Even the organizers of last year's Rochester Erotic Arts Festival weren't sure what to expect as they sought entries for the Erotic Tattoo Contest. "Last year's festival was the first show I've ever heard of that's (showcased) erotic tattoos," says tattoo artist Shawna Haight, 40, better known as Pebbles of Tattoos by Pebbles & Company on Lyell Avenue. "So I called and asked if (event organizers) wanted tattoos in an erotic place or if they wanted an erotic tattoo, and they said, 'I don't know — this is our first year.'"
So Pebbles entered one of each, a tattoo of an angel in bondage on a man's thigh and a butterfly tattoo below a woman's bellybutton. Most of the entries were tattoos with erotic placement — on hips, butts and chests.
But her angel was perhaps the only erotic tattoo, and it must have stood out because it won her and the tattoo's owner $100 each. Pebbles will return for this year's festival, mostly to showcase her piercings (at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 27, and 4 p.m. Sunday, March 28), but also to have another shot at the Erotic Tattoo Contest.
When we talked with Pebbles from her shop, she was drawing a tattoo for her husband to be entered in the contest — an Asian woman in bondage — and contemplating the piercings she would be finishing in a few days for the festival.
So, what can we expect from your piercing presentation at the festival? Well, there's going to be four pedestals and a velvet square at my booth, so I need to do five piercings. One is a leg band, like a garter belt that goes around the thigh ... so it's 24 piercings with blue glass beads and chains hanging from it ... and one woman will have piercings going down her arms onto her back, and then I made butterfly wings that attach to them.
They're all temporary piercings that will be taken out. How many people come into your shop asking for erotic tattoos? Who actually ask for an erotic tattoo itself? That's probably only maybe five percent of all tattoos I do. Asking to get it in an erotic place, like their chest, butt or (below the bellybutton or in the genital area)? I'd say 20 percent.
Names (with erotic placement) are one of the most popular tattoos, but if the lettering starts to get too big, I warn people (that it will be expensive to cover). I probably put 10 to 12 names on a week, and I cover about three to four a week.
Why do people get erotic tattoos? Some people get them because that's what they're into and they're kind of advertising what they like. Other people get them in hidden places because they only want certain people to see them. Some people get them for the shock value. Everybody is getting them for different reasons.
Do you have any erotic tattoos on your body? I have a naked girl on my arm squatting down, but it's the back of her, so you can't really see anything — just her heels and legs and back. I have one that goes around my nipple. It's a heart: one side is an outline of a heart, and the other side starts out as a rose and the vine makes the other side of the heart.
What makes a tattoo sexy/erotic? I think the detail that's in it. If it's just an outline ... it's just boring. If someone takes the time to put in all the detail, to me it's a lot sexier, a lot nicer.