31-year-old Remy Connor, who has about 85-hours of tattoo work, is a magician for a living. Merging the art of magic with the art of tattoos, Connor uses his ink in his performances, to further achieve the impossible.
“I was 13-years old when I began practicing and performing,” Connor said. “I didn’t have anyone to practice on, so I ended up practicing on complete strangers.”
One of the first times Connor performed, someone tipped him $40. He says he was hooked since. “I could do something I loved and get positive attention for it... all while getting paid,” Connor said.
Connor’s first performance at 13-years old involved him levitating on the beach. He was showing his dad the act, when a stranger walked up to him and asked him, ‘how did you do that?’
Connor currently has three signature tricks. One, being a straight jacket escape. In the effect, as he calls it, he also has to find a selected playing card with his mouth. Another is a gift routine, “where a thought-of gift appears inside of a locked box that only the audience participant has a key to,” he said. The third involves an audience member transforming a thought into a souvenir. Remy says this is to inspire them to travel.
While Connor’s friends have always been enthusiastic in his dream, the mentalist says that in the beginning of his career, his family wanted to know what his back up plan was. So, Connor went to college for a year. He then dropped out to travel the country as a vagabond, for two and a half more. “After that, my family became much more supportive,” he said. “They even took some time to join in on the fun.”
As a sideshow performer, Connor says, “I wouldn't be where I am without Coney Island.” This is why he has a tattoo of George Tilyou, the owner of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island.
The majority of Connor’s tattoo work was done by Chris Slota at Rockabilly Tattoos in Tamarac, Florida. Connor does have “gag-related” tattoos—including his whoopie cushion, beheaded rubber chicken, handbuzzer, a squirting flower, and chattering teeth— but, like his magic, his ink is “more than meets the eye.”
The magician’s first tattoo was his bunny boy logo on his arm. “It’s a stencil that only one other person has tattooed,” he said. “The rabbit, being synonymous with magic, represents the past, present and future of magic. Each line has been carefully chosen to make a simple but meaningful image.” The black line down the middle represents the separation of impossible to probable. “If something is too possible, it is not amazing. But if something is too impossible, it also becomes less amazing, and more of a puzzle,” Connor explained. The red line represents a blindfold, meaning you cannot explain what you cannot see. Where they intersect is where magic truly exists.
Along with his bunny, Connor says, “My tattoos all have layers to their significance. From the tee-hee on my wrist drawn as Houdini's signature, to the HA's on my side drawn by people closest to me. Or from traveling.”
One favorite is his clown face with a needle and thread tattoo. “The story of Pagliacci the clown has followed me my whole life,” Connor said. “I added this piece in Italy when I competed in a magic competition.” Connor adds that the ink addresses mental health among the entertainment community.
Connor wears many Joker-related tattoos, but they aren’t your average Batman-Animated-Series-fan ink.
“Wild Bill Hickock was a famous card cheat and he was shot and killed over the poker hand that was eventually nicknamed the Deadman’s hand, consisting of a pair of 8's and a pair of aces,” Connor explained. “The Joker also uses this hand in the comic books to inform Batman that it is the Joker causing havoc. This is because, coincidentally, the 8th letter of the alphabet is the letter H. So now, 8 - Ace - 8 - Ace becomes ‘HA HA.’”
The magician also has Harley and Joker tattoos that are part of a bigger piece he's doing, which involves images of Harley and Joker throughout history, the way they have been portrayed by different artists, and fittingly, inked by all different artists. “We wake new and reinvent ourselves everyday. It's always new, but always you,” Connor said.
Noting one Joker piece in particular, Connor called in an academic professional to most accurately put the Prince of Crime’s hypothetical Laughing Gas formula together.
“Laughing gas consists of strychnine, hydrogen cyanide, mdma, meth and nitrous, but this skeletal formula isn't drawn in the comics,” he said. “I hired a chemist to balance the equation, and then got it tattooed.”
Amongst the many tattoos he has from—and for—friends, Connor highlights the tattoo of his German Shepherd, Harley Houdini. “She's a service animal that travels all over the world with me,” Connor said. “She's my best friend.”
Connor says the hardest part of magic, if you want to be original, is making everything yourself. Or, of course, having the money for someone else to make what you need. Connor adds, “If you want to make something great, you can’t buy what everyone else has.”
His favorite part of his profession is instilling a state of wonder, or to inspire someone to pursue a dream.
“It’s all possible with magic, you just have to present it correctly,” Connor said. “In a single moment, I can make someone forget about all of their problems. And, if I’m lucky, I can make a complete stranger believe in the impossible.”