Tales of the Tattooed: What’s your story?

Image of a full back tattoo, called "Fire and Ice"
Image of a full back tattoo, called 'Fire and Ice,' 2007 shared under Wikimedia Creative Commons, by Bengt Nyman

Tattooing is permanently marking the skin  with ink.

We can thank a crewman on Captain James Cook’s ship the Endeavour for sharing the word—tattau, to mark—in his log while in Tahiti in 1769.

Cultures around the world have always used it for decoration or identification, and some of the oldest tattoos date back to Egyptian mummies. The Japanese perfected the use of high color. Sailors spread the art to Europe, and in Great Britain in the late-1800s, tattoos were high fashion and widespread among the wealthy. During WWII Holocaust prisoners of war bore tattooed numbers on their arms.

Some sociologists have written that tattooing is deviant, while others argue that something so widespread can no longer be called deviant. A 2007 Harris Poll reported that over 40 percent of Americans ages 25-40 had at least one tattoo, as compared to 3 percent 20 years ago, and about 0.5 percent 50 years ago.

On today’s show, Anchorage tattoo artist James Allen will share the history of local tattooing and his own experiences as a tattoo artist. Lauren Caruso and E.J. David will share the story behind their tattoos. We’d love to hear yours.



  • James Allen, Anchorage tattoo artist
  • Lauren Caruso, moose biologist
  • E.J. David, psychology professor


  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to hometown@alaskapublic.org before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air)

HOST: Kathleen McCoy

LIVE BROADCAST: Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 2:00 – 3:00 pm (Alaska time)

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