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Michael Jackson fans in Tampa make tributes permanent with tattoos

YBOR CITY — Psychedelic colors splashed across the top of Vangie Goldwire's back.

Goldwire, 40, endured a rug burn-like sensation for three hours as Ybor City tattoo artist Buck Parks emblazoned a bold "J5" between his shoulders.

Anything for Michael Jackson, the man who brought Goldwire his favorite Jackson 5 songs, whose videos taught him how to execute snappy spins and a smooth moon walk.

"I used to wonder: 'Why all the fuss about Elvis and John Lennon's deaths?' But now I understand," Goldwire said.

After the shock of the King of Pop's passing wears off, fans like Goldwire are turning to tattoos as a way to express what Jackson's music meant to them. Several Tampa Bay residents say they are considering Jackson-related designs to memorialize the pop artist, who died at 50 last week.

At Ybor City's Blue Devil Tattoo Gallery, the first two people to show up Saturday wanted Jackson-related ink.

"I was like, ohhhh, yeah. I grew up with Michael," artist Parks said. He hopes to draw a lifelike portrait of the singer later this week.

As Goldwire got his tattoo, he reminisced about his childhood idol. His aunt used to braid his hair when he was a kid, and he loved to let it loose so he would look like the singer.

"I had a Jackson 5 lunch box," Parks said.

"Did you really?" Goldwire said, staying perfectly still. "I had the albums, the cereal, the cartoons."

Sometimes the tattoo chair is more therapeutic than the psychologist's couch.

On the other side of a screen, a woman from a younger generation commemorated Jackson's Thriller glory with a large tattoo of the singer as a bobble-headed zombie.

It took up most of the side of Jillian Serra's left thigh.

Serra, 26, of Tampa remembers her family crowding around her 13-inch TV for the premier of Jackson's Black or White video.

"If you can't find a groove in his music, then you're no good," she said.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at or (813) 661-2443.

Michael Jackson fans in Tampa make tributes permanent with tattoos 06/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 4:49pm]
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