Drink and get inked: Inside King Ink with Mario Barth
Mon, Apr 5, 2010 (6:29 p.m.)
Las Vegas nightlife is here to stay. On your skin, that is. With the grand opening of tattooing icon Mario Barth's King Ink at the Mirage this weekend, partying reaches a whole new - and newly permanent - plane.
"We're not really a club, nor do we want to be a club — that's a big thing," Barth tells the Weekly during a tour of the bar/lounge/tattoo parlor. "There's no dress code or cover. Everybody's welcome, tattoos or not, dressed up or not. We're more like the lounge where you can hang out... but you can also do research for tattooing and have a drink with it."
- Mario Barth's King Ink
- Inside the Mirage
- 3400 S. Las Vegas Blvd
- From the Archives
- The Pied Piper of tattooing brings ink to Las Vegas (10/1/10)
- Beyond the Weekly
- King Ink Las Vegas
Located across from Jet Nightclub, Barth says King Ink can hold about 300 people and believes the two venues can feed off of one another, though they're two distinctly different entities. "[King Ink] has its own ambiance; it has its own flair. It has its own people working in it, all heavily tattooed. It's really our industry, our lifestyle."
It has its own look, too. King Ink's completely custom Austrian baroque castle-inspired décor includes frescoes created from actual tattoos Barth has done during the past 30 years. Crystal chandeliers light plush settees, Austrian griffins and faux alligator skin corseted around columns on which a reproduction of Barth's Japanese back piece peeks through. "We tried to bring in old architecture with a new, edgy touch," Barth says. And with the addition of high-tech lighting and sound, he says they can change the mood and environment as they transition from day to night.
King Ink also focuses on being interactive with touch screens for tattoo art perusal. "We invented a new program that is called the Tattoo Explorer, which is linked in a worldwide database of designs," Barth says. "So you can basically go in and say, 'I would like to have say an ankh,' and it pulls up the ankh and it shows you the different styles of it, but it also explains what it means, what's the meaning, where has it been done the first item, who was wearing it, when was it historically bad to have an ankh, when was it great. All those elements have been implemented."
Barth adds the interactive and education elements continue with televisions displaying live footage of tattoos currently being done in the three tattoo rooms at King Ink, a complete history of tattooing timeline is part of the bar and tables becoming shadowboxes displaying tattoo machinery and tools from around the world.
DJs will spin Thursday through Saturday and Monday and Tuesday nights, with a locals' night on Tuesdays welcoming other tattoo shops from around Vegas. They'll likely have an afterhours as well on the patio.
During the day, an Internet jukebox will let patrons choose the tunes and merchandise will be displayed on the settees used for lounging, yet strong enough for dancing at night. In addition, high-end jewelry courtesy of Good Art Hlywd is on display and available for purchase.
Combining a bar with a tattoo parlor might seem odd, especially because drinking before getting inked is generally a no-no. "When somebody gets tattooed, most of the time they come with a group. So the other people can still drink, and it doesn't necessarily mean you can't have a drink when you get a tattoo." Barth says the artists — including himself about 10 days per month — are skilled in determining who is ready to go under the needle and who's not.
Custom cocktails at King Ink include the bubbling and smoking Mario's Blue, plus a shot so potent Barth says they chose not to give it a name. Instead, a skull and crossbones on the glass send the appropriate message. King Ink's bartenders also are trained in Absinthe presentation for the six varieties served via custom towers.
"It's a place where you don't have to get tattooed, but if you want to get tattooed, then you're going to have the best possible ambiance and the best possible scenario and situation happening," says Barth. "You can have a drink, you can have a coffee, your friends can hang out, you can do your research and you can get a tattoo."