Ep. 31: Monogamy and Tattoo Artists: are we compatible?

Listen in as I share some personal updates regarding decisions I've made. I'll also be taking you through a heartfelt review from one of our listeners that deeply moved me and further affirmed why I am so proud of this podcasting journey I've been undertaking for the past eight months. 

The second half of the episode takes us on an exploration of the big question, can tattoo artists be monogamous given the amount of intimacy we encounter on a daily basis at work? I will give my take and offer two sound bytes from two tattoo artist friends of mine pondering the same questions.

I've always wanted to moonlight as Dan Savage, so thank you, listener for providing me with an opportunity to do my own advice column podcast segment. More please!

Third, I do believe this is a question that would benefit from even further expansion and more discussion of intimacy in tattoo shops in tattoo artist/ client relationships and some storytelling time. Yes, there will be storytelling. 


Anonymous advice column questions or comments can be asked/told here:


Transcript from the episode:

Micah: Hello darlings, micah Riot here Just wanted to do a little intro for this episode. It's kind of a special episode. I've never done one of these before and I know you probably didn't realize you need one more advice column, one more like advice podcast. But here it comes. This is not becoming an advice podcast, but I did get a question from one of my listeners who asked me a really great question that I could really expand upon. So I'm gonna present her question, i'm gonna present an answer, i'm gonna present a couple of different perspectives from other tattoo artists whom you probably are familiar with. But first I am going to give you a couple of little bits and pieces of news of my own and then we will get to that question and answer portion. So here we go. Hello, my darlings, welcome to another episode of Ink Medicine podcast. This is Micah Riot and I'm coming to you with episode number 31. It is the 7th of July 2023. I know, i know, but I also can't believe it's already. We're like into mid-July, it's almost mid-July and I've been doing this podcast now for about eight months and that's pretty cool. I've come up with a whole ass episode every week. I think I missed two in the last, like since early December. So that is pretty cool. This podcast, i have to say, it's something I'm proud of. It's something I've wanted to do for so long and tried, attempted to do a bunch of years ago and just couldn't, couldn't muster up what at the time I thought it would take to keep it going. So now that I've been doing it for eight months, i'm quite proud of what I've accomplished here Me and, of course, all of my lovely guests. And I keep thinking about maybe ending a season and taking a little break to like gather my thoughts and record some more interviews. And then I'm like but I love doing it and actually really love doing it every week. So I'm thinking I'll probably last the year into, i guess, the end of the year, like December, and then maybe we'll take a little break over the holidays so I can gather my thoughts. I will also probably be healing at that time from chest surgery. I'm hoping that's gonna be the timing. So I guess here I am announcing to the entire world. I finally made a decision. After thinking about it for 20 years and really thinking about it deeper and harder for the last few years, i made a decision that I would like to have chest surgery and now that I made that decision, i can't fucking wait. I'm really excited. I'm really excited to have my clothes fitting differently. I'm really excited to not have heavy, sore, painful boobs for like most of the month. Sorry if it's TMI, but I'm excited and I wanted to share that excitement with you. I assume some of you who listen are non-binary and will understand my feelings. Also, trans folks, of course, and those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about as an experience, as an experiential type of thing, just know that this thought, this decision that I just made, is making me happy and I hope you'll be happy for me. So the first order of business is I really wanted to read a review I got recently, in early June, from somebody who I don't think I've ever interacted with on the internet or in person. It touched me so much. It made me tear up, made me really happy, and every time I tell somebody about it it makes me happy again. So I want to share it with you. Its title is must listen five stars. I probably did