Miley Cyrus gets tattoo in Ypsilanti to symbolize her support for gay rights
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
(See related story: It's a party in the AAA (Ann Arbor area, that is) with Miley Cyrus)
When a young, blonde-haired customer walked in and requested a tattoo around 9:30 p.m. July 30 at Ypsilanti's Liquid Swordz shop, manager Alex Frantz and another tattoo artist didn't flinch.
Only when the customer filled out her paperwork and Frantz took her identification did he realize who the customer was: singer and actress Miley Cyrus.
"She was filling out her paperwork and I was looking at her ID and I said ‘'Oh! You are who you look like,'" Frantz recalled.
The former star of the Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" series and daughter of country star Billy Ray Cyrus finished an international tour in early July and has been hanging around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti while her boyfriend, Liam Hemsworth, is here filming the movie AWOL.
Denise Murray | For AnnArbor.com
Frantz said Cyrus received a tattoo of an "equal sign" on her finger to symbolize her support for gay rights and her belief that all people are created equal.
It was the latest tattoo for Cyrus, who also has a tattoo of a dream catcher and several other small items on her fingers, Frantz said.
She's also been spotted at other spots in the area, including Briarwood Mall and Buffalo Wild Wings in downtown Ann Arbor.
Frantz said Cyrus's visit was brief because the tattoo was so small. She spent more time filling out paperwork than getting the tattoo. He described the young starlet as "super down to earth."
"As far as being a person with that big of a name, being down to earth like that was pretty cool — she just talked to me like a normal person," he said.
Liquid Swordz, which is about to celebrate its 14th anniversary and has been open at its 27 N. Washington Street location for six years, has also seen its share of sports stars come in and return for tattoos.
"When U-M's football’s team was good, a lot of the starters went pro, and a couple of them came in here for a few years," owner Jeff Foust said.
Among the notables and favorites were Larry Foote. Foote, a linebacker at U-M who was drafted in 2002, played for the Detroit Lions and has since won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Foust said the athletes who came in tended to prefer tattoos of words. He described one of Foote's tattoos, which featured a baby with a big gold chain running with a football and the words "Ballin' Since Birth" tattooed below. Foust said Foote also had a tattoo with his uncle's name.
Former U-M standout Cato June was selected for the NFL's Pro Bowl and won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. Foust said June's tattoo read "Junimus" — a play on the Latin term "maximus," which means "greatest" or "largest."
June's career ended in 2009 after he broke his arm and was cut by the Houston Texans.
Foust said the store has also seen multiple established hip-hop artists and a former drummer for Marilyn Manson visit the store, though he couldn't clearly recall their tattoos' details.
"We try to be cool with professionals when they come in and treat them like anyone else," Foust said. "I don’t charge them any more than another customer or anything like that."
He said the store has thrived in its location near Eastern Michigan University and, perhaps even more important than the occasional star, he sees second and third generations of siblings come in looking for tattoos at the advice of older siblings.
"Being close to the university has been important to us," Foust said.
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com.