Ink Tales

Five Wornettes share stories about their tattoos

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Kat Wornette’s forearm
One of the most memorable events of my late teenage years wasn’t graduating high school (I left early), prom (see previous), or anything of that nature—it was the demolition of a favourite building.
Standing six-stories proud at the corner of 13th & Pacific since 1891, the Luzon Building was one of Tacoma, Washington’s first “skyscrapers,” and one of my first architectural infatuations. Abandoned since the ’80s and the last building on an otherwise vacant block, its spectral presence was a historic treasure or an eyesore, depending on who you asked. I was firmly of the former opinion along with many others, and we were all saddened when it was demolished in 2009, despite efforts to save it. Still angry over the demolition, I turned my attention to reading as much as possible about the building’s history, and I discovered that it was designed by one of the most prominent architectural firms of the late 19th century—Burnham & Root of Chicago. The story of these architects is fascinating; they helped to pioneer the design of North America’s earliest high-rise buildings.

I knew I wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate both the Luzon and Burnham & Root. I decided on a quote widely attributed to Daniel Burnham himself that begins “Make no little plans”—a fitting tribute as well as a good reminder to myself. So last May, while on vacation in Chicago, I got the phrase inked up the inside of my arm in spidery Victorian lettering taken directly from one of Burnham & Root’s architectural drawings. I’m delighted with how the design turned out, and its advice is hard to ignore when I have to look at it all the time!

(The extended version of this story involves nearly getting arrested, but you’ll have to ask me about that in person.)

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Nicole Wornette’s ribs
I have an obligatory lunch once a season. For the last three years of university, our bedroom doors opened onto the same living room, and the overheard noises we made during sex were just another way to know each other; tantamount to any other house sound. Though we were categorically similar, we had little in common where it counted. Simply choosing a movie to watch together was always a long, dull heartbreak, for example.

It has been my experience that having friends you feel lonely beside serves a crucial function: sharpening your ability to recognize your true tribe.

What this amounts to is that, with graduation now years at our backs, my old university roommates live together one 30-minute streetcar ride away from me and I feel tremendous guilt for how little I see them. So every few months I let it happen but always get wickedly intoxicated to temper things. A girl can only hear, “Okay…what else is new?” so many times before the shadows close in.

On one of these lunches, the topic of tattoos came up. This struck me as a pretty neutral topic until:

“Oh my god, Nicole! Remember when you wanted to get that 30 Rock quote tattooed on your ribs?!”

And:

“I bet you’re so happy you didn’t, right?”

And also:

“I know you really liked that show but that’s totally a thing you would have regretted.”

And finally:

“I’m so glad we talked you out of that one.”

Now I had a decision to make. Because at that very moment, emblazoned across my ribs in black inked Courier New was “I want to go to there”, my favourite of Liz Lemon’s catchphrases on NBC’s 30 Rock. This is a tattoo I’ve now had and loved for years. I have never regretted it for so much as a moment; even weathering the requisite later-season deterioration of my beloved 30 Rock without questioning my decision to commemorate it on my flesh. It is by far the least meaningful of my tattoos but is also my favourite.

Plus having a notoriously painful rib tattoo is the only thing about me that is hard, tough, or street.

Sitting across from them, I could predict the exquisite fallout of me saying, “Actually, I did get that tattoo. Wanna see?” and lifting my shirt up in the bar. Their supreme awkwardness, mental notes to discuss my foolishness once I was gone, the unacknowledged gorge separating us widening further still. I saw it all and was hungry for it but instead I said:

“Haha, yeah. That sure would have been stupid of me. Thank for stopping me and stuff, you two.”

Honestly, it just didn’t feel worth it. All it would have meant was one more uncomfortable conversation, one more round of pitying glances, one more pregnant silence in a lunch that felt like it would never end.

No. It wasn’t worth the trouble. I shut my mouth and thanked the air for the people I now have who understand why the stuff that appeals to me appeals to me.

That’s right, Elsasser, save the story for the tribe.

