Tattoos Replace Clothing to Cover Skin During Steamy Summer
WILLIAMSBURG — Bravo Roughan lifted up his sleeveless jersey to flash his flaming red heart— and across the table at Miller's Tavern his fiancée Jenna Viney nudged down her white knit tank to reveal two swooping birds.
But since it's summer, the couple didn't need to do much more to show the rest of their abundant body art.
“I live in turtlenecks in the fall and winter,” said Viney, 37, who claimed her countless tattoos — which she began accumulating 18 years ago — feel so natural that she no longer goes out of her way to display them.
“I would feel naked,” added Roughan, a bouncer at the popular bar Union Pool, when he imagined his anatomy unadorned with ink.
The less clothing they wear, the more colorful they appear — much like many Williamsburg residents and visitors to the neighborhood, who are baring their elaborate skin art this season.
“That’s what they’re there for,” said Jeremy Leech, a chef at Dumbo’s reBar restaurant, who rolling shirtless on McCarren Park's grass one recent afternoon showed off his asparagus, angel and star tattoos.
“The less clothing, the better.”
Kelli Jackson, 29, boasted her seven-month-old morning glory tattoo, whose purple-and-green vine stretched down her arm.
"Morning glories are resilient, you can't kill them. You can pull them from the root and they won't die," she explained of the decoration's symbolism. "Any time I get to show it off, I do."
Whether packed with personal significance or a pure aesthetic choice, tattoos have undoubtedly grown more prevalent and accepted in recent years, said Jocelyn Wilkerson, store manager at Saved Tattoo shop on Union Avenue, who called unmarked people of Williamsburg "different."
"It doesn't have that 'bad' appeal anymore," said Wilkerson, 27, who has worked at the shop the past five years and claimed she lost track of her own number of tattoos.
"One, two..." she began, beginning to count the designs on her limbs and hands, "Fifty-four. Wait, forgot one. 55."
Despite the tattoo craze, Jordan Dowling, shop manager of Flyrite Tattoo on Metropolitan Avenue, warned that some residents scorn the display.
"I walk down the street and ladies sneer at me," said Dowling, 25. "Tattoos just aren't accepted in everyone's culture. It's something you have to know going into it."
But for Roughan, 36, who said he began his tattoo journey before the trend took off, the marks are first and foremost for his own satisfaction, like an anatomical diary.
"It's a timeline on my life," he said. "It's for me."