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Hero: A Q&A with Sam Elliott

Sam Eliott reflects on his new film, The Hero

Pop CultureThursday, June 22, 2017 by Alex De Vore

On Friday June 30, a new film starring legendary character actor Sam Elliott opens at the Center for Contemporary Arts, and it's a doozy.  A screenplay tailor-made for Elliot, The Hero follows a once-famous western film star in the wake of a cancer diagnosis as he attempts to right his past mistakes and make up for a lifetime's worth of decisions he regrets. SFR will run a full review of the film in our July 28 issue, but suffice it to say that Elliott is absolutely brilliant as the regretful, marijuana-loving Lee Hayden, and seeing him dig deep alongside actors like Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman is the stuff film buff's dreams are made of. For now, just know that when an interview opportunity with a bonafide legend comes along, you answer the call.

SFR: Was it weird or exciting to have a project built around you? Maybe a bit of both?
I think it’s a lot of both. It really was born out of a relationship with writer/director Brett Haley that started on a picture called I’ll See You in My Dreams. … I was only there a couple of weeks on the shoot, but we spent a lot of time on the road promoting the film, and really got very close, as one would when you spend a lot of time and are logging a lot of air miles with someone. [We were] getting to know each other and talking about our lives and Brett decided he was gonna write this thing for me. He went back to Brooklyn with his writing partner Marc Basch, who's a Brooklyn boy, too, and they came up with it, and it was an amazing gift. There wasn’t any doubt that I was gonna do this thing. When I first saw it, it was in treatment form; 10 pages, 11 pages, mostly photographs, but enough text in Brett and Marc’s handwriting that really made it fascinating. At that point, it was called Iceberg, from that whole theory about the tip of the iceberg being not really what it’s all about—what you see on top ... what it’s all about is below the surface, and I found this completely fascinating, especially for one pursuing success in the acting game. Unfortunately, they changed the title. I say it’s unfortunate, but it’s probably good they did. The money people said they would never be able to market something called Iceberg. I’m not second-guessing them, that’s their world. But it was certainly exciting. I’ve had parts written for me over the years, but never where I’m on every page. It was daunting and exciting; the fact that it was so close to me was daunting, and I’ve never played an actor before. And that made it a challenge, which was a lot of fun. There were a couple elements there that once I looked closer, there was a lot of it that was purely fabricated, like the relationship with the wife, the daughter, the cancer diagnosis, the sitting around smoking dope all day—I’ve been married to my wife for 33 years, we've been together for 39. I love my daughter more than anything.

Do you feel the character of Lee closely reflects who you actually are in any way?
There are certain commonalities that all of us actors share, I think. The being on the edge and the pursuit of the career, the rejection, the being ever-hopeful. Some of us deal with it differently than others, and [the character] Lee Hayden didn’t deal with it very well, and the pursuit of it costs him dearly; it costs him the relationships with the people he loves, he’s made a mess of his life in that pursuit. The cancer sets him off on a journey. He’s reflecting very heavily on his own mortality. And just because he’s failed his relationships doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his wife and daughter very dearly. This guy Brett Haley and Marc Basch are brilliant writers. Haley is a brilliant filmmaker, which I don’t say for any other reason than I just believe it like I believe I'm talking to you now. This is the top of a long road for Brett career-wise, and we’re just the messengers—we get to say the words these guys write.

Did some of the story elements hit a little close to home, and was that difficult to confront?
No. I don’t think so. I understood this guy. I think what made it uncomfortable was, I thought about a couple of my friends from days gone by—and I don’t mean friends who sat around all day smoking dope or were alcoholics like Lee—these were people who spent a lifetime in the pursuit of a career, had a peak and had a moment where they were on people’s lips and then lost it all for whatever reason. In most cases, that’s because the business says 'Naw, we’re moving on to the next guy.' I kept those guys in mind. Neither one of them is living.

Did you learn anything new about yourself while making this film?
No. I don’t think of myself as very interesting. I think I felt like I was onto something here, only because, again, it was just all on the page. When you get one of these things handed to you, that’s so well-drawn in terms of themes and characters and it goes out to actors who are like, the dream choices … there were no offers sent out to any actors who are not in this thing, they were all first choices. That’s a rarity. It speaks of the material. When actors get parsed like this, if they’re available and they want work, it’s really about the work. It’s not about making money. We shot this thing in 18 days for a budget of around $1.2 million. You make it for the love of the beast. If you love making films and you love this business, it’s about the work. That just made it a pure joy. It was a jam-packed 18 days, but it was the highlight of my career. If I’m done tomorrow, I’ll be good with it. It’s been a great road. It’s been a long one. The first time I worked on a film was in 1968 in Santa Fe working on Cactus, which they changed the name of to Molly and Lawless John. It was my first western and we shot in White Sands and outside of Santa Fe. I’ve been blessed from day one. There’s been those lean times, but they’ve been few and far between, and for whatever reason, I decided early on I wanted to do a certain kind of film. I didn’t want to just do fluff and make money. I got an opportunity to do the right things and I’ve been very, very fortunate.

