Can't give it away in Utah

Kita Kazoo and I opened Royal Oak Tattoo in Royal Oak, Michigan (Detroit) back in 1992. After six months in business we had the largest owner operated studio in Michigan. That first year we decided to "give back" to the community with a 3 month tattoo giveaway drawing. It was fun and our clients were excited to win some free tattoos. The next year we did it again and it became a fall tradition for us which we have continued for 13 years, carrying our tradition over in our move to Utah.

But in Utah where people ask even more often for free tattoos and "special" deals than they did in Detroit, they don't seem to get as excited about winning free tattoos. We drew names for 7 free tattoos per month for three months every fall here too. We gave away 4 - $50 tattoos, 2 - $75 tattoos and 1 - $150 tattoo each month.

Only about 150 people entered each month, even though we sent invitations and reminders to about 340 people each month who are on our studio email list and had a nice display with flyers in the studio reception area - where the entry station was. So it was pretty easy to win. Odds were about 1 in 20 to win and you could enter once per day.

So now, we picked our lucky winners and called them all by phone to make sure they got the good news. But only about 2/3 of the winners bothered to come in and collect their tattoos!

I can't help but wonder why people would come in to a tattoo studio and enter to win a tattoo and then not get it once they won? What's up with that?

Why, if they planned on not getting the tattoo, did they enter at all?

It kind of pisses me off that they would be like that and deprive someone else, who would have gotten the tattoo, from winning.

This has happened every year here in Utah. It really does add to my frustrations about this place - Utah.

I decided that we just weren't getting enough piercings and thought I'd try offering half price piercings and just see what happened. Our regular price of $50 for any piercing (jewelry included) was already the best price in the area, but I lowered it to $25, still including the jewelry.

All of a sudden, I was doing nearly as many piercings as I used to do in Detroit. And nipple and genital piercings were basically coming out of the woodwork, where I hadn't seen that much interest out here before. That was a surprize.

So we did that for about 8 weeks. Then instead of going back to the regular price, I set a new piercing price of $35 for any piercing, still with jewelry included. And now I am back to one or two piercings on a bad day and up to 5 maybe on a good day, where I had been doing twice that during the special.

The other studio that has a piercer in the immediate area is still charging $50, plus jewelry, making most of thier piercings over $70. Their piercer is not all that talented either and both the tattooist and his piercer girlfriend are reported to sexually harrass and hit on their female customers with regularity.

So it really surprises me that anyone goes there, especially since the tattoos aren't so great either and the tattooist is rude and grouchy and throws more people out than he serves.

I expected that the quality of our work and our dedication to good customer service would have clients lined up around the block - especially with a new low, low price.

But people out here don't think like that.

About a month ago - right on the tail of our fall giveaway, Kita started another monthly tattoo contest where the client would come up with an idea (or actual design) for a tattoo and we would post it on our website and let visitors vote for the winners.

#1 would get their tattoo for free and #2 would get their tattoo for half price. These would be $500 - $600 tattoos!

Well, it's been over a month now and how many people do you think have been interested enough to enter?

How about ZERO! Can you believe that?

We have been voted number one every year that we have been in business here in the People's Choice Awards, run by the Provo Daily Herald and yet it seems that we can hardly get enough traffic through the door to keep in business.

We really are here to work, not sit around with our thumbs up our butts. I just don't get it.

So we are pulling the contest that we were planning on running all year.

I don't think we will do our Fall Giveaway any longer.

I don't think we will discount our services again.

It seems to me that "generally speaking" there is very little sense of support or loyalty here in Utah.

While I have always been very positive about Utah and our being here, in spite of getting shit on and having our good will taken advantage of nearly every day from the day we got here - I am finally reaching the limits of my optimism and charity.

I have had a hard time writing anything here lately because every time I start to write all that comes out is "I hate Utah" stuff.

I am 51 years old. I don't think I have ever "hated" any thing or anyone before. I have been angry, frustrated, dissapointed and disgusted, but never HATED.

Utah has begun to teach me to hate. And what do I hate? Utah! (Well, just the people) Well, not all the people, but most of them.

Utah Sucks.

