I got a safety pin tattoo a few days ago, and someone I didn’t know on Facebook asked “What is the significance?” I thought it was obvious, but if you don’t know me or have the ability to read my mind, I guess not; so here goes… (Every tattoo I have means more to me than it would appear.) I traveled to New Orleans to be a part of the Memorial “Second line” parade celebration for our recently departed friend English Craig. He owned a Tattoo shop there called Freaky Tiki for two decades or more, so I obviously associate Craig and tattoos. (The shop is still in operation.) I have never stepped foot in his tattoo shop, but I thought ahead before I traveled to NOLA that maybe I’d go to see his shop and get a tattoo there in his memory. I immediately had it in my mind to get a safety pin. I ended up getting the tattoo done by Jamie Ruth, who apprenticed with him and now owns her own amazing shop, Treasure Tattoo. I’m sure he was very proud of her and would be happy that we met.
OK, so what is the significance? Craig was an original ’77 UK Punk Rocker, which I came to find out after knowing him over a year. (It wasn’t blatantly obvious when we met in the Rockabilly scene.)
I already liked him for his spirit and his humor, but then when I found out he was really there among that scene that I’ve admired since I was a pre-teen, which shaped my own musical tastes, attitude and style; it opened up a whole lot more for us to go on and on about. (Anyone who has met Craig or I could attest to the fact that we both have the ability to go on and on about something we are passionate about.) I know Craig enjoyed sharing stories of the bands he’d seen, people he knew, and showing me punk paraphernalia and clothing he had from back then, and he knew I loved hearing about it.
I chose the safety pin because it is the single most simple, iconic symbol of that movement.
Craig loved the Sex Pistols and their iconic imagery, even having his Tattoo shop shirts modeled after that, and having a BOLLOCKS license plate.
But that’s not the only reason. I also have my own Punk-Inspired clothing line called Punk Majesty. Craig was following it on social media and encouraging me with it, and his encouragement meant a lot to me. In his last year, he had started working on a punk vest, telling me I’d inspired him with what I was doing, which made me happy. It’s something we shared, and his mother even wore the vest he made to his memorial service in London, which I thought was so cool.
Safety pins are a big part of my clothing line, and we inspired each other, so enough said…
As a postscript and an after thought in my decision for the tattoo, as someone who has always been anti-status quo, and already wearing safety pins, I found it interesting when Americans united over our massive disdain for Trump and his racist, homophobic, sexist evil ways, adopted the safety pin–all of these people who had nothing to do with associating themselves with safety pins in fashion are wearing them recently as a symbol of resistance. (Copied, of course from the Brits, but whatever)…That’s cool with me; that’s how it all started in the punk scene in the first place– as a symbol of their then current political unrest and rebellion. I hate Trump, so if there’s a symbol for that, then even better. Here’s an article about the recent American adoption of safety pins called “Why Safety Pins Symbolize Resistance: A Short Explainer/ No, it’s not a new fashion statement”.
Anyway, the new meaning within our distressing political climate was only a small factor in the inspiration of the tattoo, but was still was a factor. The main reasoning though was to remind me of Craig, the friendship and conversations we had, how we inspired each other from afar, and how much I do and will continue to miss the opportunity to have more conversations with him. It was cut short. I have this tattoo to remind me that tomorrow isn’t promised, and I will also remember my friend. It was an honor to meet his friends and celebrate his life together in NOLA on Jan 21st during the anti-Trump Women’s March that had a massive turnout in multiple cities, and also intersected our second line parade, which was a surreal, magic moment.