The Final Audio Interview with Pioneering Tattoo Artist Mike Bakaty of ‘Fineline Tattoo’, RIP

Posted on: February 3rd, 2014 at 11:47 am by and

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Mike Bakaty’s underground tattoo studio at McGurk’s Suicide Hall on the Bowery, Photo: Bakaty Family

The tattoo community is grieving.

Mike Bakaty, pioneer of Lower East Side tattooing, died last Wednesday evening after a bout with lung cancer. He was 77.

Bakaty began inking customers out of his Bowery loft at McGurk’s Suicide Hall in 1976, during the height of the prohibition on tattooing in New York City. So the business operated on the underground circuit. The city would not lift the 30-plus-year ban until 1997, the year Fineline went legit with a store at 21 First Avenue. As such, the studio is the longest-running ink spot in the city, and Bakaty had told us that it was Fineline that brought tattooing back to the Bowery.

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Mehai and Mike Bakaty at Fineline Tattoo

It was during our conversations about Bowery tattoo history that we bonded with Bakaty. At the request of Mike’s son Mehai, the audio recordings from these candid moments were compiled and ultimately comprise his final audio interview. He thought the following short video, edited by Marisol Berrios, would be a fitting tribute to his inkmaster father.

Mike Bakaty, we are better people because we knew you.

Rest in Peace.

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