The South Shore tribe gathered at the 2007 Bay View Bash on Sept. 15, united not just by their passion for live music, festival food and fun, but also by a distinguishing characteristic - a love of offbeat tattoos.
Although the weather was cool and not particularly conducive to showing off art rendered in ink and flesh, plenty of tattoos still made their presence known, peeking out from under indigo denim and black leather.
The owner of Sweeney Todd salon, 2999 S. Delaware Ave., has eight tattoos on various parts of her anatomy, including one that offers a clue to her name. On her ankle, Jeannie Bentrup sports a tattoo of a genie magically emerging from a bottle.
"That's a million years old," she said.
Bentrup, who was busy arranging African art in her salon's bash booth, has a more recent creation on her upper back. It's a brightly-colored portrait of a banana slug. There's a story behind that one.
Bentrup was living in northern California at the time she was inspired to emblazon an emblem of a sports team, the University of California-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs, between her wing bones.
Natalie Horrom, also known as "Rock'n Retro Styler" at Hairys Hair Bar, 2385 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., uses tattoos to tell some of her life story. She has the names of her sons, Paul Valentino and Jonathan Angelo, inscribed on her forearms.
Also on her right arm, Horrom sports an image of tools used in hair styling, just under a bluebird that is a tribute to her mother.
Anibar Ayala of Bay View is a former Marine who claims he was "never tempted" to get a tattoo.
As he waited for a beverage at the Bash, Ayala said, "My body's ugly enough without a tattoo."
Mike Kaneiss was strolling the Bash with his ex-wife and good friend, Connie Elliott. Kaneiss has two themes covering his arms. His left arm is a patriotic tableau featuring Mount Rushmore and a large eagle in flight. His right arm is decorated with an array of wizards and dragons.
"I got 'em all in Bay View," at the now-defunct Exotic Body Art tattoo shop, Kaneiss said.
He said he got his first tattoo in 1985 and kept adding to the body art over the years.
Danny Crivello of Bay View spent a good deal of his life playing guitar, singing and driving cabs in Las Vegas. He came back to Bay View to retire.
But he has never retired his tattoo - the simple inscription "Connie" just under the inside of his elbow on his right arm. He's had it for 40 years.
"My girlfriend asked me to get it," he said. Crivello told her he'd get it, but he didn't have any money, so she would have to pay for it.
At that time, Crivello said, there was just one tattoo parlor in Milwaukee, located on West Wells Street. The tattoo set Connie back a total of $1.
"I never did pay her the $1 back," he said, but he figures that is not a problem. When they eventually divorced, "She got the house."
Shawn Page and Andy Schilling, both bartenders at The Stepping Stone, 2422 S. Howell Ave., would have a hard time hiding their tattoos, even if they tried. Page and Schilling have the "full body suit," a look that could be intimidating to those who don't know them.
"In Bay View, everyone's cool about it," Page said.
Page's intricate body art is an exploration of good and evil, including "devil women" and an image of Jesus in his armpit. When asked which side of the coin comes closest to his philosophy, he said, "I'm an agnostic."
Schilling said the reason he has so many tattoos, including an array of Day of the Dead skulls on his feet, is "I like the artwork."
Visiting the Bash with his mother, 7-year-old Stuart Wergin of West Allis decided to try out the tattoo life by getting a small skull painted on his forehead. When asked why, Stuart had a simple answer, "I just wanted to be weird."
Nan Bialek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (262) 446-6632.
Best of the bash
This year's Bay View Bash, sponsored by the Bay View Neighborhood
Association, featured local merchants, more than 20 live bands and the people of Bay View making their own kind of fun:
• Daye Lynn Harmon, owner of Hairys Hair Bar, committed "random acts of hairstyling" up and down South
Kinnickinnic Avenue. Wearing a pair of white angel wings, Harmon whipped out combs and hairspray as she stopped passersby and re-did their 'dos. She called her shtick "touched by an angel."
• Bay View Fitness Club for Women presented a series of demonstrations of their shape-up classes for all ages. Watching an energetic group of women going their aerobic paces, a woman in full belly-dance regalia was at the front of the crowd of onlookers, moving her hips to the music.
• After a wedding ceremony at
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 1023 E. Russell Ave., the groom and groomsmen in the wedding party strolled the streets, apparently enjoying the bash.
• At the stage in the teen area of the bash, two boys took the karaoke
microphone to rev up the crowd with their rendition of the Beatles' "Drive My Car," complete with choreography.
• Dogs seemed to enjoy the bash as much as their owners. From Great Danes to Chihuahuas, tails were wagging everywhere.
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