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The Story of Colorado's DIY Skater Tattoo Parlor

Every tattoo from No Class Tattoo Parlor is free, provided you're at least halfway tanked when you start laying the ink on yourself. I that think explains why the place is starting to pick up some steam among the skating community.
July 29, 2014, 7:00am

No Class is a DIY tattoo parlor run by skater Jesse Brocato from his living room in Fairplay, Colorado. Every tattoo from No Class is free, provided you're at least halfway tanked when you start laying the ink on yourself. Which I think explains why the place is starting to pick up some steam among the skating community. On a recent skate trip to Colorado, I visited No Class and had a chat with Brocato.

VICE: How did you guys get started?
Jesse Brocato: It all started one night when we found out that our friend Shane had a tattoo gun. We told him to bring it over, and he thought he was going to tattoo us, but we were like, "Fuck, give us that,” and we started tattooing ourselves.


That night I fell in love. I was like, “I’m never paying for a tattoo again.” Everyone pays thousands of bucks to get these fancy tattoos. The idea behind No Class is, why would you want a fancy tattoo when you could have a shitty ghetto tattoo?

And it took off from there?
Well, I used to make moonshine, so we’d get drunk on moonshine and then just start tattooing ourselves. Then we started buying more equipment online. Now we have three set-ups. People see our work, and they want a shitty tattoo too. I tell them they have to do it themselves. That’s what No Class is all about. Is it hard to get the hang of it?
It took us a little while. In the beginning, we’d have the needle set way too far out, like a quarter inch, and I was going so deep it stopped the machine like a lawnmower in thick grass. It just destroyed the bone and took forever to heal. You start digging and it ends up looking like hamburger meat. You lay in all that ink, and then it heals up scarred and white.

Anything else you had to learn?
Pick the cat hair off the needle. Does that “sterilize” it?
I mean, maybe I would have to read a little on bacteria and all that, but whatever, what we do is just hook it up and do it. We don't share needles or anything like that. I mean, it’s happened, but you really shouldn't do that. You think you’re clean, but you never know what you have. Somebody that actually tattoos would probably freak out if they came up here, but that’s part of it, part of the "fuck it" attitude of No Class. None of us has swelled up yet.

Word spreads quickly. No Class has picked up some steam.
It’s a small thing but it gets around. We get a lot of shitneck skaters and their crews that come through asking for tattoos. A few kids have gotten their first ever tattoos here. To me that’s awesome.

People wonder what we do up here; we just skate and tattoo. We’re mountain rednecks, I guess. We just get bored. You get a couple grinds in you, and a couple beers in you, and then you’re like, “All right, let’s go tattoo!” Grinds, beers, music, doobies, mosquitos, DEET, and that makes it.

How much does a session at No Class cost?
Nothing. If people want to come tattoo themselves, come on by. If they want to kick down, that’s awesome too. People bring food and beer, so we collect donations in that way. I buy the needles and ink. I don’t mind—I’m a generous person. A $100 bottle of ink will last us at least a year. Needles come out to be like 80 cents each—they’re real cheap. Best or worst tat?
Our friend Dewey did a cheeseburger train on his leg. That one’s pretty great. They’re all great. The worst is one I did on myself—“breakin’ hearts since ‘75.”

Where do these ideas come from?
I don’t know; we just think of stuff. Sometimes it changes halfway through. One time Dana was drawing an upside-down cross, but it was getting really messed up, so someone had an idea to put balls on it. So he put balls on it, and then someone said it was starting to look like Cartman, so it ended up turning fully into Cartman. From an upside-down cross to Cartman. You just never know what you’re going to get. Any plans for the future of No Class?
I’m building a pool here, and people already know there’s a bunch of stuff to skate up here in Fairplay, so it’ll grow. I don’t want to make money off it or anything. I just want to see shitty tattoos and good ones too. You never know when you’re going to die. You just gotta live. Tattoo yourself. It’s fun.

See more of Peter's photos here.