Best Body-Piercing Shop 2017 | Miami Tattoo Co. | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Courtesy of Miami Tattoo Co.

Since the dawn of man, people have modified their bodies as a way to mark their identity for the world to see. Inserting a large animal bone through a septum or puncturing ear lobes with rows of precious gemstones helps people tell their story on their terms. At Miami Tattoo Co. in the heart of South Beach, body piercing is a true art form practiced by two leading ladies in the game. Jane-Marie Ravelo, a raven-haired piercer with a radiant grin and funky eyeglasses, fell in love with body modification when she was 13. She spent the next seven years honing her skills, including a yearlong apprenticeship with renowned Miami tattooist and body piercer Maytee Bringas. Her passion for piercing took her to Las Vegas in 2011 for the Association of Professional Piercers Conference, where she met and learned from the top body modification artists in America. And even though she became a registered nurse in 2015, Ravelo continues to oversee Miami Tattoo Co.'s body piercing department while grooming the shop's other piercer, Bridgett Dearing, a rising star in her own right. Both women are the only certified members of the Association of Professional Piercers based in Miami. In addition, Miami Tattoo Co. offers top-of-the-line jewelry made from implant-grade titanium, niobium, and gold. The shop also takes custom orders, including requests for Swarovski crystals. Ravelo and Dearing don't play around when it comes to providing clients with a sterile environment. The piercers use a steam sterilization machine called the Statim G4 2000 to sanitize their tools and jewelry on the spot.

Photo by Laine Doss

Sorry to break it to all the leather-wearin' rebels out there, but tattoos are so mainstream at this point that if you go to your average PTA meeting, almost everyone in the room has at least a little ink. But tats are still more-or-less forever — you want to put some serious thought into what you're stenciling permanently onto your flesh and who's doing it. Enter Briga at Grove Ink. The rainbow-haired artist with a tarantula inked on her throat and a secret love of Abba is a master of both the needle and the pencil. So before you ever hear the first buzz of the tattoo artist's tools, Briga will sketch out a bespoke and personal design based on your precise wants. She'll also take the time to modify it until it's perfect. From creating an elaborate architectural piece of baroque artwork to inking a simple bumblebee, Briga makes sure you're happy with your long-lasting piece of body art. Her prices vary by size and design, but a smallish tattoo runs around $150.

Readers' choice: Tattoo & Co. Wynwood

Tokyo Valentino might well have the largest collection of adult videos in South Florida. And unlike your friend who never quite got over her prudish Catholic school education, this Upper Eastside shop doesn't stash its X-rated films under the bed. Tokyo Valentino's immense selection is proudly displayed alongside all the lube, adult toys, and naughty-nurse costumes a person could ever need. Don't worry: The high-school nuns can't get you anymore, so there's no need to be embarrassed here, especially when the staff is friendly and can answer all the questions you were too afraid would show up in your Google search history. They welcome patrons to take advantage of their "Videoplexxx," offering private booths and bedrooms that stream adult films from the store or even ones you provide. Yes, the doors lock. And the parking is discreet.

Photo by Kristin Bjørnsen

Along Calle Ocho's tourist trail, shops lure folks inside with wafts of cigar tobacco and the enticing beat of the rumba, but the inconspicuous Botanica Negra Francisca doesn't need to rely on those tricks. They're counting on your spirit guides to subconsciously move you through the door. Owned by a warm, welcoming family of Santería practitioners, this botanica never makes visitors feel awkward or unwanted even if they're unfamiliar with Cuba's fascinating syncretic religion. Instead, an employee will ask you why you're visiting and whether you're looking for anything in particular (be it an antidote to your latest heartbreak or a special candle to secure a promotion at work). For a small shop, it's stocked full of beads, necklaces, bracelets, perfumes and colognes, and an entire wall of votive candles dedicated to Ogunn, Eleggua, Babalú Ayé, and any other orisha with whom you may need to commune. As Brickell and the Roads push ever east into Little Havana, Negra Francisca is one of the last botanicas still standing amid the gentrification of their sacred hood.

There are two reasons people go to psychics: as a lark, usually after a few drinks, or because they're genuinely searching for something. What they're trying to find varies and perhaps remains a mystery even to the seeker. But for those who didn't just stumble out of happy hour, going to a psychic can be therapeutic. Whether the spiel coming out of a psychic's mouth is a parlor trick or prophecy is really irrelevant. What matters is the result. At 9th Chakra, just off Lincoln Road, Maria is a psychic who specializes in tarot card readings. The 75-year-old Puerto Rican is as comforting as a wise grandmother. Though she does most of the talking during a live session — which runs $70 for a half-hour — she is one of those people who naturally inspires others to open up. It's a skill set crucial to her line of work. Her readings are in Spanish, which makes the experience all the more authentically Miami, but the shop makes translators available for English-speaking clients. Maria got into her line of work when she was only 12 years old. From a very young age, she saw the faces of the dead, she says. Believing her claims are as much an act of faith as believing in the doctrines of any organized religion. What is certain is that after some gentle prodding, she urges her listeners to take action, make some changes, or, at the very least, take time to meditate and reflect upon their lives and inner turmoil. None of this is supernatural or otherworldly; it's just good advice.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®