Whether you approve of tattoos or not, some of the world’s sexiest men and women — from Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox to Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt — sport ink. This made us wonder — where in the world do most of the tattooed bods in America live? To figure out which U.S. cities were the most tattoo-friendly, we perused chat forums and looked up every state in several public directories, including Yellow Pages, Google listings, Tattoo Yellow Pages and AAA Tattoo Directory, to find those with the most listed tattoo and permanent makeup shops. Then we looked up which cities in those states had the most shops listed per capita with populations based on latest U.S. Census numbers. We also took into consideration the city’s demographics and whether or not it hosted tattoo conventions, remembering that not all tattoo parlors were listed in the directories. Here are the cities that love ink the most:
No. 9: Kansas City, Mo.
With about six tattoo shops per 100,000 people, Kansas City came up in several sites we looked at as another “tattoo-friendly” place to live — not bad for the not-so-tattoo-friendly Midwest. Why? We’re guessing it has something to do with KC being the bustling center of the Kansas City metro area and the state’s largest city, along with having a thriving population of below-30 folk, more than 10colleges and universities, and a big performing arts scene.
No. 8: Honolulu, Hawaii
With its gorgeous beaches, amazing climate and abundance of tiny-umbrella-topped frosty cocktails, Honolulu already looks like a great place to live (paradise, much?). But add the props it earned from us for Best Hair, Best Skin and Best-Looking people, and you’ve got one of the best places to live in the whole country. Now, it can add a large number of tattoo shops, 6.5 per 100,000 people, to its impressive list of attributes — that is, if ink is your thing.
No. 7: San Francisco, Calif.
With seven tattoo parlors per 100,000 people in San Francisco alone (we didn’t count nearby Oakland and college town Berkeley), San Francisco ranks super high on our list. The Bay Area was even mentioned (along with New York City, which didn’t make our list) as the only American places in Matador Nights’ “Five Destinations for the Tattooed Traveler,” thanks to its status as an underground “haven” for tattoo lovers in the ’60s.
No. 6: Austin, Texas
Called “accepting” of heavily tattooed individuals, this increasingly hip college town and “Live Music Capital of the World” is visited by young, “artsy” tattooed people from all over, at least once a year, at its South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. Not to mention its Reggae Festival and Film Festival, among others. Most of Austin’s population is also age 25 to 44, prime for tattoo getters, and there are about 7.5 shops per 100,000 people. One chat forum we came across had several individuals say they’d never seen so many tattooed people in one city.
No. 5: Portland, Ore.
Like Austin, Portland is mostly 25- to 44-year-olds, but it has more tattoo shops per capita (about 12 per 100,000 people). Considered by “Popular Science” and several other publications to be the country’s “Greenest” city, Portland is reportedly known for its huge arts and crafts community as well as its music-loving residents, nature-loving hipsters and collection of rock music icons — most of whom apparently love body art.
No. 4: Flint, Mich.
We looked into Detroit, home of the heavily tattooed Eminem, but surprise! It looks like the city of Flint — best known as General Motors’ birthplace — wins for most tattoo shops per capita in this area. While its under-18 population rules supreme, Flint’s 25-to-44 age range is a mere 1 percent behind, making young people the most numerous — and most likely to wear full sleeves of ink — in the city.
No. 3: Richmond, Va.
Perhaps most surprising on our list is the city of Richmond, Va., which averages about 14.5 tattoo shops per 100,000 people — and that’s just within the city itself. Likely boosting its numbers is its big arts and college community, and the fact that the surrounding suburbs and cities contain plenty more tattoo shops — the most of which per capita appeared in the small town of Colonial Heights, which has five shops for just under 17,000 residents.
No. 2: Las Vegas, Nev.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas … and on your body forever. With 94 listed tattoo shops, Sin City — host of one of the biggest tattoo conventions in the country — comes in at just above 16 shops per 100,000 people, most of whom are between the ages of 25 and 44. The city also has one of the country’s highest marriage, divorce and suicide rates, in addition to holding a place on our Worst Skin, Worst Hair, Worst B.O. and Ugliest Cities lists. Remember that next time you want to document your trip after one too many giant margaritas on The Strip.
No. 1: Miami Beach, Fla.
And finally, “Bienvenido a Miami (Beach).” Home to TLC’s “Miami Ink” and the famous South Beach, this party town has a ton of tattoo shops to go around. Averaging about 24 shops per 100,000 people, Miami Beach is dense with ink. (Guess being able to sunbathe nude near one of the vainest cities in the country didn’t quite do it for them — or maybe they just want works of art to display while they soak up the sun in the buff.)