This is kind of just for me personally, but are you and co-star Nick Offerman buddies in real life?
We are. I went in there to play that doppelgänger character [on Parks and Recreation], and I think Nick had a voice in that. I’m sure they didn’t just say 'Somebody’s gonna come in and play that character.' And we hit it off. We kind of come from the same background: He comes from farming, my dad worked for Fish and Wildlife, was an Eagle Scout and always outdoors. My mom was also from that area, and generations of Texans are behind me. ... So Nick and I had something in common and just built on it. We were fast friends, and it was just so cool to come in and do this kind of shoot [for The Hero]. To sit around smoking Hollywood dope in a movie, it was a lot of fun, sitting there trying to roll joints out of this herbal stuff they gave us. That was a challenge, sitting around smoking all the time. To have to sit there sucking that stuff up … there were a couple of days where that’s all we were doing, just those smoking sequences, and that was a challenge. 

Weekend Picks: Current Events

Weekend PicksFriday, June 23, 2017 by SFR

We don't care what the thermometer says, it's time to jam with music events, art openings, closing weekends for beloved festivals and tons more all over the place. We're thinking of maybe picking up a Slip 'n' Slide, too, but only after we've done all the weekend things like doing all the weekend things is going out of style.

Currents New Media Festival Exhibition

There are only a few days left to check out the light art, video installations and interactive pieces in the final weekend exhibit of the 2017 art festival. Immerse yourself in contemporary works and neon awesomeness.

More Info >>

Baca Railyard Block Party

Visit your favorite midtown businesses and greet newcomers like tea-serving Oputina Café at this special evening get together that celebrates community and unity in the Baca district.

More Info >>

Pride Celebration White Party feat. DJ Thomas & Gordon

Dress up in your best and brightest whites and come celebrate pride!

More Info >>


Wes Cowan: What's Your Treasure Worth?

Cowan, from PBS's History Detectives and a featured appraiser on Antiques Roadshow, and his team evaluate your treasures. Bring that weird lamp or that tea box you inherited, it may be worth a fortune ... Or nothing at all.

More Info >>

Dhakabrahka

They describe their own sound as "ethno-chaos" and they perform traditional Ukrainian folk music with experimental additions and diverse instrumentation. The freak-folkers of Cloacas opens the night.

More Info >>

Art Fight!

Live painting at everyone's favorite new beer/coffee haunt, HQ Santa Fe. All pieces will be auctioned off at the end of the night.

More Info >>


Hot Honey

Old time pop-folk classics with time sass by Lori Ottino, Lucy Barna and Paige Barton who reunite for this special performance.

More Info >>

Hidden Whale

Jim Goulden of the Gluey Brother's and his partner Angela bring the chill vibe of Hidden Whale to a mellow Sunday afternoon at Duel Brewing.

More Info >>

Kate Ware: Frida and Warhol; The Self Image

Ware speaks about the connections between two of the most well known modern artists in conjunction with the exhibit Mirror, Mirror, which includes over 50 photographs of Frida Kahlo throughout her life.

More Info >>

Get more information about how to spend your fun days when you sign up for the SFR Weekend newsletter, delivered to your inbox each Friday afternoon.

The Fork

Hope

The ForkThursday, June 22, 2017 by Michael J Wilson

Hope

It's the end of June already ... yikes! Happy summer y'all.

Let's FORK!


TONIGHT! Head over to 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar (315 Old Santa Fe Trail, 986-9190) for a very special prix fixe fundraiser.

Alexa's Dinner for Hope is a meal in honor of Alexa, a young girl battling leukemia; 25 percent of all proceeds earned this evening will be donated to Alexa’s family. A silent auction of a painting by David Santiago will also occur during the meal with those proceeds also going to Alexa's care.

Alexa is the daughter of Alfonso & Graciela Bojorqez, members of the 315 family for over a decade. She was diagnosed with leukemia in April, and her parents are doing everything they can to help her fight for her life.The hope is that the proceeds raised at this dinner will help Alexa return to her love of school, art, parks and being a wonderful big sister to her younger brother, Dylan.

WHEN: 5-9 pm tonight (Thursday, June 22)
WHERE: 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar
COST: $55


I finally stopped by El Callejon (208 Galisteo St., 983-8378). The new restaurant took over the spot occupied by El Paseo back in October of last year. I tried out the lechon torta ($9.50) and my companion had the carne asada tacos ($12). The food was great, the staff attentive, and the price is perfect.

We all miss El Paseo, but Raul Morales has evolved the space with love.


Santa Fe Spirits and Cacao Santa Fe have teamed up for a unique event. Spirits and Cacao will both give short presentations about their crafting process and then you will get to eat some chocolate and drink some booze!

WHEN: 6-8 pm Thursday June 29
WHERE: Santa Fe Spirits Distillery (7505 Mallard Way, 467-8892)
COST: $30 (sign up HERE or on the phone)


I got some great responses to my question about your favorite late night spots in the last Fork. I'm putting it out there again before I put together a list. So ... late night? Where do we go?

