DEEP ELLUM (CBSDFW.COM) – People are lining up in Dallas to pay for a tattoo they don’t get to see before buying.
Elm Street Tattoo in Deep Ellum just installed a bubblegum machine on the counter. Inside, there are dozens of line drawings folded up inside little, plastic toy canisters.
Customers pay $100 and get a token. They then insert it into the machine, twist and get a random design that soon will be permanently tattooed into their skin.
They call it “Get What You Get.”
“It’s like tattoo roulette,” said Phil LaRocca, a shop tattooer. “You leave it up to the tattoo Gods to decide which tattoo you’re going to get.”
LaRocca insists the machine is not a joke or gag.
“Everything in there is something we’d wear ourselves,” said LaRocca. “There’s nothing that’s weird or awkward.”
After spending an hour inside the shop, six people lined up to twist the knob.
“I think it helps people who are sort of timid or scared to put their foot in the water of tattoos,” said LaRocca.
For tattoo collectors like Dallas Dunaway, the decision was easy.
“Why not? It’s a good chance to get a good tattoo for a good price,” said Dunaway.
Most of the designs would run someone $200-to-$300.
Some still might find it crazy to leave a decision that lasts forever up to a machine and a spin.
“They’re probably not wrong, but it’s just skin and bones,” said Dunaway.
If someone takes a chance on the machine and they get something they don’t like, it is all or nothing. There are no refunds.
“It’s a risk you got to be willing to take before you hand over your $100,” said LaRocca.
Whatever someone happens to get, the story alone might be worth the money.
“Tattoos to me are more like your journey, your diary if you will,” said LaRocca. “It’s a remembrance of a time.”