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Thursday, June 12, 2003



MTV is running some nonsense called "A Social History of Tattoos," in which a bunch of stupid kids talk about what their "body art" means to them. Most of them blathered on about how their little flowers or dolphins or intertwined roses reminded them about their first love or their mom dying of Hodgkin's or blah blah blah. None of them had the courage to admit that when they were sixteen (for most of them, probably a week ago) they rented Charlie's Angels and thought that they should get something like Drew got back when getting tattoos was relatively rare.

Nevertheless, this special got me to thinking about my own ink. Unlike these silly teenyboppers with their shopping mall, mass-produced tats, mine actually mean something. Here's my favorite three and how I came to have them etched on my body for all eternity, constant reminders of the Shakesperian-quality-drama-with-way-more-sex that is my life.

On my right arm, there's a reproduction of the album cover for Bon Jovi's "7800 Fahrenheit." A cherub floats delicately above the album art, unfurling a scroll proclaiming the apparent words of God: "BON JOVI SUX." I got this tattoo after getting dragged to a Bon Jovi show at the famous New Jersey venue Stone Pony by a girl named Stacey who insisted on spelling it Stacii, with a heart dotting the first "i." Captivated by her then very sexy, fashion-forward ten-inch bangs, I agreed to watch Jon and Richie rocking the Garden State stage. Afterwards, she was so busy talkig about Jon's purple scarf she wouldn't even let me feel her up. I dropped her off and immediately went to the local tattoo parlor, where the artist refused to let me get "Stacii's a fat whore," as it turns out the needleman was her second cousin. So I let my displeasure manifest over the cover of Bon Jovi's lackluster debut, and I displayed it proudly to all of my friends. Proudly, that is, until the following year's release of "Slippery When Wet," a record of unbridled genius. I know find myself constantly explaining how "7800 Fahrenheit" was the John the Baptist to the Jesus of "Slippery": stinky, unkempt, with chunks of grasshopper caught in its teeth, but nonetheless heralding the majesty that was soon to arrive. Stacii, from what I understand, remains a fat whore who never lets teenagers feel her up.

This may be getting personal, but I found a very understanding former female truck driver to etch my second tattoo: the words "Exit Only" inked onto the tip of my male member. You would think that those engaged in the medical profession would never mistake the small hole under these words for any sort of access point into the body (I consider the catheter a medically dubious instrument of torture and relic of the Inquisition), but I have a scarring experience involving a learning-disabled nurse-practitioner and the business end of a colonscopy camera that says differently. The pain from the application of the ink is utterly indescribable (think someone stepping on your balls as your parents are murdered in front of you), but roughly one-tenth of what I experienced as the nurse-practitioner insisted that this was "the right hole" and that "she was gonna make it fit, dammit." Since I got the tattoo, I've had no problems of this nature; I consider it money well spent.

I could talk about the various names of starlets that I've had inked and then inked over or transformed into the name of someone else, but that seems gratuitous. I can tell you that I've never had sexual relations with anyone named "Winonajessulia," or "Jennaferola" but I wind up explaining to the current It Girl that my parents had strange ideas about the naming of my sisters. They think it's cool that their name is going to go next to the symbolic representation of my brotherly dedication.

My latest tattoo is my favorite. It's a tic-tac-toe board on my lower back, depicting the unlikely triumph of the X's over O's. X's played by me, O's by Bunsen supernemesis Harrison Ford. My only comment is that Indy's strategic faculties are severly impaired after about ten shots of bourbon. As is my tolerance for pain. I hardly winced. I did however, hit my head on the bar as I woozily completed my victory lap. I had enough sense to have the tattoo guy ink "Bunsen:1, Harrison:0" above the board, and that's how the score will stand for eternity.

Or at least until Ford challenges me to a rematch on his home court.

About this site

This is the internet home of Mark Lisanti, a Los Angeles writer sometimes known as Bunsen. He is the founding editor of Defamer, a weblog about Hollywood, where he now serves in the nebulous capacity of "editor-at-large."
If You Like Bunsen, Then You'll Love Bunsen