Frankfurt am Main has been home to the International Tattoo Convention on April 15th-17th. With over 400 tattoo artists from all over the world and "U.S.A." as the main theme, it was one of the most visited tattoo conventions of the last years, with live boxing and muay-thai, live bondage shows and live bands to entertain. And of course tattoos, tattoos, tattoos!
The International Tattoo Convention is being held in Frankfurt every year for the past 19 years! Along with the international convention in Berlin, it is one of the most visited conventions of this kind in all of Germany. This year, almost 20,000 people, according to the cashiers, visited the convention in a span of 3 days.
For real fans, tattoos are more than just fashion – it’s a lifestyle. You may compare it to Lomography in a way – once you start with a colourful tattoo, you always crave for more and more, you want different colours as you want different films, you want different artists, like you want different Lomo cams. And just as we hate Hipstamatic/iPhone users with their fake lomographs, do the tattoo fans hate airbrush tattoos or little star motifs that every bimbo tattoos on her butt.
No, this is for sure a lifestyle, something special. A place where you constantly hear a buzzing sound, a mixture of bees and a dentist drill, which in turn are responsible for artworks on a human body. Very different from any other convention: you don’t have people in suits, you don’t have little cookies for small-talk, and everybody is on a first-name basis. Approximately 600 different artists from 20 countries have come this year to present their art and technique, some from a town 50km away, some from the far USA or New Zealand to show the Maori technique.
The hall was filled with little stands where people could get tattooed right away. However, next to that there was a lot more to see: accessories, magazines, jewelry and clothes. Studded belts, piercings and corsets. Anything and everything for this lifestyle.
On the Saturday that I went, the convention opened at 12 and closed around 11 pm. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay that long – walking around a hall for 6 hours was tough enough. ;) Of course there was also a live entertainment program. It started around 1 o’clock with the entrance of the Star Wars Troopers:
At 1.30 there was a very weird on-stage hair-modelling show with 1960’s haircuts (what did they lose at a tattoo convention?), and what followed was a famous tattoo artist trying his luck at body painting.
I don’t know much about body painting, but this was still rather meh, compared to world stars. For one, the chick couldn’t stand straight even for 1 minute. She kept turning and laughing and looking down and just being silly during the whole thing. She also wore black panties. Total no-go for body art. And she couldn’t keep her hands away from her legs. When the artist finished painting her thighs, she just put her hands on them and smeared the paint all over. I swear I heard the f-word after that happened.
At 2.30: Meet La Csilla, the erotic vampire woman:
She was kind of awesome. Yes, very pumped up on silicone, yes her vampire teeth made her look hideous, but MAAAAAN she knew how to pose. She really did have a nice feeling for what looks good on camera. Unfortunately she was moving very fast (it was supposed to be a dance), so far my manual focus SLR it was a bit of a challenge. I’m still happy with the pictures though. At one point she even did the “From Dusk ’Til Dawn” part by Salma Hayek: they put on “After Dark” by Tito & Tarantula, she was dancing her sexy dance and then poured some liquid down her leg into the mouth of some guy. Very creepy.
The next awesome thing was a live bondage show, more or less child-friendly:
As you can see from the pictures, it was a man of about 50 and a woman of about 35. He was tying her up and then he hung her from a ring, upside down at first, and then sideways, swinging her back and forth. The amazing thing about this couple was the purity of their actions. Yes, they are performing a fetish act. But when he was tying her up, she had the most honest and pure look of admiration and love for the man. You could see it in her eyes – every touch, every violent pull of the rope she absolutely loved. She obeyed his every movement, all the while not letting him out of sight, not in any way feeling inferior. It was really amazing to look at.
After that performance there was a Star Wars tattoo contest, a live band and some other stuff I didn’t care for. All in all, this was a very interesting experience. It was like being in another world, in another life.
Obviously, the entertainment program will change from year to year. However, if it’s as in interesting as this year’s, I’m probably going again. For those who are into tattoos, this will obviously be heaven, but even if you’re not, like me, it might be a fun day!
The website will keep you updated on when and where the next convention takes place. For the past 2 years it was in the Frankfurt Messe, Hall 5. To get here, just take metro U4 or tram 16/17 to the stop “Frankfurt Messe: Fair and Exhibition Center”.