Nineties Boy Bands, Tattoos, and Sisterhood

“A lot of my friends have tattoos; I realized that it’s not only just a part of pop culture, but a bit of a map on someone’s body, which says something about people. A part of their life, like an armor or a crest.” ~ Christian Louboutin


While tattoos might be considered controversial, they can be dated as far back as the Neolithic Period. The inky colorful designs on the skin have been attributed to everything from tribal traditions, showing dedication to the Gods, social status, and was even used to intimidate enemies. They have been discovered around the world at various archeological sites. Yet, despite a prosperous history, in todays day and age, there is a huge stigma that has been attached to tattoos. People are quick to judge solely on appearance, assuming those who have them are rough around the edges instead of delving deeper.

Tattoos tell a story. Composed drawings translated in ink over the fascia representing something in ourselves, making a statement to the world. It is Art. Art in the most permanent and public of ways, using the human body to showcase it.


Younger Sister Adulation 

With a five year age gap, I grew up hero-worshipping my sister. Whatever Jacquie was interested in, so was I. She took it with good humor, folding me under her wing and letting me tag along like the annoying littler sister I most definitely was.

Boy Band hysteria hit an all time high in the nineties with girls going gaga for N*SYNC, Backstreet Boys, Hanson, and 98 Degrees. My sister was right in the mix and I, the ever adoring little sister, followed right behind her.


Her first love was Hanson. She had posters everywhere in her bedroom, scarring our ninety plus year old Grandmother who had to sleep in there when she came to visit. While Hanson had its hot second or three, 98 Degrees heated up the charts (pun intended) and ruled the nineties. They were our first, and subsequently second, and third, concerts together.

She had a huge crush on Jeff Timmons, one of the singers in the band and since I couldn’t be left out, I had a “crush” on Drew Lachey. She knew everything about them including their nicknames which we subsequently took as our own. Lachey’s nickname was Sprout, which all things considered, wasn’t horrendous. As the youngest, I had about a thousand nicknames. (some truly horrible) It was a miracle I never had any identity issues. I called her Sugar, which was Timmon’s nickname.

It was our “Thing.” No one else could call us that. Very few people even knew where it originated from. Every single card she sent would be addressed to me as Sprout and she would sign it as Sugar.


Wild Child

As the youngest, I was my parents’ care free wild child. I was the fashion forward, ready to take on the world, modern day Renaissance woman, so different from my siblings. I always loved tattoos and knew eventually I would get one much to my mother’s chagrin.

To me they were and are beautiful works of art. I always went back and fourth about what I wanted. I knew I wouldn’t get one just to get it, but because it had meaning to me. I researched designs, but never found any I clicked with.

A tribute 

When my sister was killed that all changed. I knew whatever I got tattooed on my body would be a tribute to her. I thought of a million designs at first, finally settling on one that was simple, elegant and yes, personal.


I researched tattoo studios in the city, settling on Eastside Ink in the East Village. They were a clean reputable studio that even had celebrity clients. I also loved that the emphasis wasn’t on just inking the skin, but designing art. Cesar the tattoo artist who did mine, really was just that, and artist. I felt comfortable with them.

My best friend and I had made a pack to get our tattoos together (she got the Hebrew H on her spine) and I knew there was no better person to go with then my mer-twin.

It was a hot, sunny day when we went and maybe took a half hour. Cesar was the consummate professional making me laugh and even offering quiet comfort when I got choked up as I began to see my sister’s signature come to life. I had decided on my nickname for her, “Sugar” done in her writing placed on the inside of my left wrist, Jacquie was not only left handed but it is also closest to my heart.

It was delicate, personal, and I loved it.


Sugar and Sprout

Being the Gemini I am, I knew I needed balance. A few months later I went back to Cesar at Eastside Ink and had “Sprout,” again in her handwriting, tattooed on the inside of my right wrist.

It some how felt complete.

I get asked how I could do it, how can I live with something so permanent on my skin. To ask how I can live with that is the equivalent of telling me I shouldn’t honor my sister. It is a personal decision for each individual, whether it is to keep your body a blank canvas or tattoo it with ink. It is a commitment and in a world where people are so easy to give up when the going gets tough, it isn’t a bad thing to have some permanence in a persons life. I have no regrets. For me it wouldn’t have been right if it wasn’t meaningful.

Every time I look at my wrists with our nicknames done in her loopy elegant writing, I am reminded of memories that make me smile and laugh. Of a bond that was forever tattooed in my heart and that even in death, can not be destroyed.


What do you think of tattoos? Do you have one? If not would you get one?

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11 thoughts on “Nineties Boy Bands, Tattoos, and Sisterhood

  1. Aw my sweet girl, I love the sentiment behind your wrist tattoos and I think it’s a beautiful and memorable tribute to your sister <3 I know that she's looking down and loving it too!!!

    xo, JJ

  2. I’m so sorry about your sister, but it’s such a beautiful way to remember her! I also have a tattoo. It’s of an arrow on my side. The quote at the beginning really resonated with me. I can always look at my tattoo and know the exact reason and how I felt the moment I got it. Beautiful post xx.

    1. Thank you so much beauty for your super sweet words! I love that! Your tattoo sounds so pretty! Thank you so much sweets! I hope you have a great day! <3

  3. Kate, reading your posts is like watching a movie sometimes for me… the way you articulate your experiences/memories is so real and raw; I feel like I am right there with you, feeling the emotions you are feeling and experiencing these moments. I just need to tell you how phenomenal of a writer you are. You’re my goals.

    I had that “puzzle piece” moment when I realized why you call your sweet sis Sugar. It has such a beautiful, endearing story behind it. I sometimes call people sugar, but it’s the equivalent to “hun” or “sweetie”. To hear this story is very, very special. This is beautiful, Katie <3 My sister just got a tattoo this past week in memory of my Dad. He had signed a letter to her at camp a couple months before he passed away that said “I will see you soon. Forever loving you”, and had it tattooed in his handwriting on her ribcage. It looks amazing and is making me want to do something special like that too. I think the fact that it is so permanent makes it so special and meaningful. It’s like a piece of them is with you. You keep your sister’s memory alive so beautifully. Thank you for sharing, love <3

    1. Ahhh sweets you have no idea HOW much those words mean to me! Seriously! Thank you. Thank you. Thank YOU! You literally are the best most positive and encouraging person I know! And that really is THE BEST compliment! It means the world to me! <3
      Hehe thanks sweets. Not many people know why, but it is such a funny yet poignant memory. It is one of my favorites I have of her and it was "our" thing. Thank you sweets,
      Oh Mack that just brought tears to my eyes. What a stunningly personal and beautiful tattoo and message. I absolutely love that!
      Girl that is exactly right! I wear her class ring, and I have a necklace of hers, but you have to take jewelry off, her signature is always on my skin and as you said always with me. Thank you so much sweets.
      When you are ready, or when you find the perfect message you will know 🙂 <3 Thank you so much. Thank you for reading and for being so supportive. It means the world! <3

      1. Oh my gooodness- you give me too much credit, but I am so thankful these words encouraged you! I mean each and every one. And I could say the exact same thing to you, Chica! I feel so honored that you shared this with us. <3

        1. Huge huge huge hugs! Awe you make it so easy to be open and to share. THANK YOU for listening and encouraging and being receptive and just your amazing fabulous beautiful stunning sweet self! So much love to you beauty! <3

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