This is the diary of a heavily tattooed trans woman as she makes progress towards a bodysuit. Why the tattooed toff? Because I am not as people think I should be. They assume from the way I speak and the clothes I wear that I am "normal" and are shocked when I show them my ink. I am a retired Chartered Accountant and retired BBC journalist too Now I have just started my transition this makes me more unusual.
There remains her right leg and face fully to cover. Everything else is remarkably complete, except I notice there's her head as well. I wonder if she will eventually go the whole way. Jacqui is now 41, so was only 33 when she started, and is the mother of two children. I do not believe that throughout the eight years of pain and resolve she was constantly saying to herself "that will show him" but rather once free from her marriage that she may have felt free to do something that she had for some time wanted to do, yet felt constrained from doing. Once she started getting tattooed after her divorce at some later point she may have just decided to go for it. But here I must pause for I run the serious risk of transferring my own experience on to her.
My first marriage ended after nearly 35 years. At that time I was not blank but had quite a few tattoos. My wife didn't like them and was a brake on my going very far. After she decided to leave me I was distraught but nevertheless went straight out and got one of my nipples pierced. It wasn't long before the tattoos began to follow.
Paula Hardy Kangelos
When I married again, over six years ago, my new wife helped me design a back piece and she did it very well. But she is seriously ambivalent about my tattoos and I don't think it's possible for someone without tattoos to imagine what progressing towards a body suit entails. Now she's sees what is happening, if she could, she would have me stop the process right now.
By coincidence, I was today reading an article by Paula Hardy Kangelos in Skin Deep magazine. She says her husband told her he had fallen out of love with her after she had her throat tattooed. She writes "I suppose it comes as a shock to our loved ones, after all, the phrase "I've always fancied a tattoo" does not generally conjure up ideas of sleeves, back pieces and body suits".
My wife is now critical of my tattoos but then she is critical of many other things about me, so it's hard to know if it's my tattoos that are harming my marriage. But I am aware that they might be.
My mind is focussed on just one kind of extreme body modification - heavy tattooing. My body appearance has changed drastically in the past five years.
But what are other people's body modifications of choice? One is a practice known as "tight lacing", in which the users of corsets embark on reducing their waist sizes to as small at 17 or 18 inches, if they can.
It's not something that grabs me but Lacie here (www.staylace.com) has dedicated herself to the practice. There are others like her who take it very seriously. It's a fetish and not necessarily permanent. If you give up regularly wearing this special kind of corset then you will eventually revert to normal.
I have no plans to embark on this myself, but before I pass any judgement must reflect that what I am doing to myself is even more extreme. The images here are truly eye catching. I have never knowingly met anyone who is into tight lacing yet there is a big community out there who do it.
The work in my groin and pubic area has been completed. Years ago Louis Molloy did the central figure in this picture but avoided going all the way. Now Ben has tattooed a circle of clouds all around the image that goes as far as it can without inking my genitalia. This completes the work on my torso.
Added to that Ben has worked some hair detail on a much older art nouveau image originally tattooed in the nineties. Months ago Ben covered the black hair with brown. Today he gave the hair some texture.
To mark the end of this phase Ben took some pictures of my whole body.
I went to the Newport, South Wales convention yesterday. Before getting there, I spent two and half hours with a face painter who gave me fake face and neck tattoos. It was painstaking but very pleasant and enjoyable. Sam Fisher, the face painter from Longwell in Bristol, did a wonderful job and the reaction I got at Newport was quite electric. All tattooists spotted the fakery immediately and most heavily tattooed people didn't take long either. But many were unsure. One way or another I caught the eye and it led to many conversations with those attending the convention.
It was an opportunity to talk about face tattoos and how far people were willing to go. I was struck that a significant proportion of those there with some face tattoos were women. I'm not sure, but maybe more than half. One young woman I photographed, but unfortunately can't name check, has at her tender age advanced very far on neck and face.
She said she may well take it further. But others…