December 2018

Metal Mafia: 2018 Titanium Catalog

Our internally threaded, ASTM F-136 Titanium Catalog is here! We carry APP compliant ASTM F-136 TITANIUM JEWELRY that costs up to 50% less than the competition’s steel!

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Metal Mafia: 2018 Steel Catalog

Our Internally threaded, 316L Steel Catalog is here!  We offer same day shipping on orders confirmed by 2pm (EST)

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New Novelty is here!

New Novelty is here! Fun 316L Steel jewelry including fashion navels, nipple clickers and more! We offer same day shipping on orders confirmed by 2pm (EST)

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Of (Tattooed) Mice and Men

What the Latest Science is Teaching Us About Tattoos

Fun fact: You are currently eating your tattoo. You’re also puking it back up. Well, not you, exactly. You’d probably notice if you were chowing down on a patch of ink-soaked flesh and ralphing it up like a Victoria’s Secret model about to take a runway jaunt. Set the fava beans aside. But on a cellular level, that’s what your body is theoretically doing.
This little nugget of likely fact was discovered accidentally earlier this year by a group of French immunologists who were getting their usual jollies from torturing mice. Initially, they were studying skin cells in black mice for god-knows-what purpose, when they noticed something peculiar. When transferring skin cells from one mouse to another, they observed that the macrophages1 of the recipient mouse were eating the melanin released by the dying cells of the donor mouse. This aroused some curiosity, so they took a detour from their initial research and explored further.

First, they tattooed green strips on the tails of albino mice and observed the reaction under a microscope. They would have used the original mice, but they’d learned from Ink Masters that lighter canvasses are easier to work with (yes, that’s biting sarcasm.) From their observation, they were able to confirm the part of this that was already known; that macrophages store the ink of tattoos in their bellies. But then, when they killed off those macrophages, they observed that the tattoo wasn’t altered. When the ink-gorge macrophage died, it regurgitated its contents, which another immediately lapped up.

Next, they removed the tattooed skin from one mouse and grafted it onto the tail of another. Immediately, the second mouse became cooler, but less employable (fake fact). After six weeks, the tattoos were still intact, but the macrophages that were holding the ink were all from the recipient and not the donor. Don’t you fucking love science?

What’s the point of this knowledge? Not sure, exactly, but at least you learned something. The scientists who made the discovery are suggesting they can apply it to improving tattoo removal methods, but that doesn’t exactly help us. But, to tie this piece off with a nice, after-school special-style ‘moral of the story,’ consider this report’s implications about our knowledge of our bodies and how they interact with tattoos. It’s 2018 and we apparently still don’t know everything.
So, it turns out that the ink we use isn’t just hanging out under our top layer of skin in static suspension. It’s moving, continually interacting with our cells. What else don’t we know? Maybe more than even the known, it’s the unknown that should drive us to ensure that we’re always using the best materials available to us, always eschewing cheap ingredients. Maybe it’s one more reminder that we should be reaching for non-toxic, organically sourced inks like Kuro-Sumi or Papillon’s Hemp Ink. After all, this is our bodies we’re talking about. Let’s keep them pretty, outside AND in.

What the hell are macrophages? Yeah, we didn’t know either. We should have all paid a little more attention in Biology. From Wikipedia: “Macrophages are a type of white blood cell . . . that engulfs and digests cellular debris, foreign substances, microbes, cancer cells, and anything else that does not have the type of proteins specific to healthy body cells on its surface in a process called phagocytosis.” Neat!

Papillon Spotlight

What would Tattoo Artists do without their supplies? Where should they go to buy these supplies?

Papillon Tattoo Supply is where everyone should go. This Supply Shop always gives you the best experience. They give you the best service possible and treat everyone like family. They’re open 12 hours, 9a.m to 9p.m everyday 7 days a week to work for their customers. The owner Carl Basile always tries to make time to come out to talk to his customers and see how they are doing, he always makes an appearance when he is not traveling visiting shops around the country. Papillon’s tries their best to satisfy their customers. If they no longer hold a certain brand for whatever reason that someone prefers they will order it. If you are a local shop and cannot find time to pick up an order they can deliver to you, just let them know. If you need it shipped across the world or county they do that too. Just call or go on their website and order. You need anything they have it. Papillon Tattoo Supplies even makes their own ink. Papillon is the original manufactures of Starbrite Colors, Papillon Hemp Ink, Established, Papillon Pigments and much more. Papillon’s is always inventing new stuff for their artists. Soon they will be selling these new needles called “Just the Tip.” People are already raving over them. To keep yourself up to date with Papillon Tattoo Supply you should go follow them on Instagram and Facebook. Carl Basile is always posting stuff about his sponsored artists or new items coming out. Papillon Tattoo Supply is also having their 1st Annual Tattoo Convention. If you sign up before 2019 you will get a Free 18″ by 36″ banner with your shop logo and image on it. Papillon Tattoo Supply are the true makers, not the fakers.

