Tattoo parlor revolution

Machetes, gun racks and ski masks. It’s not the usual tattoo parlor.

The smokers outside, with inked up necks and arms and piercings in several spots on their faces, make Tattoo Evolution seem like a conventional tattoo and piercing salon. But the unexpected weapons lining the walls of the Perpignan boutique surprised me as I walked in to have my face accessorized.

Two of the interns at ALFMED, the language school where The Perpignan Project is based, wore lip rings, as do some of my friends in the Bay Area. My interest in another piercing, in addition to the gauges in both of my ears, peaked after spending 10 days with Anais and Linda.

I decided on the 11th day I had to do it.

Linda, who wears snake bites, a stud on each side of her bottom lip, found a spot just down the street from our school that is open after 7 p.m. and we went at the end of the day.

Knees shaking, I stood outside and finished my cigarette to calm my nerves. Once we went inside, a bald, older man in a yellow shirt said I would have to wait for the piercing artist, Dimitri, who was busy setting up a customer’s newly purchased crossbow.

It was at that point I noticed how much more this parlor had to offer than Zebra Tattoo & Body Piercing in Berkeley, Calif., my local piercing destination back home.

Instead of photos of tattoos and piercings decorating the walls, Tattoo Evolution displays its other offerings. Glass showcases at the door hold brass knuckles and switch blade knives. A centerpiece of bongs and grinders sits in the middle of the shop. And, of course, there are a half-dozen rifles chained up behind the counter next to the espresso machine.

Dimitri, arms exposed from his black tanktop, struggled to string the newly purchased crossbow for two men. Once it was locked, they pulled out the arrows, and I walked behind them in the other direction.

Despite the miltia-esque decor, once we were in the back room, it was as clean as a doctor’s office and Dimitri was supremely professional. He cleaned the needle, disinfected the stud which would soon rest just above the soul patch of my beard, and explained how to keep the new piercing clean.

The 8-minute procedure was a quick, painless process, and now I have my souvenir from Perpignan — unless I feel like buying a crossbow in another 10 days.