[Chicago Slices raw: Gary Tattoo Parlor]

ROY BOY'S TATTOOS, Gary, IN. 20 minutes of interview with ROY BOY COOPER and wife DEBRA, Don working, and tattooing. They introduce their pet Bengal tiger.

00:00Copy video clip URL Audio recorded low throughout the tape. Nathan, the videographer, walks down a city street into Roy Boy’s tattoo parlor. He introduces himself and looks for his point of contact. B-roll of the parlor and art work on walls.

01:42Copy video clip URL Badlands Avenue and Roy Boy Boulevard street sign.

01:54Copy video clip URL Nathan talks with tattoo artist Don, coordinating the plan for the shoot and what he can expect to record: the tattoo process, selecting an image, drawing it and inking it.

02:56Copy video clip URL Interview with Mike, a customer who just got his fifth tattoo. He talks about his Marilyn Monroe tattoo noting that he’s been getting tattoos one a year for five years: an Irish claddagh, a shamrock, a lightening bolt, a flaming heart. Nathan notes that Mike looks conservative in a shirt and tie, and asks what promoted him to start getting tattoos. Mike replies his teenage daughter wanted one five years ago and he agreed only if he could go along with her. Her daughter thought it would be fun if they got tattoos together.

05:08Copy video clip URL Mike removes his shirt and tie to show Nathan his Marilyn Monroe tattoo. He says he’s always been a Monroe fan and that it took a long time to find the right Monroe image and tattoo artist. He notes that he gets tattooed in concealed places because he is in advertising sales and feels an exposed tattoo would not be appropriate for his line of work.

06:45Copy video clip URL Mike fraternizes with the staff.

07:28Copy video clip URL Nathan approaches Debra Cooper, wife of Roy Cooper and co-owner of the shop, about the history of the tattoo parlor. She says Roy has been tattooing for 25 years and she has been tattooing for nine. She says one becomes a master tattoo artist first by apprenticing, leaning about ink, skin and drawing. She says the toughest thing to learn is how to draw a straight line on the human body.

09:30Copy video clip URL Brian, a young customer, is in a chair having his tiger tattoo worked on by Don. Don comments that Roy originally did the tattoo and wants him to add to it. Don is adding background art to the tiger and will ultimately use background art to connect Brian’s tiger tattoo to one of a skeleton he has on his back.

12:02Copy video clip URL While drawing the outlines of Brian’s background art, Don comments that occasionally a stencil is used but generally background art is drawn freehand. He says they have very good artists on staff and they can create whatever design a customer wants.

13:13Copy video clip URL Roy brings out a real tiger on a leash and sits her on a pool table. He says the shop keeps and raises tigers. He’s been raising tigers for 20 years. Debra comments that they also have 15 tigers, a grizzly bear, a baboon, and a rain forest monkey. She says this tiger is tame and weighs about 450 pounds.

14:50Copy video clip URL Roy says he has a federal license to keep the tigers in the city. Debra says agents routinely check in on how the animal is maintained for health and safety. She notes that all their animals are de-clawed. The tiger eats about 40 pounds of chicken a day. Mike comes over and pets the tiger.

16:25Copy video clip URL Debra comments that she has a 1,000 pound grizzly bear at her house. He needs to be hosed down three times a day and eats Little Debbie’s treats.

17:11Copy video clip URL Roy says the tiger’s name is Brazil and he has her since she was a cub. She lives in a cage downstairs. They get their chicken from a distributor that supplies grocery stores.

18:24Copy video clip URL Debra says to raise a tiger so it’s tame the owner has to de-claw the animal at two-weeks old, feed them by hand from early on and discipline them at an early age.

18:58Copy video clip URL Video drop outs. Stop/re-start video. Debra continues about raising tigers commenting that when tigers are cubs they need to be around people so that they become comfortable with them. She tells a story of a dangerously aggressive tiger she once had and how she had to run immediately after dropping food in its cage. Roy comments that tigers normally are as tame as the one he has on the pool table.

21:45Copy video clip URL Nathan pets the tiger, but asks first: “Would she be afraid? Would I be afraid?” Afterwards, Roy removes the tiger to its cage downstairs.

22:16Copy video clip URL Don begins tattooing the background art he’s drawn on Brian’s shoulder. He comments that he learned his trade from Roy and Debra. He originally went to art school and worked as a commercial artist in advertising and for a children’s magazine specializing in air brush. He met Roy, they became friends, and when he heard they needed an artist he started working for the shop. Don comments that what he likes about the job is meeting all the people. Commercial art is lonely, isolating work; here you never know who is going to walk through the door.

25:03Copy video clip URL Don’s customer, Brian, age 23, says he got his first tattoo in 1987 because he likes the self expression of it. He notes that people respond to how nice the artwork is. Brian, who is apprenticing with Roy, says the shops gets customers who come in with poorly executed tattoos and want Roy and his team to fix them.

