NYC’s former Hells Angels clubhouse is now a cool new tattoo shop

The sound of motorcycles isn’t rumbling through the East Village anymore. Instead, it’s been replaced by the quiet hum of tattoo machines. 

Victory Tattoo is now open on East Third Street where a wall of windows, white curtains and a neon sign fill the storefront, replacing the notorious motorcycle club’s foreboding brick walls and paintings of skulls with flames.

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Vic Tamian opened the shop this summer as her tattoo company’s second location joining the first in Little Falls, New Jersey. She established the first location as a private studio “to create a safe space for myself, as tattooing at the time wasn’t welcoming of young queer women like me.” 

Quickly, the business grew and she wanted to expand into the city. When she saw an address listed as 77 East 3rd (lucky numbers for her), she immediately jumped at the chance. 

A portrait of three women who work at Victory Tattoo.
Photograph: By Stacie Joy / Strawberry, who handles piercings; Vic, owner of Victory Tattoo; and Kait, the shop’s apprentice.

When she first visited, it didn’t look anything like a Hells Angels clubhouse, she said, adding that it had been gutted with white walls and a concrete floor. As someone who learned the art of tattooing in a tattoo shop around bikers, she wasn’t put off by the building’s past. 

“I felt like it was fitting to have a tattoo shop in the old clubhouse because it just adds to the appeal that a tattoo shop already has naturally and to have the lore behind it, it made it all the more special to me,” Tamian tells us. 

She’s heard motorcycles drive by, perhaps club members checking up on the old spot. The club has since relocated to the Bronx

Next to Victory, there’s a thrift store, a pop-up shop and apartments. For a peek at what the building looked like when the Hells Angels occupied it, here’s a series of photos from East Village news site EV Grieve.

Tamian said she’s made sure her shop is welcoming to and appreciative of the LGBTQ+ and POC communities. It’s a place where apprentices can learn the art of tattooing and a place pushing back against sexual harassment, she says. That spirit led her to name the shop “Victory.” 

A tattoo of a woman crying.
Photograph: Courtesy of Vic Tamian

She and the rest of the team merge fine art techniques with the latest in tattooing technology. Tamian, in particular, focuses on black-and-gray realism, though she is happy to help a client with whatever design they can imagine. As a self-proclaimed “intuitive tattooist,” Tamian says she often just knows what a client might want. 

“I wake up every single day and feel so grateful that people would trust me to doodle on them,” Tamian says. “Tattooing by nature is very transformative. Not many art forms can reach people in such a personal way like tattooing can. Tattoo artists turn people’s skin into a canvas.”

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