See you next week,
Michael


What news do you want to see in this newsletter? We want to hear from you! Let us know! Email thefork@sfreporter.com


Morning Word: LANL Safety Dance

Morning WordThursday, June 22, 2017 by Matt Grubs

No, you're unsafe
After the Center for Public Integrity published a report this week calling into question plutonium safety lapses as Los Alamos National Lab, higher-ups at LANL sent out a memo featuring this line: “While there will often be external organizations and individuals which advance a misleading narrative, it is not an accurate reflection of our work.” The lab was banned from plutonium work (building replacement plutonium triggers for existing bombs) in 2013. Lab directors argue they are close to being fully operational.

Monumental remarks
US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke may not have moved mountains with his comments to Sen. Tom Udall during a subcommittee hearing, but he also didn't move boundaries. Zinke told Udall that he saw no reason to reduce the size of newly established national monuments if local residents didn't have a problem with them. The secretary said he'd visit New Mexico to hear about the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monuments.

Railroaded
Imagine this: The year is 2035 and a retired-from-public service Susana Martinez has taken a job at an El Paso law firm. She, like thousands of others who live in Las Cruces, is not fond of the commute to work. So, on the days she has to go into the office, she hops aboard the Trail Runner commuter train between El Paso and Las Cruces. Okay, that scenario might never happen, but the rail line might get built. Presumably with a better name.

Supreme Court decision lifts deadline for some lawsuits against police
The New Mexico Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion this week that the children of a man shot by Albuquerque police officer Kevin Sanchez can sue for damages despite missing the time limit for a wrongful death lawsuit. The children of Mickey Owens didn't file suit against APD until after a Department of Justice report mentioned the killing of their father as unnecessary and indicative of a pattern of excessive force and unconstitutional policing. The case sets precedent for such suits—called loss of consortium claims—across the state.

Bodies of missing hikers found
Investigators think it's quite likely a Texas man and his son died from heat exposure after somehow getting lost in a hike around Carlsbad Caverns. The pair were used to hiking, but hadn't applied for an overnight permit.

Smokey skies
Yesterday was hot and smokey in Santa Fe. While there was a new fire that started Wednesday, it didn't spark until the afternoon and it was down south, near Golden. That's a relatively heavily populated part of the county, and 150 homeowners were asked to leave for their safety, though they've been since allowed to return. The smoke in Santa Fe all day was mostly a result of climatic conditions.

A break
It still looks like we'll get one this weekend, with high temperatures dropping into the 80s and maybe even lower by the start of next week. That's great news, because Santa Fe's airport topped out at 100 degrees yesterday.

Thanks for reading! The Word thinks it's funny how we imagine people we always see in uniform as always being in uniform. Like wouldn't a badge get really uncomfortable if you slept with it on? What if you dribbled ketchup on your medals?

Subscribe to the Morning Word at sfreporter.com/signup.

Morning Word: GOP Plan Slashes NM Treatment Funds

Morning WordWednesday, June 21, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Republican health care plan cuts addiction treatment for NM
The newly unveiled healthcare plan crafted by Senate Republicans to replace Obamacare would cut more than $100 million from behavioral health services in New Mexico, such as addiction treatment. The Republican plan phases out the expansion of Medicaid that paid for treatment. The state says the expansion has played an outsized role in helping New Mexico deal with the opioid crisis. Republicans say Obamacare has driven health insurance costs to unmanageable levels.

Truck stop meeting interrupted
Planners for the proposed Pilot Flying J truck stop at I-25 and Highway 14 booked an air-conditioned tent on a motel patio that could hold 75 people and a few tables for displays. About 200 showed up. Many were in vocal opposition to providing a conditional use permit that would let the truck stop be put just across from the western entrance to Rancho Viejo. So vocal, in fact, that after demanding the meeting continue after the planner tried to cancel it and book a larger venue, they walked out after someone outside said 65 people had stuck around to try to hear the meeting from outside the tent. The debacle will delay the project's application by at least a month.

Dust storm claims 6 lives
The massive dust storm that closed a 60-mile stretch of I-10 in Southern New Mexico and Arizona earlier this week caused crashes that killed six people, including a Phoenix couple and their infant daughter. What started as a dusty cloud for many drivers turned into a blinding sandstorm with visibility of just a few feet.

Skandera's exit interview
Why, it's with the American Enterprise Institute, of course. After leading New Mexico schools for seven years, Skandera sat down for a chat with the conservative think tank to talk about teaching adults to teach kids and designing education systems for kids, not adults. And also about how maybe there's too much testing going on.

Herrera charged in shooting rampage
Prosecutors charged Damian Herrera with a single count of murder yesterday for killing his mother during a day-long killing spree last week. Herrera killed five people, police say, on Thursday as he drove between Abiquiu, Ojo Caliente and Tres Piedras. Charges for the four other killings will follow.

Toulouse Oliver to run for full term
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says she plans to run for a full term as New Mexico's top elections official in 2018. She took office after winning a special election to replace Dianna Duran, who was convicted of misusing her own election funds to fuel a gambling habit. Toulouse Oliver hopes to reform the state's campaign finance system.

Behavioral help
Miguel Chavez was still a county commissioner when his son, who is living with bipolar disorder, came to his door last summer after getting out of jail. There was an argument, then a struggle as Chavez pulled a knife away from his son. It was a heartbreaking episode that Chavez says underscores the need to raise gross receipts taxes to pay for more behavioral health care in the county.

