Show Us Your Tats - Betty LaBourbon

Betty was one of the first participants to Show Us Your Tats. We fell in love with her retro look that makes you want to buy anything babydoll looking you can find. We loved her even more when she agreed to get in the water with us at Cherry Beach, with a thousand dogs (and their owners) staring at us. 


Who are you?

Betty LaBourbon,  burlesque performer based out of Toronto. My classic pin up style is the cherry on top of my electric performances, both as a solo performer and as part of the Femme Diagrams burlesque troupe.

Let's talk tattoos

I have 4 tattoos. The oldest is a maple leaf on the small of my back that was done for my 16th birthday. It was done in a small town shop outside of the city. My black widow was to remind me that I am strong in my own right, and was done by a friend. I have a Winnie the Pooh memorial piece for a family member who passed away. And I have a burned branch with my family's crest to keep me connected to my past. Those two were both done at Tat-a-rama in Etobicoke. So far that has been my favorite shop that I have visited in Toronto.


What was the time and budget allocated for each piece?

The maple leaf was maybe $100, it is not very big and it was done outside of the city many years ago. It was only maybe a half an hour to complete.

The black widow was even less than that since it was done by a friend who was an apprentice at the time. Again, it didn't take very long, maybe 20 minutes.

The branch took quite a bit longer, about 2 hours. It cost almost $300, and I gave the artist a good tip as well because he did an excellent job.


The Winnie the Pooh piece was maybe an hour and a half, and cost about $250, but again, I gave the artist, Joe Berry, a tip because, again, the artists at this shop do excellent work. I'm very picky because I either design my own tattoos, or have very clear ideas about what I want, so I need to work with artists who are willing to listen, and not all about their own ego and personal style.

Is the tattoo fever going to strike again?

Ooh absolutely! Tattooing is a great way to celebrate and remember important things, events, people. I have maybe 3 more planned, but I'm sure more ideas will come to me as time goes on.

Is there something you wish you had known before getting tattooed?

I did a lot of research before getting my first tattoo. I had to as a requirement before my parents would sign the consent forms! But I didn't realize it was going to be such a spiritual experience. You have an image that means something so personal to you that you want to carve it into your body. You sacrifice blood and pain for this image to be with you forever. That is an incredibly intense experience. And for me it became very spiritual. A way to give back to the universe for lessons learned or gifts received. I still feel that way every time I go under the needle.


How did you immediate family/circle of friends react?

My family has always been ok with tattoos. Both of my parents have them, and since I was so young when I got my first one, I needed their consent before it could be done! Strangely enough, my nose piercing caused more issue than any of my tattoos have! As for my friends, it was never an issue, either good or bad. They all wanted to hear about it, and teased me about going through the pain, but no one really seemed to consider it much beyond that. It's become very normalized in our culture I suppose.

The Deets

Tat-a-rama in Etobicoke | @tatarama.
Joe Berry | @joe_b_tattoos

Find Betty

Her Instagram | Her Facebook


Show Us Your Tats - Kris


We randomly found Kris on Instagram via Adrenaline's story. The guys were just trying on their women's clothing collection and we thought "that guy sounds like fun". Good call, Kris is -indeed- hilarious and one of the kindest men we've ever met.


Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am Kris, the Manager at Adrenaline Tattoos Piercings and Streetwear in Queen west! We offer tattoos, piercings and sell clothes. Adrenaline has been around since 1998.

Adrenaline is one of the biggest tattoo parlors in Toronto, what do you think makes it different?

I think the biggest thing that separates us from other shops is our customer service. We train our staff to be attentive, caring, and knowledgeable, at the end of the day, people are here to spend a lot of money and we need to be able to make them feel good about their decisions.

What's your background and how did you end up working in the tattoo industry?

I used to be in the restaurant and bar business for many many years. I worked every position you can think of, from busboy to General Manager. I left the industry to challenge myself, both personally and professionally. The tattoo world shares many of the characteristics as the restaurant world in terms of customer service and standing behind your product. I ended up at Adrenaline by staying I am contact with people I had met during my time in the restaurant business and the timing was right for me.


