Photo by Anne Fishbein

The idea of challenge infuses artist Alix Lambert’s work: She turned herself into a drummer to play with the art band Platipussy; she shaved her hairline for her video “Male Pattern Baldness”; and she learned to sling ink, which she presented as landscape photography in her gallery exhibition “Tattoo.” “When I was 17, I got on a bus to N.J. with some friends and got a tattoo — Tiger Lily on my upper left arm. The only other tattoo I have I gave myself on my toe, because it is tradition when you become a tattoo artist to do your first one on yourself.”

Lambert’s enthusiasm for tattoos led her to Russia, where she filmed The Mark of Cain, a 2000 documentary shot in eight prisons from Moscow to Siberia that decodes the complexities of Russian prison tattoos. “You tattooed Stalin and Lenin over your chest so that if the Communists gave you the death penalty, you couldn’t be put in front of the firing squad,” explains one older prisoner. This month, the project comes out in book form, Russian Prison Tattoos: Codes of Authority, Domination, and Struggle (Schiffer Books).

Three years ago, Lambert moved from New York to Hollywood, where she noticed similarities between Chicano gang and Russian prison tattoos: mainly, pinup girls, lettering (but rather than gang affiliation, a common Russian text message is “Welcome to Hell”) and Christian iconography (although religious tattoos are not symbols of belief — a crowned crucifix is the marking of a high-ranking thief). “I hoped that tattoos would be a window into the bigger story of the prisons, and that they would offer prisoners a comfortable way to start talking. I hoped for all that we got but had no real reason to believe that we would.”

—Ron Athey


Without ever breaking eye contact to stab at his salad with a fork, Evan Marc Katz raves about his dual passions: writing and matchmaking. The quick-tongued romantic turned his talent with words into the world’s first online dating-consulting firm. Katz started from his Brentwood home four months ago. Cyberdaters can get their personal profiles spiced up by a veteran online dater, who also worked at for a year before starting up his own company. “I want to be the best friend with the sage advice, not the guy who’s been around the block,” says the Duke graduate.

(photo by Larry Hirshowitz)

Clients can choose from five packages, ranging from a half-hour phone consultation to a fully rewritten profile. “I write something that could only describe one person,” says Katz, also a Hollywood aspirant, who has written 11 full-length features and 15 sitcoms. Clients praise his work, and friends say he’s a man on a mission.

Katz’s experiences with Internet dating inspired him to write a how-to book, I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book: A Common Sense Guide to Successful Internet Dating, which will be published next Valentine’s Day. Generally, Katz blames the numerous failures in the Internet dating scene on a lack of patience. “The number-one problem is that people rush into that first face-to-face meeting,” Katz says. “By scoping out the options on the phone beforehand, you weed out all the psychos.”

—Heidi Hardt

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