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Ouch! Punks and Yuppies Share Pain at International Tattoo Convention

May 20, 1996

MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ It looked like a military field hospital run by burly bikers. All around the cavernous converted beer hall, people were getting perforated. A sign on a wall at the Fourth Annual Bavarian Tattoo Festival declared in English: ``No Wimps.″

Customers lay on their sides with their pants down, shirtless while straddling chairs, or with legs propped up on stools. They were getting limbs and even whole bodies covered with Amazon women, red devils, skulls and other designs.

The convention highlighted the new acceptability of body art, no longer the mark of an ex-con or a sailor. Shaved-head punks and bikers in leather lined up with yuppies in Izod shirts to get tattooed by some 40 artists from Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States.

``People don’t stare at you so much these days if you have tattoos,″ said 32-year-old Tony Olivas, a ponytailed tattoo artist from Atlanta, Ga. who attended the convention this weekend.

Stefan Erhorn lay shirtless on two wooden chairs for more than three hours as a Maori design was etched and colored around his belly button.

The 32-year-old from nearby Dachau said the electronically operated tattoo machine pricking holes into his stomach hurt ``a little bit,″ but there was no moaning or whimpering from him _ or from any of the other customers.

Tattoo fanatics, which most of these were, just grin and bare it. For the hesitant, courage was sold at a bar in the form of draught beer.

Dave Galipeau, 36, a computer scientist from Toronto, came to the convention with his American wife to get his first tattoo _ a maple leaf, Canada’s national symbol. ``It’s my Father’s Day present,″ he said.

Galipeau couldn’t find a Canadian tattoo artist at the convention and decided to get his maple leaf the next time he went home.

Justine Galipeau, a 25-year-old accountant at a U.S. military intelligence base outside Munich, was tattooed a couple of years ago: a dainty sunflower on her back.

She chose that spot so others at work couldn’t see the tattoo. ``You have to live a little on the wild side, but not to the extent that everyone can see,″ said Justine, who is from New York.

A German punk who calls herself F.T.W. _ it stands for an English obscenity _ would scoff at Galipeau’s self-consciousness. Her hand and left arm are decorated with designs inspired by the Maori people of New Zealand.

``There’s no sense in concealing my tattoos,″ said the 24-year-old F.T.W., who works at a Munich skateboard store. ``They are so beautiful.″

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