It's summer
So why not make it a billion degrees out, China? Sad. The summer solstice began last night at 10:24 and we are off to the races—which apparently end at the coronal layer of the sun. It's gonna be hot today, people; 90s up here and something like 102 in Albuquerque. There's an end in sight this weekend.

Thanks for reading! While out to dinner last night, the Word asked the server what tamarind juice tastes like. She said, "Like tamarind."

Subscribe to the Morning Word at sfreporter.com/signup.

Savage Love

Sneakers

Savage LoveWednesday, June 21, 2017 by Dan Savage

I am a 34-year-old straight woman. I’m monogamous and have an avoidant attachment style. I’ve been seeing a guy I really like. He’s just my type, the kind of person I’ve been looking for my whole life. Thing is, he’s in an open relationship with someone he’s been with for most of his adult life. He was sneaky—he didn’t reveal he was in an open relationship until the second date, but by then I was infatuated and felt like I wasn’t in control of my actions. So what I’ve learned is that poly couples often seek out others to create NRE or “new relationship energy,” which may help save their relationship in the long run. I was deeply hurt to learn about NRE. What about the people who are dragged into a situation by some charmer in an attempt to breathe new life into a stale relationship? I feel like no one cares about the people on the side, the ones who might be perceived to be cheating with someone’s partner, as some sort of competitor, a hussy. How can I reconcile the fact that I’ve fallen for someone who sees me as a tool to be discarded once the excitement wears off? I know we all have a choice, but we also know what it’s like to be infatuated by someone who seems perfect. I feel like such a loser.

-Sobbing Here And Making Errors

“One of life’s hardest lessons is this: Two people can be absolutely crazy in love with each other and still not be good partners,” said Franklin Veaux, coauthor of More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory (morethantwo.com). “If you’re monogamous and you meet someone you’re completely smitten with who isn’t, the best thing to do is acknowledge that you’re incompatible and go your separate ways. It hurts and it sucks, but there it is.”

This perfect, sneaky guy who makes you feel like a loser and a hussy? He told you he was in an open relationship on your second date. You knew he wasn’t “your type” or “perfect” for you the second time you laid eyes on him, SHAME, and you needed to go your separate ways at that point. And I’m not buying your excuse (“I was too infatuated!”). What if he had revealed that he was a recreational bed wetter? Or a serial killer? Or Jeffrey Lord? Or all of the above? Surely you would’ve dumped him then.

Veaux advocates ethical polyamory—it’s right there in the title of his book—and he thinks this guy did you wrong by not disclosing his partner’s existence right away. “Making a nonmonogamous relationship work requires a commitment to communication, honesty, and transparency,” said Veaux. “Concealing the fact that you’re in a relationship is a big violation of all three, and no good will come of it.”

I have a slightly different take. Straight women in open relationships have an easier time finding men willing to fuck and/or date them; their straight male counterparts have a much more difficult time. Stigma and double standards are at work here—she’s sexually adventurous; he’s a cheating bastard—and waiting to disclose the fact that you’re poly (or kinky or HIV-positive or a cammer) is a reaction to/work-around for that. It’s also a violation of poly best practices, like Veaux says, but the stigma is a violation, too. Waiting to disclose your partner, kink, HIV status, etc., can prompt the other person to weigh their assumptions and prejudices about poly/kinky/poz people against the living, breathing person they’ve come to know. Still, disclosure needs to come early—within a date or two, certainly before anyone gets fucked—so the other person can bail if poly/kinky/poz is a deal breaker.

As for that new relationship energy stuff…

“There are, in truth, polyamorous people who are NRE junkies,” said Veaux. “Men and women who chase new relationships in pursuit of that emotional fix. They’re not very common, but they do exist, and alas they tend to leave a lot of destruction in their wake.”

But your assumptions about how NRE works are wrong, SHAME. Seeing your partner in the throes of NRE doesn’t bring the primary couple closer together; it often places a strain on the relationship. Opening up a relationship can certainly save it (if openness is a better fit for both partners), but NRE isn’t a log the primary couple tosses on the emotional/erotic fire. It’s something a poly person experiences with a new partner, not something a poly person enjoys with an established one.

And there are lots of examples of long-term poly relationships out there—established triads, quads, quints—so your assumption about being discarded once NRE wears off is also off, SHAME. There are no guarantees, however. If this guy were single and looking for a monogamous relationship, you could nevertheless discover you’re not right for each other and wind up being discarded or doing the discarding yourself.

I’m going to give the final word to our guest expert…

“Having an avoidant attachment style complicates things, because one of the things that can go along with avoidant attachment is idealizing partners who are inaccessible or unavailable,” said Veaux. “That can make it harder to let go. But if you’re radically incompatible with the person you love, letting go is likely your only healthy choice. Good luck!”


I’m gay and married. My husband regularly messes around with this one guy who treats me like I’m a cuckold. He will send me a pic of my husband sucking his cock, for example, and a text message meant to degrade me. But I’m not a cuckold and I don’t find these messages sexy. My husband wants me to play along because it gets this guy off. Advice?

