You may be tempted to celebrate today's news that 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' will likely get its sequel, 'The Girl Who Played with Fire,' with an act of symbolic solidarity. Specifically, you may be tempted to hire someone to etch a dragon tattoo onto your left shoulder blade, so you can look just like Rooney Mara's Lisbeth Salander does in the movie. But before you take such a drastic and irreversible step, you'll need to answer a few questions. How much would it cost to buy a dragon tattoo? How long would it take? Will it hurt? This afternoon, armed with a screencap from the film, I took a field trip to three Manhattan tattoo parlors to find out.
First stop: Whatever 7 on St. Mark's Place, whose business card features an upside-down woman suspended by bondage gear. (So much for my plan to illustrate this post with images of each establishments's business card.) When I explained the nature of my quest to the tattoo artist in residence, he was quick to let me know that he "sees Daniel Craig all of the time." The actor's New York residence, he added, is just a few steps away from the shop. (I have no idea if this is true.)
Regardless, upon looking at our photo, this artist did not seem too impressed. He said that he could finish something like that in four hours for a price of, at most, $500. Asked if it would hurt, he responded, "Depends on the person." (I assume that if I had asked, "Would that hurt me?" his answer would have been, "Yes.")
Parlor Name: Whatever 7
Address: 17 St. Mark's Place
Cost of a Dragon Tattoo: $500
Time to Finish a Dragon Tattoo: Four hours
Will Getting a Dragon Tattoo Hurt? "Depends"
Next up: Addiction NYC, also on St. Mark's Place. The man I met at this location, Austin C. Pratt, bears no resemblance to the movie stereotype of a tattoo artist; had he told me he was a model for Land's End, I would have believed him. "I've never done this tattoo, but I wish someone would get it -- it's beautiful," said Pratt, a fan of the American version of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' who also may or may not have a copy of the movie at his home. (Said movie may or may not have been given to him as a stocking stuffer by alleged neighborhood resident Daniel Craig?)
In Mr. Pratt's expert opinion, the price of the dragon tattoo would depend on your body type -- which he would measure -- but a good guess would be between $600 and $650. He would recommend two separate sessions at two and a half hours each. But if you could withstand one longer session, he could complete the particular task in four hours. And only two and a half hours after he's done, you can remove the covering. Asked "Will it hurt?," Mr. Pratt replied, "The shoulder blade is super easy."
Parlor Name: Addiction NYC
Address: 27 St. Mark's Place
Cost of a Dragon Tattoo: $600 - $650
Time to Finish a Dragon Tattoo: Four hours, or two separate two-and-a-half-hour sessions
Will Getting a Dragon Tattoo Hurt? No
Finally: North Star Tattoo, on 7th Street. At North Star, I spoke to artist Daniel Cotte, whose estimate came in quite a bit higher than those of his competitors. "You see," Cotte said as he pointed at the picture of Rooney Mara's back, "there's a tail on the dragon that snakes around and out of view." That detail, he explained, makes the dragon tattoo much more expensive -- and much more painful.
He put the price of the dragon tattoo somewhere between $800 and $1,200, and he definitely recommended coming in for two separate sessions -- adding up to four hours in all. And, yes, he said, it would be painful, especially as the design stretched down the back and around the side.
Give the man points for honesty.
Parlor Name: North Star Tattoo
Address: 74 East 7th Street
Cost of a Dragon Tattoo: $800 - $1,200
Time to Finish a Dragon Tattoo: Four hours over two separate sessions
Will Getting a Dragon Tattoo Hurt? Yes, it will. A lot.
Mike Ryan is the senior writer for Moviefone. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com, GQ.com, New York Magazine and Movieline. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter
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