The Enigma of the Total Tattoo
by Katzen (Mrs. Enigma) Jan 19, 1996, Houston.
I started tattooing the Enigma on the 20th of December 1992 . I did
all of the lines working six hours a day and I worked on him every day for a month. Then as far as
all the blue goes we've been filling it in slowly over the past three years. We've had over 100
other artists do the work. At least half of the blue fill-in is by me. I think we'll probably be done
with it in another year. When it's done we want it to be all blue. Every single puzzle piece will be
blue all the way up to the eyelids and when that's done I want to go back and touch up all the
black lines. I was just starting out with the machine when I did the black lines, and we did it one
month and that was the only month we had to finish it, because he was already putting out publicity
about being fully tattooed. It's show business. You hype it up as much as you can and then you
have to fill the bill. It was one hellish month.
I really prefer to work by hand and previously I had done a lot of tattooing by hand, but when
I outlined the puzzle pieces I used a machine just because of the time factor. I see him maybe six
months out of the year if I'm lucky. He travels all over the world doing shows with the Jim Rose
Circus Side Show and so I only have a limited amount of time to tattoo him. So the only areas that
have been done by hand are the areas around the eyes, the ears and the genitals because these
areas are very sensitive and its easier to tattoo them by hand.
It's generated a lot of publicity. He was in National Geographic Magazine. They did an article
on the brain and they featured him as a sword swallower, because the brain is controlling the gag
reflex. And also the X-Files, which is really big. On the X-Files they actually talked about the Fiji
mermaid. (tattooed on Enigma's leg , below) And then he's been on several talk shows.
I also hope to get finished with all the tattoo work on me in at least another year and a half. I
don't have that much left to go. Most of it's filling in. I've had 77 different artists. I want to teach
him how to tattoo just so he can help me out. I'm the first woman in history to ever have a full body
theme tattoo. So I'm really excited to finish that just for posterity.
After I get that finished I'm going back into show business for good. I really love doing contortionism,
like putting myself in a box, the human pretzel, or putting my body through the head of a tennis racket.
I might perform with the Jim Rose Circus Side Show or some other show. But you know, you gotta be
straight when you do all this stuff. I don't even smoke any more. To me, the best high is a natural
high. Herbal highs and endorphin highs. Throughout time people have been taking drugs to induce
spiritual visions but I really think that there are much better ways to achieve spirituality. For instance I
think that tattooing is one of the ways people can get to self-knowledge. I think that there are several
ways to get to spiritual knowledge by delving and internalizing, and pain and pleasure are definitely
keys to it. On the way here we had a long talk on the plane with this film-maker. He had taken a lot of
acid but we don't go that route, we go the natural route.
A person who goes in for a lot ot tattooing and especially facial tattooing has to have a very strong
sense of self. You have to be stubborn in a way, stubborn enough to know that you can accomplish
whatever goals you set out to do. I can't walk outside without people asking me "who are you?"
You really have to know yourself, which I think you should anyway.
The tattooing never stopped me in any way, because I know the route I want to go for. I never
once had doubts about it. It's opened so many doors for me. Good things happen all the time.
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