Beth D’Addono

Tattoos
Cheryl Gerber
Beth D’Addono shares the couch with Jamie Ruth, the tattoo artist who created her recent body art – a half sleeve of a magnolia branch. Although Jamie has had 20 years of experience all over the world as a tattoo artist, she just opened her first local shop named Treasure Tattoo on St. Claude Avenue.

Beth D’Addono moved to New Orleans from Philadelphia in 2012 and celebrated by having a pelican tattooed on her entire back.

A nationally respected full-time freelance writer covering food and travel since 1990, Beth has co-authored two cookbooks, written a Michelin guide to New Orleans, and just finished writing “The Hunt Guide New Orleans.” She is the local expert for 10Best.com/USAToday.com on New Orleans, and writes for many other publications such as AAA World, philly.com, Wells Fargo Conversations and Taste.

Now that you know something about Beth’s pedigree as a writer, you may wonder what she is doing adorning herself with tattoos. “I always admired body art, and the personal statement and expression it made; I just wasn't sure what I wanted to say with any body art I acquired,” she says.

“My first tattoo was a small fleur de lis above my right ankle, demurely on the inside. It was definitely about my connection to my love affair with New Orleans. Eventually, I went all out and had Justin Olivier from Downtown Tattoo, who specializes in feathers and birds, do a large pelican on my back. I love pelicans – they are strong and determined, good eaters and kind of funny and graceful at the same time.”

Beth’s tattoo of a pelican that covers most of her back garners lots of questions. “There is something friendly between people who love body art;” she explains. “They will walk across the room to make a comment about my tattoo. I like that.” She admits that it was pretty involved to get her pelican tattoo. “It took five sessions and, yes, it hurt – but I love, love, love it.” 

The story of Beth coming to New Orleans for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and deciding someday she would move here may be a relatable one for other music lovers from all over the world. “I immediately fell in love with the city and knew I wanted to specialize in writing about it and, most of all, I vowed that I was going to move here someday,” she says.

Now ensconced in an apartment in the heart of Marigny, just a couple of blocks form the French Quarter, Beth explains what she loves about New Orleans: “I  love the quirky, random, mercurial sense of magical realism I get every time I walk out the door, and it seems something amazing always happens. I adore the people, the sense of freedom, and the live and let live attitude. I love the rich music, art and culture scene, and the food – all reasons why I moved here. I know there are plenty of problems too – but there are problems in other cities without the magic to mitigate them.” 

Reflecting back to the topic of her body art, she offers a list of her adornments: “I have a little Jazz Fest guy, a 504 with a fleur de lis as the 0, a NOLA, a paw print, because I love animals. I added a fork and spoon, a copy from a set I bought at the Bangkok weekend market, to represents my passion for travel and eating. And my pelican, the Louisiana state bird, and magnolias, fragrant and beautiful. I almost forgot – I have a little globe at the top of my back for my love of travel.” 

The newest body art creation for Beth is a half sleeve of magnolias in various stages: full bloom, buds and half open. “It's beautiful,” she says with pride. “I had seen something similar and had been pining after it.” How she ended selecting the artist for her latest tattoo is a typical New Orleans tale. “I wrote about Amy Knoll's shop Bon Castor in Bywater that is full of fabulous handcrafts, all New Orleans art and fashion. She sent me to Jo Starnes who runs Savage Beauty in the back of the shop for a great hair cut. Jo sent me to Jamie Ruth, her friend and tattoo artist who does gorgeous flowers. Although she has had 20 years of experience all over the world, Jamie just opened her first local shop named Treasure Tattoo at 2350 St. Claude Avenue.

“I was one of Jamie’s first clients. Her shop is walking distance from my apartment and it offers a gentler experience – in the sense that there isn't headbanging music playing or people watching you; it is more private and she's fun and kind of kooky. I immediately liked her and I think she is a great artist. 

“New Orleans a perfect place for body art,” Beth continues. “So many people have such interesting tattoos and New Orleans is a sassy place. Whether you're young or old or in between, there is a sense of being unselfconscious about what you wear, of celebrating differences and personal style and tattoos fit into that perfectly. It feels very natural here.” 

Then Beth pauses to reflect on how she connected to body art: “Tattoos for me were a way to visualize moving my life in a certain direction. It has literally meant moving closer and closer to New Orleans until I moved here finally. But also figuratively, or symbolically, my body art moved me away from feeling traditional or conventional. They kind of liberated me from being afraid on some level. If I am afraid or face a difficult challenge I think of my pelican – and it makes me feel like a badass.”

 

 

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