Chris and Brooke Autry opened Black Orchid Tattoo & Gallery 10 years ago. For the shop's first anniversary, they threw a party at the Jinx, run by former body-piercing artist (and forever tattoo aficionado) Susanne Guest. In those days, Black Orchid was at the intersection of Drayton and York.
The Autrys are celebrating a full decade with an anniversary party Saturday, June 14, also at the Jinx. The music’s by Damon and the Shitkickers—a band of musicians with a few tattoos between them—and there’ll be raffles of artwork from Black Orchid’s five in-house artists, plus custom tattoo work.
The shop has been at Barnard and Victory for six years—and has been named “Best Tattoo Shop” in the Connect Best of Savannah readers’ poll for every one of those six years.
“Everybody has their own ideas of success,” says Brooke Autry, Black Orchid’s business manager. “It depends on what you’re going for. If a guy wants to be a one-man shop, and not have to deal with any bullshit, then that guy’s successful.
“I just always like to be doing stuff. I like to do the marketing and the parties and the ads and the decorating. So yeah, I’m successful. And Chris is an extremely talented artist. All my guys here are super-talented.”
Back home in Charlotte, Chris Autry was getting tired of dead-end construction jobs. He turned his artistic temperament to tattooing in the late 1990s; he and Brooke bought into a low-end “street shop” but ultimately decided they wanted something more ... classy.
Landing in Savannah with their two young children, they set about opening a shop of their own.
Brooke, whose own tattoos are discreetly covered during daylight hours (her husband’s are not), visited the lending institutions.
“I’m the spokesperson,” she laughs. “I go in with the blonde hair and the southern accent, and I take the kids, and I get the leases and the credit lines and all that kind of stuff. I’m the one they talk to—Chris stands behind me, and he’s the cool guy. We play the roles.”
Brian Warnekros, who’s married to Jinx owner Susanne Guest, has been a Black Orchid artist for six years. He and Chris Autry’s fellow artists are Scott Althen, Chase Allen and Josh White.
They do all kinds of tattoo art—simple to high-end and complex illustrative styles, traditional, realism, tribal, fantasy, whatever you’re looking for.
Ten years feels pretty good to Brooke Autry. “It’s over the hump,” she says. “We made it. We’ve maintained our ethics, we’ve maintained our integrity, we enjoy what we do. We get to go home at night—we’re not rich by any means, but we have a nice little house, and the kids have clothes and food.”
News and other stuff
• It’s always one of the best parties in town. The rhythm ‘n’ blues powerhouse known as The Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love has (have?) a concert Saturday, June 14 at the Alee Shrine Temple. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $20 at Portman’s Music. Can’t say enough good stuff about the city’s baddest horn band.
• Ten local bands (and perhaps more) will perform June 29 in Forsyth Park, for The First Annual Tommy Strong Music Festival for Brain Cancer Awareness. Confirmed at press time were Waits & Co., Jon Lee & the Apparitions, Outlaw Gypsy, 2 Tone Fish, the Blurry Aftermath, the Andrew Gill Band and a few others. Organizers say there are more to be announced any second now. Watch this space for the latest.
• Savannah Metal Punx celebrates its 4th birthday June 21 with a fierce lineup at Dollhouse Productions. The marquee includes Eyehategod, Ringworm, Enabler, Hollow Leg, Holly Hunt, Shroud Eater, Coastlines, the Day of the Beast and Ectovoid. The bash starts at 5 p.m.; tickets are $25 through brownpapertickets.com.
• Surely you’ve heard by that Japanese punk legends Shonen Knife—all-girl rock ‘n’ roll destroyers from the ‘80s and beyond!!!—will appear at Dollhouse Sept. 26. $10 tickets now through eventbrite.com.
• R&B singer Fantasia returns to our fair city July 11 (that’s a Johnny Mercer Theatre show). The North Carolina native recently finished a star turn in the Broadway musical After Midnight, which won the Tony for Best Choreography a few nights ago. Tickets for Fantasia’s Savannah concert are $55-$75 via etix.com.
• From the “Coming Soon” department: Sauna Heat opens for L.A.’s Snow White June 18 at Hang Fire (DJ Svengali’s on the bill, too); the Wormhole has Sunglow, Shapes & Their Names, Columbia’s great duo Silver Screen Orchestra, and Culture Vulture June 28.