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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 27, 2001

Tattoos become one way to show new patriotism

Advertiser Staff and News Services

At Affordable Tattoos in Waikiki, John R. Aulicino showed his patriotic sentiment by having his arm tattooed with an eagle wrapped in the American flag.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Americans eager to express their patriotism are rolling up their sleeves and gritting their teeth as red, white and blue are inked into their skin.

Monday afternoon, that included John R. Aulicino, who had an eagle wrapped in a flag tattooed on his arm at Affordable Tattoos in Waikiki.

Sudden Rush Tattoo and Body Piercing in Waipahu, meanwhile, joined other shops around the country in offering an American flag tattoo free to anyone over the age of 18; the offer ends Oct. 31. Owner Jerry DeGuzman said the shop also is donating a portion of its profits to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Mostly, though, there's been only modest interest in permanent patriotic skin art here, according to several shop owners.

"I kind of expected a little more of that, but it hasn't really happened," said Dodge Distad, owner of Koi Tattoo in Kailua. "There's one guy who wants to incorporate the World Trade Center into a tattoo he already has, and a couple of questions about eagles and flags, but no big trend."

Two other tattoo shop owners in Waikiki also said they've seen only normal interest in patriotic tattoos.

Across the nation, however, tattoo parlors reported a surge in business since the Sept. 11 terrorism. Most designs are nothing fancier than Old Glory or "9-11-01."

Others are more elaborate and even gruesome.

Alien Arts Tattoo Shoppe in downtown Savannah, Ga., offers a cartoonish Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the terror attacks, with a broken nose and a dagger stabbed through his head.

Some Army Rangers stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah have had their name, Social Security number, religion and blood type tattooed under the armpit — just like a military dog tag.

Hundreds were said to have lined up for flag tattoos at a Los Angeles tattoo convention four days after the attacks. Memorial tattoos also have been popular at New York studios near the collapsed towers of the World Trade Center.

Brent Cox, manager of Dynamite Dermagraphics in Crystal River, Fla., said patriotic tattoos are popular because "you can't lose it. It's not going to break. You take it to your grave."