Tired of working in perpetual violation of the law, Moon moved to Florida in 2000 and quickly gained popularity for tattooing the South Beach fashion crowd. "Globetrotters," he says. "I'm a gay guy; sometimes membership has its privileges."

It's impossible to keep up with Moon in conversation. He warns that "ADD will kick in" and that he's "gonna fuckin' fly everywhere" during the interview. In 60 seconds, he segues from an anecdote about a chimp ripping off a guy's testicles to commentary on urban sprawl to a Christopher Walken impression. Over the course of the morning, he launches into profanity-laced tirades against the guild and discusses the three aspects of the proposed law that disgusted him most:

"It said essentially that anyone with a contagious disease cannot get tattooed and anyone with a contagious disease could not tattoo," Moon exclaims. "If it passed, I was [going to take] out a full-page ad in the Sun-Sentinel saying, 'Stevie Moon is looking for HIV-positive clients to tattoo,' just to say, 'Fuck you — come get me.'" Moon says he sent out information about the possible effects and constitutional murkiness of the proposed law to 1,500 gay-friendly blogs, newsletters, and tattoo websites across the world to stoke an uproar.

A botched Hulk tattoo that Louie salvaged.
Courtesy of Louie
A botched Hulk tattoo that Louie salvaged.
Louie tattooing Dony at his condo in Hialeah this February.
Chris Sweeney
Louie tattooing Dony at his condo in Hialeah this February.

His second concern was that anyone coming into the state would need to get several letters from already-established tattoo artists granting them permission to tattoo in their city. "If you wanted to come into Fort Lauderdale and open up shop, you had to get a letter from me giving you permission to fucking tattoo in my town. Dude, talk about protectionism. This was so gross to me."

The third was mandatory apprenticeships. "Did these guys read books on Lucky Luciano and how to do this stuff? This was the birth of the tattoo mafia in Florida," Moon says. "[The guild] wasn't looking at the big picture of tattooing after they're dead and buried. They were being very American, standing with their nose touching the mirror, and that's as far as they could fucking see... And they tried to sell it by saying, 'This law will get rid of the scratchers — more money for your shops.' I don't have to tell you what it reeked of."

Moon reached out to lobbyists and lawyers and called his anti-guild brethren to Tallahassee. There, they came face-to-face with Hannong and a few guild members for what could have been an epic battle royal of burly tattoo bros for control of the industry. But rather, Moon says, Hannong's and the guild's jaws dropped when the lobbyists explained the long-term ramifications of the bill.

The two factions made nice and forged an alliance to get the bill killed in committee. Then they collaborated to draft a new version of the bill, which passed in 2010 and, according to Moon, is "common sense." Now tattoo artists must obtain a yearly license that costs about $60 and score 70 percent on an exam about blood-borne pathogens. Each shop must also register yearly, which costs about $200, and pass an inspection from county health regulators.

The new law says tattoo parlors must have "walls, a floor, and a ceiling," prohibits animals in shops, and explains, "There shall not be a direct opening between a tattoo establishment and any building or portion of a building used as living or sleeping quarters." It lays out rules for maintaining an autoclave and details the various forms of permission needed to tattoo minors. Those found in violation can be fined $1,500 per infraction and get hit with second-degree misdemeanor charges — three of which equal a felony. The burden of enforcement falls on county health departments, but Senator Sobel says enforcing the program will be "cost neutral" and that the state will begin profiting from the fees by the second year of enforcement. Arguably, one of the biggest selling points is that the law safeguards public health.

When he testified in favor of the bill, Ed Homan, an orthopedic surgeon and former Republican state representative from Tampa, brought up his experience of treating a staph infection.

"It was the angriest infection I've ever seen," Homan tells New Times, describing one freshly tattooed, "swollen, red, angry arm" he had to treat. "I've been in the Navy, seen battle wounds, and this was just over-the-top. I thought, If we can't cure this, we're going to have to take the guy's arm off." Homan doesn't recall whether a professional artist or a scratcher did that tattoo, only the intravenous drip of powerful antibiotics needed to control the infection.

"Staph organisms are out in the environment everywhere," he explains. "They're under your fingernails, in your mouth, on tabletops, on utensils, around your rear end. Your skin is a barrier, but when you put them under your skin, they divide, multiply, and cause huge problems. People die from those things."

Staph infections can be caused by dirty equipment — the tattooist's fault — or by poor hygiene and lack of proper aftercare — the recipient's fault. Gathering reliable epidemiological data on infections and diseases caused by tattoos is difficult for a number of reasons, but in 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated 44 cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — a nasty, difficult-to-treat bacteria commonly referred to as MRSA — that were linked to 13 unlicensed tattoo artists in Vermont, Ohio, and Kentucky. "Nonsterile equipment and suboptimal infection-control practices" were the likely culprits, according to the report.

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They kill themselves.I wanted a spiderweb on my elbow and they wanted $360.00 bucks.BS.That kind of money for a few lines is thievery.They all are bandids.They should all be driven out of the busiuness.In fact tattooing should be made illegal.AsI said they re all hoods.

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