Every Friday the 13th, many New College students have something other than bad luck on their minds: tattoos. For this classic tradition, tattoo parlors offer a $13 special, attracting massive crowds and waiting lists that stretch back hours.
Attendees pick from a large set of predetermined designs, but artists are usually flexible enough to take individual requests as long as it does not require extensive drawing beforehand. By custom, tips are a bit more generous than usual, around 20 percent of the original tattoo price, in an attempt to compensate for the extreme discount.
Local Sarasota shop, Southern Hellfire Electronic Tattoo, already had an estimated three-hour wait by 7 p.m. The small, cool space overflowed onto the street with people, some there for tattoos and some there to accompany friends. A group swarmed around a wall covered with design options, which ranged from sharks to skulls, and tickets for beer were handed out to those of age.
Co-owner and piercer Sean McCoy said the parlor receives about 100 to 200 people for events such as last Friday’s special.
Since February and March both possessed a Friday the 13th, the tattoo offer, which also included piercings, was available in two consecutive months. On February 13, McCoy got to work at 2 p.m. and did not leave until 8:30 a.m. Those with names on the waiting list were called early into the morning, even around 3 a.m., to claim their place in line and get inked.
“They have been very patient [and a] variety of ages,” Southern Hellfire tattoo artist and Ringling alum John Pidwell said of the evening’s customers after finishing artwork that could have normally cost $300. He also told of a family who, every Friday the 13th, plans in advance to take off work and attend the event.
Southern Hellfire has two locations, one in Sarasota on Superior Avenue and the other in Venice.