Pain Favorite: Pink Rhino Tattoo

I started a piercing apprenticeship some 8-9 years ago. I then dove into the realm of tattooing when I found out that I was going to be a father to my son Vlad Dracul. This was a move that came natural after years of watching many talented artists in my industry. Now with Vlad being my biggest inspiration, I’ve evolved myself as a father, body modification artist, & manager of Pink Rhino Tattoo.

Piercing Specialties: Decorating clients’ unique anatomy with proper placement of jewelry.

Tattoo Specialties: Single session fully rendered color of retro/80s/pop art, and erotic genitalia trash-toos

Randy Candy – Pink Rhino Tattoo
Insta: @RandyCandyMan
FB: RandyCandy

The Fiery Furnaces

Το μόνο αλκύλιο που ελέγχεται από την εκλαμψία είναι η έκθεση του ιερού σε κολπική αγγειίτιδα ή LSCS. Σε αυτούς τους ασθενείς, η πυλωροπλαστική ενδείκνυται ως πιθανή καρδιομυοτομία για την κλινική αντιμετώπιση του μεγαζοφάγου.

Rehearsing my Choir (2005)

It’s the opposite of a Christmas present.

Today’s indie-rock scene sports some incredible and varied experimental music. Deerhoof’s frenzied squall, Animal Collective’s hippie folk and Lightning Bolt’s noisy, well, noise are a few reasons why rock lovers should realize they’re living in a golden era. And even the straight-ahead rock bands are embracing a special kind of chaos. Did you see Future Islands’ recent performance on Letterman? If not, do yourself a favor, put this magazine down (sorry, editors!), and pull it up on YouTube. Seriously, I’ll wait.

It’s thrilling, right? To see someone put themselves out there like that? Experimentation is great. Now is a time when CBGB’s should be embracing these exciting new sounds instead of going broke by letting derivative pop-punkers headline the same stage David Byrne and Joey Ramone stood on at the onset of their careers. Instead of turning the thing into a forgotten museum of a once-special age.


Weird rock is a good thing, and the Fiery Furnaces are card-carrying members of this miscreant club. From the oddball pop of Gallowsbird’s Bark (2003) to the space-prog of Blueberry Boat (2004) to EP (2005), Matt and Eleanor Friedberger have to this point gotten better with each release while shoving the proverbial envelope right off the table. More than that, it’s connected with people, clearly a sign that these strange sounds are something we’ve needed, even if we didn’t necessarily have the vocabulary to ask for them previously. And it’s often brash to make an umbrella statement such as “sometimes experimentation goes too far,” but that’s exactly what happened with the Friedberger siblings’ third full-length, Rehearsing My Choir.

A theme album of sorts, Rehearsing My Choir is based around the mid-20th century memories of the Friedbergers’ eighty-three-year-old grandmother, Olga Sarantos. Pushing it a step further, Sarantos, in her world-weary speaking voice, handles many of the album’s vocals. Meanwhile, the Friedbergers do their usual – Eleanor even plays her vocals off of her grandmother’s. On paper, it’s a fascinating thought, and no doubt an endearing, delightful familial document that will be cherished and revisited by various Friedbergers for generations to come.

Thrilling prospect though it may be, the choice to commercially release this piece is dubious at best. Many of the lyrics are intriguing, almost poetic, but even the most complicated and beautiful poetry wouldn’t stand up over a background of seemingly random and ever-changing music. At times, the accompaniment shows brilliant flourishes of the Furnaces’ back catalogue, but much of it is musical mush with little-to-no vocal melody. Think awkward high school play put to music written for a different awkward high school play. Or, perhaps better yet, grandma talking about her life while the grandkids beat out a rudimentary tune on pots, pans, you know, whatever just lying around the living room.


If you’ve listened to “Last Call,” the final, lengthy track off Kanye West’s The College Dropout (or if you’re familiar with hip-hop-album skits in general), you know how this album wears on the ears. The first time through, it’s creative, interesting, even funny. But on repeated listens, each track becomes something to skip through as the longing for the good stuff becomes stronger. Unfortunately for this album, the problem isn’t a skit that can be skipped. It’s not a batch of kids entertaining granny (and vice versa) from which you can escape, into the kitchen, for another beer and a few moments of silence.

