Chef Heske will never forget her third Louder Than Life festival.
One of its most significant moments is tattooed on her upper arm.
Heske was among a short list of people at the metal festival Saturday who received a complimentary tattoo in the Sailor Jerry tent during the festival. The iconic rum brand is named for prominent tattoo artist Norman Keith Collins or “Sailor Jerry,” Heske had a choice of a dozen different Sailor Jerry designs.
She took a deep breath and settled into the chair next to Louisville tattoo artist Christopher Waugh.
“I’m a little nervous, not going to lie,” she told the group around her.
The black panther she’d chosen wasn’t just her first tattoo at a metal festival — it was her first tattoo ever.
“I’m not worried about not liking it,” she continued. “I’m worried about the pain.”
Throughout the weekend, Waugh, opening a new tattoo shop at 1436 Bardstown Road, will recreate some of Sailor Jerry’s famous designs, such as a cherry with wings, an eight ball with a screw, a volcano, and a panther.
“It’s almost like a souvenir,” Waugh explained while preparing his workstation in the tent as Fame on Fire blared in the background.
Heske took a big breath and scrunched her face as the tattoo gun began to buzz. She called a friend over to hold her hand.
Once it hit her skin, she relaxed a little. The pain wasn’t so bad.
The free tattoos are a natural fit for the company, said Dana Dynamite, handling marketing for the brand at the festival. Sailor Jerry’s designs are part of the spice rum’s DNA, down to the way the bottle is designed and the hula girl on its logo.
“He was the godfather of tattooing,” Dynamite told the Courier Journal. “Many people know him, and we honor him with his traditional tattoos.”
Waugh said he can reasonably finish a tattoo every 30 to 40 minutes during the four-hour sessions, which begin at 3 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The complimentary tattoos have been exceedingly popular, Dynamite said, and most of the spaces have already been reserved.
A few people signed up for this weekend’s sessions are overflowing from last weekend at Bourbon and Beyond. Even some Louder Than Life stars are getting in on the action. A couple members of the band The Bronx, which will play on Sunday night on the Revolver Stage, have signed up to get tattoos at the Sailor Jerry tent after they play their set, Dynamite said.
As Waugh kept working, a few people approached the tent, wondering how Heske had captured one of the spots.
“You’ve got to put in the legwork,” she mused, unwilling to give up the secret. “This is two years in the making.”
When the buzzing stopped and she glanced down, all the nerves were gone.
“Oh wow, that looks so good,” she said, beaming.