In late 1996, "Weird Al" was doing a series of promotions at Sam Goody to promote their CD "Besta Polka." "Besta Polka" was a limited edition CD with great polka stars on it including great tunes by Al, Frankie Yankovic, Brave Combo, and Jimmy Sturr, among others. As one of his stops, Al was scheduled to do a session in a Sam Goody in the Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, NY on November 30, 1996. When I found out, I made arrangements with my friend Stephen to go and get Al's autograph. I had decided that I wanted Al to sign my ankle and have it tattooed over later that evening.
Stephen and I left fairly early, because we were coming from New Jersey and although we had directions to the mall, we weren't sure of the traffic patterns or how long it would take us. Plus we wanted to make sure we would get there early enough to be near the beginning of the line. As it turned out, traffic was surprisingly light and we only took about an hour to get there. We found the Sam Goody and a line was starting but it was only a few dozen people long so we decided to do a little shopping and get lunch. As the time for Al to show up arrived we went back and waited in line.
After about an hour in line it was finally our turn. By now the line had extended way out into the mall, so we were happy we only had to wait for an hour. Stephen went first and got his "Best Polka" CD signed. Al recognized me from a couple of concerts I had been at earlier in the summer, but I was still nervous as I asked Al if he would sign my ankle. He was a little surprised at the request, but a gentleman about it and took his time to sign his name with care. Meanwhile, Stephen took my camera and got some great pictures.
We thanked Al and left the mall. I dropped Stephen off and waited impatiently for my tattoo appointment. I had made an appointment with Gary at the tattoo studio for 7:00 p.m. Gary knew this was my first tattoo and although he said he never had to ink a signature before was looking forward to the challenge. I was nervous about the tattoo but Gary made me feel really relaxed. It took Gary about 45 minutes to do the tattoo, and he was really careful to tattoo it exactly how it was signed, which is what I wanted done. The day was rainy and cold so the tattoo studio was fairly empty. All the guys there kept popping in to watch the work. It was a lot of fun.
On July 22, 1997, I attended a concert in Westbury, NY and after the show, got an opportunity to talk to Al. He remembered me from the signing and asked if he could see the tattoo. I showed it to him and he was pretty impressed. I also asked him if he would mind if I got a color portrait of him above the signature. He didn't mind at all, which was great because I had already made an appointment with Scotty for two days later, on my birthday.
So, after work on July 24, I set out for a 6:00 p.m. appointment with Scotty. He had to work off of this picture I had taken of Al from the Sam Goody signing. The picture wasn't the easiest to work off of because the lighting was low and the picture was clearly shot by an amateur, namely me. It didn't bother Scotty and I think he had a lot of fun doing the portrait, and he did a fantastic job. When I took a look at the tattoo for the first time, my jaw almost hit the ground because it was so beautiful.
I got the chance to show Al the portrait when he made a surprise visit to ALCON '98 on June 13, 1998. During a little autograph session, I showed Al the tattoo and he was amazed. I could tell he was a little more shocked than he had been when he first saw the signature. He just sat there staring at it saying incomplete thoughts like, "Wow," and "So much detail," and, "I'm still amazed." I know Al's genuinely flattered because he's mentioned the tattoo in interviews, and agreed to be on an MSNBC special, and VH1 show with me in which I showed off the tattoo. I'm happy Al likes the tattoo as much as I do.
Special thanks to Al, Gary, and Scotty for making this special occasion possible.