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A pitmaster gets inked: a chronicle of Billy Woodrich’s tattoo

Posted 10:56am on Thursday, May. 15, 2014

Pitmaster Billy Woodrich of Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ in Fort Worth was recently featured on Spike TV’s Hungry Investors, where celebrity chef John Besh said Woodrich’s pork butt was the best he ever tasted. That’s high praise.

So it seems only fitting that when Woodrich decided to get a new tattoo, it would be of a pig.

I tagged along to document the process.

But first I must confess that I’m a tattoo virgin. My only real experience with tattoos has been with the temporary lick-on types I enjoyed as a kid. Sure, I have lots of friends with tats. But me? Not so much.

When I arrived at Royal 1 Tattoos on Camp Bowie Boulevard, the first thing I noticed was that the parking lot was packed. I was pretty sure the crowd was not there for the vacuum shop next door. And sure enough, all the action was at the tattoo parlor, which also does piercings.

Owner Troy Rodebaugh has been tattooing for 23 years, and has been in Fort Worth since 1996. He has experience tattooing chefs and kitchen workers with food-related art.

When Woodrich arrived, Rodebaugh brought out some research he had done on pig butcher diagrams. The two huddled and chose one, then Rodebaugh sat down and finalized his drawing for Woodrich’s leg.

The next step — transferring the drawing to the leg — reminded me of the old lick-on tattoos. Rodebaugh then prepped three needle setups, one for a black outline, one for a red outline and one for shading. There was a lot of buzzing and wiping during the inking process, which took about an hour and a half. Rodebaugh outlined and shaded his drawing with black ink, then add the red dotted lines for the butcher diagram. It looked like a motorized needle/pen being dipped in ink then used to draw on the skin. (Be sure to check out DFW.com for more photos of the process.)

I have to say, I was impressed by the final tattoo; it was a work of body art.

The whole affair took less than two hours, and Rodebaugh charged $160. Woodrich liked it so much that he handed over an even $200 and promised to bring some barbecue the next day.

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