A line of over 200 people stretched down Box St. all the way to the foot of the Pulaski Bridge, where Newtown Creek separates Queens from Brooklyn, every one of them eager to show their support for women’s rights by getting a feminist-themed tattoo. The crowd outside of Magick City’s art center was a good omen, as well as a surprising sight, and it guaranteed that the Magic Cobra Tattoo Society team — Woodz, Katie Vaughn, Adam Korothy and OL Ash — had a long day of work ahead of them.
The Tattoo to Protect your Parts event was the result of a lot of hard work from several parties involved. A group of ladies — Laura Matthei, Sarah Hanson, Danielle Hangge, and Ilana Sztaimberg — got together after Trump was elected president to form “Party to Protect,” an organization devoted to raising awareness about the danger posed to reproductive rights by throwing parties. “We’re just four girls that got together at a bar and decided to make a plan to help make a difference,” Matthei says. “Since then, we’ve been keeping busy trying to make events like this one a reality. We haven’t rested for months.”
At first, the event was just going to be a music and dance show at Saint Vitus Bar with a raffle for free tattoos from MCTS, but the tattoo shop wanted to get in on the action in person. So they reached out to the folks at Magick City in north Greenpoint, spent a week designing a bunch of little pieces of political body art, and then showed up to tattoo over 70 people throughout the course of the afternoon. Unfortunately, not everybody who showed up walked away with a new tattoo, but most of them donated between $15-20 anyway and got temporary tattoos of the original flash.
“We’re doing this because we’re pissed off about the current political environment,” explains Woodz. “This is our way of standing up for people who aren’t made of money. It’s a big ‘fuck you’ to Trump and our way of empowering women and other disadvantaged people.”
“Growing up in a family of mostly women, I’ve been an advocate of Planned Parenthood for a very long time,” said OL Ash. “Doing this is the best way I can support them, and it’s so cool to see so many likeminded people turn out for the event.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that so many of the people in attendance shared similar feelings about the Trump administration's moves to defund Planned Parenthood. “Supporting a good cause and getting an affordable tattoo,” exclaims an excited Brian Wagner. “I’m getting a heart with a dagger through it that says ‘Resist.’ That way when I raise my fist in the air, I say ‘Resist,’ too.”
The designs that MCTS’s staff came up with are all radical. Their sheet of flash included a number of sassy ladies, phrases like “my body, my choice,” coathangers, and even a tiny portrait of Tank Girl. “Talk Girl’s one of my favorite feminist icons,” Vaughn says. “When I was younger, the graphic novel shaped who I was.”
A portrait of Tank Girl in progress made by Kati Vaughn at the Tattoo to Protect your Parts event.
The entire event was a smashing success, not only financially, but also spiritually after witnessing the inspiring way that people volunteered to help out. “We wanted to join in on doing something productive in a time when we’re all feeling down,” volunteer Terri Weagant recalls. “Applying our energy and talents toward making a better tomorrow feels good, like doing the right thing.”
With a long battle ahead, the MCTS crew are ready to do all they can to fight like hell through the next four years. From the looks of yesterday's turn out, the politically active members of the NYC tattoo community have got their backs. “I want to thank everyone for coming out,” said Korothy. “We want to do this again and do it even bigger.”