Mon. Sept. 6
Last call! Seventeen years ago, Ed Hardy gave Dr. Lakra three tattoos – Jesus Christ, a pirate gal and a prawn. Ten years ago, Dr. Lakra – no more a Dr. than Dre or Demento, but a well-respected Mexican tattoo artist – reciprocated by inking an image on Hardy of a demon pissing on Christ. (More piss Christ art! Remember Andres Serrano?)
The 38-year-old Mexican tattoo artist’s real name is Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez. He said it translates to Dr. Scumbag. (Our interview was done via e-mail and translated from Spanish; this is an expanded version of a Q/A that ran in the Boston Phoenix, www.thephoenix.com.– check it out). The name “Dr, Lakra” was bestowed upon him. It started because bag he used to carry his tattoo gear looked like a doctor’s travel bag. So Lakra inks on skin and many other inanimate surfaces. His first US solo exhibition – 60-plus pieces, mostly from American collectors – is up at the Institute of Contemporary Art and runs through Sept. 6. Lakra, who started tattoing in the early ‘90s, acknowledges how in this culture, tattoos have become prevalent and, certainly, less of an “outlaw” badge. In America, 36% of the people 18-35 have them. Once it was verboten, forbidden. There was a day when tattoos seemed to be primarily inked on sailors from the World War II era, bikers,gang-bangers and convicts. Things started to change with the punk rock movement of the mid-1970s and has only grown since. Here in Massachusetts it was illegal until 10 years ago.
Tattoos, he said, have less infiltrated the mainstream thatn the mainstream has absorbed it. “In a way,” he added, “it’s all about money.”
His inspiration was the punk-skate-metal culture in Mexico City. That and reading Hardy’s “Tattootime.” The questions and answers below are out-takes from the Phoenix interview.
What tattoos do you sport? Did you do them yourself?
When I started tattooing, I practiced a little on my legs to try out needles or different dyes. And I made a couple of tattoos on my left arm but I haven’t tattooed myself in a while. I have figurative tattoos.