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Ishita Wornette’s nowhere
I never wanted a tattoo until my parents told me I couldn’t have one. As a kid in an Indian family, I heard constantly that drugs, motorcycles, piercings, and tattoos were all in the same category—dangerous and forbidden. But now at 19, I’ve come to the realization that despite my parents’ greatest and most communicated fears, I’ve been a goodie-two-shoes my whole life. Always afraid of breaking the rules, I’ve never dyed my hair, smoked a cigarette, or gotten more than my ears pierced. And I definitely have no tattoos.

Lately, I’ve started to embrace my inner rebel in my own small way. I’m not afraid anymore to lob all my hair off, make strange fashion choices, or wear wacky jewelry. And I’m slowly beginning to accept that I am, quite frankly, in love with tattoos. While my browsing history and bookmarks are full of tattoo designs, I know it will take a great deal of courage to break my inherent reluctance to displease. But progress has been made—all this dallying around, needing to figure out a meaningful design, has stopped. I know that when I make the commitment to get my tattoo, I’ll figure out exactly what I want my special swirl of ink to be. And that time is coming soon.

20th birthday present, anyone?

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Angela Wornette’s lower back
After years of contemplating a number of designs (that I am now really glad I didn’t settle on), I finally went to get my first tattoo in 2003. I found Ryan at a Queen West Parlour to help me draw a unique “fancy bar with all the curls that divides up sections in old books” with which to permanently decorate my lower back. In my mind, this was the perfect symbol to simultaneously allude to my bookworm tendencies and penchant for frivolous decor and I couldn’t have been more ready.

As much as I had mentally prepared for the big inking day though, no amount of pain in my young adult life could have prepared me for what felt like miniature cars equipped with scalpel-sharp wheels racing on the track of my spine. Despite the original estimate of the process to take up to four hours, an hour is all I could actually endure. At the first mention of a break, I deemed the pain too great (and my dedication to my vision too weak) to continue. I sprung off of the seat and declared the session over. I remember nodding dizzily at Ryan as he heartily suggested that I come back at a future date for another sitting.

Many years later, with the experiences of a surface piercing and another tattoo under my belt, I have mixed feelings about returning to have my first tattoo finished. The hard, clean lines void of any shading or details reminds me pleasantly of the simple outlines in colouring books. Through the years, I have come across countless ornamental section breaks (as I finally found out they are commonly referred to, seeing as that they still lack a proper name), and I’ve come to the fortunate realization that their being frivolously ornate is not a must.

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Sofie Wornette’s collarbone
I was always told to be good. My parents, my friends, and now my lover: it’s all she says to me before I leave for a night out, before I go out for drinks.

I am not good. I was an angry, spontaneous, generally troublesome kid. Sometimes I still get angry and I often do spontaneous things.

I was not good before, and I’m not good now.

In contemplating my fourth spur-of-the-moment walk-in tattoo before I went into New Tribe, my go-to inkers, I thought about what I’d get and where I’d get it. I was hand in hand with my girlfriend and I realized what words I’d need to get on me to remember them forever.

It hurt a little to get tattooed right on my collarbone—it’s the first of my simple tattoos to actually bleed. But it’s my favourite. I tattooed ‘be good’ on myself so that every t-shirt I wear can show off the reminder to myself; so that everyone who curiously reads it aloud will be reminding me of the same—to be good. Be good. Don’t fight. Stay strong. Be good.

photography // Claire Ward-Beveridge

Super Stylish Super Cartoon Super Villains

These notorious troublemakers are so bad but so, so good

Everyone always compliments the hero or heroine’s attire, but we always skim over the villain, since they’re all defeated and it’s the smiling hero we see at the end of the show. But villains have the best wardrobes ever. While a hero has to look pure and clean and whatever, villains have free reign to wear whatever the hell they want. Especially if they’re coming straight from Hell.