not fit the expected demographic of this podcast, as I am a straight man with no tattoos. If I ever get one. I'll be reaching out to Micah. I found Micah on the internet randomly and started listening to the podcast and now it's a must listen. I listen to every episode as soon as it comes out, can't wait for the next one. Something about Micah's style is so I don't know how to describe it Listenable, soothing. The cool kids would probably say Micah's a vibe. I don't know if you would consider the episodes with guests' interviews per se, but the conversations are intimate, super interesting and thought-provoking. I love their standard question at the end. If you don't know what that is, you'll have to give it a listen. The episodes without a guest are just as interesting. Cannot recommend this podcast enough, and you signed your review as JSax, so I'm just gonna say J. I just want to shout it out to you, j. Thank you so much. This really made my day. It really made my week. I love this review. You are absolutely the intended audience for this podcast because I love the idea of everybody not just people with tattoos, not just other queer people, but everybody listening to this project. I love making it. I think it has a lot of value. I think the people I bring on are amazing And I love that you listen to this. I love that you found me randomly. I love that you're not a client of mine, because it means there's a reach besides, beyond my immediate world and beyond the people who follow me on Instagram, and I love that for me and for you and for all of us. So thank you so much for writing this review. Thank you, i really appreciate it. Please say hello if you find yourself on my Instagram page. If you want to send a DM, i'd love to say hello to you. Thank you. I am going to start reading reviews from the Apple podcast reviews as much as I can, every episode, if I can. If I get more reviews, that would be great. If I get more reviews than I can read, i would love that. So again, i'm going to ask all of you who listen, especially those of you who are regulars who love this podcast, please review me. It really helps the world to find out about this podcast And I would really love to get it out there in the ears of many, many more people. And if you're a lovely, regular listener, i appreciate you so much, thank you, thank you so much. That means it means the world to me. If you do follow me on Instagram. You might have noticed that I am now using a different graphic to announce episodes, to remind people about episodes, and that is because I finally got into Canva and figured out how to make a cool graphic. So I would say thanks to Cherish for that. Cherish is a person I know from my studio and they are a graphic designer and I tried to hire them to do my graphics and they came up with some stuff that wasn't quite my style, but it made me feel like I could actually do it in Canva myself. So I went ahead and did it. So, thanks to them, i did pay them for their work, don't worry, but I was stoked to be able to do it myself, also with the help of Maestro my dearest Maestro on the mic the movement Maestro. Go, follow them, if you haven't, on Instagram. They're amazing. And since I was playing with Canva, i also started playing with Procreate more, very much encouraged and very much inspired by Wolf, who told me that they now use Procreate to draw a lot of their designs. I have now found it very beneficial for myself as well. So I started designing stickers because I'd like to have a little side hustle as a sticker maker and seller. So I have my first sticker in my hands. It took a couple of tries, it did a run, it wasn't quite right. It did another run and I really love the results. It's kind of like a mirror, matte finish. It's my little pony character, kind of on my little pony, but it's queer and trans and like a muscle daddy and it's holding up a bar over its head Like it's a cross fitting, powerlifting. My little pony with muscles and like a little six pack and super cute, really fabulous hair. I'm really excited about it. It was kind of a pride. But now that it's July, i don't care, like when you're gay, you're gay every day, doesn't matter if it's pride or not. I do still want to make some more merch and that will be probably like figuring that out At some point soon. I've been pretty busy with the stickers and, of course, tattooing and answering emails and all that. Making the podcast always takes a lot of time. I've let my reading fall behind because drawing has taken precedence and that's okay, can't do everything. 