28:20Copy video clip URL Don says he prefers drawing portraits and says that people will come in with a photograph of someone they want him to recreate on their body. Don comments that customers come in with tattoos made by amateurs and come to the shop to rework and fix them. He notes how much harder it is to do that then to draw something original.

30:14Copy video clip URL Brian notes that receiving a tattoo stings but the pain is not unbearable. Don says most people can tolerate the stinging sensation.

31:06Copy video clip URL Debra says she’s been getting tattoos since she was 16-years-old and has won many competitions, did a lot of commercials. She’s too busy now to get more tattoos. She says she limits where on her body she gets tattooed so that they can be covered if needed or suddenly revealed for shock value.

32:08Copy video clip URL Debra shows off many of her tattoos for camera. She says her favorite tattoo is the tiger on her chest that Roy did when she was 18. She says it has won a lot of awards. She says there are national tattoo conventions that award prizes. She says Roy does all her tattoos.

33:48Copy video clip URL She comments how Don came to the shop. They saw him at a mall working and saw his artwork. They had a friend bring him to the shop. They had Don air brush Roy’s boat and became interested in tattooing.

35:10Copy video clip URL Debra says that Roy’s popularity comes from his talent, he treats people right, and his ability to mold a tattoo to a person’s skin. She says that a tattoo needs to be places where it will enhance the customer’s body. She comments on the health concerns of tattooing and says that the shop is clean, they make their own needles, sterilize all their tubes. She says contracting Hepatitis is a potential hazard of tattooing as are infections, but you should be okay if you take care of the tattoo and avoid sun burns, dirt, and scratches.

38:31Copy video clip URL B-roll Don working on Brian’s tiger tattoo. The outline is complete, now he inks the shading. Don comments that outlining is the hardest part. Once that’s done you just have to color in the lines. Don says he hadn’t thought of tattooing until meeting Roy.

40:10Copy video clip URL B-roll of ink building up on Brian’s arm and Don wiping it away. Don comments that to create a good tattoo must stretch the skin as he inks, hold the gun right, and fit the art to the body. He notes that Brian’s tiger tattoo is intentionally limited to the round area of his shoulder so that the image fits the particular shape of his arm. He sprays a soap and water mixture on the shoulder to keep the area clean and remove excess ink.

42:49Copy video clip URL Video drop outs. Stop/re-start digitizing.

42:50Copy video clip URL Don rubs Vaseline on Brian’s arm to keep the skin lubricated and to help the ink apply easier. He comments that he uses a different gun for shading than used for outlining.

44:11Copy video clip URL Don notes that some of the colors they use come ready made from a tattoo company, others they make in the shop. He says the tattoo gun is comprised of needles. When you apply it, the needles go under the second or third layer of skin and deposit the ink. The image appears to be on the skin, but it is actually just under it.

46:01Copy video clip URL Debra introduces Nathan to Harvey, a professional man with one tattoo. Harvey shows his tattoo but then decides he cannot be interviewed for television because he doesn’t want his tattoo shown in the same market where he works as a teacher.

47:02Copy video clip URL Another customer, Jim, removes his shirt to show his tattoos, portraits of his nieces. He also has a portrait of Debra on his left arm. Jim says Debra did the portrait tattoos and talks about his plans to continue the art work. He shows an old spade tattoo he had covered. He says he’s older now and knows what he wants, suggesting that when he was young he got a tattoo of something that he ultimately didn’t want to last forever.

49:30Copy video clip URL Video drop outs. Stop/re-start video. Debra talks about the famous people the shop has tattooed: Gregg Allman, Lenny Kravitz, Georgette Mosbacher. She says famous people end up at the shop through his reputation.

50:50Copy video clip URL B-roll of Brian getting his tiger tattoo worked on.

52:12Copy video clip URL Debra takes Nathan into the basement. We see a photo taken by Dennis Manarchy of Debra in the nude holding her pet python. She leads Nathan to the tiger’s cage and the complete gym Roy has built. Roy says a lot of locals come down to lift weights. Roy says the shop is known so widely because of videos they distribute all over the world. He says they are more noted in Europe than in the US for their combination of tattoo parlor, tigers, and gym. Roy says he started tattooing 25 years ago in Balboa and later moved to Gary, Indiana. He gets notoriety for tattooing rock stars. He says he did some photography for friends who ran a magazine which allowed him access to meet influential people. His tattoo work on one rock star lead to doing more just from word-of-mouth. He says Lenny Kravitz brought in Slash, knowing that Roy had big snakes he thought his friend would like to see. He says there are famous people from other fields who come in and the staff doesn’t even realize they’re famous.

57:17Copy video clip URL Roy notes that Malcolm Forbes, Elizabeth Taylor, Billy Idol, Johnny Winter, Jimmy Carter’s sister have all been in for tattoos. Roy says they call the area the badlands because Gary is the murder capitol of the world, most of the bad area being in an 8-block radius from his shop.

58:43Copy video clip URL END


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