Big Ten Questions with Lucky Diamond Rich
By Mary Gardner
High atop his ten-foot unicycle, juggling countless apples while simultaneously swallowing swords tossed up by a volunteer assistant from the crowd, Lucky Diamond Rich, “the Most-Tattooed Person in the World,” charms his ever-increasing crowd with constant, hilarious banter. His awestruck audience, myself included, stands mesmerized by the constant barrage of superhuman tricks, non-stop gags and witty wisecracks Lucky tosses out in his inimitable, improvisational style. But what else would you expect from this seasoned artist from humble beginnings whose chronicle began at the delicate age of six years when he covered himself with stamp-pad, temporary, bubblegum tattoos? He collected countless bottles, just so he could redeem them and buy handfuls of bubblegum with their free, paper-transfer tattoos inside. All this to duplicate the look of the heavily tattooed neighborhood butcher, a grisly character complete with missing fingers.
“From the age of eight to eighteen, I was in contemporary and traditional circus,” Lucky says, proudly. Later, a deep fascination for street theater and inked artists developed in Kings Cross, Sydney, where he first saw transvestite performers covered with tattoos. “It was a massive red-light district filled with rogues and criminals,” remembers Lucky. “These were the people I wanted to hang out with.” Captivated by the sights and smells of the local buskers, Lucky began his career as a street entertainer at sixteen, and became highly skilled as a circus performer. But he had not yet defined his own individual show.
“I had to teach myself everything. In the beginning, I really had no idea how to draw a crowd. I was blagging my way through, doing festivals, telling people I was good in order to land the next job. Six months later I was crowned the Australian Street Performer of the year and was a highly celebrated performer in Halifax, Canada, which took me to London’s Covent Garden. By the time I was nineteen I was the highest paid street performer in the history of London,” he affirms. As he gained popularity, Lucky broadened his view of tattooing from collecting temporary “stamps” to surrendering his whole body to the likes of artists Alex Binnie and Henk Schiffmacher.
By the time Lucky reached thirty-two, he had begun tattooing. “I was asked to come to the States for bigger tattoo conventions like the one at Manhattan’s Rose City Ballroom. People seemed to want to support me in this world of tattoo. In fact, I have become the entertainer for tattooed people.” A self-professed obsessive-compulsive, Lucky admits to wanting to cement his place in the tattoo industry, so, eight years ago, he set out to become the world’s most tattooed man. Two years later, he was in the Guinness Book of World Records. Lucky credits the Guinness folks for adding to his genuine credibility. “I’m not a lunatic. Hey, I’m in the most published book in the world!”
Lucky views his life in colorful detail while always maintaining a spirit of humility. “I see myself as a modern-day combination of Paul Rogers, who was both a tattoo master and an acrobat with the circus, and the Great Omi. I’m not a rock star or a celebrity. I’m just a heavily tattooed guy that loves what he does.”
1. Whom do you most admire? My mum. She instilled the concept of doing what makes me happy as long as I’m not hurting anyone.
2. What is your greatest regret? That I’m not going to die and come back as myself.
3. What do you do for fun? This. I live my dream.
4. What is your favorite word? Serenity.
5. What is your least favorite word? God.
6. If you couldn’t be a sideshow artist or tattoo artist what would you be? I would like to counsel and mentor underprivileged kids.
7. If you could change your name, what would it be? My birth name, Gregory Paul McLaren.
8. How would you like to be remembered? As the brightest diamond in the rough.
9. What is your favorite part of tattooing? When I say it’s finished.
10. What is your least favorite part? Trying to figure out why my machine isn’t working.
Lucky Diamond Rich