Ben Leuner (photographer),
Marisa DiMattia (writer)
Give me one.
I don't know how this is going to come across but I'll do my best. I go to this club one night—a fetish industry night, which is one of the circles I tend to find myself in from time to time—and I'm standing outside talking to these people I knew, a guy and his wife, and there's this girl kinda hanging around who knew them. After about 10 minutes she interrupts and says, “What's your name?”
“Oh my god, oh my god!”
The girl just loses it and all of a sudden she has tears running down her face. She's freaking out that she's meeting me, and I'm thinking to myself, If you're that intense of a fan, why did it take you so long to recognize me? I mean, if you're so much of a fan to have tears running down your face.
It's not like you blend.
I know! The next thing I know—oh, and keep in mind that there's got to be, like, 30 people around us outside because you can't smoke in bars in New York City—she falls to the ground, on her belly, three feet away from me and starts dragging herself toward me like I was that wall in Israel, and she wraps herself around my leg and starts kissing my foot, still crying. I'm standing there, thinking, Jesus Christ. Everyone is staring at me, and I don't like to stand out, believe it or not. So I take her arm and beg her to get up, telling her it's cool and how I appreciate how she digs my work, but it's causing a scene. And everyone is looking at me like, Who does he think he is? Shit like that happens. How can you take it seriously?
So did you sleep with her?
[Laughs.] Nah, she wasn't my type.
Well, that's what everyone is going to be thinking, so we had to ask.
I could have sucked and she still would've loved me! I guess my point is that you become a sort of commodity for people. You're no longer human. For one thing, they put you on a pedestal that no one can live up to. For another, they want that tattoo or artwork so badly that they forget about important human things like consideration, respect, and sincerity. I try to be patient with it, but being that I hate mankind, it's fucking hard to remind myself that not everyone actually sucks. And I don't omit myself. I suck too.
That's heavy. How do you deal with that?
It's not easy. I find myself more paranoid than ever. I have a hard time trusting people now. With women, I feel they just want a free tattoo or want to be seen with me. It's not what I'm looking for. It's hard to feel a sense of companionship with someone when you know in the back of your mind that they're full of shit. Of course, if they're really hot, I'll overlook that. [Laughs.] Yeah, I'm shallow too. So what? Did I mention I'm a walking contradiction?
Have you ever had a client experience an orgasm?
I have a client that came in for a long, two-day tattoo weekend. She suffered through the first day and came in the second day wearing vibrating panties with a remote control and the whole time I tattooed her, she sat there with the remote control going up and down, up and down. I was confused as to whether she was in pain or whether she was coming! It was so strange because I'm tattooing this woman and it's like we're having sex. I'm dealing with my own sadistic tendencies of hurting this girl and listening to her whimper—but that's my own personal thing—and on top of that, she's getting herself off the whole time, enjoying herself and using it as a tool to get through the pain.
Readers are going to run out and buy vibrating panties for tattoo pain relief!
I'm gonna start selling vibrating panties with the Last Rites logo! If I'm comfortable with someone, I'm cool with it. I've done ritual tattooing and all kinds of weird things.