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.
Frome Tattoo Convention 2017
I drove just over an hour to a small tattoo convention in the Somerset town of Frome. It is the home of 26,000 people and is bold in organising an event like this. I think the principal organiser is Jo Black https://www.facebook.com/MissJoBlackTattoos
Adrianna Urban is the manager of Southmead Tattoo studio and has lived in Bristol for only 7 months. She aspires to have a full body suit but no ink on her face and head.
James Mills was taking a huge tattoo step in getting his head and part of his face tattooed. He's from Glastonbury and works in his father's business.
I enjoyed, as is my wont, getting my face painted with a moko. This was done by Ember from Painted People www.painted-people.co.uk. It took him very little time to complete the job. He is so skilled. I didn't get my neck done because I knew I was not staying late into the day and so thought perhaps it wasn't worth the extra cost. A decision I now regret. At some point in the future I will ask him to do a much bigger job.
There were only a handful of tattooists there and a very good piercer (Pin Cushion Body Piercing) plus some tattoo goods and jewellery stalls. Two well known tattooed glamour models were selling their photos too. I had a really good time, but am not sure how this event is going to survive. There were very few out and out tattoo crazies like me at the convention.
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…