Oliver Twisted

Getting a tattoo used to be so simple. You went out, got tanked to the gills and had your buddies drag you into a seedy-looking hole in the wall somewhere on the wrong side of town. Then you'd pay some guy you would never speak to under any other circumstance to poke you full of inky holes until the words "Mom" or "Betty" or the image of a hula dancer magically appeared somewhere on your forearm or triceps... The next morning you claimed you couldn't remember anything about the night before and hoped your future wife (not named Betty) would understand.

But times change and now those crazy kids have gone and made the whole experience almost respectable. It's called "body art" these days, and there are conventions for enthusiasts to meet, collect more ink, admire the work of others and pick up a few pointers. Thanks to the Web, those too timid to enter a tattoo parlor or who just plain can't get enough can log onto www.worldofozz.com and watch handsome and hip young Sean "Ozz" Oliver turn a human canvas into a modern primitive masterpiece.

Ozz began tattooing six years ago at the tender age of 20, and recently merged his passion for body art with his love of computers. "I'd been into computers when I was a kid way back in the days of green screens and TI's [Texas Instruments] and command lines. I got out of it for years and then my mom sent me her old one when she got a new Macintosh. I started messing around and [went into the chat rooms]. Somebody online helped me build a Website because people were always asking to see examples of my work." His chat buddy eventually moved on to other projects and Ozz cracked open a book on HTML, "read about ten pages and just did the rest through trial and error."

Now Ozz has a beautiful, image-packed site promoting his tattoo work as well as his desktop publishing and Website design services. To provide easy browser compatibility and increase page loading speed, there are no fancy bells or whistles other than the 24-hour Java chat page where users can often find Ozz tattooing a client or presenting an educational lesson on the art and science of tattooing. "Basically, people get tattooed and their friends or family might be with them. I'll be doing something and one of them might speak up and ask about a certain thing or a person being tattooed might be curious about how this is taking place."

Ozz feels his Website allows first-timers in particular to gain a better understanding of what is involved in the process of tattooing while admiring the work being placed on the bodies of strangers or friends. And, he adds, people are fascinated by tattoos. "It's almost like people have a sexual attraction to them and don't realize it. In a way it goes to the hidden S/M in a sense. I've had people who don't even realize they'd even be into something like this and I tattoo them and the next thing you know ... it's like, 'Wow, this is sorta cool! I think I'm going to get quite a few.'"

When he's not travelling and appearing at tattoo conventions like the Tattoo Tour and Ink Slingers Ball, he works by appointment in his home studio. When he gets more time, he hopes to work with a fellow tattooist to create a chat room where professionals can swap secrets and give one another tips. "That way we can improve what we're doing and let everyone be aware so that at least the majority of inkers out there will at least be good. If everyone's good, then it's going to keep the industry doing well."

Single-handed Websurfers may be interested in a new site concept that Ozz is investigating: adult live nude chat featuring local dancers, some of whom bear Ozz's indelible mark.

Sounds cool to us.