This story begins on Wednesday, November 18th 2015, the week before Thanksgiving. I was as usual tattooing inside my little 17’x6′ rectangle of joy that I had been working out of for the past four years, when the news came to me that the Kokopelli Salon was moving in a week! For whatever reason the salon needed to move somewhere else, immediately, which left me and my sub-lease in limbo, nowhere to go.
Having now enjoyed six years of independent ink slinging, I wasn’t about to change things, not taking any steps back. So the search for a spot to open up a shop began.
Looking for a spot to tattoo out of in Orlando (I imagine in a lot of other places) is quite difficult. Most of the time I mentioned the word “Tattoo” to a landlord, the conversation would take a complete 180, you’d think I was asking for a place to conduct human sacrifices or hold a local Isis meeting.
Eventually we found a spot that looked great for our purposes. It was ample, open, and out of the way, and according to the county zoning department, it was all good! The landlord of course, wanted nothing to do with a Tattoo Shop. After a winded speech about how I conduct business, and promises that this wouldn’t be a “circus” style shop, he agreed to let us take the spot with one condition: We were not to display the word “TATTOO” anywhere on the outside of the business. Thus the name of the shop Kallisti BODY ART.
We were all exited, finally the quest was over and we could concentrate on fixing up the place. So we did, and by January 7th the shop was all set up and even passed the State Health board inspection, we got our State Permit!
This is how we got it:
This was the place right after passing our inspection:
We were all overjoyed and ready to start tattooing, only one thing remained, the County Tax Occupational License, which is never a problem, you just pay and get a paper, like anything else.
Once we went in person to the Zoning Department, all of the sudden the song and dance changed on us. We’ve called zoning to verify that the location was allowed to be a tattoo shop 4 times, that’s right, FOUR times before signing the lease on the place, even half hour before putting pen to paper, this is serious business after all. Every time we called and gave them the address 5718 Old Cheney Highway, they confirmed that the zoning was right for the business, but this day, after we have gone through all we had, they deadpan face tell me that the location is not permitted for tattooing. This girl pulls up some ordinance “Semoran/50 overlay ordinance” that states that a Tattoo shop cannot open there.
Our world crumbled right then and there. We had just spent a lot of money on fixing up the place, signed a three year lease, there was insurance, equipment and so on…. I can’t say that it wasn’t one of the worse moments of my life. You know what made it worse, it was that damn look of sadistic satisfaction that a government employee gets in their eyes when they know you are fucked, ever see that South Park with the Comcast customer service guys? It was just like that.
After a horrible couple of hours of lamenting, crying and angry ranting, we composed ourselves and got back to it. You either bend with the wind like bamboo or snap by your own rigidity, so bend we did.
We called everyone we could, I even got commissioner Tony Ortiz on the phone, who was very understanding, thought that we had a dis-service done to us, but that was as far as that went. The manager of the zoning department called to apologize, but nothing could be done to change what happened.
We have a new location already, but I won’t announce anything until is all good and ready. This place is more centrally located, so I guess the universe don’t want me hiding in a corner any longer. The new place is under construction so it won’t be ready for us until March, but it will be worth the wait!
Here are some mandatory tattoo pictures: