MYRTLE BEACH — A tattoo show set for the Myrtle Beach Convention Center next month has been canceled days after the promoter was escorted from the tour’s first stop in New Hampshire for not paying some of the bills.
East Coast Tattour promoter Jackey Dowd was escorted from the Lake Opechee Inn and Spa a week ago after the owners called police in Laconia, N.H., wanting Dowd removed from the property, saying she hadn’t paid the nearly $30,000 in hall rental and room charges.
Dowd said Thursday she was contesting some of the charges, and that the property has received most of the money. She said all others involved in the show have been paid, though the owner of Lake Opechee said that wasn’t the case. Some of the show continued even after Dowd left, with tattoo artists honoring commitments from those who had scheduled to get inked and some performers going on as planned.
Reports of the controversy prompted Dowd on Wednesday to cancel the remaining five stops on the tattoo tour this year, including the one set for the Myrtle Beach Convention Center July 27-29. Other stops were planned in Lake George, N.Y.; Gettysburg, Pa.; York, Pa., and Cocoa, Fla.
“We just felt it was the best thing to do overall,” Dowd said. “We are saddened, certainly, that we will not be able to move forward.”
The tour lost steam before it ever got going, with tattoo artists and others deciding not to go to the other stops after word spread about what happened at the first stop in Laconia. Dowd also had been previously charged with embezzlement of more than $23,000 when she worked as executive director of a non-profit in Connecticut serving families in need and was in court Tuesday on that charge.
Myrtle Beach Convention Center officials, who had been considering earlier this week whether the Myrtle Beach show would happen in light of last week’s show in Laconia, discovered the cancellation of the show online Thursday, but had not been contacted directly by East Coast Tattour officials, Paul Edwards, general manager of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, said about mid-day.
Edwards said earlier in the week before the show was canceled that the convention center was weighing its options.
“We want to know we are doing business with legitimate people,” he said Tuesday. “People look to us to protect the public.”
The show had paid a $2,500 deposit to the convention center, which Edwards said it planned to keep because of the work that had already been done for the show.
Lake Opechee Inn and Spa has received most of the nearly $30,000 it was owed since Dowd was escorted out, but is still owed about $5,700, said Michelle DuPont, the property’s owner.
“The problem was she got in over her head and wasn’t honest about it,” DuPont said.
Dowd said Thursday that she paid everyone in full except for Lake Opechee because she didn’t agree with some of the charges. DuPont said Dowd hasn’t questioned any of the charges in the contract she signed, and that vendors including security officers still haven’t been paid.
“I absolutely paid every single artist, vendor who was there in the venue,” Dowd said. “I wanted it to work. I spent endless, endless hours trying to make this event be a success. It saddens me that it won’t be able to continue.”
The tattoo show would have been the second one in Myrtle Beach, which hosted the first tattoo show in South Carolina in September. The promoter of that show, Ink Life Tour, said the event was successful, but that it won’t return to Myrtle Beach until the state creates rules for temporary shows that don’t require such strict paperwork and disrupt the flow of the show.
Temporary tattoo shows in South Carolina have to follow the same rules as permanent tattoo shops, which created mounds of paperwork for last year’s tattoo show. The state also required that the vendors that sold T-shirts, tattoo supplies and other items be separate from the tattoo artists, so the vendors didn’t get as much traffic as they do at other shows, said Ragen St. Peter with Ink Life Tour.
“If it was a normal city with normal laws, we’d be back, definitely,” St. Peter said last week.
South Carolina started allowing tattooing in the state about six years ago, with the first shop opening in Myrtle Beach in 2006.
“Whether it’s a temporary booth that is set up for a convention or a more permanent facility, our mission is to guard the health of the public of South Carolina, and for that there are no shortcuts,” said Jim Beasley, spokesman for S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, which oversees the health guidelines for tattoo shops and shows.
Ink Life Tour was a successful event for the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, which took pride in hosting the state’s first tattoo show, Edwards said.
“The event was not a flop by any standards,” he said. “We looked at it as a success story.”
Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296.