Most villains in comic books, cartoons, movies, cartoon movies, comic cartoon movies, and live action comic movies are dressed to the nines—they’ve got spikes, studs, weird curly goatees, stylish and slinky all-black ensembles, and funky colours. Look at the Queen of Hearts: cool heart patterns, red and black (the colours of eeeeeviiilll!!) and the sickest eye make-up you ever did see.

What’s Alice in Wonderland got? An apron?

HIM of The Powerpuff Girls

I could talk about the Powerpuff Girls for a month and still not run out of things to say. But first, can we talk about how this late ’90s to mid-2000s children’s TV show had an ambiguously-gendered, cross-dressing devil in thigh-high stilettos as one of its main villains?

Like, go Cartoon Network!

Anyway, HIM (HE?) dresses really well. Props for being able to wreak havoc in those heels—HE pulls them off better than I ever could. I mean, damn! That bright red jacket with the thick black belt says “I’m all business,” but the soft and fluffy pink hem at the bottom and matching boa/collar says “I like to have fun.” It’s the best of both worlds, really.

I’m not 100% sure if the claws are HIS actual hands or just really elaborate gloves, but if it’s the latter, I think HIM was like the original, cartooned Gaga. Or at least some form of inspiration. Or something like that.

The Powerpuff Girls has a lot of other cool villains to offer, but I’m gonna stick with HIM for now. The all-red-with-black-accessories colour combo really speaks to me. After all, those are the colours of eeeeeviilllll!

Shego of Kim Possible

I just Googled “Shego Kim Possible” and got a lot of Shego-on-Kim lesbian porn drawings, so I would either recommend or not recommend following my typeprints, depending what you’re into.

Anyway.

Shego is a really cool, sassy character, and she goes against the grain: instead of sticking with the typical villain colours of red and black, Shego goes for black and lime green, instantly juicing up her outfit with a funky punch. She wears a cool unitard (yeah! unitards!) with some abstract pattern on it using her colours of choice. Also, her boots are two different colours, which is pretty sweet.

The good thing about being a villain is that you can break some fashion rules and set your own style (since you’re pretty much breaking all the rules anyway).

Ratchet of Robots

Though his name may suggest differently, Ratchet is anything but.

For those who haven’t seen Robots, it’s about robots. Ratchet is the evil robot trying to wipe out the junkyard robots and rocking a shiny upgraded steel suit while on it.

He’s always perfectly shined and oiled. He’s the most dapper of all robots with the biggest, shiniest, and most expensive smile. Of course, rich people can afford to swaddle themselves with luxury, but Ratchet takes it one step further—he becomes the luxury product. He is luxury. He is a well-oiled style machine.

Megamind of Megamind

It’s maybe weird to put Megamind in here, since he’s the main character of his own movie. But he’s also the evil villain of his town, Metro City, making him both the protagonist and the antagonist, kind of. He’s constantly trying to do evil things, which, of course, constantly backfire, and so on and so on.

But he’s a blue-headed alien babe. His svelte, light physique still fills out his tight body suit, which is plenty shiny. Black is his staple colour of evil, and he’s got some great blue accents that really bring out the shade of his skin. Also, that cape: high collar, thick, heavyweight material. Totally perfect for evil-doing while looking good at the same time.

Mother Gothel of Tangled

Mother Gothel, even when she was looking more like Grandmother Gothel, is a total babe. She is a curvaceous evil woman, with unruly, curly black hair and enough sass to fill up the tower that she’s locked Rapunzel in.

She’s usually seen rocking a blood red dress (eeevilllll!) with some funky gold accents, and when she goes out, she swoops around with a black cloak as dark as death.

Now, cloaks are really good for a lot of things: they`re good for looking scary (evil) and good for looking cool (also evil). So if you want to look evil, cool, and scary, you have to know the must-have evil villain fashion accessory is a midnight-black cloak. Preferably with a hood.

See, you have to know these things if you`re going to be a villain. Otherwise you just look dumb.

Anyway, Mother Gothel is really rocking the cloak—it covers her completely, making her look like a dark, goth, black ghost of nightmares. Which, you know, she is. Mother Gothet is rocking gothic.

