Knives and Needles

Where Chefs can talk tattoos and Tattooers can talk food

Tattoo Tuesday!

Our friend John Niederkorn (johndotcom) over at Tattoo Artist Magazine has gotten some pretty rad food tattoos over the years. One in particular came from the legendary Mike Malone, I’m so glad he wanted to share it, and the great story that goes along!

John- This story started when I got a job at Taylor St. Tattoo in 2005-2006-ish. I had met Chris Smith (or Chis Smiff, he loves that) through some mutual friends and he asked me if I was interested in working at the shop one day a week, just doing the counter…

So “Name Day” became my litmus test at Taylor St. and Keith Underwood hired me despite me being late on the first day… But that’s another story altogether. Anyway… One day a week turned into two, two into three…etc. Boom! I’m there 65 hours and five days a week by spring 2006.

So, Rollo and I had spent quite a bit of time together prior to my birthday on March 20th. Often I would come in early (earlier than I had too) just to hang out with him and Keith. He’d always be there… Smoking his cigar (inside the shop mind you) painting, telling stories, selling crap on e-Bay so he could buy more crap from e-Bay… you know, the usual… Ha ha!

One of these Keith/Rollo mornings I was playfully bitching about getting tattooed on my birthday because I had never been tattooed on my actual birthday before, and for whatever reasons nobody at the shop could do it on that day specifically… So I was airing my disappointment aloud…

“I’ll do the damn thing… when’s your birthday?” Rollo said.

Okay, now you have to understand something about Rollo… At this point he was telling some people he didn’t want to tattoo them or he would turn people down ALL the time… People would drive (sometimes from very far away) to see him and try to get a little tattoo from him and he would just say, “No, sorry… not feeling it today…” and poof… he’d disappear into the walls… Ha!

In fact, I had just recently witnessed one of these denials go down. So the thought of asking the shop Dragon to tattoo me was the furthest thing from my mind… And never in a million years did I think he was just gonna offer…

Then the discussion turned quickly to “what would you get” and I kinda still hadn’t caught my breath from the idea that this “Living Legend” who fucking turns people away left and right, is now having a mini impromptu consultation with me…

“Um…um… I… Hmmm… well… The thing with the stuff and… goo…”

“GET A BIRTHDAY CAKE!” Keith screamed from the back office, undoubtedly with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and one still burning in the ashtray…

“Oh! I like food tattoos…” Rollo said, and I could see the wheels of excitement spinning in his brain. And then he started to tell me a story about this ice cream cone tattoo he did at Jerry’s shop in Hawaii on a sailor, and how much he loved doing that tattoo and how much the sailor loved it and how little Rollo charged him because he liked the idea so much… And then I think he said the sailor came back and told Rollo how much the ladies liked his ice cream tattoo… and then shit just kept getting more awesome…

Rollo tells me how he’s going to make it chocolate with “jap pink” frosting, just furiously describing this factious cake like it was sitting in front of him…

I’m in! Wonderful idea, thank you Keith and now I’m hungry!

So that’s kinda how that went down… That’s how I got my birthday cake from Rollo… Now him “actually” tattooing me… That’s a story for close friends… and it’s pretty damn funny too.


What a great story, thank you so much John!

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2 thoughts on “Tattoo Tuesday!

  1. Thanks again guys… Cheers!

    Digital Media Director/Copy Editor
    Tattoo Artist Magazine

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