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Tattoo artists share their living canvases at the Jamboree.
Tattoo artists share their living canvases at the Jamboree.
courtesy of Dan Collins

Skin City

If another long week's got you stressed, a visit to the Phoenix Airport Marriott for this weekend's fourth annual Valley of the Sun Tattoo & Piercing Jamboree -- where it's a good thing to be on pins and needles -- might be in order.

"It really is just a place to come and relax, bring family, and be around a bunch of extremely friendly tattooed people that are into the same thing," says Sage O'Connell, owner of Urban Art Tattoos and the Jamboree's "Best of Show" winner two years running.

So there won't be naked, beer-guzzling living canvases groping each other to the sounds of White Zombie? "I wish," O'Connell says. "But you never know what might happen in the pool around 4 a.m."


The Valley of the Sun Tattoo 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, May 1; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, May 2. Admission is $15 a day, $30 for the weekend. Call 480-966-9168 or see for details.

Yeah, sure, don't hold your breath.

Much like O'Connell's clientele, the Jamboree is almost all business. Suits and domestic types have replaced the bikers and hell-raisers.

"Now I'm tattooing Mormon moms," says O'Connell, who specializes in black-and-gray portrait work. Hence, the Jamboree has a more family-friendly vibe, including vendors selling baby clothes. The Marriott provides a massive catering spread and swanky bar for Jamboree visitors, and a professional massage staff gives free rubdowns all weekend.

The event is even educational, as Kenai Nunis, a Polynesian tattoo chief from Hawaii, exhibits the original tattooing method of 5,000 years ago.

But all is not lost for those in search of a little -- or a lot -- more skin and salacious activity. More than 100 artists from the Southwest will bring the ink if you bring the body. And, for the second straight year, "Playboy TV" will be scouting the best tattooed talent on hand.


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