View more photos in the “Ink-N-Iron: Tattoo & Kustom Culture Festival '09” slideshow.
The bitchin' wheels and badass ink returned to the Long Beach waterfront with a vengeance last weekend as the Ink-N-Iron festival brought scores of tattoo enthusiasts and custom car aficionados together to celebrate the counterculture that combines 21st century cutting edge with mid-20th century stylistic chic.
On Saturday, the recent bad weather departed and made way for sunshine to rain down on the concourse in front of the Queen Mary, with merchants and vendors hawking everything from rockabilly haircuts to leather-bound baby goods, tattooed festival goers sharing their ink with one another amidst a sea of souped-up classic cars parked on the lawn in front of the grand showboat and, for the first time, inside the enormous dome next door that used to house the Spruce Goose. (It was inside where the pimpin'est rides were on display, everything from glowing gold low-rider boats to candy-apple red Caddies and rainbow-detailed hot-rods.)
Inside the Queen Mary's belly, now the home to the ship's expo hall, the all-encompassing hum that recalls an angry beehive signaled the hundreds of tattoo artists converging to share their wares and break out the needles on the ready and willing; everywhere you look on three decks, someone's sprawled on a chair or table either with a big grin on their face and suckin' up the pain, or holding onto a friend's hand for dear life. The artwork, some of which was judged each day in massive tattoo competition, is mesmerizing. Meanwhile upstairs on the swankier cruise decks, there were gallery exhibits of artwork and photography and cabaret performances in Sin Alley, while back out on the concourse the main stage rocked well into the evening with performances from the likes of Atlanta hip-shakers The Woggles and garage rock icons The Fuzztones. Headlining on Saturday were Tacoma, Washington's legendary The Sonics, whose harder-edged riffs in the mid-60s rock canon well earned them the reputation as early forerunners of punk. And even in their AARP years, the guys can shred a lick better than guys half their age. Hell of a way to end an iron-clad day.