When A Tattoo Goes Wrong, A Trend Develops

A spelling mistake has "Chi-Tonw" on skin all over Chicago.

ByABC News
April 9, 2007, 6:49 PM

April 9, 2007— -- Chicago is a city of many names. It has been called 'The Windy City,' 'Second City,' and 'City of Big Shoulders.' Currently some pop culture icons have given the city another name -- Chi-Town.

A similar nickname is popping up as a tattoo on skin all over Chicago. The tattoo says "Chi-Tonw," and while the spelling comes close, it isn't exactly one of Chicago's many monikers.

The "Chi-Tonw" tattoo can be traced back to Sam Hacker, who has been a tattoo artist for 11 years. He remembers the day that a man first walked into his tattoo parlor asking for a tattoo that said "Chi-Town."

"I gave him the stencil and he said, 'Yeah that is perfect. I like that,'" said Hacker.

As he has done nearly every day for the last 11 years, Hacker routinely applied that tattoo with no complaints -- until later that day.

"[I] got a call probably around four," recalled Hacker. "It was two years ago. He said, 'My wife said -- she just saw it and she said you spelled it wrong.'"

The specific tattoo was on the chest of Michael Duplessis, and it was spelled C-H-I-T-O-N-W, which has no actual meaning.

"For Mr. Duplessis, the tattoo was an opportunity for him to make a statement," said Rafelson, lawyer for Michael Duplessis. "That he has affection for Chicago, his attempt to do that was completely undermined by Mr. Hacker's mistake."

"You're actually concentrating on the art, the work of it. You're not reading the tattoo," said Hacker, in defense of his actions. He says he would never describe himself as a bad speller.

"I graduated from high school with honors. I went to Carthage College. It's not a thing about spelling. I'm not spelling anything for anyone anymore. I'll tell you that right now."

Maybe that is because Michael Duplessis filed a lawsuit against Hacker claiming negligence and fraud. In the suit, Duplessis also claims he suffered emotional damage.