Sanchez tattooing a client at Black Palm Tattoo. (Ashley Hern)
Tattoo artist Elexa Sanchez delves into her practice of BDSM-inspired tattoo imagery
Noise erupts while walking through the quiet and being guided through a set of stairs leading to a somewhat golden door like a blinded lamb. While being on the second floor, movement travels in the form of dips and falls. The lemon-colored entrance leads to a centerstage with a large, bright silver instationary pole. One dancer is showing another certain terminology and poses to glide across the pillar like a graceful ballet dancer. The sounds were of plummeting dancers falling off from a paradise up above.
These sensory explosions are hidden and cramped inside a two bedroom apartment complex in Placentia, California being leased by a 21 year old tattooer with a hobby that includes bondage, discipline, dominance, and submission. Elexa Sanchez’s living room is an animate, breathing example of feng shui: the walls are decorated in an eggshell-white which contrast the center stage where the pole exists along with its foundation. The residence and its demeanor feels like a magic trick; the loud music inside quickly contradicts the quiet, peaceful dark encroaching the entire experience.
“BDSM is truly about nurturing and being nurtured,” Sanchez says when explaining her hobby with her own words. “BDSM does not have to be entirely sexual or penetrative. I went to a goth bar in Los Angeles and was flogged in their upstairs playroom for about 10 minutes. It was one of the best experiences I have had so far.”
Multiple hung objects embellished in both rough and soft leather rest above her dark bed frame. The restraining intention of the largest of the objects, a rectangular pole with shackles attached on each opposite end, was being demonstrated by the expert dancer. There is a form of perpendicular balance that comes into fruition when a horizontal tool can be incorporated into a vertical pole dancing routine.
Sanchez’s pronunciation of certain words linger due to the different tones caused by her bifurcated tongue. She explains how her exposure to art began at an early age due to her father’s profession as a mural painter; furthermore, she has studied under her first mentor, Devin Fitzgerald, for almost five years at Golden State Tattoo. Some of her favorite subjects to draw or tattoo are gendered figurines that are coincidentally involved in her favorite pastime besides tattooing.