-Can’t Understand Cuckold Kink

It depends, CUCK. If you’re upset by these messages—if they hurt your feelings, are damaging your sexual connection to your husband, are traumatizing—don’t play along. But if you find them silly—if they just make you roll your eyes—then play along. Respond positively/abjectly/insincerely, then delete. Not to please the guy sending the messages (who you don’t owe anything), but to please your husband (who’ll wind up owing you).


I am a straight male grad student in my mid-20s. My girlfriend wants to have sex with another girl in our class. Neither of us have had a threesome before, but both of us are game. Unfortunately, I am not attracted to this girl. When we started dating, my girlfriend told me that she is sexually attracted to women. We agreed to be monogamous except that she could have sex with other women as part of a threesome with me. She is not hell-bent on having sex with our classmate, but she would like to and says it’s up to me. I don’t want her to suppress her same-sex tendencies, but I am jealous at the thought of her having sex with someone else while I am not participating. What should I do?

-Feeling Out Moments Orgasmic

You should take yes for an answer, FOMO—or take your girlfriend’s willingness to say no to this opportunity for an answer. She’s into this woman but willing to pass on her because you aren’t. There are billions of other women on the planet—some in your immediate vicinity—so you two have lots of other options. Unless you find a reason to object to every woman your girlfriend finds attractive, you aren’t guilty of suppressing her same-sex tendencies.



On the Lovecast, Michael Hobbes on gay, middle-aged dating:  savagelovecast.com


mail@savagelove.net
@fakedansavage on Twitter
ITMFA.org

Permanent Collection

Got a tattoo? Welcome to thousands of years of tradition

FeaturesWednesday, June 21, 2017 by Alex De Vore

The world’s oldest known tattoos adorn various parts of Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old mummy discovered in the Alps on the border of Austria and Italy in 1991. Ötzi has at least 61 of them, and scientists believe there was far more to his body art than a collection of cool-looking designs. Instead, researchers believe Ötzi’s tattoos served a physically therapeutic purpose: relief from joint and spinal pain. The Copper Age man’s artwork—a crude cross, rings around his wrists and simple straight lines, among others—appear to be clustered in and around the affected areas on his body, meaning it’s probable he was tattooed in a ritualistic stab at medicinal aid.

“Approximately 80 to 85 percent of Ötzi’s tattoos line up with classical acupuncture points to relieve rheumatism, or they align with meridians,” Lars Krutak, research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, tells SFR. “In this sense, his tattoos seem to have had some therapeutic value.”

Mark Vigil
Other ancient mummies, like the famous 2,500-year-old Pazyryk “chief” of Siberia discovered in 1947, had tattoos on his lower back and ankle similar to groupings on the Iceman, Krutak says. The art form has, of course, persisted since Ötzi and the chief. It has evolved, too, from symbols marking rites of passage in cultures around the word to signposts of empowerment over physical and emotional pain.

These days, it’s not uncommon for folks to go under the needle after losing a loved one or to cover scars from burns or a mastectomy.

Similarly, collectors mark positive life events such as the birth of a child or marriage. Tattoos have always been available during our lifetime; the traditions, however, have morphed, making the field entirely more accessible than it was even just a few years ago. Tattooed people have become more common than ever, with a noticeable spike in the last 15 years alongside the advent of reality shows such as LA Ink and the rise of photography phone apps like Instagram.

Santa Fe, small as it is, is no stranger to this trend. Even a decade ago there were few options for quality work to be found locally, but as more people take the plunge, more shops have opened. The number of professional tattooers here has nearly quadrupled in the last five years, and they embody evolving traditions and practices. But as more collectors emerge and the industry gains traction, there is much to consider before deciding on a tattoo of your own. Whom should you visit? What’s the etiquette? How much should you spend? These are valid concerns, especially since the modern-day place in the overall tattoo gestalt can or should be almost holy. Collectors get work for countless reasons, but the concepts of therapy or achievement still ring true.

The Rise of the Internet and the Quality Experience

“The internet changed everything, and I mean everything,” tattooer Guido Baldini (@lostctg) says. Baldini, who opened Lost Cowboy Tattoos and Gallery with his apprentice Owen Lostetter just over four years ago, has been professionally tattooing for 23 years. He says he’s seen the craft change from a world for misfits and rebels to a widely-accepted phenomenon.

Anson Stevens-Bollen
“You don’t have the intensity there was before, the genuineness, the exchange with the customer,” Baldini says. “Everything is disposable, and right now there’s a very big instant gratification thing with tattoos, fundamentally.”

Baldini is from Italy but has lived in the states for nearly 15 years. In Santa Fe, he’s worked alongside locals like Four Star Tattoos’ Mark Vigil (@markvigiltattoo) and Dawn’s Custom Tattoo proprietor Dawn Purnell (@dawn_purnelltat2). “You always expect that a person comes to you because they checked out your work and they wanted your vision,” he continues. “I believe if you’re getting a bad tattoo today, something really went wrong.”

The opening up of the industry has yielded a burst of talented artists and artistry. But for Baldini, it isn’t just about the complexity or technical prowess of the work, it’s about the self. “You’re going to get to know yourself more; you’re going to learn more about how you can do your job in a more professional, calm, welcoming way,” he explains. “We’re at the point of amazing tattooing, but people are asking for a good experience as well, and not everybody can do that—getting tattooed is painful, so you can go and get an amazing tattoo, but if you have a bad experience, it’s going to be a nightmare.”

