Ludo Gayko, tattooed Coffs Harbour businessman.
Ludo Gayko, tattooed Coffs Harbour businessman. Bruce Thomas

Tat's not a nice thing to say, Jeff

COFFS Harbour is writhing with a 'tattooed class that pollutes the shopping centres and main streets as graffiti on legs'.

Well, that's if you agree with Newcastle Herald columnist Jeff Corbett.

Mr Corbett let fly his verdict on Coffs Harbour as the tattoo capital of the Mid North Coast in his column on Monday, comparing Taree, Kempsey and Coffs Harbour - and the result was nothing short of offensive.

“Which is the Mid North Coast's tattoo capital? In my column today I opt for Coffs Harbour, which thankfully is the most distant from my home town of Newcastle, and one of the reasons is the grotesqueness of the tattooed women. At Coffs women seem to find life's achievement in idiotic motifs that dip into and out of fat folds or sit like a scab on a fat, shapeless upper arm,” he writes.

He claims the “tattooed class has always milled about in these places, waiting for a welfare cheque or a new victim, but suddenly they're milling about in numbers that threaten social takeover.”

Not surprisingly, the citizens of Coffs Harbour the Coffs Coast Advocate spoke to were suitably outraged.

Coffs Harbour local Meg Lees, has a flock of birds tattooed on her back, works full time, and earns good money: a far cry from the 'grotesque tattooed women' that Mr Corbett apparently finds so prominently in the streets of Coffs Harbour.

“I work full time, and I earn my money - it's my body. I think tattoos are only judged by someone without them. People who have tattoos don't judge those who don't,” she said.

Her mother, Debby Hester, is visiting from the Sunshine Coast and said she had never noticed any such thing in Coffs Harbour.

“I've never noticed any- thing like that in Coffs Harbour - but we do at home all of the time.”

And well-known old wares dealer Ludo Gayko is almost covered in tattoos - and has been a prominent, successful businessman in the region for more than 20 years.

“People who judge tattoos like that are the people who judge everyone - black, white or brindle,” Ludo said.

“I certainly don't think Coffs has any more tattooed people than anywhere else in Australia. And I dare say a vast majority of people lining up for welfare cheques don't have tattoos as well - and the ones that do have tattoos, so what? Tattooing is a phenomenon at the moment.

“Just because you like tattooing doesn't put you in a category. I think it's a good form of self-expression. I collect old wares and I collect tattoos - and I'll keep getting tattoos until I drop off,” he said.

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