End of An Era: The Guy Who Did Stick-And-Poke Tattoos in the Venue Bathroom Just Moved To Austin


We here at MetalSucks are big fans of The Hard Times, a site that masterfully and hilariously pokes holes in the punk and metal communities, and whose satirical articles make us laugh on a daily basis. To conclude our Summer partnership with Sailor Jerry Rum, we bring you a series of guest articles from The Hard Times. Read at your own risk, though, because you’re likely to see a little of yourself in each of the protagonists. Read more guest articles on MetalSucks by The Hard Times here. Respect Norman Collins’s legacy and drink Sailor Jerry responsibly.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Dozens of Little Rock punks paid tribute on social media today to local stick-and-poke tattoo artist Kirk “the Cactus” Forte after he announced plans to move southwest to Austin, marking the end of a golden age for poorly-sterilized body art in the greater Little Rock area.

“He did a bitchin’ pentagram on my wrist a few years back,” wrote one local fan. “It’s faded enough now that it just looks like a bruise, but when people ask me about my bruise, I’m like, ‘That’s the Cactus, baby!’”

“When I first met him, I actually thought he was a bathroom attendant,” posted another. “I tipped him, and next thing I know, I’m sitting on the toilet in the handicap stall, getting a sick tattoo of a lightning bolt on my shoulder.”

Forte began giving stick-and-poke tattoos in the men’s room at downtown club, gaining notoriety for his wide range of designs and signature blurry style. Well-wishers say he quickly became as much a part of the restroom as the urinals, band stickers, and never-replaced broken light fixture above the sink.

“Kirk will be missed,” said Club Manager Hannah Brown. “The scene really took off during the summer of 2013. Local bands were getting these big record deals, and no night was complete without a bathroom tattoo from the Cactus. Sadly, those times are over.”

“Everyone’s growing up. People are starting families. That’s why now I’m living with my sister in Austin, where I can really use my needle skills,” said Forte. “If they don’t want tattoos, I’ll just knit sweaters and sell them at the farmer’s market. Still, I’m glad I could touch so many people. Like, figuratively, but also with this dull sewing needle.”

Those left behind in Little Rock remain both nostalgic and hopeful. “Kirk was a great artist and a great friend,” said musician Devin Small. “One night, I got knocked out in the pit, and woke up with a bottle of water and a chest tattoo that said, ‘Get Well Soon.’ I have a daughter now. As I watch her scribble incoherently on the walls of our home, I can’t help but wonder… will she be the next Cactus?”

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