The Best and Worst of Tattoos

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Red Sailor

Jan 20, 2016
The best tattooist encountered by most sailors in the Far East was Johnny Gurkha from Nee Soon village in Singapore. In fact, Johnny, and his brother, Johnny Two Thumbs, left this world some years ago, but they did pass on their artistic skills to family members who still keep the business going to this day. Their excellent pictorial work was closely matched only by Pinky Yun and Jimmy Ho in Hong Kong; so I assume there must be thousands of sailors all over the world sporting masterpieces by either of those virtuosos of the electric needle.

The worst tattooist in the world was definitely Professor Rex Zita who was based in Plymouth. Not only was he a terrible artist, but he always did all the scroll work on a tattoo before entering the text. As a result there must be a load of guys in my age bracket walking around with “Mum & D “ or “My Darling Wife & Chil “ on their upper biceps. He was also dyslexic which isn’t a good thing to be if you are a tattooist. I once saw a Marine who had had the picture of an Apache chief tattooed on his back by Rex, and underneath the word “Germalino”(the name of a then popular antiseptic ointment) was forever etched into his skin.

Then there was this big, butch, Scottish, stoker in Japan who wanted a massive tattoo across his back saying "Scotland Forever" with the national flower, the thistle, in the middle. Totally drunk he goes into a tattoo parlour and demands this tat. The Japanese tattooist didn't understand the word 'thistle' so the Scottish guy drew it for him. The tattooist recognised what the guy was drawing and proceeded to do an amazingly intricate tattoo all over this guy's back. The guy passed out during the procedure and his mates took him back to his ship. To this day, there is a man walking around with a tattoo that says "Scotland Forever" surrounding a huge pineapple!

Jack London once said, “Show me a man with a tattoo, and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.” As a person with a couple of Johnny Ghurkha's masterpieces I can’t say I would completely agree with that somewhat dated statement. Once only used by sailors, soldiers and bikers it is no longer a male preserve and hasn't been for a long time. Since the 90’s young women from all walks of life have turned out in droves to get what is commonly referred to as a “slag tag” or “tramp stamp” tattoo inscribed onto their fair-skinned bodies. Once on a family holiday I noted with horror that one of my nieces had one. We were in a swimming pool area and the bottom half of her bikini did not conceal the etching on her pert derriere. Later when I asked her why she seemed totally unconcerned. I suggested that when she was an older lady having “Heartbreaker” tattooed on her behind might not seem such a good idea. She cheekily gave me an elfin grin and her cute response was that when she was as old as me the tattooed area would probably be around her ankles and no longer an issue for anyone to worry about.

Touché – I certainly asked for that one. Old sailors shouldn't mess with modern young women 'cause they don't take any prisoners LOL.

Capt. Vick

Jul 23, 2008
Long Island, New York
Yeah...not a huge fan of women with tattoos in most cases. Especially sayings...wouldn't it be easier just to REMEMBER it? (Don't even get me started with nose rings and nose piercings WTFudge!)


Feb 17, 2010
Lakeview, AR
Can't think of ANY picture/saying that I'd want to look at EVERY day for the rest of my life PLUS they eventually look SO wonderful as the ink migrates with age and the skin wrinkles. My DA son had his girlfriend's, eventually wife, name and picture tatooed on his chest. Fine and good UNTIL she divorced his butt. Did not make a really big hit with his new girlfriend. Had to have it removed. DA

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