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Night Howl
By Karen Reardanz

henna hand
Hand Job: Sara Siegel paints intricate henna tattoos, like this elaborate hand work, on willing bodies at Pacific Avenue's Eclectix on the weekends.

To Dye For:
Henna tattooing makes its way from the haunts of Hollywood to the streets of Surf City

YES, SIREE, YOU'VE SEEN IT on the supermodels, you've witnessed it on the hip young actresses, you've even gotten a glimpse on perky trendsetter Gwen Stefani, and now you can take a gander at it on yourself if you choose. What is it? Why, henna tattooing, of course.

Not really a tattoo but an ancient form of body painting, henna tattooing is on the forefront of this minute's trends. Originally a Middle Eastern body art, henna tattooing, or mehndi, as it's known by our friends in India, is used in rituals and as wedding adornments. We in the West adopted the tradition because--as is the motivating factor for most things we does--it looks cool.

Sara Siegel, SC's resident henna tattoo artist, has been adorning local bodies with the dye for about a year. She works downtown at Eclectix on the weekends and says she dyes about 30 to 35 eager bodies a day--from the wee young ones (like a 4-year-old last week) to the guests at her grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary.

Non-permanent--and absolutely pain-free for those 'fraidy-cats in the audience--henna dyes the top two layers of skin, only lasts two or three weeks (longer for those with a hygiene problem) and gradually fades away. No wondering if you're going to love it when you hit 60, no paranoia about what those stretch marks are going to someday do to your cute little dolphin. And it's a great self-tester to see if you really do enjoy being adorned.

But those hoping it'll ease their longing for a real tatt should slow down a second. Henna only uses one color, and there's no shading so it's not as intense and vibrant. Henna body art is really not that similar to permanent tattooing--it's just labeled with the name "tattoo" for lack of a better word.

Siegel will paint on just about any design you've a hankering for, and she's actually an artist, too, so your finished henna product will end up looking like a work of art. If you just can't get enough of the stuff, Eclectix sells Siegel-designed do-it-yourself henna kits. The kits consist of top-notch henna, complete, accurate instructions and enough to paint yourself and a friend from head to toe.

Siegel doles out the henna at Eclectix from noon to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday and at OOTTATS Electric Tattooing & Henna in Felton during the weekdays. The henna designs run about $10 for a small one, $15 for an arm band, anklet or belly work, and $20 for a complete hand or foot. If you want to schedule an appointment or have any burning questions, call the lady at 335-0790.


SC's improv troupe Sappho's Lapphos bring a giggle or two to the Actors' Theatre on Sept. 14. ... Female musicmakers can audition for WomenFolk III on Sept. 18. More info to come. ... Matthew Embry, Cassidy and John Burnson play What Is Art? on Sept. 20.

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From the Sept. 4-10, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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