POSTED ON NOVEMBER 16, 2011:
Jenks has contentious year with its first tattoo parlor on Main St.
She poses with her back to us, looking back over her shoulder with one hand on her hip. Slender, with demure Marilyn Monroe curls and a little white and blue sailor dress.
This little lady, a barely life-size mural painted on the storefront of Main Street Tattoo in Jenks, has caused a bit of a fuss lately.
Main Street Tattoo's owner, Jack McIntosh, said he's faced resistance from some Jenks residents since he opened the parlor's doors in July 2010.
Media attention has focused on the mini-furor over the mural in the past month, but last summer media focused on a few concerned Jenks residents who seemed to think the lone tattoo shop would lead to scary (but totally vague) consequences or an explosion of tat shops.
The Tulsa World's Susan Hylton kicked off a story on the issue last July with this ominous line: "The first tattoo parlor in the heart of Main Street Jenks has caused some to question if it will spark a proliferation of more ink shops and what effect that could have on Jenks."
Tattoo parlors have been legal in the state since 2006, and other states for many more. Tattooing is an ancient art form that's been practiced for thousands of years in cultures all over the world.
Hundreds of tattoos decorate the mummified skin of Ötzi the Iceman, who was famously unearthed after being frozen in an Alpine valley for 5,300 years.
Ötzi remained untouched in his northern Italian permafrost grave until he was discovered in 1991. Scientists found 57 soot-based tattoos all over his body, which made the ancient herdsman's marks the oldest examples of tattooing in the world.
So here we are, thousands of years later. Tattooing has become decidedly mainstream. People of all ages and races and backgrounds have gotten inked. Cable TV shows track the exploits of famous tat-covered ink artists like Kat Von D and the antics at hotspot tattoo joints in Las Vegas and Miami.
And now that mainstream has hit Jenks' Main Street. A few of the suburb's residents got their feathers ruffled over the single tat shop in town.
Jenks Mayor Vic Vreeland gave an aw-shucks defense in the same World story: "If you so choose to get a tattoo, for Lord knows what reason, the state of Oklahoma says you have the right to do that."
You can almost picture Vreeland shaking his head at the crazy things the kids are doing these days. Along with jeans and rock 'n roll, tattoos have invaded Jenks, America.
However, even Vreeland had to admit he hadn't seen any "ruckus" around the tat parlor. The mayor owns Tedford Insurance and offices across the street from McIntosh's Main Street Tattoo.
Overall, McIntosh said, the other Main Street merchants have been friendly and inviting. His clientele is growing, McIntosh said, though business has been a little slower to build than shops he's helped open in other locations.
To welcome McIntosh and his tax dollars to Jenks, the suburb's city councilors briefly considered -- though unanimously rejected -- a six-month moratorium on any new tat shops in town.
The moratorium would've given the city a chance to re-work zoning requirements on ink parlors.
No other tattoo shops have opened in Jenks.
Since last summer, McIntosh said he's been nitpicked about the signage for his small storefront squeezed into the 1900s-themed retail district.
He painted the World War II-era pin-up model on his storefront to attract business, and to help customers locate the shop. McIntosh said several customers complained they couldn't find Main Street Tattoo because his signs were too small.
Detractors have said the pin-up mural isn't congruent with the turn-of-the-century theme of the district. Yet, a few doors down from McIntosh's thin mural is a bright Peace Frogs franchise with a bright and splashy storefront advertising its '60s peace-lovin' frogs, and tie-dye merchandise nearly bursting out the door.
"Why is [the Peace Frogs store] any different from my business," McIntosh asked rhetorically. "It's obvious I'm being singled out."
So far, the city of Jenks hasn't discussed moratoriums or re-zoning attempts on tie-dye stores.
Recently, McIntosh was in the news again after the city of Jenks required him to turn in paperwork for an appearance review after he added the mural. The request for an appearance review was made on Sept. 30, but McIntosh refused to turn in the paperwork, despite daily fines, because he felt he was being singled out.
However, he told UTW he has since turned in the application for an appearance review and is still waiting on the city's decision.
So, who are these shadowy dissenters? The lone person who has openly spoken up about the tattoo shop is James Pearce, owner of American Heritage Antiques.
For more than a decade, Pearce has run his spacious antique shop, filled with dusty curiosities and the lulling tick-tock of oak grandfather clocks, on Main Street.
He told KJRH last year he had "mixed" feelings about the tattoo shop moving into the district (and, as it happens, just a few stores down from his own). "On the one hand, kudos to anyone that is willing to step up and start their dream, whatever that is," Pearce told the news station. "I'm not real crazy about having a tattoo shop in the theme district of Jenks."
Pearce made other comments to the station that lumped tattooing into the same category as adult entertainment and bars. The themed district has one bar.
When UTW stopped by to ask for an interview, Pearce said he didn't want to go on record.
After UTW's photo shoot in front of Main Street Tattoo, our pin-up model Lauren McAnulty (stage name Lu Foxxx) also stepped into American Heritage Antiques. Though she was wearing little more than black hot pants, leopard-print heels, a tiny trench coat and her own set of unique and elaborate tattoos, Pearce didn't take any notice of her at all.
However, during the photo shoot, several female residents walked by and gave our gal decidedly dirty looks.
The mainstream is coming to Main Street Jenks. Hold onto your support hose, suburbanites!
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