Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tattoo 23 - The BLISS Interview

NO LIMITS! – THE ART OF TATTOO 23
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The scene in the bathroom is almost pristine. The bathtub is longer than one usually seen in the United States, and somewhat thinner, giving it an almost cylindrical appearance. It is situated within a bed of large square tiles, and the appealing, clean pattern continues up the wall until it is bisected by a black and white, flower patterned accent tile. The design is beautiful and the overall effect draws you in serenely…except for the blood.

Splatters of crimson adorn the tiled wall near the faucets, while on the opposite end; a large red handprint mars the landscape, forcing you to notice the huge black dildo just above it, the head of which still drips blood into the tiny puddle beneath it. And there in the tub, situated on his stomach, lies the heavily tattooed figure of a seemingly dead male, his hair styled in a blond Mohawk, with deep red liquid in a puddle just above his naked buttocks, which bears the unmistakable signs of being violated horribly, replete with its own share of blood and deep gashes. The photographer behind this clever, yet grisly scene is the amazing Mike Lidbetter, and the man in the tub is alternative model, Tattoo 23.
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The beauty of Tattoo 23’s art may be questionable to some, but a mere description fails to convey the humor behind the scene. While some would object to such a presentation, I was left smiling the moment I saw the title of the photo. Whatever initial shock I experienced upon first viewing the image disappeared, and I could not help but laugh at the thought of being snuffed by a fake penis.

And this was only the beginning.

I initially discovered Tattoo 23 when a photo of him was entered into a mature themed daily contest on the social networking site, Model Mayhem. His look was unique in comparison to what is usually seen on the site, but a glance in the lower region eliminated any question I may have had in regards to his inclusion in a contest mostly comprised of high gloss female and male nudes. His endowment, pierced and spilling out heavily from beneath a tight blue shirt that appeared to be made of rubber, generated the initial curiosity which led me to his own portfolio. One look was all I needed to become fascinated by his entire body of work. Viewing his images is like taking a virtual trip through a variety of different worlds, and there were moments when I felt as if I had even traveled to an alternate universe. This man takes his art seriously, and he is fearless in his portrayal of the characters he inhabits. The overall presentation made me want to know more.
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Our initial contact was exceptionally pleasant, and I note this to make reference to the fact that subconsciously, I may have expected something different. As a model, he had done his job so well that a part of me expected him to actually be one of those creations in his images. What I got was a somewhat humble guy, who says thank you easily, and laughs a great deal.

I wondered what it was about modeling that initially attracted him, given our perceptions of what a model is supposed to look like, and how it all came about. He was as candid with his responses as he is in his images.

Tattoo 23: My ex, at the time, started an account on Purestorm and started modeling as a way to boost her confidence. A part of her profile text mentioned that her boyfriend was pierced and tattooed with a Mohawk, and that he was willing to help out in any way. So, I thought, I’ll have some of this! I started an account, we split up and my interest grew. I then made an account on Model Mayhem and I haven’t looked back.
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BLISS: Do you remember your first shoot? What was it like?
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T: I actually chaperoned my ex to one her first shoots and only had, I think, 3 or 4 images taken. I was so nervous! I remember I was so hot to the point of sweating because of nerves, and I remember thinking that I knew I could never do this again! (laughs). How things have changed hahaha.
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B: They’ve changed a great deal! It’s hard to imaging that you were once nervous, considering the photos in your port. In addition, you’ve worked with so many people. Do have a particular favorite of all the photographers that you’ve worked with?
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T: Favorite photographer is tricky because I’ve not only worked with so many, but I’ve worked with several in Europe and the US. Every photographer as well as model has contributed something different to my portfolio and helped me create Tattoo23. But right now I would have to say, Mark Leary aka AsylumSEVENTY7
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B: Who are some other photographers that you've worked with that you admire and why?
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T: For raw talent and skill I admire everyone I’ve worked with. There are so many amazing photographers out there though so it really would be hard to single someone out. I like John McIntire for his studio abilities, Mark Leary for his insane ideas, and Creatista-they’re just an awesome team to work with, a definite must if you’re in AZ! I also like Adi Dewey! The guy's a nut-job but a complete star! And, of course, Mike Lidbetter. Who is a fantastic guy…sick and twisted. (laughs)
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B: Are there any particular photographers that you would like to work with in the future?
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T: Peter Buckley-Saxon, because the man’s a legend! Jeffery Scott. His Photoshop skills are second to none! Mark Velasquez who is a true inspiration!
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B: What would you consider to be your best feature?
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T: Do I have one? (laughs) I reckon I’m a package deal ya know, whatcha see is whatcha get with me; the hair, the tattoo’s and piercings, along with the persona. I think that’s what catches peoples eyes, my willingness to push boundaries.
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B: Well, there’s no denying that you push boundaries. Your images are incredibly diverse, from somewhat classic style portraiture all the way to erotic extremes. Do you collaborate on any of the ideas for these shoots?
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T: Yeah I mean, nowadays I shoot to specifics. I’ll contact people with a set idea and I go to a shoot with a set image. We may tweak it in the process but, I always know what I want to achieve, so everything else is bonus and secondary until my initial idea is achieved and exhausted.
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B: Now some of those ideas may be considered extreme to some people, but I feel that there is a level of humor that runs through some of your images, no matter how outrageous. The photos of your humping the fake sheep and screwing the vacuum cleaner attachment are visually arresting, yet hysterical at the same time. Is the injection of humor something that appeals to you or is it a way to calm the overall perception of the final image?
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T: (Laughs) Thank you. The sheep was a little off the cuff but, something I hadn’t seen on the modeling sights, and with my reputation, I just had to do it! The Hoover was a lot of fun to shoot, and just took a misconception and made it visually entertaining. I always either try to make people laugh, think, or just try to disgust them. My only passion now is reaction, positive or negative. I just want to provoke people. I use humor when it works, but a lot of the time it won’t, so I go for the sledgehammer approach. (laughs).
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B: It’s no secret that you came to my attention because of the mature themed photo contest on Model Mayhem, and through that I discovered that you appear naked in many of your photos. No complaints here. (laughs) What is your general attitude regarding nudity?
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T: Love nudity! Enough said? (laughs) I love the human body but I find it boring, hence why I modify my own and use it in ways to explore my own ideas. x

