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.
What makes me want a body suit?
I quite often ask myself why do I want a tattoo body suit? Why do I want to cover my whole body with tattoos? What is the fascination and what gives me the drive and determination to do this?
The photos here show a range of types of body suit. I'm not at all sure the final one is for real, but it looks great.
If you look elsewhere on my blog you will see plenty of evidence of my significant progress in that direction. By the end of this year all my torso, both my upper arms and my thighs will be fully covered. That leaves my legs and lower arms.
The answer to my own question is:
1) I am excited by the idea of the transformation of my body. I want to be different from the overwhelming majority of the population. In large measure I have already achieved that. It alters my sexual identity and my personal characteristics. It means in many ways I am not a white man any more but a man of many colours. How thrilling. But what I've done already is not enough.
2) I want to complete one thing in my life. In many ways I see myself as a nearly man. In politics I was a parliamentary candidate but never an MP. In business I was a financial director but never the general manager - a job I coveted for many years. In broadcasting I was a reporter but never a presenter on Radio 4, which was my goal - perhaps unrealistically.
I speak both Spanish and Dutch well and fluently but I never stayed long enough in Latin America and Holland to complete the job. My vocabulary and ability to understand all I hear is not what I aspire to. My first marriage lasted a long time, 35 years, but in the end it failed.
So there is one thing over which I full control, unlike most of those above, and that is completing a body suit.
It's something I can do, unless my life is suddenly cut short. Yes, it's never possible to be 100% in control.
3) I have changed inside me. I look at my uninked skin and want it to be inked. Anything else is unsatisfactory. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and all I see is my natural skin on my legs, arms and face and neck.
I suspect there are some deeper psychological reasons beyond those I've listed and when I've discovered them I'll let you know.
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…