Let's talk tattoos:

I now have over thirty tattoos but a few were done at Adrenaline! I do try to get them from every artist because it is free marketing and to be honest we have some of the best out there!
My most meaningful ones are: my chest which was done by Todd Marritt. It really depicts who I am. I have the crown because I'm named after a prince. The upside down heart represents my love life, unfortunately it's always been a roller coaster.
My lion on my forearm which was done by Delmer Gomez. It represents me being a Leo and always being a strong man who represents his pack. Strong personality, strong work ethic, strong minded.
Finally, my Gentlemen's Club tattoo on myleft upper arm done by Dan Kirk! This one also means a lot. It represents a lifestyle where you dress well, you feel well and you always treat women with respect... It shows that not all is lost when it comes to chivalry... (Scandals-en-chef are thanking you for it and will let let ladies know how to reach you ;) )

Any tips for future inked people?

My advice for newbies picking an artist is do your research!!! If you want a black and grey realism tattoo, find out who does them! If you want a traditional style rose, find out who does them!!
But, my advice to anyone who wants to get tattooed is : know what you want, where you want to get it on your body, and how big you want it! The more details you can provide to the artist, the easier and more pleasurable experience you will have!


Being in the tattoo world full-time, what are the most valuable lessons you've learned so far?

Never judge what tattoos people are getting, because it may mean something to them. Always have a positive attitude when you come to work, it's infectious! And finally, lead by example; your team is only as strong as their leader!
We're making memories everyday! Yes, I am known as the best lip singer and dancer (haha) but there are also a lot of strong personalities here which makes for a good dynamic!

Last few words for the road:

We are constantly promoting upcoming events on our instagram page! So follow us! 
We are currently working on a new project, but it's a secret!! Shhhhh...


Special thanks to the Rose and Crown for letting us borrow their space and their confused customers!

Find Adrenaline:

Show Us Your Tats - Liana

We bumped into Liana's instagram profile completely randomly and our hearts skipped a bit when we saw her beautiful elephant piece on her thigh. One "hi-hello-please-model-for-us" later, we were talking about going to Chinatown for something edgy, neons lights and rock'n'roll. Liana is a brave soul. She walked around half-naked in public places for a solid two-hours.


Tell us a little bit about yourself:

My name is Liana Lewis, I’m a Toronto based dancer, singer and actor. Originally from Calgary, Alberta . The arts have always been a big part of my life

Let's talk tattoos

I have 11 tattoos. My first tattoo is the one on my back. Two dance figures on a turntable they represent the urban and contemporary styles of dance, I identify with both.
My “Believe” tattoo and the one behind my ear which says LiLi with the Trident from the Barbados flag were done by Jay McKay at Adrenaline - he now has his own shop Unique Ink in Barrie, ON.
The “Believe” a simple reminder to never loss hope, that whatever I set out to do is possible. The one behind my ear is my family nickname it also represents my Bajan heritage. If all of my ink had to speak for me, they would tell the story of who I am, what I love or how I move in the world. It would reveal inner beauty, strength, love, empowerment, authenticity and the importance of music, dance and family. Those are the things that make me me.


The “Elephant” and “Love Conquers All” was do by Alanna Mule at Adrenaline, she now has her own shop Bellwoods Tattoo. I love what elephants represent: strength, loyalty, power, patience, good luck, pride, happiness, reliability, confidence and wisdom. There's many other symbolic meanings, I found those qualities I identify with the most. I had it shooting musical notes because music has been a big part of my life, even before I was born.

"Music is a second language to my heart." - Mara Arps

“Rose” tattoo - by Janice at Chronic Ink.

The lips with “be your own kind of beautiful” written in lipstick by Rags at Black Cloud Tattoos. It’s a dedication to my Love Letters Cabaret family, the lips is our logo we’re all about “poom poom power” empowerment. Being your own kind of beautiful is what poom poom power means to me.
The sternum and finger tattoos are by Prairie Koo at Ink and Water Tattoo. Both pieces are his own designs. I was looking for new ink inspiration when I came across Sara Golish (a Toronto based artist)  "Moon Dust" series, the "Black Gold" print it spoke to me. To me she represents strength, uniqueness, inner beauty and empowerment. She reminded me a lot of myself especially the persona I take on Petra "Queen of the Nile" with Love Letters Cabaret. This was done by Roumen Kirinov at Toronto Ink.

