Hip Without The Hurt
Temporary tattoos and faux lip rings turn Weekly reporters Laurel Chesky and Michelle Maitre into hipsters
Thursday, August 19, 1999
We want to be hip, really we do. It''s just that hip--with the piercings, tattoos, and all those other trendy things the coolest among us do--hurts. We wanna look like we''re with it, we just don''t want to get hurt in the process. And I''m wagering there are a lot of other people out there who feel the same.
That''s when it hits me: Just fake it. These days, wanna-be hipsters have fake tattoos, nose rings, belly button rings, all the tools they need to be hip without the hurt.
It seemed like the perfect way to attain painless hipness--a slender silver ring that just snaps in place or an itsy-bitsy piece of plastic and ink, tastefully placed, but that rubs off with a little baby oil. But still, you gotta worry about the image you''re projecting with these things. Yeah, real tattoos are cool, but will plastering a plastic bumblebee on your arm make you seem cool, too, or will you look like some pathetic loser too scared to go for the real thing?
So we decided to test some of these products out, not just for us, but as a public service to the rest of you pseudo-hipsters who want to be cool, but don''t want to deal with the long-term consequences. As the Weekly''s muckraking reporters (motto: "We go where news is"), we wallpapered ourselves with fake tattoos and pinched clip-on rings onto our nostrils and lips for a night on the town.
Our mission: "Hip" Test phony accessories and see if anyone could tell they weren''t the real thing, then gauge public reaction to the aforementioned fakery. (For our ratings, see story, this page.)
This is our true story: Not only did we pass as pierced and tattooed hipsters in the night, we became groupies of the band Ambrosia (think ''80s big hair), received some coolness tips from a bald girl and danced in a cage until 1am on a work night.
We Fooled a Rock Star
Whether it was giddiness that came from being temporarily hip or the beers that made us do it, we''ll never know. But what we do know is that it''s easier than you think to pass as hip. We tested it out at Long Bar on Aug. 5 where Ambrosia played their hits "How Much I Feel," "Biggest Part of Me" and others to a crowd of 40-ish work-a-day types.
Things were going well--a boozy guy tried to kiss Laurel, who, incidentally, had to drink beer from a straw because her "lip ring" got in the way, and everybody seemed duly impressed with our new tattoos.
"Where''d you get them done?" one admirer asked. Momentarily, I panicked. We hadn''t rehearsed this little detail.
"Gold Coast," we both replied simultaneously, a little too loudly, but at least we both named the same place.
We realized this might not be the best crowd on which to test our new accessories, so we went right to the top: the rock stars. If we fooled them, we figured, we could fool anybody.
"It looks really great," said Ambrosia frontman Joe Puerta, who looks a bit like an acne-prone Frankie Avalon, when we showed him our arm tattoos and facial piercings.
He''s a rock star. He should know. His solicitation might have had something to do with the fact that, just moments before, we were doing pole dances in front of him in the big steel go-go cage next to the stage. But we fooled him. Not only him, but other members of the band, as well. We even ended up drinking with one of them a few doors down at Viva Monterey, which, that night, was serving a much hipper crowd we thought would give us a better idea of how well we were doing.
"You''re going to regret that when you get older," said Robert, with whom I played video games at Viva. Wagging his head wisely over my swirling wrist tattoo, Robert warned, "In, like, 10 or 20 years, you won''t like it so much."
Even our piercings (which, truth be told, we thought might be our give-away) went over well.
Somefolks we met did have reservations, however. "It looks good here in the dark," said Bruce, an enthusiastic, 40-something Ambrosia groupie.
"I''m not sure how well it would look outside."
He also claimed to have the inside line into our piercings: "I knew it was fake because you pulled away when I tried to kiss you," Bruce said when faced with the sensual spectacle of Laurel''s lip ring. "If it was real, you would have kissed me."
Yeah, Bruce, that''s what would have happened.
Then there was the truly hip girl we met. We call her "the bald girl," although she wasn''t really bald anymore. Her hair had grown out to like, half an inch. She knew our tattoos were fakes right off. Our piercings, especially my nose ring, were harder for her to suss out.
Her friend is a tattoo artist, she said. But she gave us a tip for passing: "Your mistake is you''re telling people you''ve had it a month," she said. "After a month, your arm would still be red and swollen. Tell them you''ve had it about three months. That''ll help." And help it did. For the rest of the night, we were as hip as we wanted to be. Well, maybe.