Tattoos today are considered fine art and a form of self-expression.
"It used to be a biker kind of thing," says "Joey Tattoo" Germinario, host of Spike TV's "Tattoo Rescue." "TV has brought tattooing to the mainstream and opened it to all realms of professionals."
This weekend, Germinario emcees Tattoo Lou Presents United Ink Flight 915 Tattoo, Art and Music Festival at the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City, an event that's grown to be known as Long Island's tattoo mecca.
"We get artists from all around the world," says sponsor "Tattoo" Lou Rubino Jr., who owns and operates Tattoo Lou's seven locations in Suffolk County with his wife, Jackie. "People get to view artwork from different countries and states, giving them a wider view of the entire tattoo industry all in one place."
Here are five highlights:
CELEBRITY TATTOO ARTISTS
Celebrity artists like Sarah Miller from Spike TV's "Ink Master" and Jasmine Rodriguez from Spike TV's "Tattoo Nightmares" will be working on site. Artists' prices vary, but range from $100 to $500 an hour.
Miller, who's usually booked solid, has kept her appointment book open so everybody can get a chance to have one of her signature color photorealism portraits done.
"I've always been fascinated with the human figure, especially the face," says Miller, who is based in Pittsburgh. "There are so many little subtle nuances you can expand on to create something."
Meanwhile, if you have an unwanted tattoo, Rodriguez is known for her cover-up talent.
"There's a lot of bad tattoos out there," says Rodriguez, who is based in the Bronx. "I try and help people get rid of that unwanted image and turn it into something beautiful."
Jose Perez Jr. from Dark Waters Studio in Illinois leads "Black & Grey," a seminar on how to approach black and grey photorealism tattooing in full detail.
"I will be focusing on contrast, composition, texture and backgrounds to help artists improve their techniques," Perez says. "It's all about setting the bar higher in quality."
The zombies of NYZ Apocalypse interactive theatrical gaming experience in Deer Park are invading.
"Our zombies will be sent out to create mayhem across the Cradle the same way they would act inside the attraction," says staff member Jesse Geffen.
NYZA's professional makeup staff will zombify festival guests with effects ranging from a bite on the cheek to a full transformation; the cost is $20-$50, depending on detail.
Free zombie T-shirts will be given out as people enter the Cradle and discounts on tickets to the Deer Park attraction will be distributed.
After the festival closes on Saturday, buses will be outside to take attendees to the After Party at NYZ Apocalypse headquarters, where guests can go through a mock battle with a legion of zombies.
"It's set in an outlandish post-Apocalyptic world," says Geffen. "We keep it intense."
CONEY ISLAND SIDESHOW
Coney Island sideshow acts will be performing throughout each day, showcasing wild stunts like fire-eating, juggling, magic, sword swallowing and weightlifting.
"I perform feats of weightlifting using nontraditional methods like lifting a bowling ball with my nostrils," says Alex Ward, who portrays Dr. Claw, the "World's Strangest Strong Man." "I get a wide array of reactions, from complete and utter disgust to others who are enamored by it."
ART EXPO & AUCTION
Fifty pieces of art from tattoo artists and others will be on display, while 25 pieces will be up for auction, with proceeds going to Little Flower Children & Family Services of New York in Wading River.
One piece up for grabs is a guitar donated by All Music of Plainview that has been tattooed with Chinese artwork by Zhang Po (aka PoPo) from Tattoo Lou's in St. James.
"People love my dragons; it's part of my culture," Po says. "I did the design so you can still see the original wood, which makes it look more traditional."
TATTOO LOU PRESENTS UNITED INK FLIGHT 915 TATTOO, ART AND MUSIC FESTIVAL
WHEN | WHERE 2-11 p.m. Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-7 p.m. Sunday at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, Garden City
INFO 516-572-4111, newyorktattooshow.com
ADMISSION $25 ($12 ages 2-11), $60 weekend pass