The tribal piece on my right thigh was created and done by Petra Hlavackova in Berlin at Toe Loop Tattoo. I just love her work, happen to be in Berlin at the same time, was very happy to be able to get some ink done by her. Such a beautiful spirit. And her name is Petra which is also the name of my alter ego, it was very serendipitous.

What was the time and budget allocated for each piece?

The smaller pieces were around $100-150, The rest was from $200-500


Is there something you wish you had known before getting tattooed?

Not really, I waited till I was really ready and knew exactly what I wanted. I did lots of research on artist and shops making sure I had the right person for each piece.

Any reactions from your immediate circle?

My friends love my ink and aren’t surprised with how I now use ink as another way to express myself. Both my parents said once I'm 18 it's your own body you can do whatever you please with it. They don't disapprove or are unhappy they just come from a time where tattoos were sorta taboo, they don't get it. I know my dad secretly loves the one behind my ear.

The Deets

Alanna Mule - Bellwoods Tattoo - 104 Ossington Ave | @alannamule @BellwoodsTattoo

Prairie Koo - Ink & Water Tattoo - 1303 Bloor St West | @release852_inkandwatertattoo @inkandwatertattoo

Rags - Black Cloud Tattoos - 276 Carlaw Ave Unit 209 | @blackcloudtattoos

Janice - Chronic Ink - 252 Eglinton Ave E | @chronicink

Roumen Kirinkkov - Toronto Ink - 580 ½ Danforth Rd | | @roumenkirinkov @torontoink

Petra Hlavackova | @petratattoo | | @toe_loop_tattoo_berlin


Find Liana:

Instagram | Facebook | Love Letters Cabaret

Will be performing in the Toronto Fringe Festival (July 5-16)


Show Us Your Tats - Mike

We were beyond excited to meet Mike. First, because he is officially our first participant for our brand new project Show Us Your Tats (SUYT) and then because we were so lucky to start this project with such an interesting piece. Indeed, Mike has his entire back covered, from neck to lower back.


Tell us a little bit about yourself:

My name is Mike, Right now I’m currently an International MBA student at the Schulich School of Business. I also sit on the board of a not-for-profit organization, and part-time I’m also a valet driver

Let's Talk Tattoos

Right now I have 2 tattoos (hoping to get more!). The first one I have is on my chest piece which is a Polish eagle, which represents my background and my family. It was a great first piece because the whole anxiety of future regret was removed, since regardless of what I become in the future, I will always be Polish by blood. This first one was done by Nathan Draper (at the time he was at Pearl Harbor Gift Shop in Kensington).


My second tattoo is a combination of things that I saw during my trips to Vietnam and Bali. The vietnam portion (the dragons) came to be when I was touring the Temple of Literature, and saw this very intricate design on the door. Instantly I knew it was something that I would want, since education is a large part of who I believe that we should all strive to be constantly learning. The second portion is a Balinese Garduda, which really connected with me when I was at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana in Bali. At first it was the design that really hit me, but then the more I looked into it the more the idea of “fiercly attacking” started to stick.

In the end, I decided to combine the two on my back, so it’s a personal reminder that I should always be striving to improve myself, and that anything I choose to do to that end I do so with undaunting ferocity (when the going gets tough - keep going!). Of course, I can’t forget the very wonderful and talented Jenn Liles who did this piece!


What was the time and budget allocated for each piece?

The Polish eagle took 2 sessions, total maybe 5-6 hours. Approximately $300-$400

The backpiece took 10 months to complete. I asked Jenn if she knew how much it ended up costing in the end; all she said was that she lost count. Truth be told, so did I, and I think it’s for the better (I’m sure the total cost would have paid for a good portion of my tuition now). No regrets whatsoever - it never felt like I was overpaying for anything.

Is there something you wish you had known before getting tattooed?

The pain experienced is different for everyone.

The deets

Polish Eagle by Nathan Draper, now at Taunton Tattoo Company & Sugoi Tattoo
Back Tattoo by Jenn Liles, now at Hidden Door Tattoo (Dufferin & Queen), Toronto, Ontario