As for the therapeutic aspects of tattooing, Baldini likens the ritual to acupuncture. “Your body is getting shocked when you get tattooed, and when you get shocked you have a reaction,” he says. “It’s not as much about the pain, but you move things emotionally and there’s a lot going on in a very deep way.”

Women Who Have Tattoos, Women Who Give Them

“My favorite things to do are random,” Talisman Body Art’s Nikki Temer (@looney_nikki_temer) says. “I love when someone brings in a sketch or they’ve just got an idea, and I wish I could put a USB plug in their head and just see what they want.”

Liliana Dillingham
Temer has been tattooing about eight years, two of those as an apprentice. It’s a career she’s wanted since she was young. “I started drawing before I could write my own name,” she reminisces.

Temer grew up in Arkansas, the daughter of biker parents who collected tattoos. “I watched my dad get a skull in our kitchen—and mind you, this was the ’80s—and I just remember standing there, watching the whole time,” she says. “I remember there was a female artist, and this was back then in the South, so … I loved sitting there watching all these men and women get tattooed, and she would cover me in stencils and give me a handful of markers to ‘tattoo’ myself.”

Temer says she considers herself an artist and loves to paint and draw but, more than anything, she’s excited about the rising number of female artists working in the industry. “It’s a very male-dominated field, and women are taking a huge leap into it, which is amazing,” she says.

Temer also advises collaboration. With the rise in accessibility, newer tattoo collectors are prone to rookie mistakes, such as price-shopping, rudeness borne of fear or ignorance and the ever-irritating pitfalls of being a know-it-all.

“I don’t think any one style is the best and I don’t think any one artist is the best,” Temer cautions. “I love when people give me a ton of ideas and let me create for them.”

Temer sees the uptick in local shops as a positive, like healthy competition. “Not everyone is the same, and the arrogance should be diminished because we’re all trying to achieve the same goal,” she says.

Across town in the Santa Fe Village, Kristina Tafoya (@tinas_ink_tattoo_gallery) of Tina’s Ink has similar feelings. Tafoya, a nine-year veteran, worked previously for Talisman and The Dungeon before breaking out on her own with a small boutique shop. “Each artist can have a different style,” says Tafoya, “and our own way of seeing designs.”

Still, Tafoya has seen the industry’s ingrained misogyny. She’s been told she doesn’t fit the “type” to get tattooed, that she’ll regret being tattooed herself one day, and everything in between.

That’s an age-old trope. For example, researchers believe tattoos were exclusively given to women in ancient Egypt, circa 2000 BC. Men dominated fields of archaeology and Egyptology, leading mass excavations during the 1920s and 1930s assumed these markings signified a certain station: prostitution, or “dancing girls,” as described in field notes of the era. Early forays into studying body art were, as such, often overlooked in terms of historical or artistic significance. Joann Fletcher, then a research fellow in archaeology with the University of York in England, put the lie to that idea in a 2007 interview, hypothesizing that those old Egyptian pieces may also have functioned therapeutically for women.

Misconceptions about who gets tattooed and why have drifted down through the ages, Tafoya says.

“There was definitely a time when tattoos were more for people in the military or criminals,” she says, “but some people still don’t see the artistic side of it.”

Tafoya aims to expand some day and may soon offer piercings. In the meantime, she’s open to working with guest artists and, thanks to recently giving birth, is working on an appointment-only basis.

In Talis Fortuna (@talisfortunatattoo), her private shop off Baca Street, longtime local artist Crow B Rising has stitched together a practice that pulls from centuries of tattooing traditions. She uses modern-day equipment and also runs the only shop in town that officially offers handpoke pieces (a machine-free style that is, in a word, badass). Rising has tattooed for eight years, four as an apprentice under Four Star Tattoos’ Mark Vigil. The other years have been at Talis Fortuna, where Rising recently bought out her original partner, Jason Metka (who now works for legendary tattoo artist Aaron Bell at Seattle’s Slave to the Needle).

Anson Stevens-Bollen
Rising’s views about tattooing are a bit unorthodox for 2017. “We’re cabinet makers, not artists,” she says. “And I think there’s a difference between being a tattooed person and a person with a tattoo.” She bemoans the loss of tattooing’s grittier side in the modern day. “Get tattooed for 10 years; want it; earn it,” she says. “People idolize these Instagram-famous tattooers, and yeah, it looks cool, but it’s really hard—you’re hurting people, you’re hunched over, you can’t mess up. … Tattooing is really humbling, because your shit’s around forever and you wanna be better. I’m so hard on myself to get better.”

Interested in work from Rising? Email her first. “You have to make an appointment to even get in and talk about the tattoo,” she says. “I just don’t need to do walk-ins anymore.”

Obviously this creates a more exclusive or serious feel, but it’s a system that allows her to be more choosy in which tattoos she takes on. In other words, if you’re kicking around a dandelion bursting into a bunch of bird silhouettes (which you almost definitely shouldn’t be), make sure you don’t just pop by and expect it to work out immediately.

