Remember the days when tattoos were taboo in the workplace? If a person was covered in body art, the only assumption was that he/she was bad business. Well, times have changed as well as viewpoints and regardless of ink, business is business. Just ask Pam Tonazzi. Catching up with Pam in Los Angeles, we spoke about the tattoo culture and how her background was strictly against the topic of body art. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native first began getting tattoos at 17 through an interesting, but very common scheme. From there, like so many, she became more involved in that scene and went from there. While she has yet to get tattooed in the City of Angels just yet, the Beats By Dre employee does have some ideas up her sleeve (literally). Check out our chat below as she sheds light on the meaning of her tattoos the perception of her body art in the business world and more.
Karen Civil: Pam, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Pamella Tonazzi: Ok, I was born in Florida and I was the only child for eight years then my lovely sister came along which was such an amazing day in my life. I am 26 and was raised in Fort Lauderdale but loved to spend most of my time in Miami.
KC: So how was it growing up in Fort Lauderdale?
Pam: It was a lot of fun. I grew up in a Hispanic family from Venezuela. My dad’s Italian, so it was a pretty strict household. Then when I started getting tattooed, it was sort of like a rebellious act for them, but in my eyes it was a form of expression. And it’s something that I really liked as well…
KC: So let’s talk about this rebellion act? When did that start and what age did you decide you wanted to do the tattoo/rocker/grunge thing?
Pam: I started getting tattooed when I was 17. I had a fake ID and went into a tattoo shop and got my first tattoos, which were two little stars behind my neck. That way, my parents couldn’t see it. Then somehow a couple of months later they found out and I was grounded. Then I got my other tattoo (laughs).
KC: What was the meaning behind the two stars?
Pam: Nothing, it was just like your first tattoo. It was small and it was safe. It wasn’t like a Chinese symbol that you don’t really know what it means, it was just cute and simple . Also going to a Catholic school it was a big no no to have a tattoo.
KC: So wait, you were still in high school? Did your friends have tattoos or were you the first one?
Pam: I was one of the first ones to get a tattoo. Then I started stretching my ears.
KC: So how many tats do you have now? You’re literally covered.
Pam: I don’t know (laughs). My feet, my stomach, my left arm, half of my right arm, my chest, the back of my neck, some of my side, my hands.
KC: Ok, so tell me you’re most memorable tattoo.
Pam: The one behind my neck because it symbolizes someone really important in my life who passed away. It also says a particular date on the bottom of it. That’s probably my most significant one because he was a really important person in my life. I feel like this way he is always with me.
KC: He protects your neck basically.
Pam: (laughs) Yeah!
KC: Did you get mostly all of these in Florida? I know we’re in LA now.
Pam: No, I haven’t gotten any in LA yet. I haven’t found an artist that does a lot of colorful stuff. I like a lot of color in my tattoos. In Florida, I started getting more heavily tattooed when I was in college by this guy named Mike Gonzalez. His wife Jen was my really good friend. They’re now based in Daytona at this amazing shop called Artistic Soul Tattoo, so I’ll totally drive like three hours to go get tattooed by him from back home (Ft.Lauderdale). My friend Adam Fascenda is the one who worked at the shop when I was 17 and got my first tattoo. We’re still friends and he always tells me about that day and how they knew it was a fake ID (laughs).
KC: Is there any you regret or got covered cover? Be honest.
Pam: A lot of people ask me that. I don’t regret any of them, but I’ve gotten two covered up already. I have Audrey Hepburn on my thigh and I really liked it, but I was kind of over the portrait because that was my only one. It didn’t really go with my theme. My friend Mike is covering it up now. I went with a vintage, victorian cover up tattoo which is kind of like an antique perfume bottle and a lock and key etc. It looks really cool. Then on my knuckles I use to have “your team” tattooed in lettering. I had it covered up with traditional Sailor Jerry themed pictures.
KC: I know you’re from a strict household. How is your mom dealing with all the tattoos and everything now?
Pam: They’re O.K. with it now. They weren’t dealing with it well up until about maybe two years ago. I started settling down with my career, so now they’re noticing that “tattoos don’t define me as a person” As long as I have my head on straight, they’re fine with it.
KC: Switching over to your career for a little bit, did you think it would be an issue with all the tats to be in a corporate setting since you work for Beats By Dre?
Pam: I started off as a hairstylist for five years. I worked for Leslie Salon and they were amazing! There were 18 girls and we all got along really, really well. That’s where I met my boss now (Denise). I was getting ready to move to New York. I was literally like two hours prior to getting on the plane to go to New York to find an apartment. I wanted to do more fashion forward stuff. I ran into Denise and she offered me the Beats by Dre position and said I had to move to L.A. And here I am now! It was really good timing I guess. It doesn’t affect me. When I go to corporate meetings, a lot of people look at me like who is this girl. I think actions speak louder than words though, and its pretty much normal to be in the corporate world with tattoos now.
KC: Do you find yourself getting comfortable in the L.A. scene and this lifestyle?
Pam: Yeah, totally. Everyone in L.A. is tattooed and they’re very accepting. I don’t feel weird at all. I grew up in the suburbs so I didn’t really fit in there. That’s why I needed a change. My compromise wasn’t too big, going from N.Y. to L.A.
KC: What will be your next tattoo?
Pam: My next one that I want is – it’s kinda funny actually – a compass. I want it to say, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” because it’s true. A lot of people judge you by not knowing you, just your appearance. I do wander in my own world, but I still have direction. They don’t know that about me, but that’s my next one for sure.
KC: Nice. So, give me an estimate, how many tattoos do you think you have? Over 40? Over 50?
Pam: I want to say maybe 30% of my body. What’s left is like my back and my right forearm and from my knee to my ankles.
KC: Do you ever think when your older you’ll be like “oh my god”?
Pam: People ask me all the time what am I going to do when I get older or when I’m a mom. I’m just going to live my life normally. I don’t know if I’m going to get wrinkly or not because my grandma and my mom aren’t wrinkly (laughs). Im sure I have good genes and my tattoos will look awesome for life. I’ll hopefully still be able to see what each tattoo is.