The musings of A.V. Phibes

I'm watching you, culture, and I don't approve.

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My first and only tattoo or "learn from my mistakes and don't get a tattoo of an obscure dadaist pun
00000825 To this day, I still only have one tattoo. I feel bad saying that I regret it, but...honestly... I often do. This may seem a contradictory thing to say considering how much artwork I've done that's been tattooed on other people. The thing about tattooing, though, is that it requires a certain type of person to pull off successfully. That person being, essentially, one that doesn't change their mind. Trouble is, I'm definitely NOT that person and knowing that now doesn't really help.
I believe it was sometime in early 2000. This was a particular time in my life that was kind of magical: I had just transitioned over to doing art for a living and, because I was freelance, I didn't have to go to a "job" anymore. I had more money and freedom than I'd ever had before. I had also started performing and was still exhilarated by it. I was, in my small way, living the dream I had come to New York to live. The feeling was very emboldening. I felt like I could do anything. I had a sense of surety and power that imbued everything I did.
And so, in this state of mind, I took my first trip to San Francisco. While getting silly with one of my good friends (who had many tattoos) she said "Let's go get tattoos together!" and I said "Yes!" She was surprised and said "do you really mean it?" and when I said "yes" again, she grabbed my by the hand and said, "we have to go do it before you change your mind!"
L.H.O.O.QNow, it wasn't an entirely impromptu decision. For over a year I had in my head the "tattoo that I would get if I ever got a tattoo," and that was what I intended to get. Since I'd thought about it for over a year, I felt like I was making a good decision. What I wanted was the letters L.H.O.O.Q tattooed on my lower back. This was a reference to the art piece by Marcel Duchamp (right), which I thought was significant on multiple levels.
First of all, Marcel Duchamp was a personal hero of mine, so the tattoo would be a tribute to that. Secondly, the piece itself was an insouciant challenge to classical tradition which fit with my own sense of irreverence. And Thirdly, the whole joke of the piece lies in the fact that the phrase "L.H.O.O.Q." if pronounced in french sounds like the phrase "elle a chaud au cul" which means "she's got a hot ass"...and it's above my butt! Haw! So, really, I thought I was making a very sound choice. I had this vision of sexy art history majors seeing it and falling in love with me. It was going to be awesome.
But here we come to the whole "changing my mind" part...
So, it turns out that if you have a tattoo that is not immediately comprehensible (like say, a dragon or a butterfly) people expect you to explain it. And after about the 100th time you explain it, you wish to god you hadn't had it put on your body permanently. During a romantic interlude, when a man would run his fingers over the letters and say "what does that mean?" my mind would heave a sigh: don't make me have to stop and explain this again.
L.H.O.O.Q. tattoo. After a few years, when my shirt would creep up and someone would ask "what's your tattoo mean?" I'd just answer "It means 'don't ever get a tattoo.'"
The unfortunate part is that I didn't stop liking what my tattoo meant--I still love Marcel Duchamp and everything that's implied there--I just got tired of having this public statement that I had to explain.
So, I guess that you have to be not only a person who doesn't change their mind, but a person who doesn't mind engaging with strangers via your body art. Just a heads-up kids... give it some thought before you go under the needle.

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At least it's not a portrait of Dale Chihuly!

Yeah--gotta say, that's one of the nice things about having a tattoo of a bunny rabbit! I mean, a bunny doesn't need explaining.

...and if I do feel like explaining it, "it's how I celebrated my third marathon" is pretty dang tough!

But yes, this is why I'm never actually going to get a tattoo of the Chinese characters for "Gullible White Boy". Even though that idea is awesome.

Re: At least it's not a portrait of Dale Chihuly!

Hahahahaha das_prompt is one of my good friends.

Love the tattooed on other people page!

Like you (and unlike most of my other friends!) I have only one tattoo. I got it for my 25 birthday (read: when tattooing was a new technology!)

It's a glyph of a Mayan priest that I really like and I don't regret it. But I do concur with your time and place analysis. I have not ever again been in the right time or place to have more ink.

PS If I were to get another tattoo it might be this vintage satirical Louis XIV print.

I'd use the opportunity to make up a new story every time.

I can relate on one level - my first tattoo was "The Cat in the Hat" (back BEFORE the horrendous Mike Myers vehicle) and even though I got the tattoo almost 15 years ago, I STILL get Cat in the Hat paraphernalia for birthdays and other assorted holidays.

For what it's worth, I think your tattoo is brilliant, I'm just sorry that you'd have to explain the Duchamp connection if I didn't already know the story. ;-)

All I have to say is that what you have for a tattoo is awesome. I also love Duchamp (and Dada, and modern art in general -- to the point of obsession, practically) so I think that's awesome.

I don't have any tattoos. Basically, I can't think of anything I like that much that I want it permanently drawn on my body. I'm pretty sure I'll remain tattoo-less the rest of my life. I'm 29, and I don't really see myself going in and getting a tattoo any time soon.

I love Duchamp and I think that's an awesome tattoo!

For the last couple of years, I have been thinking of getting "Bandersnatch" on my pubic mound.

I haven't yet decided if it's stupid, or really hot. One of these, I'll figure that out.

That's a tough one. It could end up totally frumious. Then again, it could leave you feeling all mimsy.

Well, considering we are advised to shun the bandersnatch, you might be sending the wrong message.

I thought about that too. But then, I've always considered that maybe I need a warning label....

A back tattoo would be totally wasted on me because it bugs the heck out of me to have that part of my body uncovered. I mean, I'm OK if it's in the shower or such, but if my shirt rides up? *shudder* No one would ever see a tattoo there.

I have the tattoo in my icon on my wrist. It's part of this project. Strangely enough people don't ask me about it much anymore. I guess my inner wrist isn't as noticable as you would think.

My cousin is a part of that project. Cool!

I have a couple of friends in it too and even went to the same tattoo artist as one of them. He was so excited to be doing another word. It was pretty cute.

i have it tattooed on my shoulder.

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