The Local Legends

“You can still tattoo and be successful without using Facebook or Instagram,” Four Star Tattoos owner Mark Vigil says. “It’s just a lot more work if you’re not established.”

Four Star has won Best Tattoo Shop in SFR’s Best of Santa Fe poll more years than most can recall and is easily the most well-known shop in town. (Full disclosure: I worked the desk at Four Star some years ago.) And though Vigil, who has tattooed for 25 years, does use both of the aforementioned social media platforms, he’s more about the soul of the work and the pursuit of artistic self-improvement. Some vapid online fan base isn’t his aim. “I think a lot of people still understand that it takes time for tattoos to happen,” he continues, “and it’s a small percentage of people who want something right away.”

In areas of the globe as far-flung as Nubia, Peru, Siberia and Polynesia, ancient tattoos were a more soulful pursuit, says Krutak of the Smithsonian. In many cases, body art was meant to signify culturally significant events or to memorialize milestones. “Apart from the therapeutic value of tattooing, most of the tattoos I study are linked to tribal identity and/or mark individual accomplishment and achievement: important life events, rite of passage ceremonies, war or hunting honors, etc.,” he says. “Tattoos permanently record and celebrate this ancient ancestral knowledge that ultimately gave rise to these indelible traditions.”

Liliana Dillingham
Vigil laments the more recent trend of instant-gratification-fueled lust spawned by reality TV programs, many of which would have tattoo newcomers believe that back-piece or sleeve they’re dreaming of can be knocked out quickly. It can’t. Big work requires many hours and multiple sessions. There’s still the option to choose a quick flash piece from the walls of Four Star or any of their many design books. But even that selection method is shifting in borderline absurd ways, Vigil says.

“The funny thing is, people come in saying they don’t want to get the tattoos on the wall because everyone has that,” he says, “but then they show you the stuff on the Internet that everyone else has.”

Instead, Vigil urges potential customers to embrace the idea of original work created through collaboration. Yes, there is a tremendous level of trust involved in allowing a stranger to basically cut you for hours on end. But professional artists who offer up advice or suggest compromise aren’t trying to wrest control; they’re trying to create the best tattoo possible. Longtime Four Star artist Scott Buffington agrees: “We’re not as worried about how it’s going to look right when it’s done, we’re worried about what it’ll look like in 20 or 30 years.”

Both, by the way, espouse the concept of tattoo therapy.

“When you have someone who goes through a procedure, like a mastectomy, that’s completely life-changing, and I think it’s amazing for someone to come in and change that for the better,” Vigil explains. “It’s doing something that’s super-empowering and not looking at a situation like a victim, but like a survivor.”

Vigil’s former partner, Dawn Purnell of Dawn’s Custom Tattoo, shares that view. Purnell and Vigil opened Four Star together in 1999 but parted ways in 2005. Purnell, who has 24 years under her belt, strongly believes in tattooing as a means to self-empowerment.

“Even just one aspect is that it’s so painful,” she says. “If the end result is that they proved to themselves they could do it, when they walk out with a tattoo, they were able to go through something challenging; they’re happy; they’re elated.” Purnell says those who seek tattoos are generally experiencing something emotionally deeper than their own consciousness can grasp.

She’ll also be moving Dawn’s Custom Tattoo in mid-July to Hickox Street. “The neighborhood shop is something that’s been a sweet dream of mine,” she says.

Fading Over Time

Even as more people embrace body modification, the Smithsonian’s Krutak says there are important factors to consider from historical and anthropological vantages.

“Indigenous tattooing traditions are rapidly vanishing across the world today,” he tells SFR. “These customs are some of the oldest human expressions on earth. I can’t understand why there are not more international research projects devoted to recording them before they disappear forever. I would encourage UNESCO, Google Cultural Institute, international science foundations or whomever to do something now before it’s too late, because we are losing touch with an incredibly unique aspect of global cultural heritage that defines what it means to be human.”

It seems the more tattoos are normalized within polite society, the further we move away from their roots or even indigenous or shamanistic purposes. That means we lose the cultural significance of the ancient art form. No one is casting aspersions on that lower-back butterfly (they’re actually super cool), but it’s hard to envision future scientists citing such pieces as historically or culturally notable, especially given the dearth of photographic evidence online.

“The clock is ticking,” says Krutak, “but if organizations devoted just 10 to 15 percent of the annual research monies they devote to rock art studies, we’d be in a much better place.”

Fingers crossed.


Tattoo Etiquette

Thinking of getting your first piece? Good for you! Just don’t be an asshole about it and heed the following advice, all of which comes from interviews with local tattooers (though who said what shall remain anonymous).

Know Thyself

Don’t go into a shop and say stuff like, “What do you think I should get?” If you don’t have something in mind, it’s not an artist’s responsibility to make your decisions for you. At least sleep on it.

Know Thy Artist

Do a little research and find an artist who specializes in a style you like. It’s not hard, thanks to Instagram, and every shop has portfolios of their artists’ work you can peruse. They like when you do that.

Have Examples

For the love of God, if you have a specific image in mind, print something up and take it with you. That tiny pic on your phone is helping nobody and shops shouldn’t have to spend all their money and printer toner helping you prepare.

