As a fashion statement, tattoos are unequaled in both their boldness, which is fine, and their permanence, which is a bit of a drawback. A lifetime is a long while to wear an inked rose or the word Mom , no matter how artistically it may be drawn.
But that was before NuTattoo, a skin dye made from combining the juice of an Amazon fruit with the standard food coloring annatto. Drawn onto the skin with a bamboo stick, NuTattoo creates greenish-black lines that last for a week to 12 days.
"The punks in Greenwich Village love it," said Robert Baker, co-creator of NuTattoo. "They paint on dragons, snakes, everything."
Baker was a Washington real estate agent when he and a friend went on vacation to the Amazon. There, the men found Indians who use fruit juice from the jenita americana tree to paint their bodies from head to toe. Baker had himself tattooed and loved it.
"I'm in the NuTattoo business now," he said from his home in Panama.
He and his partner import NuTattoo juice from the Amazon jungle via dugout canoe. A bottle of the product costs $6.55.
"There's enough inside to paint a line on the body 20 feet long," said Baker.
But the wearer might want to draw a dragon or snake, or the word Mom instead.