No Pain, No Fame The city’s newest tattoo parlor doubles as a reality-TV set

By Rachel Baker for NYMAG
For the New York spinoff of TLC reality series LA Ink and Miami Ink, star Ami James and producer Charlie Corwin wanted a set that would be more than just, well, a set. They wanted an open-to-the-public tattoo shop, art gallery, and event space that just happened to be under round-the-clock film-crew surveillance. So they hired a team of architects and production designers to transform a former Christian Science church in Soho into the 4,600-square-foot Wooster Street Social Club (43 Wooster St., nr. Grand St.; woostersocial.com), now taking tattoo customers by appointment, with plans to accept drop-ins by the time NY Ink debuts on June 2. Though much of the décor is legitimately appealing—vintage fifties barber chairs, interior windows sourced from the Flatiron Building—the space is not without such reality-show contrivances as a confessional room and a padded boxing ring for cast members to duke out disagreements. Basically, it’s The Real World masquerading as a tattoo studio masquerading as art. Or, as Corwin puts it: “I think of the show as a ­performance-art piece in the gallery.”

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