CHAPEL HILL, NC—Fired Monday from his job as a bouncer at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro’s premier live music venue, neck-tattoo owner Greg Martin says he has “no idea what’s next.”
“I thought there was this clear path: get a neck tattoo, work at Cat’s Cradle, and…,” Martin said, his voice trailing off as he looked down at the ground. “It seemed so simple. I feel like I have these skills, and this neck tattoo, and they’re going to be wasted.”
Martin, who turned 33 last week and was fired for smoking his boss’s marijuana without permission, commissioned his tattoo three years ago after breaking up with his then girlfriend, Maggie Reinhart, and chose for the design an artistically ambiguous image of a bat flying toward anyone facing him.
“I chose it because I was done with that monster,” said Martin, referring to Reinhart, his tattoo bulging over his Adam’s apple. “And because it symbolized me taking control of my life for once.”
Since getting his tattoo, Martin has had almost no agency in his life whatsoever, all of his decisions having been made for him by those repulsed by his body art, making his new job search more difficult.
“Greg interviewed for our shift manager position,” said Ron Osman, the owner of Chapel Hill’s Noodles & Co. franchise. “He was perfectly qualified, but my daughter wouldn’t even look at him. And she’s seventeen. She just kept whispering, ‘throat needle, throat needle…’”
Osman, leaning back in his chair, gently ran his fingers along his esophagus and stared at the wall.
“That’s gotta’ hurt something awful,” he finally added.
Others, however, made more positive statements on Martin’s choice to get the tattoo.
“I don’t regret giving Greg the tat,” said tattoo artist Paulie Andrews of Ascension Tattoo in Chapel Hill. “But I told him, ‘neck tats are only for tattoo artists and that shmuck Travis Barker in Blink-182.’ He yelled at me and said I sounded like his ex-girlfriend. That pretty much showed me he’s a neck tattoo kind of guy.”
Surprisingly, even Pulse and Players, staple nightclubs of Chapel Hill, have rejected Martin’s applications to work as a bouncer.
“I like Greg. I really do,” said Pulse’s owner Keith Swope. “But what would we do if he got out of control with a customer? You can’t just punch a guy with a neck tattoo.”
Swope looked over his shoulder at his two brothers, Jim and Nathan, with whom he co-owns the club.
“We all agreed we’d have to kill a guy like that to stop him,” he added. “And none of us are ready for a thing like that.”
Martin, who has nearly given up his search, says that if all else fails, he hopes to find write a memoir for Vice entitled “Neck Tattoos: Why I Should Have Saved my Trophy for the End of the Race.”