Tattoo Artists Give Lasting Inauguration Souvenirs

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Tattoo parlors in the D.C. area are capitalizing on the Inauguration Day hoopla. They're hoping to bring business in the door by offering specials, including Barack Obama tattoos.


Matt Jessup is almost as excited about the inauguration as an 11-year-old with a video camera. Matt, though, is a burly 30-something with a tattoo needle. NPR's Amy Blaszyk visited his Washington, D.C., tattoo parlor. And oh, by the way, don't call him Matt.

Mr. MATTHEW JESSUP (Owner, Fatty's Custom Tattooz): Oh, well, my name is Fatty. That's the name I go by.

AMY BLASZYK: Fatty's Custom Tattooz is located in a four-story walk-up in D.C.'s Dupont Circle. It's a busy, vibrant neighborhood before the 2 million people expected to deluge the city for Tuesday's big event. Right now, Fatty is doing a full-sleeve tattoo on Washington resident Jason Benetti(ph). The tattoo starts with a massive skull at his shoulder, and continues down the arm to his wrist. Though Fatty appreciates repeat customers like Benetti, he's trying to attract new customers this weekend.

Mr. JESSUP: We're hosting an event that I'm calling "The Obamathon." ..TEXT: BLASZYK: This tattoo parlor, like others in the area, is trying to entice customers with a permanent souvenir of the occasion. At Fatty's, when you buy a $200 tattoo, you get one free - a free Obama or Inauguration tattoo, that is. But there's more.

Mr. JESSUP: The big prize of the weekend is, I'm going to be offering a portrait of Barack Obama's face for free.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JESSUP: We have a party on Monday and do Barack Obama's face tattooed on somebody. That'd be the coolest, man.

BLASZYK: As Fatty smears petroleum jelly on areas he's worked on, wiping ink from the skull design, he admits that in the heat of the moment, people do a lot of things they regret later.

Mr. JESSUP: If Obama tanks everything and people want to get their Obama tattoos covered, I'm sure I'll be able to help them with that, too. ..TEXT: BLASZYK: After all, change is more than a campaign slogan. Amy Blaszyk, NPR News.

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