Don’t be a Biter

Think of it this way: If you’d collaborated with an artist you admired for some cool original piece, would you want some yahoo someplace else walking into their local shop demanding the exact same thing? Hell no. Further, most artists don’t exactly love being put in what we’ll call a “tracer” situation—these are actual artists who’ve worked their asses off to get here.

Stop. Collaborate. Listen.

Your artist isn’t trying to do anything other than make sure you walk away with the best work he or she can muster.If the tattooer tells you something won’t work or needs to be altered, you should listen. These people 100 percent have your best interests in mind. Note, also, that your skin is not paper, and just because something looks so cool in a sketchbook doesn’t mean it’ll look so cool emblazoned on your arm.

Change Your Perspective

Yes, this is a permanent thing that will be on your body forever and that is sacred and requires massive amounts of trust, but the other side of that coin is that your artist’s name is forever attached to the piece. If you bully them into doing something they advised against, or if you don’t take good care of your piece, anyone who asks where you got that old-timey heart that is now destroyed by sun damage will associate it with that artist. This is not a good endorsement for them, nor does it properly represent their abilities.

Don’t Haggle

The industry standard for hourly work hovers around $150, though shops will sometimes charge a flat fee for smaller one-off pieces. Some places charge less, some more. If you want to work with a shop or artist, you’ll work it out. After all, you wouldn’t walk into a grocery store and tell them you didn’t want to pay what they were charging for milk unless you’re a real jerk. Or a crybaby. Oh, and tip ’em. Seriously.

No More Zia Symbols

Everyone hates doing these, by the way. Enough already.

Be Cool

Seriously, just be cool. You don’t have to prove you’re an expert, because you surely don’t know as much as your artist.


3 Questions

with Jeffery Pitt

3 QuestionsWednesday, June 21, 2017 by Alex De Vore

Many years ago, your good pal Alex walked into Four Star Tattoos and met artist Jeffrey Pitt. What began as a first tattoo ever (a simple skull) blossomed into a glorious years-long relationship of artwork and friendship and hugs. Just kidding. But there were many tattoos. Pitt now works for Dawn Purnell at Dawn’s Custom Tattoo, and since this is, after all, a big fat tattoo issue (see cover story), it seemed wise to say hey to Pitt and ask him about ‘toos and stuff. 

How long have you been professionally tattooing?
I’ve been a professional tattooer for just shy of 16 years. I went to Maryland Institute College of Art. It was four years that I studied illustration and graphic design. I was the kid who if any of my friends needed something drawn—a T-shirt or a sticker or a flyer for a punk rock show—they were like, ‘Jeff’s gotta draw this up for us.’ I was that guy. And then as we got older, it turned into ‘Jeff’s gotta draw this tattoo design.’ There was a long period of time when I was drawing tattoo designs for friends, and it still hadn’t dawned on me that it was something I’d be into because I didn’t have any tattoos. Actually, that’s not true, I got one tattoo when I was 18. It just kind of went from there. I was definitely that kid who was the art kid out of all of us. I was the kid who drew well.

When you were doing these T-shirts and stickers and things ... I’m picturing very graphic.
I was way into skateboard culture, I loved the skateboard graphics. You’ll hear that a lot with tattooers, especially ones around my age. I was into anything to do with skating; anything to do with graphics.

So you were designing these tattoos for friends, were you thinking ‘I should just do this?’
I was the last one to [get tattooed] out of my little circle of friends. Getting tattooed in the ’80s and ’90s was different than it is now. It was less visible. There’s a part of me that remembers when people saw heavily tattooed people, they thought they were psychopaths. It’s a different day. It wasn’t till I moved here around ’98 that I started getting tattooed regularly, by Dawn [Purnell], and that was kind of when I realized it was something I could do or would like to do.


MetroGlyphs

06.21.17

MetroGlyphsWednesday, June 21, 2017 by SFR
Russ Thornton is a Santa Fe local who has replaced his first passion, cooking, with a new love interest, the weekly SFR comic he's created called MetroGlyphs. Reach him at santafechef@hotmail.com

7 Days

06.21.17

7 DaysWednesday, June 21, 2017 by SFR
1

LAND COMMISSIONER’S WINDSHIELD SHOT

That’s just how tough it is to park on Canyon Road.

2

NATIONAL LOW-INCOME HOUSING COALITION SAYS MAJORITY OF New Mexico RESIDENTS NEED TO MAKE $15/HOUR TO AFFORD RENT

But at least there are so many good, high-paying job opportunities here.

3

RAILYARD BOWLING ALLEY TERMINATED

The equipment is for sale. Keep the dream alive, Meow Wolf!

4

FORMER STATE EMPLOYEE USES FRAUDULENT FUNDS TO BUY CELL PHONES

That upgrade rate is just that absurd.

5

MATTEL RELEASES NEW KEN DOLLS WITH MAN BUN

Comes with a yoga mat and a midlife crisis, too.

6

THE JEMEZ mountains ARE ON FIRE

We mean that literally, not as in they’re doing a great job being mountains.

7

NIGHTTIME FARMERS MARKET BEGINS THIS WEEK

In your face, morning jerks!


Hero: A Q&A with Sam Elliott
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