The Honorable Society Tattoo Parlour and Lounge
Top row, from left: Josh Schneider, Francis Palumbo, Marco Cerretelli, Roger “Rabb!t” Rodriguez, Monty Mavimol. Bottom row, from left: Richard Baki, Eric Alvino, Kyle McLean, Arlene Darling Miranda, Adam Parrot, Rev. Jorell.
THE HONORABLE SOCIETY
8424 West Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA
It wouldn’t be a stretch to envision Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and Walt Whitman gathering on the ornate Victorian-era sofas and sipping tea among the luxurious de?cor and deep red blushed walls of The Honorable Society Tattoo Parlour and Lounge. With a standing piano, re-creations of classical paintings in vintage frames, elegant drapery cascading from doorframes, and antique chairs and curio cabinets, THS reflects a bygone era of dandies and decadence. “I’m a big fan of Oscar Wilde,” says tattoo artist Marco Cerretelli, the shop’s co-owner. “Reading his books you think about those parlors where intellectuals were meeting and talking about art and stuff like that. I try and translate that into my shop.”
Cerretelli’s favorite subject matter to tattoo is Victorian ladies, quite apropos given the surroundings. It’s the attention to detail in his tattoos and in every square foot of the shop’s space that immediately attracted artists looking for employment. “As a student of this industry I looked for a shop that, amongst many other things, had a creative, artistic, and humble approach to the business,” says Rev. Jorell. “When I went to visit with THS Tattoo, to show my portfolio, I was enamored by the ambiance and the intimacy that the shop offered.”
The artists quickly learned that there’s more than meets the eye at The Honorable Society Tattoo. “It’s not just the surface aesthetics and how it looks,” says co-owner Kyle McLean—a former patron of Cerretelli’s—of the shop’s appeal. “It’s the underlying mentality.”
“THS has really helped me get established,” says Adam Parrot, graffiti artist turned THS tattooer. “After working for shops that did nothing for its artists, it’s nice to be part of a shop that’s working to bring more honor and respect to the tattoo world.”
For its resident artists and owners, THS is essentially a labor of love. It opened in 2009 after six months of location scouting, a month of construction, and “nearly another month of pushing Marco out of his comfort zone,” says McLean. “Marco held on to his studio work space for as long as he possibly could. I literally had to walk in, pick things up, and put them in the trunk of his car. What made this even more ridiculous was that his studio space was just a mile up the road from where our shop is located now!” Though collaborative efforts have been trying, says McLean, “it’s our being passionate about what we’re involved in that helps us compromise.”
And it’s the diverse West Hollywood clientele that gives The Honorable Society’s artists purpose. “There are quite a few tourists in the area because of what West Hollywood has to offer,” says THS artist Arlene Darling Miranda. “We have people coming in who have just turned 18 to people who are 60-plus wanting a tattoo.”
But mostly the returning customers are the reason for The Honorable Society’s success. The shop “runs almost solely on referral business,” says Jorell. “The reciprocating relationship that we share with WeHo [West Hollywood] can’t be rivaled, and as such, we have been able to expand and grow as a truly local WeHo business.”
THS also recognizes the importance of clients, who can often be overlooked at some tattoo shops. “In other tattoo shops that I’ve been in, some artists treat customers as if they are doing them a favor,” says Cerretelli, who got his start tattooing while serving in the Italian army when he built a tattoo machine out of a Walkman motor, a toothbrush, and a ballpoint pen. “I think it’s the opposite—without those customers we wouldn’t be doing what we do.”
“When you can take someone’s vision and sculpt it into a tattoo for them to wear forever, it’s a very amazing thing,” adds artist Eric Alvino. “For as long as that person lives, you will be connected in one way or another—that’s a very powerful connection two strangers have. I think people forget nowadays how personal the relationship between client and tattooer really is.”
The people behind THS won’t let you forget, however. “I have nostalgic memories of the ’80s television show Cheers,” says McLean. “The [bar’s] tagline was ‘where everybody knows your name.’ I want you to come into our shop and realize that just because you’re a patron, there’s nothing that keeps you from being our family.”