I checked my email as I walked onto the line 6 train of the subway. If there is one thing in the world I love, it’s the Seoul Metro. Even though your deep underground there is fantastic WiFi and cell service. So good, that I got the notification for an email sent the previous day. It was the design for the tattoo I was on my way to get. After no response, he emailed again confirming our appointment.
“Not cancel!!! I will see you today!” I hoped I RSVP’d in time. I made the appointment months ago. He is in high demand and if you look at his Instagram you can see why. Hundreds of gorgeous original artwork, each with incredible detail and a fucked up message. Mushrooms growing out of dead bunnies. Snakes slithering out of the mouths of topless women. With his dark imagination and killer execution, it’s hard not to fall in love with his work. And after seeing a picture of his face after some deep googling, it’s hard not to fall in love with him either.
This was a momentous day. Not only was I going to get inked by Mr. Sexy, it was also my soberversary. One whole year booze free. It’s an intimate milestone that I wanted to share with someone special, even though he probably used “foreigner” instead of my name in his appointment calendar. He showed up four minutes late wearing joggers, a shirt with his name Mr. Sexy labeled on it, and a black pollution mask. I was gagged, and not by the springtime yellow dust.
“Hello.” He said.
“Annyeonghasseyo.” I said. He laughed as he punched in the code for the door. I wondered if he was laughing out of discomfort from the tingling of our obvious deep connection, or at my terrible pronunciation.
“Sit down and wait please.” He disappeared into a room that I fought the urge to follow him into. I shaved my armpits for this appointment and I didn’t want it to go to waste. But I listened to
my master Mr. Sexy and waited. The waiting area was very clean. There were plants everywhere and stacks of books on the coffee table. I picked up the book at the top of the stack and opened it to a random page. Vaginas. Next page, a stack of vaginas. I turned to the back of the book — a series porcelain vaginas. They were mere paintings, but I felt uncomfortable because they looked underage. I flipped to the title page. Japanese Erotica in Contemporary Art.
Mr. Sexy came out wearing a different mask. This was a white surgical mask, and it didn’t match his outfit as well. He should take off all his clothes then. He was equipt with the design printed in five different sizes. He showed me the mirror, told me to select the size, then disappeared outside. Even though I was a paying customer, worried that he was going to ghost me. I looked in the mirror and contemplated if I should take my top off or not. It wasn’t necessary for the tattooing, but I wanted to let him know that I’m interested, if not desperate.
I choose the second to largest size. Bigger is better, but you can’t tell a Korean man that. He placed the template to my skin and marked the edges with a sharpie. He touched me. He sprayed my bicep with an alcohol solution to clean the skin. He was liberal with the application and I imagined he was trying to make my tank top see through. I gave a nonchalant shimmy, but he did not notice. I stood still as he applied the template. Though I wanted to give him an erection, I didn’t want to break his concentration. This is going to be permanent on my body.
“Lay down. Put your head over here, like this.” I savored his instructions as if they were a seasonal latte. He put a secondary table underneath my arm, where he’d be tattooing. He moved my arm in the way that he wanted it (and I wanted it too) and sat on a stool next to me. “OK, we’ll start now.” He turned on the tattoo gun, that oh-so-familiar buzz that sounds like a vibrator. He pinned down my arm and leaned in. The needle touched my skin and I started squirming. Not from the pain, but from the desire.
Because it was my right arm, I could not use my phone. I had to lay there amidst my dirty, dirty thoughts. It lasted a little longer than an hour. He opened the door for me as we said goodbye. There was lingering eye contact. I love the art he put on my body, but in some ways, he left me so unsatisfied. I will be back for you, Mr. Sexy. Perhaps for my next soberversay.