. More often than not, the author will harken back to a time when we could participate in an activity without the innate desire to document it.
PACIFIC INK & ART EXPO
With special guest Megan Massacre
» Where: Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, 777 Ward Ave.
For tattoo artist Megan Woznicki, better known to legions of fans as Megan Massacre, working in front of television cameras on TLC’s “NY Ink” made her and the rest of the staff at the Wooster Street Social Club reality TV stars. And many of those fans also follow her on social media, which provides countless opportunities for real life human interaction.
“I’m not dependent on (social media), but it’s a really great tool,” Massacre said by phone on Thursday. “It makes you accessible to your fans in a way that we’ve never had before. However much you want to share with fans, they get to connect with you.
“Before I did television, I had been tattooing for seven years. I had my clients, I had my style. I felt established. Then when I did the show, it was cool, it brought what I did to so many more people, people who may not have ever considered being a fan of tattoos. After the popularity of ‘Miami Ink,’ with the exception of ‘LA Ink’ there was a lull. ‘NY Ink’ kind of sparked a new wave of tattoo shows, and we’re lucky to be the first show in that second wave of interest in tattoo shows.”
Born in Philadelphia, Massacre began tattooing in 2004 at local shops that included Deep Six Laboratory. Her signature tattoo style is whimsically dark; her personal image is pure alternative model, with glam hair, makeup and tattoos.
These days, she has a team of people to help schedule her appointments at Wooster Street, which are only available two weeks out of each month. The remainder of the time she is on the road, making appearances at tattoo conventions and special events, like a recent Brazil trip to tattoo musicians at a party hosted by online music streaming service Spotify.
Massacre is one of this weekend’s featured tattoo artists at the Pacific Art & Ink Expo and was excited to be a part of the festivities.
“There are a lot of tattoo conventions out there, but not all of them have a great roster of artists,” she said. “Hawaii’s show is jam-packed with really incredible artists. And the people are just so nice.”
While on the subject of being nice — something I know like the back of my hand, because I’m Canadian — Massacre comes across as just that: a really nice person. Sometimes the tattoo scene can be stereotyped as being a little rough around the edges. Massacre’s friendly attitude was refreshing.
Along with “NY Ink,” she stars on “America’s Worst Tattoo” and expressed genuine concern for the people she encountered while filming that show.
“People often don’t realize what makes a good tattoo and what makes for a bad one,” she said. “‘America’s Worst Tattoo,’ I think, helps people to see what a good tattoo is and how we can fix tattoos that aren’t so good. It also helps people to see that they are not alone in having a bad tattoo. Tons of people have bad tattoos. I have bad tattoos.
“I like that show because sometimes we’ll get, say, a woman with a bad tattoo on her stomach. And she won’t wear a bikini because she’s ashamed of it. When we fix her tattoo, you see her confidence restored and she’ll be living in a bikini after that. It’s great!”
Make no mistake, though. Covering up bad tattoos is hard work.
“Doing cover-ups is so much harder then tattooing fresh skin,” said Massacre. “There are a lot of factors that play in to it. Where is the tattoo? How old is the tattoo? Why is it bad?”
The success of “NY Ink” and “America’s Worst Tattoo” also led to a collaboration between Massacre and PETA2. Despite the imagery conjured up by her last name, she is a longtime vegetarian and her entire beauty regimen is cruelty-free. She relies on vegan cosmetics to glam her up while supporting an animal-friendly lifestyle.
“PETA2 is a less aggressive vein of PETA, and basically we just wanted to support young people who are thinking about becoming vegetarian or vegan,” she said. “We wanted to let them know it was okay to make those choices, even if they are getting pressure from family and friends not to adapt the vegetarian lifestyle.
“There is also a stigma that vegan cosmetics don’t work, and I wanted to blast that stereotype.”
Sugarpill and Lime Crime are among her favorite cruelty-free cosmetic companies, and she turns to liquid eyeliner by E.L.F. to capture her signature smoky, cat eye look.
So what is it like to be a vegetarian in the world of tattooing?
“Honestly, and again, not to stereotype, but you get made fun of for pretty much everything as a girl in the tattoo industry,” said Massacre. “I worked in one tattoo shop in Philly where it was the big joke for the guys to eat steak for lunch and put it in my face all the time, but the vegetarian aspect is not really a big deal next to what you put up with as a woman in the industry.”
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.