Arriving to Blasphemy I was nervous to hear the intimidating sounds of needles and men's voices, but instead, was hit in the face by this blinding energy surrounding Tatum Alurra. The 26 year-old tattoo artist is In the process of opening her own studio, Blasphemy, a space dedicated to queer people and people of color. In our political climate, with FOSTA/SESTA, the acts of violence towards queer people and people to color, and the harassment trans people have to endure every day, it is so comforting and important to have someone who respects you and has been through similar experiences on the other end of the needle. Whether it comes to big majestic designs or little intricate tattoos, whether you’re a sex worker or a student (or both) Tatum’s place is safe and fun. As someone whos been tattooing in New York for nearly a decade now, Tatum’s experience gives her a deeper perspective on the industry today; regarding queer spaces, femme spaces, and how to succeed as a queer woman in a male-dominated industry.
Clearly you believe in the importance of queer spaces, why are they important to have and why should it be a priority to create them?
“A place to strategize against the dominant culture and [find] camaraderie with people that understand your pain. A general solidarity against the ‘othering.’ The spaces function, in my very humble opinion, as a meeting place to discuss tactic and strategy to counteract the extremely prevalent attitude of homo/transphobia and, equally important, it is a place to heal and feel comfortable with people that understand and are going through the same experiences. It's amazing what even a small amount of time away from the dominant culture can do for you mentally. A realization that you’re not alone.”
How did you insert yourself into this predominantly straight and masculine industry?
“There was a time when tattoo culture was counterculture. You weren’t gonna have face tattoos and get a great job. As it became normalized it brought with it attitudes common in mainstream society. Mainly that men do everything better and that a woman's job in the community, if there was one at all, was looking “cute” and helping customers. There hasn't been a single day that I’ve worked in a shop where I didn't hear a sexist joke or comment. Sometimes even geared towards me directly. There has been as light change in that attitude with the amazing women out here tattooing, but there's so so so much room for improvement.”
I believe Tatum to be a perfect personification of the future that I want for our communities. So many people have to endure so much harassment, dehumanization and patronization from people in power. But instead of expecting the rest of us to go through it because “that's the way things are,” people like Tatum are creating spaces for the next generations. I’m grateful to have met her and for her welcoming me into her space, I hope you have the chance to go soon! Visit Blasphemy at 272 Irving Avenue, Brooklyn and check her out @tatumalurratattoo!