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B: Referencing that image again, as well as two of you in a shower, I have to point out that you have what I can only describe as a rather large physical attribute. Does this generate more interest from photographers, or even models to seek out working with you?
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T: I think quite a few people have contacted me solely on the 3 images in my port where I'm on show (laughs), but there’s only so much you can do with one attribute so I try to limit penis shots, or tattoo shots, or at least switch it around and offer some variety in my work.
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B: It seems as if people expect you to take a certain path, for want of a better term, when you are endowed beyond the norm, so I'm sure you've had many offers. Have you ever, or would you ever consider working in porn?
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T: A friend of mine in Hawaii has been telling me for as long as he’s known me to go into porn. I have done the whole porn thing and admittedly quite recently. To be honest I go back and forth on that. It was never my intention so I haven’t pursued it further. I’m open to any idea thrown at me, but it’s hard enough to make it as a male alternative model, let alone a alternative male porn star. (laughs)
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B: It’s interesting because there are people who consider images that contain violence to be just as pornographic as sexual ones. I remember interviewing model/singer Daniel Norell, who has an amazing physique, and asking him how he viewed erotic art? He believes that it is completely open to the viewer’s interpretation, and stated that for some, shots of men in their underwear would be considered erotic art. I’m continuously fascinated by people’s ideas on the subject of erotica, so I always ask them to define the difference between erotic art and pornography, from their point of view. How would you define it?
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T: Erotic art, to me, is an image you can call beautiful, something you don’t mind friends or family seeing. I’m proud of the images I take so don’t mind anyone I know viewing them. Porn is, let’s be fair, any different number of people just stuffing body parts into each other… nothing arty about it. (laughs again)
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B: That’s a matter-of-fact way of describing it. (laughs). I can say that I find many of your images to be erotic, but even those seem to exist for more than the purpose of titillation. I know, from working on my own shoots, that it can be difficult to get a model into (and sometimes out of) the zone, especially when it involves erotically themed images. You, however, seem to be able to jump right in and inhabit your characters. Clearly you enjoy what you do.
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T: I honestly feel honored to be apart of this industry so every chance I get to shoot, I wholeheartedly appreciate. My first shoots in the US and Europe were a big deal for me though, and showed me that I can actually do this and that I’m generating interest for myself in different countries.
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B: Could you tell me what the best photo shoot you were involved with was, and why?
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T: A recent shoot with Mark Leary was an excellent experience. He has a white head dentistry gag and I’ve wanted to work with one for as long as I could remember! Demari Vi Syth was another, truly stunning model and a pleasure to know.
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B: What was the most challenging and why?
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T: Gotta be the shoot with Dylan Arnold where I suspended myself with a single rope! We did a few test shots, to see if I could get up there firstly, then for light and angles and finally a naked test. At that point I was like, dude you got one more shot at this! (laughs) I had the rope wrapped around my wrists so hosting me up meant that the rope was literally cutting into my hands. It was well worth the effort but I was soar for a few days (laughs again)
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B: When I look at your images, I can't help but be impressed by you lack of limitation. You seem to be able to fit into a multitude of roles. How would you describe your style?

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T: Id like to think it's unique. (laughs) A lot of what I do, for me, is out of frustration towards the industry. There’s no ego in what I do, but I don’t see a lot of people who can do what I do and produce the images I create, so I try to be as different as I can. When people have an idea, I want them to think, “Who would be crazy enough to do that?”, and that answer has to be tattoo23.
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B: I’ve met so many people in this industry and so many of them are multi-talented, when it comes to the arts. Do you have any other artistic leanings besides modeling?
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T: I can make a mean paper airplane.