Matt and Eleanor’s output slowed considerably in the wake of Rehearsing My Choir, which seems telltale of something bigger. Hard to say what that might be, but their recent solo careers seem to suggest that the Fiery Furnaces are on hold for some good time. Who knows, though? Maybe they’ll again strike experimental gold. Until then, we’re left with this ambitious, unlistenable, admirable disappointment.

Medical Conditions and Piercings

Dear E. Angel,

I have a client who wants to get two ear cartilage piercings (tragus and helix) but she has an illness called Ehlers Danlos that might affect healing. I am not sure if it would be a good idea to pierce her. Do you have any information or know where else I could find out?

Also, what other diseases should I be on the lookout for to avoid problems? I want all of the piercings I do to heal great, but I don’t want to turn people away when it is safe to pierce.

Thank you, T.

Dear T.,

Certain medical conditions do make piercings riskier, and in some cases inadvisable. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a spectrum of chronic genetic disorders of the connective tissue, caused by a defect in collagen production. It affects approximately one in five thousand people(i). Depending on the particular mutation, severity of the illness can range from mild to life threatening. Common aspects of EDS that would concern piercers are overly elastic, severely fragile skin that bruises and scars easily—and delayed wound healing(ii). EDS also causes hyper-flexible joints, among a plethora of other symptoms. There are a number of sub-types and variants of the disorder(iii), but tissue fragility is the unifying feature among them all.

Collagen is a protein that is the primary structural material for all of our connective tissues including skin and cartilage. It provides strength, body, and elasticity. Collagen makes up about 80% of the dermis(iv)—the skin we pierce and place jewelry through. Therefore, a collagen dysfunction naturally impacts wound healing.

In response to your question, I embarked on my own informal research and found a number of forums in which EDS sufferers discussed piercings. Out of more than forty piercees who commented, only two did not experience healing problems of some type. Though they both remarked about unexpected and undesired stretching of their healed piercings due to tissue fragility.

From my unofficial survey, in conjunction with a review of the medical literature, a few things became clear about how EDS impacts piercings:

  1. They heal much, much more slowly than normal—if at all. Several had worn piercings for over a decade (or two) without healing completely!
  2. Even with old, fully healed piercings, flare-ups including pain, redness, and weeping are common.
  3. There is a greater incidence of piercing infections than in the general population, including frequent abscesses.
  4. There is a higher chance of abnormal scarring including atrophic (pitting), hypertrophic (enlarged), and keloid (greatly oversized) scar formation. Though that last term is commonly applied incorrectly to less extreme scars, posted photos did document actual keloids.
  5. Unplanned and undesired (usually permanent) stretching is common, as is migration and tearing.
  6. Cartilage piercings were virtually always described as especially problematic and difficult to heal.


One woman, who had purposely stretched her ears, consulted a surgeon about having them closed. The doctor recommended against it because of the risk of heavy scarring that could result, and issues that EDS patients have with the local anesthetics that are required for such procedures.

It seems that most patients know the diagnosis of their specific variant, as the symptoms and effects are quite different from one type to the next. Those with the hypermobile EDS (hEDS) variation don’t seem to suffer from severe skin healing complications like the other forms do. In my investigation, both of the piercees who experienced only stretching problems had this variant. So, a client with hEDS might be a better candidate. If someone shares their classification with you, then it should be taken into consideration. Based on my research, if hEDS is not the person’s diagnosis or if the specifics are unknown, I would definitely decline to pierce—especially cartilage.

Note that another variant, CardioVascular (cvEDS), could be of exceptional concern for piercing safety because these individuals have mitral valve prolapse (MVP) or other serious heart conditions. Patients with MVP or certain cardiac disorders including rheumatic heart disease, and those with a valve replacement or prosthetic material from cardiac repair, are susceptible to infective endocarditis (IE). This is a potentially deadly infection of the lining of the heart or its valves. If bacteria enter the bloodstream at the piercing site, they can travel through the circulatory system and cause this type of infection in damaged and weakened hearts. A “steep rise of IE cases directly attributable to piercing” was reported in the medical literature(v).

A prospective piercee with such a medical history (or any ailment of serious concern) should be required to submit proof that they have consulted with their doctor before proceeding—if you are open to piercing them at all. Politely declining is always a valid choice if you’re not comfortable or feel the risks are too great.

Anyone who must ordinarily take antibiotic prophylaxis (preventive treatment) prior to dental or “invasive” procedures, should consult their physician about whether a prescription is recommended before piercing. The current guidelines suggest preventive antibiotics less often than in the past. Most experts no longer advise prophylaxis for dental procedures in patients with prosthetic joints, according to the updated 2017 recommendations(vi). Though a recent client who’d had a hip replacement was prescribed antibiotics before his appointment for a pair of frenum piercings, so checking is still appropriate.

