Friday, January 31, 2014

RIP Mike Bakaty

[Photo by James Maher]

Mike Bakaty, owner of the city's longest-running tattoo parlor, died Wednesday night after a battle with cancer. He was 77.

Bakaty opened Fineline Tattoos on First Avenue near East Second Street in 1997 after the city lifted the 30-plus year ban on tattooing. He started his business during the tattoo prohibition from his Bowery loft in 1976.

We featured Bakaty in Out and About in the East Village last Feb. 13.

I grew up in Miami. I moved to Houston and Bowery in 1970 to try it out for a year or two. I was 34 when I got here and I’m 39 now. I was the same handsome, charming young man that I am now.

Fame and fortune brought me here, like everybody else. Why the hell else? If I wanted fun in the sun, I’d have stayed in Miami.

Dave on 7th first told us the news.

"Mike was a total original. He was no doubt one of only a handful of people who were able to break into and keep alive the art of tattooing in New York — if not the country — during its long prohibition. He was a fine artist as well as a tattoo artist.

"He will be sorely missed by everyone who has had the privilege and pleasure to know him."

Here's a video interview with Bakaty (and his son Mehai) from January 2009...

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

RIP Mike, thanks for always stopping to say hello and share a thought every time you passed. You will be missed by us all at the pie shop. A true gentleman and an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

What happened?

IzF said...

He was one classy fellow. I'll miss seeing his lovely face in the window of the shop.

Anonymous said...

Rest in peace Mike. You are a good man and will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Mike did my first tattoo back in his loft. The first time I met him, I figured our paths had crossed long before. Turned out we had lived a few blocks apart for many years. Probably were in the same places at the same time....... My next tattoo was started in his loft and finished in his store. I dropped by that shop when ever I was in the neighborhood. It was a place to hang out, share a few stories: very much a neighborhood tattoo shop and a neioghborhood place. I will miss seeing Mike in his corner of the front window. I will miss Mike.

Anonymous said...

total bummer! RIP in heaven 4 sure

Chris Alvarado said...

I couldn't believe when I heard he passed. Mike was such a good good person in addition to great artist. My condolences to Mehai and his family. I loved stopping in and chatting with Mike or popping in and telling him my idea for a piece and getting the "We can do that I think." Mike you will be missed!

gina-r-snape said...

Mike will be missed. I always felt at home getting work done at Fineline, or just hanging out.

GA said...

ON the night Mike died he was joking and laughing with his family then after they left, Yvonne got a call that he had taken a turn and she rushed back to the hospital but he was gone. Some of us hold to the theory that he knew it was time and rather than suffer, he chose to check out with a smile. That's just the way he lived and it was the way he died.

Dan C said...

Back in 88, I had a few small tattoos and I found Mike's phone # on the back page of the Village Voice. I went to his loft on the Bowery and after that one appointment, I had him design a large piece for me. About 30% of my bodywork is from him. Even though I would end up going to other artists later, I still would come by and say hi to him. He's the one who taught me that tattooing doesn't have to be done by assholes and he and Mehalyi were always friendly.

I always remember Mike telling me "And be sure you have a good breakfast" before any appointment.

RIP, you true mensch.

Sophie Keir said...

I just heard in that East Village way, the friend you bump into on the street: "Did you hear about Mike?" I still can't believe it.
Mike was my history on The Bowery, my upstairs neighbor, my confidant, my buddy. He called me kiddo even though we were only a few years apart. Together we fought The City of NY and all The Committees they could muster to find a reason to tear down our beloved 295 Bowery. He was brave. He was authentic. He knew how to love. What else could I have asked for in a friend? I will always miss you, Mike. But I have those memories of life at 295 and our unique friendship.