The Chicken Nugget Tattoo
In the history of my Instagram account, I have never posted a joke tattoo -- except for one, one of a chicken nugget and sauce. I found the tattoo on the humor account of @fuckjerry, and it turns out that the tattoo was done by the fabulous Magie Serpica of Milk and Honey Tattoo (whose portfolio is filled with serious work). I had to find out more, and Magie graciously took the time to share the hilarious story behind the infamous tattoo.
@fuckjerry Instagram page -- more likes than the total amount of likes I've ever received combined. As well as being mentioned on various "stupid tattoos" blogs, and hearing countless comments from spectators at conventions that hastily brush past the portrait that took eight hours, only to laugh and stare in awe at a chicken nugget and barbecue sauce tattoo that had been left in my portfolio pretty much as a joke.
I walked into work on that fateful day, only to be bombarded by a camera man and a producer, in a frenzy, frantically approaching me to sign a release paper. I had no idea what was happening, as it was after a long night of drinks and things that young twenty something year old tattooers (pre-motherhood days) do on a given night, and I certainly wasn't dressed for the occasion. I remember being told through a crowd of people by the manager that it was a production crew from the T.V. show "Deal or No Deal", and that they would be filming at the shop for the day, and some muffled mentions of how I had to tattoo someone for the show. Nope. Sorry. That was certainly not about to go down like that if I could help it. Not in these rags, messy hair bun, and minimal make-up and bags under my eyes. I immediately ran and hid in the bathroom hoping that it would be bumped to the next guy who was about to walk into work any minute. Several attempts at getting me to open the door were immediately shut down with: "I'm putting on my lipstick," for about forty-five minutes. I peeked out and saw that the next tattooer had in fact come to work right after me, and that he was in fact about to do a tattoo on a man from Staten Island who won money on "Deal or No Deal" a few months prior.
The show thought it would be a good idea to do a road trip across America and spend "a day in the life" with past winners, seeing what good fortune and new lifestyle their winnings had brought them, and doing whatever the winner wanted to do for the day. The winner, Matty, had been a long time customer at this particular shop, and he decided that his "day in the life" would be spent getting tattooed. And not just any tattoo, a "Deal or No Deal" themed tattoo. Across his back, from shoulder to shoulder, Matty got, a tattoo of his winning equation: "DEAL + (an image with a briefcase with his lucky number) = $675K."
Yes, he won $675,000.00 on the show, and in addition to the Corvette that I noticed in the parking lot, this was how he would commemorate his prize. I crept over to the tattooer whose fate was set with doing the equation across Matty's back, and taunted him over how I escaped this nonsense and was in the clear. We spat swear words every three seconds, making a hardcore future editing process very necessary, and even discussed Howie Mandel and any funny thing we could think to say about him. It was all in good fun. However, fate had other plans for me that day.
About ten minutes into the tattoo, the producer, who had been chatting with Matty on camera about his game show experience, shifted the conversation to the tattoo that he was getting in that moment. As this happened, there was a brief pause, almost as if a cartoon lightbulb lit up above the head of this producer - a blonde haired, reddish tanned skin, California thirty-something-year old wearing a short sleeve button down shirt and flip flops, who looked like he could still be in the fraternity about which he began to talk.
"You know, when I was in college I had this great idea for a tattoo: a chicken nugget below my inner elbow, and a cup of barbecue sauce on my bicep, so when I bend my arm, I can 'dip it'."
"DIP IT" still haunts me to this day.
Those words echo in my head every time someone comments on the photo in my book, or whenever I see it posted somewhere online. But I digress.
It just so happened that, at this particular time in my life, I was a full-fledged vegan (and I'm sure by now you can see the irony and where this is leading). Alas, I was approached by this producer amidst a sentence full of laughter as he expressed this idea and nodded with the expectation that I would be on board to do it. A similar nod was given from across the counter by the manager, who also strongly suggested I be a good sport about this.
"Okay fine," was what I uttered as I began to pick up a pencil in front of my sketch pad, only to be interrupted by the crew who insisted that they should go get actual chicken nuggets and barbecue sauce from a fast food joint to have me draw it from life. As I protested and argued that I could draw this from my head equally as good, I was being set up with a mic, and an assistant was already en route to a McDonald's down the block. Just as the assistant returned with a six piece, I was being asked a bunch of questions, mostly about my tattoo experience, as well as how I felt about the chicken nugget tattoo idea. I was very honest, telling him that, while I did think it was extremely funny and that I was actually thrilled to do it, it was very much a spontaneous decision and that he should be aware that he may not find it very funny several years down the road. They began propping up chicken nuggets inches in front of me and opened containers of barbecue sauce, and all I can remember saying was. "I'm highly offended by the smell of McDonald's." They thought this was hysterical, but if you've never met a die-hard vegan like I was at the time, you would know my inner Ingrid Newkirk truly was offended and didn't see the humor. [Side note: while I am no longer vegan, and haven't been in several years, I still can't stand the smell of fast food near me.]
The rest is pretty much history. The tattoo was completed, I snapped a few photos, shook the producer's hand, gave him some aftercare instructions (this was his very first tattoo!), and within a few hours of me stepping foot into the chaos of reality television, they were gone just as quickly.
Fast forward to last February. I was at my booth at the Philly convention sketching out something for a client, when I overheard two girls getting overly excited about an image in my portfolio, and all I could think was 'Dip It.' I looked up and one girl asked if I was actually the artist who did that tattoo. She then, in an excited fluster, showed me several sites, along with some Facebook and Instagram pages, where this nugget made an appearance. I was totally shocked! The most shocking moment came nine weeks ago when it appeared on the @fuckjerry Instagram page, which has 2.3 million followers. As I write this, the image has received 76,103 likes, and as of 2 minutes ago, 34,485 comments. Unfortunately (or maybe not!) there was never any credit given to me, as I never watermarked my name on the photo (though over twenty people "@" me in the comments to bring it to my attention, along with countless reposts).
All in all, I find it pretty comical that, while I've spent years sweating and losing sleep over and countless hours of research over portrait tattoos and other particularly challenging designs, it's a tattoo of chicken nugget and barbecue sauce which serves as my legacy in tattooing.
Check more of Magie's work on her site as well as Instagram @Milkandhoneytattoo. Milk and Honey will also be featured in this month's Skin Art Magazine.