Davy Jones of Pirates of the Caribbean

Nobody makes having a beard made of tentacles look so good.

(Also, I know POTC isn’t a cartoon, but Davy Jones was like, half-animated with that tentacley goodness, so bear with me.)

Here’s the back story: Davy is charged by his true love, a sea goddess named Calypso, to captain the Flying Dutchman ship and to hustle lost souls across the ocean to the next world. Every 10 years, he can meet her again on land, but for 10 years, he has to stay on the boat in the water. So, 10 years later, he goes to meet Calypso again. She doesn’t show. Devastated, Davy Jones abandons his duty to the Flying Dutchman, and instead begins to terrorize the seas with his crew of haunted henchmen. However, since he abandoned his duty, the curse of the Flying Dutchman slowly turns him and his crew into sea monsters.

And it’s not turning out that bad.

Davy Jones still looks like the most dapper sea monster/sea captain ever, even though he’s a little slimy and covered in barnacles. He’s got that cool pirate coat and some cool pirate shoes and a cool pirate hat. Pirates are cool.

Really cool.

The Wornettes do TIFF

The best outfits at the 2012 Toronto International Film Fest happened on screen

Great Expectations Mike Newell
The world probably doesn’t need another adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, but it never hurts to see one of classic literature’s greatest (and most visually interesting) characters, Miss Havisham, re-imagined yet again. In Mike Newell’s version of the story, Helena Bonham Carter plays the jilted ghostly bride (naturally) who is grandly clad in a dusty, decaying dress. The dress was designed by Beatrix Aruna Pasztor who also crafted costumes for Vanity Fair and Aeon Flux. Pasztor drowns Miss Havisham in layers and layers of lace and taffeta silk, creating more of an artistic masterpiece than a simple costume.

Even more exquisite is Miss Havisham’s lovely disciple Estella (her young and adult versions are played by Helena Barlow and Holliday Grainger, respectively). Estella wears pleated travelling dresses adorned with cascading ribbons and feathered collars in hues of blues and purples. Paired with bejeweled neck chokers, Estella’s wardrobe is aesthetically refreshing against the movie’s muddy backdrops.

And then there’s Pip, the blacksmith turned gentleman whose wardrobe is overwhelmingly vital to his transition into the upper echelons of London society. Played by Jeremy Irvine, Pip ditches his thick boots, puts on tailored suits, and gets the girl, all while turning into an uppity snob in the process.

Does this new version of Great Expectations break any new ground? Doubtful. But do the costumes live up to its period piece glory? I think the taffeta speaks for itself.
// Mai Nguyen

Deflowering of Eva van End Michiel ten Horn
This blithely haunting Dutch film unfolds around Eva, your garden variety “dork.” A chubby, bespectacled late-bloomer lacking in social skills, she remains silent for almost the entire duration of the film. Eva is a sullen, awkward girl who seems more interested in spending time with her pet rabbit and listening to her favourite pan flautist than having sex, an activity doggedly pursued by her libidinous classmates. Eva’s shyness results in her isolation from the outside world, where her family and peers treat her like a piece of furniture. Her outsider status is highlighted by her wardrobe: Eva wears mostly t-shirts emblazoned with Louis Wain cats, Converse sneakers, and ill-fitting jeans; in stark contrast to her brand-conscious classmates who love Ed Hardy, leopard print jeans, and skintight dresses.

Eva’s life changes when she is assigned an attractive but irritatingly friendly German exchange student named Viet. Viet plays the part of a clean-cut hippie; a vegetarian who financially supports an African child and meditates as his preferred form of relaxation. Viet’s wardrobe is all-white, consisting of linen tunics and Birkenstock sandals, which are meant to symbolize the purity of his beliefs yet create an ironic tension when his presence begins to wreak havoc in the van End household. It’s clever and funny with a dark, disturbing undercurrent that rears its head near the end of the film.
// Isabel Slone
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The Stories We Tell

Five Wornettes revisit the fictional characters that inspired their closets growing up

Moon Prism Power!
When I was about 10 years old (pushing the limits of an appropriate age for a cartoon obsession), I loved Sailor Moon. She was my moon goddess of style. Though my love may have shifted from Sailor Scout to Sailor Scout, it was the idea of a sassy uniform only put on through an intense and magical costume change that I found most appealing.