I was somewhat familiar with Ehlers-Danlos because I had pierced someone who later informed me that he’d been diagnosed with it. I did a “snug” (ear cartilage) piercing on him, back before it was given that name…and it didn’t heal. But I did not know all of the above before responding to your question, so I did some research. You can learn to perform your own comprehensive and reliable inquiries in order to determine the best course of action when something else comes up in the future.

There is a lot of misinformation to be found on the Internet; so, how can you tell what’s valid and accurate? I seek out trustworthy sources for quality data and facts, rather than posts on social media, commercial websites (selling anything), and personal sites. I never use Wikipedia, which is not considered a reliable resource due to its user-generated, openly editable content. I look for scientific research studies vii, viii, ix and seek out major organizations such as (in this case) Ehlers-Danlos Society, American Heart Association, and National Institutes for Health. I also check academic texts on university websites. This was the first time I have used forums as a reference. Though only anecdotal, the comments confirm what I learned from the scientific literature, so I opted to incorporate them.

There are many medical issues that can raise risks of infection, delayed healing, and other complications. Immune system disorders obviously fall into this category including Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and HIV/AIDS. Diabetes can be a major issue and it is incredibly common; I wrote an article about it several years ago. There’s no way I can delve into it all now, but perhaps a piece answering this more thoroughly will appear in a future issue of Pain Magazine?

Any time you’re concerned about a medical condition, it is reasonable to require that the client bring a signed doctor’s note before you agree to pierce. Acquire skills to educate yourself conscientiously so that you can exercise good judgment based on solid information.



Galveston Invitational Tattoo Expo

PHOTOS COURTESTY OF: C. R. Costley – Alterity Collectors Union –

Galveston Invitational Tattoo Expo

October 5-7, 2018
Galveston Island Convention Center
Galveston, Texas

It’s a family affair for everyone involved with the Galveston Invitational Tattoo Expo.

Kami and Joe are the founders of Texas Ink & Art Expo which stages annual shows in Galveston and Fort Worth. Now in its seventh year, the Galveston expo has become a big reunion with artists and vendors returning to the show every year. Many of the artists, even though their shops are unrelated, are known to join up in one gigantic booth so they can all hang out and work together.

As the name implies, the Galveston expo is open to artists by invitation only. The promotors like to keep the number small — this year there were some 70 tattooers and piercers. The show sells out months in advance, and while Kami says the popularity of the event has presented the opportunity for growth, they like things just as they are.

“We want to make sure that the public supports the artists that are there, and for artists to be happy and to be making money,” Kami says.

One way they reward the artists is by awarding more than 70 trophies in the daily tattoo contests in categories ranging from Best Nautical and Best Movie Character to Best Cover-up and Best Patriotic. There’s even a place for Best Piercing Project. A thousand dollar cash prize goes to Best of Show which are judged from all the tattoos that have won their individual categories as well as the winners of tattoo of the day. It’s not just a popularity contest either — the judges are all professional tattooers and they take their role seriously.

Up-and-comer Cristyan Medina, from Imperial Tattoo Co, in Sugar Land, Tx, earned the big check for Best of Show. It was an even sweeter win in that he beat out his mentor and boss Tony Wayne for the trophy. “He’s only been tattooing for a little over a year now,” says Tony, “and I’m super proud of the kid.”

Tattoo artists came not only from across Texas, but also from exotic locales such as Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. “We want to showcase a wide variety of styles, and we have that — everything from black & gray to traditional and full-color realism,” Kami says.

Sometimes the smallest tattoos make the biggest impact. A $20 donation got you an animal tattoo with all the proceeds going to the Galveston Humane Society.

One of the most unusual spectacles was a suspension wedding. Dustin Mathis of The Captain’s Sideshow performed the nuptials. The bride wore a black wedding dress and the groom in a black shirt and pants. Guests watched as the couple said their I-Dos and then rose up into the air on a double suspension. There was also a first-time suspension that happened, with a young lady swinging around as the crowd applauded (and gasped at her bravery).

Kingpin Tattoo Supply was the major sponsor. They donated all of the supplies for the Humane Society tattoos as well as making supplies available to the working artists at the show. Vendors at the show included Vitalitree aftercare products, Industrial Ink, Aztlan Arts, and even the local comic book shop, Lone Star Heroes.

“It’s all about the artists and the tattoo culture,” Kami adds. “We’re the local bad ass artists who are trying to get our work out there, network, learn from each other and have fun.”

Galveston Invitational Tattoo Expo