Upon our graduation in 1977 I became a freshman at the New Jersey Institute of Technology enrolled in their Architecture program.

Eventually I transferred from NJIT to Rutgers University and got my bachelor’s in graphic design. Worked as a designer, typesetter and computer graphic artist for a number of years. I was utilizing mainframe computers doing design work far before anyone had computers in their homes. The makeup of these computers required cold rooms where wearing parkas was the norm. I was still doing this type of design work during the time that saw the advent of PCs, and the writing on the wall said that industry would be shifting soon. 

At Rutgers, I became Music Director of their radio station, and started doing weekly radio programs. I am a champion for underground music, which in the 80s was the wave of punk from the UK and US cities as well. In 1983 I auditioned for WFMU, and birthed Diane’s Kamikaze Fun Machine, a radio show I’ve done in some form or another up until this day.

Somewhere in that period of time I got my first couple of tattoos and loved the ultra-creative, let’s say, renegade and wild environment. By the time I was working my last graphics industry job (Bristol Myers Squibb in Lawrenceville NJ), I was already apprenticing with Spider Webb, the tattoo artist in NYC that had done my very first tattoo. I worked at Squibb doing 10-hour days/4 days a week and worked at the tattoo shop Friday-Sunday. It was a grind, and I had a blast AND a skill to learn! People are appreciative when they get a great tattoo, and when you hit the nail on the head with the concept. In general, providing people with a way to express themselves is what I thrived on.

After serving a full apprenticeship, I decided to open up my own shop. Powerhouse Tattoo opened on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair NJ on July 1, 1991. The process was interesting to say the least, I had been told by some authorities that they would do anything in their power to keep me from opening. It was a different time then, for sure, and tattoos were not always welcome in the mainstream world. I crossed every T, dotted every i and welcomed every type of inspection, and opened on time.

Powerhouse Tattoo is still in Montclair. I no longer own it, yet I go in as a consultant when I’m in NJ. The industry has certainly become more mainstream, and market share per shop in 2023 is way smaller than it was in 1991, but I still enjoy the business.

One of the things I am proudest of is that I had the opportunity to be an author of the Tattoo and Body Art Procedure Laws that stand in NJ to this day. The State of NJ introduced random laws that could have put a number of tattoo shops out of business in the 2000’s. I took initiative to educate the head personnel at the State Health Department, and they asked me to help them work on those laws.  I know I saved NJ tattooers from arbitrary rules and created solid working standards for the industry. Eventually 37 other states adopted these laws as well.

Being a business owner allowed me so many opportunities, I sometimes pinch myself when I think of the life I’ve been able to have! I have been to all 50 states. Easter Island was my home for a summer, as I went there doing Archaeology with the University of Hawaii. I put myself through an Audio Engineering program and worked doing live sound at many NJ and NYC clubs for countless bands. Over time I’ve toured with acts big and small, the wildest ride of them was traveling to Europe in 2009 doing sound on the Metallica World Magnetic Tour with Mastodon and Lamb Of God. I’m credited as an engineer on 30+ various recordings, producer on several. Living on the road is an experience I cherish. Being on the same “team” when you walk into an unfamiliar town and bringing a show to it’s apex is incredibly satisfying.

I grew up in a drumming household and was in bands for years – my father was a very gifted jazz drummer, and once my brother and I started drumming, well, the household was never quiet. I was in several bands over the years. For fun I decided to be an extra in TV shows and movies. I am in episodes of Glee, Blue Bloods, and Law and Order, to name a few, as well as several films. I’m rarely visible for more than a split second!

As of late, it seems as if the vocations I’ve had are begging for history to be written. I’ve contributed chapters to some recent books on the History of Tattooing and have been mentioned in them as well. I’m MCing tattoo conventions in the US and territories (the next one is in Puerto Rico in December). My expertise of underground music keeps me interviewing people in person or on my podcast, also called Diane’s Kamikaze Fun Machine, that can be found on Apple Podcasts. I’m up to episode 150 or so and have no plans to stop. I’m committed to making a difference in underground arts and music, and spotlighting upcoming events and releases keeps me vital and hopefully keeps the music world go ‘round!

I split time between Lake Hopatcong and the UK, where my partner Paul, has a cottage on the border of England and Wales, which is a marvelous place to spend summers! We go to the Glastonbury music festival yearly, as well as Rebellion Fest, held in Blackpool, UK. I’m loving exploring the UK as much as the US. I still have family in New Jersey but the direct ties to Livingston have become a memory. 

WFMU: Diane’s Kamikaze Fun Machine: Playlists and Archives