Women Who Rock…a-Billy: Tina Marabito
If a Pontiac Grand Am or a Chevy Chevelle Laguna is the classic car of your dreams, you won’t see it at Wilmo a Go-Go in 2019…1972 is the youngest car model you’ll find at the May 26, 2019, event. But you will find old-timey hot rods and muscle cars, rag tops and land yachts, restorations and pinstripes galore. A stand-up bass or two. Biker jackets and twirly moustaches. And cheesecake (thanks to the pin-up contest)…lots and lots of cheesecake.
Best part? This ninth annual event is FREE, and family friendly. Spend your cheese on food trucks, including Delaware Provision Company, Mojo Loco, Sweet Josephine’s, Outlandish, Cajun Sno, and Kapow, as well as art, vintage- and car-themed vendors.
Now if you think a pin-up contest, muscle cars and rockabilly music would mean this is a bro-tastic event, you’d be wrong. The founder of this wildly popular car show is none other than Tina Marabito, owner/artist of Poppycock Tattoo. A fan of vintage art, clothing and furniture, and an artist favoring vibrant, neo-traditional designs, Tina has been a breath of fresh air to the downtown arts and social scene.
Originally from Berlin, New Jersey, Tina moved to Wilmington, and at 27 years old, she bought a building and started Poppycock Tattoo. Ten years later, the shop currently houses a team of five people and has won Best of Delaware, The News Journal Readers’ Choice and Happening List (plus a Happening for Wilmo a Go-Go) and regularly hosts art loop openings. She enjoys painting anthropomorphic fruits and veggies, puns, animals and botanicals, plus doing taxidermy on rodents and dressing them up in attire from the Victorian era.
We asked Tina some questions about life as the founder of Wilmo a Go-Go.
IN: How did you come up with the name Wilmo a Go-Go?
Tina: We were trying to think of a fun wordplay combo of a rockabilly/ retro party and the city.
IN: You drive a funky car. Tell us about it.
Tina: It’s a 1962 Ford Ranchero. My dad was an industrial mechanic and always had different project cars when I was growing up. My dad was mostly a Ford guy and loved smaller trucks, so I think I love my car because it reminds me of my dad. He passed away in 2006.
IN: What’s your dream car? What car would be a real catch for the show?
Tina: I actually have my dream car, but I’d love to give her a new paint job to freshen her up (she’s wood grain and black currently with steer horns) and get a vintage camper to tow with her. I love early 1900’s model steam cars; it’d be cool to have an old fire truck!
IN: What are some things you always look forward to at the show?
Tina: I honestly love seeing people enjoying the city and supporting local businesses, bands, food trucks and artists, which is why I never charge a fee for spectators. Plus I feel like car people are great people; it’s who I grew up knowing. It makes me feel at home in a city I’m not originally from: I’ve been here for almost 10 years now.
The reason I originally started the show was to introduce people to where my shop was: Wilmo a Go-Go started in the parking lot across the street from Poppycock Tattoo at 8th and Orange. Since we weren’t on the main Market Street a lot of people didn’t know we were there at first.
Plus the pin-up contest is always a big draw, especially with the prizes being a shoot with Celeste Giuliano, a well-known pin-up photographer, being featured on next year’s poster and getting a tattoo by me.
IN: Your bio says your college studies included ornamental welding. That sounds badass. Tell us about that.
Tina: I went to a community college for fine arts, then to a one-year certificate program for commercial graphics (graphic arts) and then another year certificate program for welding.
I’m technically a third generation welder in my family. I learned to arc, mig and tig, use an acetylene torch and plasma cutter. My teacher took me under his wing and helped me make a Papasan style chair that I designed out of bent steel square bars. It’s currently a glorified dog bed for my two pups.
IN: Anybody else involved with the planning that you'd like to talk about?
Tina: It’s become a larger venture over the years and I’m grateful to have so many friends step up to help me throw this event. My oldest friend, Victoria White, from fifth grade, always comes to man the Wilmo booth to help sell shirts and organize the other volunteers. Allison Sharpe, who helps organize my life at the shop, always plays a big role in organizing all the paperwork, packing and signage for the show. Ric Frane designs the shirts and the “Miss Wilmo a Go-Go” crown every year, plus he helps judge the pin-up contest. Wendy Mitchell is my right hand man (and my bestie) and has helped me with the show since the second year I’ve had it. The Broken Rods Car Club play a big role with volunteering to man the front and direct the vintage cars and vendors. I couldn’t do it without everyone’s help.
Poppycock Tattoo’s 9th Annual Wilmo a Go-Go Car Show takes place on Sunday, May 26, 2019, from 10:30am-4pm at the Wilmington, Delaware Riverfront (Parking Lot K across the street from Iron Hill Brewery, 620 Justison St. Wilmington, DE 19801). Bands include Primitive Finks, Twitching Witches, The Open Road and The Twangabillies. In addition to trophies awarded for the car show, guests can enter the pin-up contest and facial hair contest.