Seth B. Cifferri knows people think he’s crazy to open up a tattoo parlor among the stuffy, pricey confines of historic Georgetown. But Cifferri points out that while Georgetown may be knee-deep in eateries and trendwear retailers, the shopper in search of something a little more lasting will undoubtedly end up at Jinx Proof, a recently opened tattoo shop on M Street.
Cifferri, who has been tattooing professionally for four years, says Jinx Proof located in Georgetown so the shop “wouldn’t be stepping on any toes”—the nearest rival to Jinx Proof, the District’s sole tattoo hut, is located in Arlington. The guys who run Jinx Proof have all spent their fair share of time under the needle—elaborate, colorful tattoos peek out from under their shirt collars and sleeves, covering their arms and reaching up their necks. Most of them have a few piercings as well.
Shop owners Tim Corun and Karl Hedgepath pissed on superstition and tempted fate by opening Jinx Proof on Friday the 13th last month. And sure enough, trouble and damnation showed up right on schedule—although the hand that struck them proved to be their own.
Shortly after the shop opened, the owners distributed a promotional flier depicting a naked, fat-lipped woman with an Afro, a pot belly, and humongous breasts riding a mechanical bull. Underneath the drawing, the flier proclaims, “Shirley sez: ‘Worth the Ride!’ Climb On.”
Drawn by a Baltimore artist named Fudgie, the piece is so riven with racist caricature it’s hard to think of who it wouldn’t offend.
“It wasn’t meant to be offensive,” says Cifferri. “It was meant to be outlandish, to get people’s attention, and to be funny, but not at anyone’s expense,” he says. “Some people think it’s funny, some don’t.”
Despite all the racist iconography in the drawing, Cifferri insists it’s not intended that way, and says everybody at Jinx Proof is adamantly anti-racist. “It’s just Fudgie’s style,” he says.
“My mind is so fucking simple,” Fudgie chimes in. “If I tried to be offensive, I’d blow it.”
The shop printed 1,000 of the offensive fliers and, after getting some rather direct community feedback, removed copies that were left in stores or hanging around town. Although they were hoping the poster would get people’s attention, it hasn’t been the kind of attention the shop owners had in mind. Cifferri would like to move on. “People keep saying now, ‘You shouldn’t have done that.’ I know…I just do tattoos.”
Walking through Jinx Proof, it’s easy to see how it ended up in such offensive territory. The walls inside the shop are covered in old-timey, traditional designs, “tattoos your grandpa would’ve had,” as Cifferri says. Or you could think of them as tattoos your mom is guaranteed to hate: busty women, devils, daggers, tigers, black cats, skulls, hearts, dragons, snakes, eagles—all the great clichés of the tattoo world. In addition to its three staff tattoo artists, the shop has signed a San Francisco–based tattoo specialist as a “visiting artist.” Cifferri says he hopes to host visiting artists on a regular basis.
“I’ve worked all over the United States,” Cifferri said. “I settled in Georgetown because it’s cozy. I felt comfortable here.” And despite Georgetown’s image, Cifferri says it’s a good location for the type of clientele Jinx is looking for: young people who might consider an impulse buy on something that will be with them for a lifetime.—Mark Murrmann