What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas, or so the saying goes.
But as Britney Spears knows, sometimes the things you do at the Palms, young Hollywood’s favorite hotel, casino and den of iniquity, can follow you home.
This story first appeared in the March 22, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The resort’s new tattoo outfit, Hart & Huntington, makes certain of that. While most retail ventures in multimillion-dollar Vegas hotels run toward designer boutiques and four-star restaurants, the Palms is making its own mark. “This is the busiest place I’ve ever worked,” says Thomas Pendelton, the 32-year-old head tattoo artist and former art director, who has been inking skin for 12 years. “When we open at noon there are people lined up outside, and it’s like that until we close at 4 a.m.”
While Pendelton says the majority of customers tend to be women in their late 20s, the very first client was a 73-year-old woman in a wheelchair who has since come in for two more tattoos. While the parlor sticks to a first-come, first-served policy, people don’t mind putting in their names, playing a few rounds of blackjack, and coming back. Of course, they’re always welcome to order a few drinks from the cocktail waitress and watch the action.
But when Palms owner George Maloof’s VIPs come through, it’s another story. “We got a call from George that Mark Wahlberg and Anna Kournikova were going to come in. They changed their minds, but of course we would have shut down the shop and turned it into a party for them,” Pendelton says.
Does all the pop-fueled hoopla mean the end of tattoos’ indie status? “All the cool guys in town talk smack and say we’re sellouts, but all the people who work here are old-school professionals,” insists Pendelton, who apprenticed at Bert Grimm’s in Long Beach, one of Southern California’s oldest tattoo parlors. But at the Palms, even the renegades must adhere to Maloof’s dress code: a black Hart & Huntington shirt and black Dickies.
So far, the most popular tattoo design requests are tribal-inspired images and colorful flowers. And while the parlor might turn getting a tattoo into a party, it’s impossible to do away with the accompanying pain. “Tattoo is mind control. If you can relax, it hurts half as bad,” says Pendelton. “I had a firefighter come in, and after I made three lines he ran into the bathroom for 30 minutes. Then I tattooed a 90-pound girl who just sat through the whole thing.”
— Marcy Medina