It was 11:30 on a Friday morning in Chinatown and passersby could not stop staring at the crowd outside of Daredevil Tattoo. People from all over the country were huddled together trying to stay out of the cold breeze eagerly awaiting the moment that they had all been anticipating — the unveiling of the Friday the 13th flash sheet.
As the sheet was taped to the window people rushed up to get their first glimpse. Immediately you could hear the debate among friends about what tattoo they would be taking home with them. Soon the door opened up, the mob rushed in, and it was on. Ten hours and over 250 tattoos later the madness would subside and another Friday the 13th would be in the books, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Since 2003, the crew at Daredevil have been opening their doors every Friday the 13th and kicking it old school as they charge $13 (with a $7 tip for good luck) for a small tattoo off of a special flash sheet drawn specifically for that day. This time around the flash was provided by Skribs, one of the shop's many talented artists. Michelle Myles, co-owner of Daredevil, loves that the day is a bit of a flashback to a time when the tattooing industry was very different from what it is now. “I feel like it gives us a little taste of what it would have been like back in the day, when you walked in, picked something off the wall, and that’s what you got,” Myles says. “Back when they would have an assembly line of tattooers working. Nowadays tattoos are so expensive, but this goes back to that time where a broke kid can still come in to Daredevil and get a cool tattoo. It’s just a fun thing to do.”
Given the amazing deal that Daredevil was offering — where else can you get a tattoo for 20 bucks without being afraid of it coming with a complimentary blood borne disease — one expected to see a ton of young people waiting to get tattooed. What was unexpected was that many of these youngsters were alongside their parents as full families turned out to get tattooed together.
One of these families, the Korunows, has been making a pilgrimage to Daredevil every time the special day comes up on the calendar for the last four years. “Stephanie [her daughter] brought me on my 50th birthday because I was born on a Friday the 13th, so that was my first one, and we’ve been doing it every Friday the 13th since then,” Alyssa Korunow says. “Some of us, all of us, none of us, you know it’s been different combinations, but everybody is now honorary Korunows for the day.” What started as a special birthday present has grown into so much more as Alyssa will be making some trips on other days of the week to work with Myles on an elaborate knitting inspired pattern connecting all of her Friday the 13th tattoos.
All types came out for the day. Some people were there to get their first tattoo, others were squeezing ink into the only unmarked spot on their body, everyone just wanted to be part of something special. Crammed into the tiny shop the energy was palpable, one could feel the excitement emanating from all around, even after hours upon hours of action. Of course, artists know that they will end up with the traditional headache, but in the end what’s a little headache in the service of hundreds of delighted customers.
“It’s totally fun, but man it’s a lot of concentration and it’s just one person to the next,” Myles says. “I feel like by now we have everybody really well trained. Everybody comes in and they know what to expect now, and we have a good system. I feel like it makes the shop more organized in general, and not just for Friday the 13th. And as a tattooer, after Friday the 13th all of us tattoo a little faster. It just makes you more efficient, it’s like a shot in the arm for your tattooing.”
Luckily the staff has some time to recuperate, the next Friday the 13th doesn’t roll around until October, but you know the Daredevil staff will be ready. “I really like doing this, because it’s like when I got my first tattoo,” Myles says. “I wanted to get a black panther but I ended up getting a little black cat because I only had $25. I like that some broke, punk rock kid can still come into our shop and get a tattoo.”
To all the broke punk rock kids (and your mothers and brothers and sisters and friends), you only have 10 months to get ready to head to Chinatown and be part of the chaos that is Friday the 13th. Make the trip, grab some killer soup dumplings down the street, and experience what tattooing is all about at one of the classic shops of New York City.
Article by Charlie Connell and Alex Wikoff. Special thanks to Michelle Myles for taking time out of the busiest day imaginable to talk with us.