By Mahima Kaur
AFTER his sister gifted him his first ink this Dublin man is now 40-percent inked and must endure bemused old ladies now stopping him in the street to compliment his alternative look.
Joey Charlie Tatú (36) from Dublin, Ireland has spent £8,500 on covering 40% of his body in tattoos including many on his face and 18 piercings including his nipples and penis, that he did HIMSELF.
Currently unemployed, Joey dropped out of school when he was 18. He had just completed his O levels but has now gone on to graduate from a degree course in computing.
Born in Dublin, he has one sister and currently lives with his mum and sister until he finds a job.
Joey has been fascinated with tattoos since he was 15 years old but waited till he was 22 to take the plunge.
He has also gotten his tongue split and in contrast to many extreme body modifiers who face hatred when out in public the people of Joey’s native Dublin are much more accepting with old ladies stopping him in the street to tell him how lovely he looks.
His most extreme body modification experience was when he punched a hole in his nostril which was so painful he almost passed out.
He fondly remembers how his sister got him his first tattoo.
“When I was 15, I began getting into tattoos, well, liking tattoos,” said Joey.
“Then I decided I wanted to be fully covered from head to toe. I got my first tattoo when I was around 22 because I wanted to be 100% sure this is what I wanted.
“My sister actually bought my first tattoo. I was on holiday to see her when she lived in Tenerife.
“I got seven little stars on my left inner arm. I got them as a Christmas gift from her.
“The main reason for wanting so many tattoos is to be absolutely unique.
“I don’t want to just blend in with everyone else. I want to be noticed when walking down the street.”
Joey doesn’t really know the exact number of all his tattoos but remembers sitting for four tattoo sessions for his face alone.
“I don’t know the number of my tattoos but I’m about 40% covered,” he said.
“My first face tattoo I got when I was 28 and I have 18 piercings and my tongue split/forked.
“I didn’t do my lip, nose or ear piercings myself but I did my nipples and “down there” myself.
“I have what’s called a ‘scrotal ladder’. There are six rings vertically on my ball sac. I have done them multiple times and they no longer hurt.
“When I did that to my genitals, I just felt like a sharp pinch as I have a very high pain threshold.
“As it is the festive season, I can actually jingle my balls.
“I also got my nostril hole punched at six mm. I wanted eight mm, but my nose wasn’t big enough.
“But after I got my nostril hole punched, I vowed never to get anything punched again.
“That was so painful. I remember getting the left side done with no problem, but with the right one, I nearly passed out.
“I got my tongue split in Dublin City only where the piercer injected numbing medicine into my tongue beforehand and his assistant stood behind him and clamped both sides of my tongue as he sliced it with a blade.
“It was sore for about two weeks afterwards. I kind of want it redone further back as it has closed a bit. Sadly, I can’t do any tricks with it.”
Joey’s dream of being unique and one of a kind has indeed been achieved. He stands out from the crowd and is unafraid to own it.
“When I was on my way to the bus stop to go home with my new face tattoo still dripping, two elderly ladies stopped me in surprise to say my tattoo was “lovely”,” he said.
“I think that’s the Dublin way of being polite and they were more shocked than anything else.
“In Ireland, people really don’t seem to care about my face tattoos.
“When I first got my face tattooed, when walking down the streets of Henry Street in Dublin, I realised everyone was staring at me. But I convinced myself that I’m just the most interesting thing in that exact moment.
“I do understand people’s shock as I don’t think I’ve seen someone else in Ireland with their face as tattooed as mine.
“I haven’t been stopped from going into places or anything like that.”
Joey’s personality has been very quiet and shy from the beginning. So much so that he was often asked whether he was Irish at all.
“Before I got my tattoos, I often got asked where I was from because many people didn’t think I was Irish,” he said.
“I was very, very quiet, barely talked to anyone and had very few to no friends.
“I feel people thought I was weird, shy or quiet and now I’m weird according to them for different reasons.
“I did think I was gay when I was 15 and genuinely hated every fibre of my being for six years.
“When I was 21, I just gave up caring what others thought of me and realised people will talk regardless.
“In the last few years, I’ve given up entirely on labels. I’m human, nothing more, nothing less.”
Having your face covered with tattoos is not so common so Joey has undergone his share of looks and stares.
“A lot of people generally don’t care and even if they do, they are being polite.
“I know a lot of people stare at me, but I’ve become accustomed to it. So when I’m walking down the street with someone else, they notice the stares more than I do.
“I do get the odd negative comment, especially from teenagers, who possibly don’t know any better, saying things like “There’s something on your face”, or “Is that a Halloween mask?”
“I used to let it bother me, I don’t anymore.
“People ask the same questions I’ve asked a million times, especially “Did it hurt?” referring to getting my face tattoos.
“It becomes tiresome. But I don’t mind genuine curious people inquiring about my tattoos.”
Joey has also had a lot of people compliment him for his distinct looks.
“A lot of people seem to be somewhat proud of me for having my face tattoos or proud that I’m being me,” he said.
“This baffles me. A lot of people really like my tattoos and it gives me that “boost” to say that I’m going in my own right direction.
“I also do love it when young children point and say something like “Look, Mammy, look at that man over there!”.
Joey’s education and career have taken interesting turns especially because of his tattoo choices.
“I dropped out of school when I was 18. It just wasn’t for me,” he said.
“I worked full time in catering for 13 years and had my arms and hands tattooed then and started getting complaints from my manager about having to keep them covered.
“They eventually allowed me to have my tattoos on show but fired me in February 2014.
“In September 2014, I went back to education and eventually I got an Honours in Science in Computing specialising in Software Development in 2021.”
Joey feels at peace with himself and his situations now contrary to how unsettled and anxious he felt at a younger age. He has developed a sense of calmness that has accompanied his self-acceptance.
“As I got into my 30s, I feel I mellowed out a lot not just about myself but about life in general,” he said.
“I feel content within myself and I love and accept myself for who I am though I wish I had made more progress with my tattoos and body modifications.
“But there’s still time. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting tattoos.
“I have a life motto that I think of daily. I think it’s from Dr. Suess: “Those who mind, don’t matter. Those who matter, don’t mind”. I live by this.
“I would advise everyone to be you, always and thoroughly.
“People will always criticise, so you might as well do what you want.”