Since setting up shop, Mama Tried Tattoo Parlor has made a habit of periodically opening its doors on Sundays, its normal day off, and using tattoo skills to raise money for worthy causes by offering a selection of “flash” — tattoos created from a set of pre-made images, at a steeply discounted rate.
Owned by Lyndi Lou, a Louisville artist, curator and co-creator of Louisville Zombie Attack, Mama Tried is perhaps the only female-owned tattoo shop in Louisville.
On Sunday, June 10, Mama Tried is raising funds for the Center for Women and Families and Girls Rock Louisville with an event titled “Still Not Asking for It.” In addition to tattoos, Lou is pulling on her experience as a curator to throw a companion art show featuring work by an all-female group of artists including Lou and 20 others.
While Lou has enthusiastically embraced “Still Not Asking for It,” it’s a national event that began in 2015 at the Yellow Rose, at a tattoo parlour in Salt Lake City. An artist named Ashly Love started it to raise funds for the Joyful Heart Foundation.
In the three years since its inception, “Still Not Asking for It” has spread to tattoo shops all over the world, perhaps spurred on by the #MeToo movement, which encourages people to open up and share their stories. Few things are more open than a tattoo.
Additionally, the body modification industry has been reckoning with its own problems with sexual assault, and Love has opened up about some of her own experiences, which helped to inspire her creation.
For Lou, the ability to participate in these kinds of fundraising events was part of why she wanted to own a shop.
Lou offered a few briefs thoughts on the event before pointing Insider toward Amber Bananafish, the proprietor of the only female-owned tattoo shop in New Albany, Bananafish Tattoo Parlour.
Bananafish, despite being an excellent tattooer, is joining this event in her capacity as a fine artist.
“I was an art major with an emphasis in painting at Indiana University Southeast,” says Bananafish. “I rarely paint any longer, but thanks to modern technology, my handy-dandy iPad has made creating new art much more accessible and less messy for sure.”
She recently ran her own tattoo fundraiser, which also offered politically charged flash.
“It was amazing — I was so touched and honored to meet so many people who had fought so hard for change in our society. Folks who marched on Washington were gassed, sprayed with hoses, jailed, lost their jobs, their families in the pursuit and fight for civil rights,” explains Bananafish. “ It drew the most eclectic and brave crowd I have ever seen. And that was the goal. There were tattoos for female empowerment, trans rights, BLM, intersectional feminism, and even developmentally challenged awareness. We wanted to include everybody.”
Politics isn’t limited to the polls, and the world of tattooing was, and in many cases still is, pretty open about its tendency toward gender discrimination.
“There was plenty of backlash through the first half of my tattoo career as well as opening my business,” she admits. “It has been a male-dominated industry for far too long.”
Run on an apprenticeship-based model, all backward tattoo artists had to do to keep the industry male-dominated was not take on female apprentices.
“But there were those few who were so radical to believe that women, and all people, are equals and took a chance to open the industry to other genders,” says Bananafish. “Those radicals will be forever remembered.”
Those radicals include Adrain Wright, who helped mentor Lou and will be on hand tattooing at Sunday’s event.
But the art and the flash on Sunday is all about the radical women. Lou has flash representing famous women from Frida Kahlo and Amelia Earhart to Princess Leia and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Lipstick war paint, a fish on a bicycle, “No means no” and a triple-scoop ice cream cone proclaiming “Riots not diets” are just a few of the designs attendees can choose from.
In addition to money raised at Mama Tried, the Highlands Taproom, located next door, is contributing 15 percent of its sales that day as well. So have a drink while you wait. Just one, though, because you have to be sober to get a tattoo.
Tattoos vary in price but start at $50. Tattoos are limited to designs on the flash sheets. The event runs from noon-8 p.m. on Sunday, June 10, but if you want to be sure to get a spot, you might want to show up early.
Mama Tried is located in the Highlands at 1052 Bardstown Road.