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B: Modeling is such an invasive activity, from my perspective, as you are really putting yourself out there visually. I always felt that the best models were pretty open minded and understood that the images are about the creation of fantasy, be it fashion or erotic. It is still surprising to me that there are individuals who pursue this, yet come into it creating boundaries, even though this can limit their potential. I don't see that with you at all. I am curious though, considering you've taken some very sexy shots with female models. Would you ever consider taking similar shots with a male model?
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T: Yes. Always, my whole person is about pushing boundaries when it comes to the images I create so that has to include pushing my own limits. I’m in the process of organizing a soft boy/boy erotic shoot, plus I’ve done a boy/boy shoot in France.
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B: That would be "Father and Son", by Nus Masculins. He’s another visionary who likes to push boundaries. He even dips into hardcore, but with an artistic bent. I’ve admired his work for a long time.

When artists have such a large catalogue of work, I often wonder how they choose what to display. Like in your port, there are so many images, and so many different styles. I’m not sure if you could pick one, but do you have a particular favorite of all the images you've done?
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T: A lot of the images I create, I go to the shoot with a very specific idea, so the end result is what I initially created in my head. One of my favorites right now, is an image I’m still actually waiting on. The title is “Time of the month never tasted so good”. Basically the shot is my eating a plate full of used tampons, with a naked woman on a medical table behind me. (laughs) [*He now has the image and it appears here] "Death by Duckies" and "Aggressive Passion" are in my top 10 though.
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B: Is there any particular image or idea that you have wanted to create, but have yet to do?

T: I’ve always got a stockpile of images I’m wanting to create, and a couple of upcoming ones are an alien abduction scene [*He now has the image and it appears here] and me camouflaged into a graffiti wall naked while people walk past me.
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B: Your look is definitely not what would be considered the standard in our society. I, however, think you have tremendous appeal and an undeniable sexiness. What is sexy to you?
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T: Thank you. Trying to be sexy is something I don’t particularly intend to achieve, it’s just been an added bonus that people do think my images to be aphetically pleasing. What’s sexy to me? It changes from day to day. I mean, the more you see, the more you become used to seeing it so the appeal wears off. I think we desensitize ourselves to sexy imagery to such an extent that it’s hard to find something that seems sexy anymore. That being said…those lil’ t-shirts that just cover the top of the breast and nipple…that’s always a winner for me.
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B: What advice would you give a new model starting out in the business?

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T: I find it hard to advise newcomers to the industry, but when asked I tell them what I did; get yourself known, network as much as possible, spend hours online, contact as many photographers and models as possible, participate in every shoot you can, and build a reputation and portfolio for yourself.
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B: Well you have definitely built both a portfolio and a great reputation. So what is your ultimate goal in this industry? x

T: My goal was agency representation. Thankfully, I now have that, so I guess the next thing is world wide domination. (laughs) I’m always looking for exposure and recognition. I want Tattoo23 to be a name that’s uttered worldwide. I can’t - wont stop until I make that happen.
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B: Thank you so much for doing this. That’s it from my end. Any last words?

T: From the insignificant ash’s of a life that once was, comes Tattoo23. A persona that knows no limits, twists boundaries and cross’s lines yet to be made and seen. My only passion is a mix of complete shock and utter awe. What you once thought was important in life, now isn’t. Comfort zones don’t apply. Limitations are meaningless. I live to fulfill the unrealized dreams, the sick drunken thoughts and drug induced fantasies that only the brave few dare to humor and indulge in. Step up or back off!
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If you hesitate for a second, take a moment to ponder, you’re not ready. Your darkest secrets and dirtiest desires make up my fantasy’s and puts a smile on my face, I feed off your regrets. Your “oh I wish id’ve shot this” - Tattoo23 shoots. Implications and fear don’t exist any more; in this life I'm one of 2 things, a dying angel or living devil. Your best friend or worst nightmare. I’m blessed with a curse of realization. I continuously take my deepest pain, heartache and misery and turn it into a beautifully formed cataclysmic butterfly. I live for the violent changes in life.
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I am Tattoo23, welcome to my world....
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©Sean Dibble 2009

Tattoo 23:
www.modelmayhem.com/tattoo23
Model Credits:
21, 22
Pyretta Blaze
23
Gabrielle Faye
4
Cherry Magenta
Stylist Credit:
Airy Fairy
Photo Credits:x
1
Rosemarie Conway
2, 3, 7, 8, 9 11, 23
17, 21, 22
Dylan Arnold
15, 16, 19
Nus Masculins
5, 14, 24
ASYLUMseventy7
10, 26
Orca Photography
12, 25
Harold Cooks
www.modelmayhem.com/hal64
20
OTN-Photographic
www.OTN-Photographic.com
18
krysy - Purestorm
6
Lousie Sadowyj
4
CarbonCruisers
www.modelmayhem.com/stud
13
Jurgen Katzenbruber
www.katzengruber.fr
www.modelmayhem.com/katzengruber

1 comment:

  1. Thankyou for the oppurtunity my freind, very much appreciated & cant wait for the follow up :D

    Nick aka tattoo23

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