1001 Tattoo Facts 201-220
By Paul Sayce
201. At the 1999 Tokyo Tattooing Convention in Japan, Filip Leu told me (Paul Sayce) that he once went over to New York to pick up some tips from Spider Webb. But all Spider taught him was how to tattoo with a romper pin, which, of course, is just one of Spider’s many party tricks.
202. George Magiunas (1931-1978), the Lithuanian leader of the 1960s art movement Fluxus, produced a picture (photograph) in 1967 of a tattooed man with the words “Souvenir tattoo Flux” written across the front of it. The Fluxus movement was a group of avant-garde artists that could only be described as revolutionary, funny (humur) and bizarre, that included the likes of Yoko Ono (1933-) as a member.
203. Paris Hilton (1981-), of hotel fame, said in 2005 that tattoos were unoriginal and every girl she knows has one, including her sister Nicky (1983-). Paris, of cours,e became famous for making a dodgy porn movie and being the great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton (1887-1979) and, oh yes, heiress to a few bob, as well.
204. Debbie Currie, the daughter of former Minister Of Health for Great Britain, Edwina (Currie), once had a (small) hit with a remake of the 1970s classic pop song “You Can Do Magic.” Debbie herself sports seven tattoos, although in the hope of helping her career along, in 1997, she was having a tribal cross tattoo removed from the top of her arm. Debbie told me this when I appeared on a Central TV Show in the 1990s, where she was working as a runner at the time. And the removal, well, it didn’t seem to help, because she was never heard of again in the pop music world.
205. When Vinnie Jones, the Wimbledon and Wales Soccer player and now a Hollywood actor, was asked what were his team’s chances of beating Leicester City in English football’s Coca-Cola cup semi-finals in the late 1990s, he said he wasn’t sure about the match, but he was wondering where he was going to get his new tattoo, as it is a habit for Vinnie to get a new tattoo whenever the team he plays for wins a competition. What confidence you might think. It’s just a pity that Leicester City didn’t agree, as they want on to knock Wimbledon out of the cup.
206. In 1997, British Lottery winner Sheryl Carthew was thinking about spending £3.000 pounds of her half a million win on breast implants, in the hope (according to the tabloids) of turning herself into the new Pamela (Lee) Anderson. And later, in the same paper, Miss Carthew proudly displayed her 34B-sized breasts that she was hoping to be made into 36Cs, along with the tattoo already on her chest. Alas, nothing since has appeared in the press subsequently.
207. Regarded by many as one of the world’s top tattooing shows, Brugge, in Belgium, had it all, with some of the very best tattoo artists around, making their way over to this little seaport town every November. To work to a packed crowd in the Oberbayern Hall, strippers, both male and female, perform throughout a show that had just about anything and everything to buy in regards to tattooing equipment, piercing and body art jewelery. Rock bands and body painters were also there to entertain the masses. John Artliner, who is a very talented international tattoo artist, put it all together with a posse of volunteers, who helped to make this such a super show, which, sadly for us tattoo lovers, was no more after 2005. John felt that, after putting on a show every year, for the last ten years, its was good a time as any to go out on top.
208. In the early 1960s, in Lancashire, England, the local libraries removed all copies of Hanns Ebensten’s 1953 book “Pierced Hearts And True Love,” because of one tattoo design (among many) that was shown of the Devil standing behind a young woman, in a state of carnal pleasure. The tattoo artist who drew the design was indeed arrested and charged with pornography offences (how times change). The design, along with another of a naked woman standing on a love-heart with a snake running up her legs was shown on page seventy-five. For the record, the book had a pull-out sheet of painted designs from London’s Rich Mingins and ninety-three other tattooing designs and photographs in the nine-four-page book, which was published by Derek Verschoyle of Park Place, London.
209. “Tomb Rider” film star, three times Golden Globe and ‘Oscar’ winner Angelina Jolie has a beautiful tiger tattoo on her lower back. She had it done when she visited Bangkok in 2004, and the tattoo artist Sompong Kanphai did the work, doing so in the traditional Thai way, with hand tools. Angelina is the daughter of actor Jon Voight and won the Oscar playing “Lisa” in the 1999 feature “Girl, Interrupted.” Angelina also had a black tribal dragon with the words “Billy Bob” written above it on her left arm (since been removed), as well as the letter H on the inside of her left wrist, plus a Tennessee Williams’ quote on her left forearm, a Latin motto on her stomach, a cross on her hip and a couple of small tribal tattoos on her lower back. Of which the new Tiger tattoo now covers.
210. Contrary to popular belief, the act of tattooing Jews was not practiced in all of the Nazi Concentration Camps. Only Auschwitz and Birkenau, in South Poland, saw the Jewish people tattooed. There was primarily two reasons for the tattooing, the first being to degrade people, as tattooing is prohibited in the Jewish faith, and, secondly, tattooing was done to stop important Jewish doctors and scientists from swapping their camp uniforms with dead prisoners, to enable them to become anonymous and not have to work for the Nazis or made to experiment on their own people.
