More Tats, More Social Deviance, Texas Tech Reports
Texas Tech's school of sociology will soon publish a study claiming a link between the number of tattoos a college student has and their level of social deviance, which is defined in the study as proclivities for binge drinking, promiscuity, frequent marijuana use and occasional use of other drugs, a history of arrests, and cheating on tests. (Even one "intimate piercing" shows the same correlation, the study's authors say.)
Before you conclude that "inked = degenerate," the Tech researchers urge a more nuanced interpretation. They say that people with only one tattoo or chaste piercing (a belly-button ring, say), a number they estimate at a full 25 percent of the American population, are no different than anybody else. Tasteful little tats are no longer the bold declarations of "hope I die 'fore I get old" rebels without a cause they once were.
And that, believe the Tech researchers, is the rub. To show what a rebel you are, it is no longer sufficient to get inked up. You have to maintain that image with lots of whiskey, coke and screwing around -- that whole Lola's lifestyle.
"I think that's true," says 14-year veteran tattoo artist Ryan Scroggins. "Everybody has tattoos now," he tells Hair Balls. "It used to be just sailors, bikers and prostitutes. Now even rich-ass yuppie girls have them."
The tat epidemic is so pervasive, he decided to leave the business a few years ago. He recalls that back in the '90s, there were only 20-25 tattoo shops inside the loop; now there are over 100. That glut has caused prices to plummet. He says that customers would ask him for a quote, and if he would say $200, they would tell him they could get the same one down the street for $50.
"Never mind if that guy down the street sucked," Scroggins says. "People just don't care about quality any more." He says that he once earned $1,000 a week tattooing; now he would be lucky to make that in a month.
Scroggins, who is also a killer ska keyboard player, has all but left the biz. Today he works as a herpetologist at the Houston Zoo. "Somebody asked me the other day why I took a huge pay cut to work at the zoo," he says. "I told them there was more of a future in it."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.