Alison Prato (writer),
Anthony Gibson (photographer)
Ask Tyrese Gibson how many tattoos he has and he will laugh in your face. “Shit, I don’t know—I’ve got, like, 70 now,” the actor-model-singer says with a chuckle, looking down at his forearms while relaxing in the offices of his Los Angeles–based production company, HeadQuarter Entertainment. “I’m hooked. I’m addicted.”
Since his career kicked off with a Coca-Cola commercial in the ’90s, Gib- son has gone from mugging in major ad campaigns (Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein) to veejaying (he hosted MTV Jams) to singing (he’s released several CDs, including one under the alter ego Black-Ty) to battling Decepticons in popcorn blockbusters (Transformers). His other film credits include the now- classic Baby Boy—his first starring role—as well as Four Brothers, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Waist Deep, and Death Race. Not bad for a 30-year-old from Los Angeles’s Watts neighborhood, which he refers to as “the slums, the ghetto.”
This summer, Gibson reprises his role as Sergeant Epps in the hugely anticipated Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which hits screens June 24. Since the first Transformers raked in more than $700 million around the globe, Gibson is on top of the world, and feeling nothing but confident about the movie’s sequel. Not surprisingly, the guy with a personality big enough to match his megawatt smile has racked up a slew of tattoos to chronicle his journey through Hollywood.
INKED: So, Transformers sequel—no pressure or anything. Are you feeling the heat?
TYRESE GIBSON: I’m feeling the pressure, absolutely. But Transformers is gonna change the world. This is the movie of the year.
Did you and Megan Fox ever talk tattoos on the set of Transformers?
Yeah, we’ve talked about tats. She’s got Marilyn Monroe on her forearm and a few other sexy ones. Her tattoos are tastefully done.
You’ve got the Transformers logo on your arm, but what was your first tattoo?
When I was 17, I got this star-sun on my right arm. It has flames around it, and in Chinese writing it says, “Beautiful, low-class talent.” I’m not calling myself low-class, but I was born and raised in the low-class city of Watts. That was my first tattoo, and then I went nuts after that.
What came next?
I got a tribal skull covering the ball of my shoulder. That turned into a woman with a snake on her belly. She’s got her boobs out, with a real sexy face, and some wings. My tattoo artist’s name is Andy. The last 11 tattoos I’ve had done were done by Andy in my living room.
So, Andy makes house calls?
No, Andy doesn’t make house calls, but he came for me. I had him set up in my living room for about a week. I love getting tattoos, but sometimes getting tattoos in public can be a hassle—you don’t want to be making ugly faces when people are taking pictures of you. Tattoos are very painful.
How do you deal with the pain?
Once it starts, you kind of just get used to it. I just want to tell everybody in the INKED community that I’m with you. I understand why you love it. I understand why you are addicted to it. It’s the best form of expression. The more I see, the more I’m inspired to keep it moving. I should be going to a few conventions. Maybe I need to get an invite from you.