Tattoo studio tells kids of drawbacks

June 20, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Getting tattoos may be one of the hottest trends among young people these days. But the owners of a Charles Town tattoo studio are finding that some of them don't give it lot of forethought.

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Although the choice of what to put on a person's body rests with the customer, the staff at Snakeman's of Charles Town wants to make sure people are aware of a few things.

Danielle Milloway, for example, cringes when girls ask for their boyfriend's name to be tattooed on them.

"Boyfriends come and go. I tell them that all the time. In this day and age, wives and husbands come and go," said Milloway, who runs the shop with her husband, Steve.

Another common problem is that people do not take care of tattoos, according to Joe Birch, one of two tattoo artists at the shop in a two-story house across from the Charles Town Races along U.S. 340.


Tattoos require special care after they are applied, and the staff at Snakeman's takes time with each customer to make sure they realize what is involved in getting one.

"They don't force anything on you at all. I know some places you go they try to force stuff off on you," Kelly Routzahn said after getting a tattoo of a scorpion applied to his neck at the shop Tuesday afternoon.

The 24-year-old Middleway resident, who works as a cook at Hilltop House Hotel in Harpers Ferry, said he got his first tattoo at the Snakeman's shop in Frederick, Md., about a year and a half ago. Routzahn said he waited for about two weeks before deciding to get the tattoo of a dragon on his shoulder.

Another pitfall which Birch sees is youths settling for a tattoo other than the one they really want. Then they are back in the shop again, either getting it removed or covered by another one, he said.

The problem arises when customers come in the shop with only a limited amount of money for a tattoo, Birch said. Birch said he often advises them to save money for the design they want rather than settling for something less.

And if you look real closely, there are no tattoos of the devil for sale. You might spot the grim reaper or a skull and crossbones, but not the devil.

That's because the Milloways are Christians, and they don't want to spread any messages for the evil spirit.

"Satan is not something to be taken likely. To a lot of people, it's a joke," said Steve Milloway, who is willing to talk to customers about Christianity if they are curious about the subject.

Some of the shop's restrictions are met with a few heated words and a quick exit.

That's all right with Steve Milloway. "We don't need the money that bad. It's not as if we're starving," said Milloway, who estimates the shop does about 25 tatoos a week at its Charles Town location and about 50 a week in Frederick. They range in price from $50 to $2,000.

Tattoos have been making a strong resurgence among the young, who are getting them on practically any part of their body.

Routzahn said the trend is like any other form of art that comes and goes.

"It has its times, just like music has its times. It goes in and out," Routzahn said.

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