First and foremost, Ink N Iron is a tattoo convention, and Southern California's only international tattoo event. Three floors of the Atrium Exhibit Hall aboard the Queen Mary were transformed into a giant tattoo parlor with 280 artists from 30 states and 25 countries inking all weekend. Several vendors were also set up selling tattoo equipment, cool clothing and vintage artwork.
A tattoo contest was held Sunday in the belly of the ship. Contestants paid $10 to enter a specific category (like Best Black & Grey) and the chance to win a trophy for themselves and their artist. A panel of industry leaders was given the responsibility of judging each tattoo using multiple criteria. The awards were imported from Italy utilizing antique silver sacred hearts framed under glass some a 100 years old.
Outside, tons of booths selling food, clothing, accessories, art, crafts and other cool merchandise lined the midway and around the grass area. Scion sponsored Best Tattoo contest of their own and had a free photo booth set up for people who wanted to enter the contest—or just have their pictures taken.
Live entertainment is a big part of the Festival. Three stages were set up with top bands playing throughout the weekend including Eagles of Death Metal, The Bronx, Street Dogs, The Hacienda Brothers, The Sonics, Mike Stinson and the incomparable Dave Alvin.
Of course the cars are always a big part of this event and the “Iron” this year was outstanding. Dozens of rat rods, kustoms, lowriders, motorcycles and hot rods were on show outside in the grass area. Car clubs represented included Sin City Jokers, So Cal Scrapers, the Corsairs and a large display from Cavaliers - Long Beach.
Next to the ocean liner is a huge dome-shaped amphitheater, once the home of Howard Hughes’ famous Spruce Goose, the world’s largest airplane made entirely of wood, which only flew once, in 1947. That’s where the Showcase of Kustoms, a new addition this year, was set up.
To provide the right ambiance for the cool cars, the house lights inside the dome were kept low. A select group of pre-1963 cars and motorcycles were placed around the arena with plenty of room between each one so spectators could get an up close view of every car. Lifestyle Car Club - L.A. was strongly represented with two rows of super fine lows.
The Showcase of Customs will expand in 2010 to include a regional event in Seattle, Washington in mid-August and at the 7th Annual Ink N Iron Festival July 11-13 at the Queen Mary. Then in 2011 the Showcase will go National with shows in Long Beach, Seattle, Chicago and Houston. Contact Trace Edwards at (714) 846-7121 or (714) 856-0441 for further details.
Sunday afternoon an awesome Pin-Up Pageant was held, bringing together many of SoCal’s most beautiful “Betties” for a $2,000 cash prize. A capacity crowd cheered as the delectable Miss Diahann was crowned 2009 Ink N Iron Pin Up Queen.
If you’re into wild and crazy people, tight tattoos, mad music and some awesome cars, this event is for you. We had a blast and we’ll be there next year for sure.