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Flamin’ Eight tattoo parlour celebrates 20 years in ink

Tattooists with celebrity clientele in Kentish Town celebrates birthday

10 December, 2018 — By Jane Clinton

ONE of north London’s best-known tattooists, whose colourful parlour has attracted movie-makers and celebrities, is marking 20 years in business.

Flamin’ Eight, in Castle Road, Kentish Town, has had visits from singer Rita Ora and the late Amy Winehouse, and has provided a backdrop for films starring Ricky Gervais, Peter O’Toole and Jodie Whitaker.

Naresh Bhana, 51, owns the parlour, which is managed by his partner of 11 years, Sonia. It has four resident tattooists.

“While the art is important, we also really pride ourselves on our customer service – the client is the centre of what we do,” he said. “It is not just about creating a tattoo to get lots of likes on Instagram.”

Rita Ora at the Flamin’ Eight in 2013

One that did get more than its share of hearts on social media was Ms Ora’s tattoo of the word “Hope” on her finger in 2013. Mr Bhana is discreet about his celebrity clients, but the Phoenix singer posted the finished tattoo, and fans told her how much they loved it.

Venus, the 2006 film starring Peter O’Toole, Leslie Phillips and future Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker, had a scene shot in the parlour. Mr Bhana, who starting tattooing in his 20s, recalls Mr O’Toole with great affection. “He was lovely, a charming man. In the film he holds Jodie’s hand as she gets a tattoo on her finger,” he said.

Mr Gervais, meanwhile, brought his character David Brent to the parlour for the 2016 film. In the film Brent decides on a tattoo of the word “Berkshire”, but faints halfway through and is left with just “Berk”.

“Ricky was great fun and he absolutely loved our dog, Paco, a chihuahua, who is our shop mascot,” said Mr Bhana. The original Flamin’ Eight opened in Holloway in 1998, moving to its current premises in late 2001.

Naresh, Sonia and Paco at the tattoo parlour

Mr Bhana admits he loves nothing better than to see a satisfied customer. “Sometimes you are spending hours with the person. They are perhaps nervous and are in a little bit of pain so you do form bonds,” he said.

Over the past two decades he has seen a huge interest in body art. People seek the friendly parlour out, which means he does not have to rely on footfall. “It’s funny when I talk to tattoo artists who are now in their 80s.

They said they used to worry about saturation point years ago and the end of tattooing, but the interest and the love of it continue,” he added.

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