Who will be crowned Miss and Mr. Inked Up in Myrtle Beach?

For Weekly SurgeNovember 19, 2013 

Brandi Lovett and Sarah Thompson of Pretty in Ink. Courtesy photo.

Thursday at Club Boca at Broadway at the Beach, beauty and tattoos take center stage with the inaugural Miss and Mr. Inked Up Contest, a veritable pageant for body art, which kicks off at 10 p.m, with doors opening at 8.

The brainchild of business partners Brandi Lovett and Sarah Thompson of Ocean 18 Salon & Trim Spa and Pretty In Ink Events [www.facebook.com/prettyininkevents], the evening offers two rounds of pageant-style competition for men and women with the winners in each category divvying up a bounty of cash and prizes from local sponsors.

A total of 20 people will be competing in the event. Registration is free, but at publication time, space was nearly full. Those interested in competing can inbox Pretty In Ink on its Facebook page. It is unlikely that there will be room for additional contestants on the night of the event. And according to the same Facebook page, requirements are minimal: “1. You must be beautiful (this one of course is subjective). 2. You must be tattooed (this one is not).”

Radio personalities from local stations Star 92.1 and WKZQ 96.1 will also be doing remote broadcasts from Club Boca during the contest.

A portion of the proceeds [$2.50 of the $5 admission] benefit Hope House of Myrtle Beach, which provides a safe haven for homeless or otherwise troubled Myrtle Beach High School students pursuing their diplomas.

Event organizer Lovett is a former beauty queen who believes it is high time to recognize folks with tattoos in a pageant setting. Lovett has also rocked ink for years.

“I started thinking that we have this traditional image of what a pageant is,” she says. “To me, it’s exclusive – and this day and age people that have tattoos are not on the fringes anymore. They are moms, doctors, lawyers, business owners and professionals. To exclude that portion of the population is just ridiculous. To say that’s not what we find beautiful – I don’t agree with that.”

As a testimony to changing times and to societal acceptance of tattoos, Theresa Vail, this year’s Miss Kansas in the Miss America Pageant, refused to hide her ink. Vail is also an Army National Guard sergeant. “It’s so cool to me that the very year I started thinking about having this pageant, that she didn’t cover her tattoos onstage,” says Lovett.

Lovett is happy that Pretty In Ink Events is partnered with Club Boca for this event. “Club Boca was just as excited as we were from the beginning, and they shared our passion and excitement.”

Celebrations Nitelife Marketing Director/Manager Alyssa Petitto feels that Club Boca, one of four clubs at Broadway under the company’s umbrella, is a great fit for the pageant. “It gives everyone a chance to branch out of their comfort zone and experience an amazing event in an establishment that has a perceived image [but] that is more than what meets the eye,” she says.

But how about gathering sponsors. What this a daunting proposition?

“It was and it wasn’t,” says Lovett. For someone who works in sales it would have been a lot easier. Alyssa helped us a lot – but Sarah and I were the ones that had to go out and hit the pavement. It was difficult because we were trying to run our salon at the same time, but as soon as we started talking to people about it, I was really surprised by the response.”

Lovett is hopeful for a big turnout, and holding this event at this time of year during the off-season might be a plus because folks don’t have to worry about Thanksgiving yet and the frenzied holiday errands are still a bit of a ways off.

“We have such a good, eclectic mix of sponsors, and because of that I am really hoping that we will have supporters from across the board – people from all walks of life interested to come out and see what this is all about. I try to think about what I would like to see and what my friends would like to go to.”

Petitto adds: “We expect a great crowd, hopefully full capacity filled with a wide demographic of attendees. We hope to continue our partnership with Pretty In Ink Events for many years to come, hosting a wide array of events including a yearly Miss & Mr. Inked Up Tattoo Contest.”

Lovett is a big believer that beauty should not be pre-defined. “There should be an avenue for all types of beauty. I don’t think we should be pigeonholed. I don’t know why this one idea of how a pageant girl should be has to define what beautiful is. I don’t think it does.”

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