But one of my bucket list items for my life as an artist is to have a table at like a craft fair of some sort, and so everything that I make, which would be like things that I've sewn stickers now that I'm making stickers maybe some sort of cards, or like books or something more paper oriented stuff, and pottery, and also jewelry, because you know, i make jewelry and I make pottery. Speaking of which, i will be doing a giveaway for reviews, like a randomly generated number for to you know, i want to encourage people to write those reviews because I really need them for the podcast. So I'm going to do that, and if you are too far away or not interested in getting tattooed, then I will be happy to offer you a piece of pottery or a piece of jewelry. Up to you, i do keep talking about it and it is going to happen. I will make it happen within the next month, okay, okay, that was a lot of blah, blah, blah for me. Let's get to our question. As a monogamous partner of a cis-het male traditional tattoo artist, i find myself being jealous of the level of intimacy shared with customers, given the more so binary gender roles we have assigned ourselves. This becomes heightened when the customer is a woman slash femme identifying, and the placement of the pleat of the piece is in a more personal area. He maintains there's no intimacy exchanged and it's just work day in, day out. I have a really hard time understanding this explanation, especially since we met through the tattoo shop and my access to his services. What is your perspective and have you ever dealt with something similar? I should mention he works in a shop that makes him hold hours for walk-ins outside of appointments. He doesn't really have much autonomy about the people or pieces or placement of the bustling walk-in traffic. Thank you for this question. So to summarize it, in case somebody out there listening needs a little summary, this is a person who is a woman identified person, a femme identified person, that has a straight male partner who is a tattoo artist, and they met through the shop. They met when this person was getting tattooed by this man and started dating each other and now they are in a serious relationship, but that's also monogamous and this person feels quite jealous, knowing how intimate these sessions can get and knowing that this is how they got together. My dear, there's no answer that you're going to like that I can give you, but there are answers to this question that I can give you that might be more or less comforting and that might help you find your way navigating through these dynamics. The thing about tattooing is it's inherently intimate. You're breaking skin, you're placing something permanent inside the person's body. I mean, this is the power of it, right? This is why we get tattooed because it is an intimate experience, because we need to do something to break our own skin and to reclaim our bodies and to write our stories inside our skin. There's so many reasons people get tattooed, but I think there's an overall thread of needing this permanent change, and the person who creates this for us, who so takes this experience for us, is a magician, is a healer, is a facilitator, a kind of a therapist, a kind of a guide between worlds, between who you used to be and who you are now. There's no way around that fact. We might not acknowledge it, we might not talk about it. If the tattoo artist doesn't own it, the experience might not be that great, but the truth is it's there. I do think that there are a lot of tattoo artists who don't understand the full power of what they're doing. I do think that a lot of people out there. You know, don't think that deeply about things. I don't know your partner, but what I can say, what I do know about humanity, is that we need these experiences. We need this type of intimacy with people who are not our partners. We need to have experiences of closeness, of change, that we matter and that we have an effect on other people, that we facilitate experiences for them hopefully good ones, hopefully mostly good ones. But we need to have this knowledge of ourselves and we need to be in service to other people. That doesn't take away from the love he has for you or the intimacy he shares with you. Clearly, the relationship you have is special. It's different, right? He's not that a non-monogamous relationship isn't, but in your current situation, you are each other's only sexual or romantic partners and you choose for it to be that way. I would trust him if he says, if he knows, if he's proven to you that he's trustworthy, i would trust him that you're the only person he wants to have sex with or be romantic with, The intimacy he shares with other people who are also beautiful women, femmes, attractive humans. It doesn't matter, right? Not in the scheme of your relationship. It matters in his life and it matters in their life and it might matter in the scheme of humanity, but it doesn't change your relationship with him. I don't know how comforting that is to you. I guess what I'm saying is it's true there's intimacy, sure there might be attractive people, sure there might be intimate places, but if he is attached to you in that way, then you're the person he wants to be with in that way, and the other intimacy he shares is just that, it's other experiences. It's separate, right. It doesn't have an effect on your relationship. It's kind of like, i guess, if you think about polyamory, you get certain needs met by certain people who might not meet other needs of yours, but it doesn't have a detrimental effect on your other relationships. If you have a friend who loves going to the movies and you also love going to the movies, but your partner doesn't love going to the movies, you can go to the movies with your friend and you can both be made happy by that experience together, while your partner doesn't have to suffer through sitting at the movies just to make you happy, you know. And so this piece of intimacy he gets from other people in his work, this experience he gives and gets while working his job has nothing to do with you. It is not detrimental to your connection. If your partner acts with integrity, if he is honest, if he is only interested in you, then you have to trust him. You have to work on your feelings of insecurity in other ways. How can you feel more present in your own life? How can you pay less attention to what he's doing with his other clients? That's the stuff that has nothing to do with you? How can you be have a life that is full enough where you feel good enough to not worry about what is not there? If, on the other hand, he is not the kind of person who's words and actions align? If you are sure that he is at work, flirting, giving out his number, taking numbers, leading people on, saying, telling lies, telling people he's not monogamous with you, or whatever the behaviors might be that are proving that he's not to be trusted, then you have another problem. But I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and I'm assuming that he is telling you the truth. I asked a couple of my friends who are also tattoo artists to answer this question for you, so let's listen to what they've got to say. 

