The endeavor proved to be much like catching and holding a butterfly. A big net helped, as did a willingness to chase an ever-fluttering and evolving, capricious entity. No answers came easily or without a curious entanglement of conflicting details, accounts and opinions.
In short, the body-art community talks a lot of smack. But the practitioners are at least united on one front: They are interested in public health. Even the Health Department characterizes them as largely "self-policing."
It's a good thing they are. The Health Department sorely lacks the resources to do the job itself. But the staff does the best job possible, considering limitations, and a couple new faces have a chance to improve upon a neglect-laden legacy.
In the end, beyond this article's "who's who" aspect, I hope it helps you make an informed decision on the best studio for your first, or next, tattoo or piercing.