211. Auschwitz (also known as the Stammlager) was opened as a Concentration Camp in 1940 (the first was Dachau, in 1933), and, in the year 1941, the tattooing of Soviet Prisoners of war began, making them the first inmates to be tattooed.
212. Prisoners of Auschwitz were never to use their names; only their camp numbers were to be used when addressing officers. Numbers were on prisoners jackets, trousers and tattooed (usually) on the inside of the lower left arm.
213. It was thought at one time that only prisoners who were to live upon arrival at Auschwitz were tattooed, while others were not, and sent to the gas chambers. But ethnic German’s re-education and police prisoners did not receive a tattoo mark. Those who entered the camp (proper) first had all of their body hair removed, showered, then given ill-fitting clothing, caps and clogs. After which the new inmates were tattooed with their number, beginning with a letter first, A for Auschwitz, B for Birkenau or Z denoting a Gypsy, with the numbers following. The tattooing continued up until the last days of the camp.
214. The tattooing at Auschwitz was done by trusted inmates acting as tattoo artists, and “acting” would be a fair description, as the tattooing was crudely done, with a no artistic flair at all. And it must also be said that the job of tattooing the numbers was a good job to have, as prisoners sometimes managed to smuggle valuables into the camp, and gold and diamonds were used in a bartering system as prisoners exchanged goods with the tattooers, so that the tattooing would be done smaller than the recommended sizes that the Nazis specified. The guards, of course, would turn a blind eye to this, as, after the tattooing was finished, they would exchange the items collected with small pieces of sausage or other (usually) food stuffs, which never amounted to very much, in any case.
215. Tattooing in Auschwitz was not always done on the inside of the lower left forearm. Some tattooed numbers were put on people’s chests, and, in 1943, the tattooing of babies began. Although it was found that, because of a baby’s growth, tattooing numbers on their arms became unreadable very quickly. So babies were tattooed with larger numbers on their thighs.
216. Other children tattooed at Auschwitz were the twins in the care of Dr Josef
Mengele (1911-1979) (dubbed the “Angel of Death”). Mengele would have the twins tattooed with the letters ZW, meaning zwellinge (twin). Twins at the camp had the most chance of survival in Auschwitz, although terrible experiments were performed on them by Mengele, who was more a vile criminal then a doctor of medicine.
217. Tattooing was also a unique practice among the Waffen SS, for when a new recruit passed into membership, he was given a distinctive SS dagger and a signet ring, before getting his blood group tattooed under the left armpit. This was done to help in the speeding up blood supplies and medical attention, if needed on the battlefield. It is an interesting fact that when the SS was formed in 1933, the German army numbered one hundred thousand, with just one hundred twenty SS men. And, by 1944, the SS grew to nine hundred-and-ten thousand, with the German army standing at nine million, with one million reserves.
218. The act of tattooing did indeed help in the capture of Karl Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962). Mossad, the Israeli Secret Intelligence service sent a team to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1960, in the hope of capturing Josef Mengele, who they knew lived and worked in the South American City. But, in a routine surveillance operation, one of the group learned of the whereabouts of Eichmann, who in terms of war crimes was a much bigger fish then Mengele, and it was decided by the team that they would go after Eichmann instead. And it was discovered that, in 1952, after living in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, a certain Ricardo Kelmet arrived in Argentina along with his wife and children, and worked as an administrative clerk at the Mercedes-Benz factory in San Jarosto. And on the 11th of May, 1960, it all came to an end for Eichmann as he got off a bus at the end of his street, after a day at work. He was captured by two Mossad agents. Indeed Mossad knew that they had their man when the medical records and x-rays they had with them revealed old injuries that told them that Kelmet was indeed Eichmann. It was also discovered that the blood group tattoo under his armpit had not been removed through surgery, but had been cut and ripped out by Eichmann himself. So the man responsible for organizing the mass transportation of millions of Jews to their deaths and referred to as the Chief Executioner Of The Third Reich was smuggled out of Argentina and taken to Israel, put on trial and indicted on fifteen charges, and convicted on all counts. And on June 1, 1962, a few minutes after midnight, one of mankind’s most evil criminals was hanged at the Ramla Prison, Tel Aviv.
219. The Concentration Camp of Buchenwald, in Germany, was a place of pure evil. Prisoners were thrown into the bear pits at the camp’s zoo, to be ripped and torn apart, while others were treated cruelly at every opportunity. It was also the custom that every tattooed prisoner who entered the camp was sought out, so their tattoos could be cataloged and recorded. Afterwards, the prisoners with tattooed marks usually ended up on dissecting tables.
220. British tattoo artist Tony Cliffton did one hundred twenty complete tattoos at his Northampton tattooing studio on the 2nd of July, 1985, a feat that was later featured in ”The Book Of Alternative Records.”