Tattooer Friend 1:

Well, I do feel like that's a complex question. I mean, I do feel like it's not like we're stone walls and we don't have any feelings at all or even attraction to people that come into the shop. I feel like that can be spontaneous, right, But I feel like it's also like you can have this innate attraction to a person or have intimacy with a person, but not necessarily feel like you need to act on it or do something more, And I feel like boundaries can be crossed really easy in that place if you're not careful or if you're not aware or self-aware enough. But I also think that you can. We're not like I don't know, we're just not these like brick walls or things that don't have feelings. You know what I'm saying. I feel like I've had plenty of clients that I've been attracted to or I'm not enacting on this, or I've been in a relationship before and I know where my bread is buttered. 


Essentially, Did you hear that? Hopefully, your partner knows where his bread is buttered. I think what my friend is trying to say here is that of course we have feelings, of course sometimes we're attracted to people, but it doesn't mean we have to act on it And as the artist, your job is to hold safe space for your clients, like they don't want that energy in that space. In my experience, of course, that's not 100% true, but for the most part people come to us to do a thing which is tattooing and it has nothing to do with romance or sex. 

Tattooer friend 2:

Yeah, that is tricky. I mean it sounds like something that they as a couple really just need to sort of address. And the other person, the non-tattooer a thing, where I understand why they would feel like a little whatever jealous or something like that, especially if they met their partner that way through tattooing And hopefully it wasn't like any kind of predatory, anything Right. But it sounds like the person is just kind of insecure and, because that's how they met, might need some extra reassurance or something from their partner. It doesn't sound like their partner has a lot of control over that And to be able, and I don't know, in a certain way it's also seeming like you can't what is the tattooer just not gonna tattoo like femmes or like or women at all? Like that's not fair to ask of this person as a tattoo artist either. So I don't know. I mean the advice kind of sounds like as long as the dude is not predatory, there's like no accusations and whatever. It's just like a worry. It just sounds like that's something that they have to work out together. But to say to this person like it is very common right for tattooers to have to, you know, tattoo a whole bunch of people and in places and whatever. That might not feel comfortable to their partners, but we are trained to work professionally and consensually And you know, i know that we're not doctors or whatever but like any kind of profession in that way, peer sir, is probably like same thing, like we're trained to, like you know, do things around with consent. 



So here's the other response from another lovely tattoo artist friend of mine. I hope this is satisfactory to you. Dear listener, i am kind of sorry there's not a straightforward answer that I can give you, but at the same time I think this is a great opportunity for you to learn to trust your partner and to learn to trust yourself and your intuition and to work out some of that trauma that you might have around partners and partners cheating and trust. So I'm excited for you there. It's an opportunity for sure. I'm just really hoping the partner is an awesome person. I really want that for you. Dear listener, Here we're coming to the end of this episode. It was really fun for me to think about answers to questions and to ask my friends to chip in for this episode. I would love more questions and answers. I would love to receive more questions that I can answer on the air for all of you all. You can send your questions anonymously or DM them to me if you don't mind me knowing who you are, but you can send anonymous questions. There's a link in my bio to a jot form that will allow you to send me a message anonymously, so feel free to use that. I am stoked to do this new type of segment on the podcast. I will also link the form the anonymous feedback slash question form to the notes for this episode. As always, thank you so much for listening. I am here every week, sometimes late. I appreciate you all so much. Write me some reviews. I'm out Until next time.




Write a comment

Comments: 0