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Have 'Santa Cruz' Tattooed Sunday and Monday to Help Fight Hunger

For those who want to make a lifetime show of their love for the city and idea of Santa Cruz, the artists at Black Pearl have the hookup over Labor Day weekend.

Labor Day is a good time to hit the sales, buy some shoes, take a last ride on the Hurricane, hike, bike or have the words Santa Cruz etched permanently and artistically on your body for life.

The owner of Black Pearl Tattoos, Mike Espinosa, will have a sheet of specially designed Santa Cruz art logos ready to be emblazoned for all comers to his Pleasure Point shop at 3911 Portola Dr. Sunday and Monday. The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the price is $100, part of which goes to the surf, skate and music charity, Grind Out Hunger and the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Espinosa, a Harbor High grad who has been inking skin for 20 years, says this is a way to donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank and show off some special artwork that you will have for the rest of your life.

"Every tattoo you do is the best one," says Espinosa, looking over pictures of ones he's done in his past. "You have to go into it thinking that. Otherwise you slip as an artist."

The 44-year-old artist has no way to gauge how many will come by for the body art (or gauges), but a July 4 promotion offering "Sailor Jerry" tatts drew 30-40 people.

He plans a Dio de los Muertos tattoo day Nov. 3 and he says there may be guest appearances Labor Day by some Southern California artists.

Strangest location he's injected ink?

A bright red rose covering a woman's underarm. "I didn't expect that one," he says.

Craziest tattoo?

"Everyone's tattoo is crazy and no one's is crazy. It's all in the eye of the beholder. It's not my job to judge. I'm just the middleman."

How has the popularity of reality TV shows about tattooing affected the art?

"The negative is that you get a lot more 'scratchers,' people who think they are artists and can do tattoos at home," says the artist who calls it the second oldest profession in the world. 

"The positive is that they are becoming more acceptable. I've done tattoos for people in all professions and all walks of life, doctors, lawyers, business executives. I've done a lot for CHP officers and Sheriff's Deputies."

He's also done tattoos of the words Santa Cruz for people from here and for those from far away.

"Because of the skateboards, people all over know Santa Cruz, they all see the artwork and the logos and it means something more to them."

When he worked in Visalia for a while, he did Santa Cruz tattoos there.

What does he like best about the job?

"I get to meet hot chicks and tattoo them," he jokes. "No, I get to stay in the arts and make something that lasts forever. It's a big responsiblity."

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