The fantasy driven schoolgirl fashions had me acting like a fool as I begged my parents for the whole kit and kaboodle of consumer products marketed to my tween self. I remember the tense Christmas morning phone call between a friend and I as we discussed who had gotten what under the tree that morning. It was as if we thought it made us better people to have added to our growing collection of imported plastic accessories that made us “feel” like we really were “Super Sailor Scouts”—stylish schoolgirls with badass super powers.

As I got a bit older, my obsession stuck in the back of my mind. I couldn’t bear to part with the dolls, t-shirts, and plastic wands that hung around collecting dust in my closet. The cool punk girls I met in high school shared my secret love. We regularly discussed how awesome our animated hero and her friends were.

How did this totally fanciful, junk-food TV show fit in with my new found, anti-consumerist, teenage feminist rants? I began to reposition my fascination, turning my old Sailor Moon nightgown into a hot butch muscle tee and mixing the cutesy Sailor Moon-inspired pigtails of my youth into a riot grrrl-inspired statement. Perhaps the rumours of a lesbian love affair between Sailor Neptune and Uranus had even had an influence on my queerness. Even though I’ve more or less retired this obsession, I still get giddy every time I see a Japanese school uniform, excited at the thought of the magic that the girls who sport these get-ups possess. // Jenna Danchuk

Ten Points for Slytherin
I was obsessed with Harry Potter as a kid to the point that I managed to convince myself that a) I was his sister and b) Voldemort was stalking me. Okay, I’ll admit—I’m still obsessed. I couldn’t watch the last part of the last movie because I couldn’t deal with the fact that the series was ending. Before, when I identified as Gryffindor, I was partial to their house colours of red and gold. I was really big on wearing men’s ties as accessories (eat your heart out, Avril Lavigne). I used to carry a wand around until I was, like, 12. My mom claimed it was just a stick and told me to grow up. (Muggles, am I right?) Unfortunately, I haven’t. I still have the wand (yew, dragon heartstring core, inflexible), lying around somewhere.

When I was 10, I got glasses for the first time, and I didn’t feel like a Horrible Nerd Dorkasaurus as I might have had I got them at an earlier stage. I felt like this further confirmed my assumption that Harry Potter and I were related and I was actually a witch. The reason I wasn’t accepted to Hogwarts, I told myself on my 11th birthday, was because it is in England, and I lived in Canada, and Hogwarts Express doesn’t cross the ocean. Obviously. Anyway, Harry Potter made me feel cool about my glasses. I was in good company.

As I got older, I started to get into Harry Potter from a different perpective. I realized that I was cleary a Slytherin, and that green and silver were the way to go. I still like red and don’t hate Gryffindors, but I avoid gold clothing if I can help it and wear silver instead. // Sofie Mikhaylova

Here. Swear. Swear on Chanel.
I can’t remember being obsessed with anything other than dalmatians as a child, but in Grade 10 I fell under the spell of Carrie Bradshaw. The obsession spilled over to Sarah Jessica Parker (does anybody really differentiate between the two?) and I can remember going to school wearing my Great Grandmother’s broaches as fasteners on an asymmetrical grey cardigan, an homage to her Gap campaign.

My all-time favourite outfit during this phase was based on a dress from the final episode of the series. It was a sea-foam green tulle skirt which I made myself and layered over a structured black halter dress, meant to emulate the dress Carrie runs across Paris in, eventually reuniting with Big (gush). I wore it to our high school’s drama and dance awards.

I think the only problem my obsession with Carrie’s fashion might have caused was that it was so different from what everyone else was wearing in my high school, and so I sort of stuck out like a sore satin-gloved thumb. While everyone was showing up for class in jeans or sweatpants, I was wearing chiffon floral skirts and oversized fake flowers pinned to my cardigan. // Casie Brown

“Whoever said orange is the new pink was seriously disturbed.”
Growing up, I always got the idea that my peers didn’t think I was very smart. No matter how high my grades, my optimistic attitude combined with my affinity to wear pink matching outfits and my blonde streaked hair made me an easy target for dumb blonde jokes. I felt destined to be intellectually downtrodden until the day I saw Legally Blonde. Elle Woods was just like me: fun, girly, and smarter than she looked. I faked an eye exam and got cute glasses, paired knee socks with heels, and began telling everyone I would go to McGill, to which one boy said, “Alyssa, you’ll never be smart enough to go to McGill.” But, like Elle, I studied hard and tried to be best friends with everyone regardless of their judgment. The climax of my Elle Woods phase involved a head to toe hot pink Betsey Johnson corduroy outfit, complete with hot pink knee boots my mother acquired in Las Vegas, accessorized with a pink basket full of pink cookies which I spent my high school day handing out to students. After that I started dating a drama guy and went from Pretty in Pink to Checkerboard Ska. It was a rocky transition.

I never did get to McGill, but only because they didn’t offer a program as well known and successful as the Ryerson School of Journalism, where I am currently finishing my degree. I do, however, still wear pink with pride, and sometimes when I get to class and take out my floral notebook and rainbow pen set, I smile to myself and silently thank Elle for helping me find my smart self. // Alyssa Garisson

All I want is a dress with puffy sleeves.
Anne of Green Gables was a really important book for me as a child. I just liked how she was so herself, even though that self was a little weird and loud and prone to unfortunate accidents. I’ve never dyed my hair green (by accident, that is), I’ve never gotten my best friend drunk (by accident, that is), and I’ve never floated away in a lake and been rescued by a mischievous, handsome boy from school (not yet, that is). I might not have had flaming red hair, but I did have big, bushy, brown curls—I stuck out in the sea of sleek blonde hair that was the style for all the pretty girls in elementary school.

When I first read Anne of Green Gables, I didn’t fully understand what “puffed sleeves” were—I remember looking in a mirror and holding my sleeves up off my shoulder in an attempt to visualize what Anne was talking about—but I definitely sympathized with Anne’s yearning for trendy clothes that her adopted guardians couldn’t afford. As a child, all my clothes came from the sale section of a local discount outlet store. I always wanted what I couldn’t have: designer purses, t-shirts with logos printed on them, $30 lipgloss from department stores. My mother had a very Marilla Cuthbert attitude towards the whole thing. They’re both very practical women who work hard to balance a small budget and are seemingly impervious to trends or impractical wants. I’m the complete opposite—as soon as I was old enough to work, I worked in the trendiest boutiques and department stores, spending my minimum wage earnings on the latest styles.

Once, when I was working at a law firm and had lots of disposable income, I came across a cardigan that had legitimately puffed sleeves. It was a black button-down sweater with ruched stitching on the shoulders, giving them a raised, “puffed,” look. I don’t know if the designers had Anne of Green Gables in mind when they designed it, but I bought it immediately. I never wore it. It’s not really my style. I didn’t relate to the actual puffed sleeves—I related to Anne’s wanting. I understood desiring what you can’t really have. Besides, buying those items for yourself rarely fills a void. When Anne finally gets her puffed sleeves, it’s because Matthew, her guardian and best friend, knows that puffed sleeves will make Anne happy and sets out to get them for her. I’ll always remember how I felt reading about Anne unwrapping the paper on her beautiful brown dress that Matthew got Mrs. Lynde to make. Anne had someone who really understood her and who would have done anything to make her happy. I like to imagine that Anne never gave away or threw out that dress because it reminded her of how much she and Matthew loved each other. She outgrew the puffed sleeves, but she never outgrew their relationship. BRB, crying forever. // Haley Mlotek

photography// brianne burnell