Results tagged “tattooed ladies”

03:05 PM
cindy ray bev nicholas.pngOne of the world's most famed "tattooed lady," Bev Nicholas, aka Cindy Ray, is featured in ABC News Australia today. While the first seconds of the video profile are cringeworthy -- with the whole cliche about tattoos no longer being for "bikies and rock stars" -- it's most definitely worth a watch to learn about her extraordinary life -- in her own words.

One of the most interesting, and troubling, subjects of the interview is that she never profited from her name and image, but rather, was taken advantage of at the age of 19 by the photographer Harry Bartram who convinced her that she could make lots of money touring the country as a sideshow attraction. According to the report, Bartram profited greatly, selling countless photos of Bev through a mail order business, as well as books and tattoo machines -- all she got from him were her tattoos.

Bev's life in tattooing wasn't limited to sideshow. In fact, she is one of the first prominent contemporary female tattoo artists in Australia, something that she got into accidentally, when her boyfriend at the time broke his hand and needed her to take care of customers. There are some great stories about tattooing sailors and reactions to her as a woman in the business in the piece. Bev, who will be 73, still tattoos in Melbourne today.

Recent discussions on Bev's life, by fans and fellow tattooers worldwide, often note the injustice of the beautiful young blonde having been exploited for her tattooed body. And yet, it's what so much of our media still does today. If we really want to honor Bev's contributions and legacy, maybe we should include a discussion on how that exploitation should be dealt with regarding our "tattooed ladies" of today.
10:16 PM
Artoria Gibbons .jpgWhen I think of the beautiful tattooed ladies who inspired generations of heavily tattooed women, the elegant images of sideshow performer "Artoria" Gibbons immediately come to mind.  Artoria married master tattoo artist Charles "Red" Gibbons in 1912, but it wasn't until 1918/1919 when Red began to tattoo Artoria and they traveled the carnival circuit together -- artist and tattooed lady.

Red and Artoria had a daughter, Charlene Anne Gibbons, who is in the process of writing a book on her parents, and correcting a lot of the myths that surround them. Last month, Charlene wrote an article on her father, entitled "The Life of a Twentieth Century Tattoo Artist: Charles "Red" Gibbons. Here's a bit from it:

Charles, "Red" Gibbons was a master tattoo artist for over 40 years.  He lived from 1879 until1964.  A brutal robbery resulted in the loss of one eye.  An unfortunate construction accident resulted in the loss of his other eye leaving him totally blind.  Nothing else but death could have ended his beloved career as a tattoo artist.  He was devastated to the extent of no longer wanting to live.  However, with the love and care of his wife and daughter he lived for nearly twenty more years.

The ancient and revered craft of tattoo artistry is constantly evolving.  Innovative equipment, techniques, applications and designs are constantly being discovered.  Charles Gibbons would be utterly amazed if he could see all the changes in his profession today.
Artoria died in 1985, and during her 91 years, she performed for more than 50 years for sideshows and carnivals, earning her the title of one of "the most renowned tattooed ladies of the twentieth century." Her memory continues to live on through us tattooed ladies of today.

artoria gibbons tattoo.jpg Tattoo of Artoria by Dana Brunson on Dot Brunson.

Also, check the first issue of Things & Ink magazine with tattooist Claudia De Sabe on the front cover, recreating the iconic image of Artoria.
10:55 AM
101 year old tattooed lady.jpg
Photo by Will Vragovic for the St. Petersberg Times

I know I should be offline during my vacation but I wanted to quickly share with you a sweet story that Colin Dale of Skin & Bone sent me.

Mimi Rosenthal celebrated her 101st birthday getting her third tattoo at Requiem Body Art in Spring Hill, Florida. According to, Mimi got her first tattoo at age 99, a dime-size blue butterfly on her leg. She thought it was too small and vowed to go bigger next time. At 100, she got a larger tattoo--a flower--on her other leg. The problem was that she had to lift her pants up to show it off, so this latest one is now on her arm for easy exhibition.

Tattoo artist Michelle Gallo-Kohla, a long-time family friend of the Rosenthals, said that working Mimi's thin and fragile skin was "uncharted territory" but she took it slow and Mimi was pleased with her new sun flower tattoo.

When asked "Why a tattoo? Why now?" she replied "Why not?"

Right on, Mimi! She also jokes that the next tattoo will be on her butt.

You'd think with this kind of zest for life and humor, people would be positive about the article but, alas, "good Christians" infiltrated the comment forums as they usually do in mainstream tattoo stories and started calling the great-grandma a sinner. Then there are those who asked if Mimi remembered the Holocaust. And of course there were dumb jokes. [But there were a couple of good ones like "When she gets old the tat won't look the same." hehe]

It's not the first time, however, that we've written about a centenarian getting tattooed. In April 2009, Colin Dale tattooed 103-year old Karen Fredso Larsen on her hand (despite Danish law prohibiting hand and facial tattoos).

The smiles in the photos of both women show how much joy they've gotten from their tattoos. There's no sin in that.
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