CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses sexual misconduct.

Simon Strelein, the tattoo artist who shot to notoriety this week after a TikTok of him upskirting an 18-year-old girl went viral, kept working until this week, even though he was convicted of taking an intimate photo of someone without consent well over a year earlier.

The whole thing started back in October 2019 when El, who’s now 20, decided to get her very first tatt on her very first night out in Newtown. She’s asked us to withhold her surname for safety reasons.

“We were at the desk looking at looking through the books, deciding on the fonts and everything,” she told PEDESTRIAN.TV on Monday night after the video went viral.

“I was about to get the tattoo, then this older lady comes up to me, and she’s like, ‘Don’t get the tattoo from here, that guy with the beard was bending and down taking photos up your skirt’.

“When I was talking to the guy preparing what I was going to get for my tattoo, [another staff member] was sort of egging the guy on to take the photo.”

El said because it was her first ever tat, she and her mate were bubbly and excited. However, she felt like staff were taking the piss out of her, later adding that Strelein referred to them as “two basic girls” wanting a tattoo.

Things were quickly taken outside, where El asked Strelein to delete the photos. He replied by laughing and saying that she and her mate were embarrassing themselves by causing such a fuss.

Eventually, El flagged down a police car that was passing by. After taking statements and her phone for evidence, police charged Strelein with intentionally recording an intimate image without consent.

A few months later, Strelein – whose legal name is Simon Peberdy – was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and 18 months’ supervision by a community corrections officer.

However, he still kept his job at one of Sydney’s most high profile tattoo studios. King St Tattoo confirmed to P.TV that three other staff members were working that night, however no manager was working when the incident happened around midnight.

“The rest of our staff that work during the day were not involved or aware of the incident,” a spokesperson for the studio said.

Then, in mid-2020, Strelein managed to appeal the severity of his sentence at the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney. His sentence ended up being minimised to just a one-year conditional release order.

“I’ve only just posted the video now because I realised that he was still employed there,” El told P.TV.

“So obviously, I don’t want other girls to be and served by him, with him touching their bodies.”

El’s plan worked. A day after she posted the TikTok, Strelein’s employment at King St Tattoo was terminated.

The video clocked over 123,000 views and over 20,000 likes on TikTok before it was taken down on bullying and harassment grounds.

However the news quickly spread to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. On all four platforms, people sent messages of support and solidarity, as well as sharing their own experiences of predatory behaviour.

What’s changed between that night in 2019 and now, El said, was the nationwide reckoning of women calling out their abusers and other predatory men.

“I feel like it’s becoming more normalised to call men out on this shit,” she said.

But El did concede: “It’s also very normalised to not call them out, a lot of people I know would just simply say, ‘You know, that’s life’.”

These same people victim-blamed her, saying that if she didn’t want to be photographed without consenting, she shouldn’t have worn such a short skirt.

“But why should I have to wear ugly clothes? Why should I have to look not hot just because men can’t control themselves?” El told P.TV.

El made clear her beef was never with the tattoo parlour itself, or any of the other artists. She just wanted justice after Strelein upskirted her and laughed in her face.

“We sincerely apologise for the stress this has caused El,” King St Tattoo said in a statement to P.TV.

“We would like El to know that if there is anything we can do to support her and rectify the situation to please get in touch with us.”

A day after Strelein was fired, the tattoo studio also released a statement on Instagram in response to the widespread outrage.

“We acknowledge and respect the concerns that have been expressed regarding Simon Strelein’s behavior, and are able to announce that he is no longer employed at King St Tattoo,” the shop said on Instagram.

“We do not condone his actions in any way, and we apologise for the distress this has caused.

“In regards to the delayed response on our end, we were not fully aware of the actions made on the night in question. This has all come to light over the last 24 hours and we would like to apologise for not taking actions sooner.

“We sincerely appreciate the feedback we have been given and ask that respect be given to the other artists who were not aware of the situation.”

Strelein himself did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

His page on the studio’s website – which has since been taken down – described him as being “known for his sick sense of humour”, which El said ended up being “a bit foreshadowing”.

Ultimately, El said finally going public with her story has massively helped her cope with what happened in 2019.

“I was very embarrassed. I just felt so violated,” she said about the night she was upskirted.

Sharing the TikTok finally changed this: “It made me feel very validated.”


Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.

Image: TikTok