Hand-Crafted in Japan

Toshinori Mogi tattoos old-school

Jun 1, 2005 at 4:00 am
There is something undeniably intimate about being tattooed. You have some skin showing, another person has his or her hands on you, and your body is undergoing a physical transformation. The only barrier between you and the artist is that chattering tattoo gun, stitching your skin with ink at an efficient clip.

But the tattoo gun is a recent invention, less than 100 years old. For centuries the art was even more intimate, as the artist literally hammered the ink into the body, tapping in the design with hand-held needles and a weighted stick. The hand-poke process was less efficient and more time-consuming, but the results are no less beautiful.

The ancient form of tattooing is still practiced today by artists such as Toshinori Mogi of Seventh Tattoo Studio in Japan. Mogi performs a weeklong guest-artist residency at Iron Age Studio in University City (6309 Delmar Boulevard; 314-725-1499) Monday through Sunday, June 6 through 12. Anyone with a desire for a beautiful and unique tattoo done the old-fashioned way can make an appointment at Iron Age to have his or her skin enhanced by Mogi's talent. Prices vary depending on the size of the chosen piece, but one look at Mogi's portfolio (available for viewing at the front counter) should sway you that whatever he asks is worth it. His work fairly glows with a luminous beauty: Waves crash across a man's back; a bulbous-eyed koi leaps from an arm; a demon leers across an entire back. Mogi's lines are smooth and clean in the traditional Japanese style, and his colors are gorgeous, popping off the skin almost audibly. And all of it will be laced into the flesh by a careful, graceful hand -- the same way tattoos were created for centuries. -- Paul Friswold

Saved by the Bell?

There are worse things than forever living your life as Screech from Saved by the Bell. You could be the guy who was beaten by him on FOX's Celebrity Boxing 2. Plus, Dustin Diamond made a living out of going through his seemingly endless awkward phase on TV while the rest of us just did it for free. These days, his standup shows sell out all over the nation -- perhaps a somewhat unexpected success (like winning a dance-off with "the Sprain"). See Diamond at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza (635 West Port Plaza, I-270 and Page Avenue, Maryland Heights; 314-469-7529) on Thursday at 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 8 and 10 p.m. (June 2 through 4). Tickets are $22 (call MetroTix at 314-534-1111). -- Kristie McClanahan

Sharp-Dressed Man

Magic Smoking Monkey celebrates ten years of good campy fun with a reprise of its first-ever production, Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda: Live!. This unflinching (well, for the cast, anyway -- you'll squirm a little) look at transvestitism involves an "expert" psychiatrist explaining why some men can't resist the seductive lure of women's clothing (Ma, it's a comfort thing, honest). Will Glen choose a gray flannel suit and fedora over pink angora and pearls? Will Glen's fiancée become his ex-fiancée when she discovers he looks better in hose than she does? And what does Inspector Warren think about these kicky slingbacks? Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda: Live! takes the stage at 8 and 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (June 3 through 18) at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar Boulevard; 314-361-5664; $10 to $15). -- Paul Friswold

Heaven in a Glass

THUR 6/2

Torture yourselves no more, wondering if Heaven is there and what it might look like. The supreme Someone wants you to be happy, so smart money says Paradise is a whole lot like the Moolah Theatre & Lounge (3821 Lindell Boulevard). And as if a 400-seat movie theater, swanky bar and bowling lanes weren't enough, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. the Moolah hosts "G'day in a Glass" ($40 in advance; visit www.localwineevents.com to purchase tickets), a tasting extravaganza featuring more than 250 Australian wines. Learn about Aussie wine-making from visiting vintners and revel in the grandeur of the Moolah. All proceeds from the evening's silent auction go to two local nonprofit organizations. Wine, fine environs and good deeds done for people in need? Heavenly. -- Brooke Foster