Jason inks FEBU (Fuck Everybody But Us) on his first tattoo boss, Mingo. "It was pretty scary," Jason recalls 20 years later. "My hand was shaking the whole time." Mingo, never a stickler for the rules, gave Jason his first tattoo when he was just 15.
Jason Wilson got his first tattoo at age 15. A local biker named Mingo inked a classic skull and dagger flash on the youngster’s right bicep.
Jason paid in fifty one-dollar bills (from his job running soda through the stands at Friday-night stock car racing).
Jason's second tattoo, at a shop named the Electric Pen, was from Mingo, too. But this time the transaction didn't go as smoothly. The tattoo was supposed to be a skeleton holding the Earth. But when Mingo laid down his needle, the skeleton was grasping what appeared to be a bowling ball.
“I said it’s supposed to be the Earth,” Jason recalls protesting, to which Mingo replied: “Well, you got a crystal ball. The Earth has too much detail. Besides, you’re underage. You’re done. Get out.”
For years, Jason was teased relentlessly by his skateboard pals. They nicknamed the tattoo "Bowling for Satan.” "It looked a lot like Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe gazing into a crystal ball," Jason recalls.
Before long, Jason ordered his own tattoo equipment from an Adam Kaplan tattoo supply catalog. He spent the rest of high school inking his classmates and dodging angry calls from their mothers. He also practiced on himself, covering nearly his entire left side with his own psychedelic-inspired artwork.
After a tour in the U.S. Army, Jason headed back to Belleville and tracked down Mingo, who had opened his own shop, Untamed Artworx. The bearded biker was impressed with the work on Jason's left hand and forearm, and when Jason bragged he’d tattooed himself, Mingo raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Prove it,” he said. “And I’ll hire you.”
Jason dragged his uncle Larry into Mingo’s shop, located in the very spot where Integrity Tattoos is today, and set to work on a classic Grateful Dead skull head with a lightning bolt behind it.
Unfortunately, Larry was unaccustomed to the needle and howled so loudly that Jason worried Mingo would throw them both out.
“You’re being a baby,” Jason remembers whispering to Larry. “I thought you were in Vietnam?!”
Eventually, Larry relaxed and the rest is history.