So, I talked to Kita about it and she says, "why not just write what you feel?". I'm like, "How could I do that - everything I feel is so negative?". Says she,"Maybe you need to get all that negativity out and not bottle it up."

I've been thinking about this for about a week now. I think she is right.

So, I'm going to start writing about what I really think and how I really feel.

I hate it that in Utah - my optimism has become dishonest. Utah is the most dishonest place I have ever been. It has the most dishonest people I have ever met.

I've never been anywhere that people feel trapped in. They do here. The first thing everyone says when they find you moved here from somewhere else is "What the hell did you want to come here for?" All the people I know who moved here from elsewhere - all (did I say all?) I meant ALL, want to move back where they came from.

Utah Sucks. I never thought Detroit could look so good.

I often tell people that if you don't drink you aren't welcome in Michigan. If you aren't a rude and self-righteous, holier than thou hypocrite, you aren't welcome in Utah.

And what about FUN?

Fun is not allowed in Utah - except in designated (fun = sin) areas, like Park City.

If you don't ski or just don't want to freeze your balls off in Park City - which started as an old (NON-MORMON- hence the acceptance of fun) mining town, you must leave the state. Interestingly, each road out of town sports a border town where all the Mormons head to have the fun that is not allowed in Utah.

And, interestingly and disgustingly, all the fun is about alcohol, gambling and (illicit) sex, since that is what all the repressed Mormons think fun is. They all head to Nevada and Wyoming to practice their most blatent hypocrisies.

Mormonism. I once was it's greatest devotee. After 30 years of intense study and practice, I am convinced Mormonism is more evil than even Satan (if there was such a being) could devise.

If you don't think Mormonism is destructive and evil, come back to read more. I am about to make the inherent wickedness of Mormonism a regular topic.

I used to joke that I was a two-M Mormon as opposed to the one-M kind you see so much of out here.

To all the sincere Non-Utah Mormons, I am so sorry you have been taken in and lied to and made a party to unbelievable evil and hypocrisy (the only thing Jesus really hated) as was I.

The more time that I spend as a non-Mormon - the more evil I see it to be. I am disgusted that I was ever a party to it and I am sorry to all the people I influenced to be invlolved in Mormonism and to all the relatives and friends I shortchanged because of it.

Mormonism claims to "save families" (forever), but in reality, Mormonism is one of the most destructive elements to attack families, especially under their current evil leader Gordon Hinkley.


  1. I too came from Utah from another land. As a person who believes that you take what makes sense to you and use that to create your own personal spiritual path, I have been called everything from evil to a Witch. Little do they know that I have some good friends that are Wiccan, and they are most wonderful people, so I take that as a great compliment. Kudos to you for sticking it out in Utah and trying to bring some diversity to this land. I plan on doing the same. Peace

  2. Yes there are quite a few Wiccans here. Our studio in Detroit enjoyed a lot of Wiccan clients (and every other kind too) and I always felt a little kinship to them more than usual with other people. Nature, is indisputable, while religion is nothing but dispute.
    I'm for nature and living in harmony with it if that's possible. I've met some very nice people here too but they all seem to have that "utah" thing going. That makes it harder.

  3. Doc,

    Years ago when I heard about your involvement with an LDS sect. I thought to myself.... Is this guy stupid?

    Someone in the counter culture, who is so diverse in his lifestyle and career.. How could he adhere to such a zealous, hateful, self righteous group as the Mormons?

    This of course, is after I had left the LDS church myself as a young adult.

    I could not understand you Doc. Not at all. I only wish that I could have had the chance to meet you when I was thinking these things.

    You seem very educated, well thought, sincere and devoted (husband, believer, truth seeker).

    Doc, reading your words today really made me think of you has a human today. Not just the LDS fanatic tattoo artist icon that I once thought of you as.

    I do appreciate you posting your thoughts, and I hope so dearly to read more of what you have to say about your journey in life.

    Maybe someday I will come to your shop in PG and if you have the time and patience I will chat with you and share with you the pain and disappointment that I also got from Mormonism.

    You bro, are cool in my book! Thanks for letting me get to know more about your soul!