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In the late 70s, beneath the gritty Bowery, Jonathan Shaw, son of jazz legend Artie Shaw, boldly converted his living room into a DIY tattoo studio, birthing Fun City Tattoo in a pre-legal Manhattan era. Amid the chaos of downtown Manhattan, this basement became a hub for iconic artists and musicians, like Dee Dee Ramone and Lydia Lunch.
The mid-80s marked the official establishment of Fun City Tattoo, a place that seamlessly fused fine art with the essence of punk and hardcore. The shop exuded an edgy vibe, adorned with esoteric paintings, and attracted a diverse clientele, from gang members to Hell's Angels bikers and celebrities like Iggy Pop and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Despite the winds of change and gentrification sweeping through the East Village, Fun City Tattoo endured, changing hands but maintaining its essence. One of the shop’s apprentices, “Big Steve,” took the helm, mastering various tattoo styles while preserving the shop's heritage. Alongside partner Maxx Starr, they continue to uphold Fun City’s legacy, drawing in celebrities, musicians, and a new generation of artists.
Amidst the gentrified surroundings, Fun City Tattoo remains an enduring emblem of punk and hardcore culture, shaping the American tattoo scene.
(Paraphrased from a piece by Davis Richardson for Noisey)