Ok, this post is long over due but a few weeks ago Dave Alexander and I took a much needed road trip to the lavish land of Detroit Michigan (home of Alice Cooper!), to get some more ink from Bob Tyrrell.
We finally scored an opening with the forever busy and multi-talented tattoo artist (the “multi” comes from the amount of Jalapeno White Castle burgers the man can eat but more on that later). We arrive a bit late after taking an unfortunate tour of the Eastpointe ghetto, a long stretch of burned down store fronts, suspicious activities and a Lotto and Liquor shop on every block. The most pristine building belonging to a funeral home, where business is sure to be booming on a daily basis.
After the scary detour we finally arrive at Night Gallery Tattoos. It’s a hot day in early July and Bob greets us from his front porch, shirtless of course, completely covered with tattoos. A quick tour of his seemingly suburban home reveals this is no ordinary house. Tattoo awards, tattoo magazines, original artwork, horror movies, horror props, guitars and amplifiers adorn every inch of the place. The last stop on the tour is the fridge which is packed with enough Canadian beer to dummy a rhino. This man knows his clients all too well.
After a bit of catching up, Bob and I discuss the next addition to my ongoing Universal Monster sleeve.Â This time it’s a classic shot of Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolfman. I’ve been lucky – all my tattoos are first time portraits for Bob. “I’ve never done The Wolfman,” he says in his laid back Michigan accent. “I’ve done a lot of Wolves though.” Bob takes about an hour to stencil out the photo and apply it to various parts of the arm until we find a position and size we like. We’re ready to start, the needles go in and six and half hours later I’ve got one of the most stunning portraits I’ve ever seen on skin.
We finish just in time to make last call at a dingy local metal club called I-Rock. We hit the bar faster than you can say Jack Daniel’s and within a Detroit minute we’re well on our way to wasted. Bob is a local celebrity, especially after his recent appearance on Kat Von D’s L.A. Ink reality show, and the friendly artist talks to just about everybody in the bar. A quick tour of I-Rock finds wall to wall framed guitar pics from almost every known guitar player and metal band ever recorded, signed instruments hanging from the ceiling, two aging rockers trading Alice Cooper VHS tapes and a very drunk guy on stage who’s a dead ringer for Jigsaw from the Saw films, torturing anyone paying attention by playing air guitar to Motorhead’s Ace of Spades. Depending on your alcohol level, the trip to the bathroom is the best room in the house where dusty posters of Lee Aaron, Lita Ford, Samantha Fox, Tawny Kitaen and Elvira hold up the walls.
On the way home we’re on a mission to hit up White Castle drive-thru and see what the fuss is all about. Bob warns us of the wait time and he was right. We waited about forty-five minutes for those delectable little burgers. We order two sacks of burgers (god knows how many are in a sack) but it was plenty enough to satisfy our drunken hunger. We polish off a few more beers and crash, but not without a major revelation -White Castle burger boxes make great beer cozees!
Dave is next on the scratching post, and it’s going to be a long day. It’s a slow start for all of us. The booze and White Castle have taken it’s toll. Bob spends some time on the drawing for Dave’s cow skull and Alberta Wild Roses design. After a few rounds of coffee and water they’re ready to go. I kill time by reading Bob’s collection of tattoo mags and art books. The day is definitely dragging. A lingering hang over isn’t helping, but they’re determined to finish. Ten hours later, the final touches are carved into Dave’s flesh and his deadly cow skull is a done deal.
It’s two in the morning and we have a three hour drive back to Toronto. About an hour away from home the sky is turning on and the mesmerizing highway chevrons almost hypnotize me into a deep sleep. We arrive alive and it was worth every second. Thanks for the great weekend Bob and the new ink. We’re looking forward to our next visit to the shadowy corridors of the Night Gallery.