Cris Cleen is a tattooer I had never met but upon seeing his work, in a nice Vimeo short profile on him on my daily go-to tattoo news site needlesandsins.com, it was maybe a love at first sight feeling, but not necessarily for the man, as I didn’t know him, and really, am old enough to be his mother, but for his incredible tattoos. I’d say for me, he is the tattoo artist equivalent of Anais Nin (sorry I don’t know how to make an umlaut) one my very favorite authors – and Henry Miller – the infamous duo who brought erotic fiction and first person accounts of sex into the world of real literature, writing boldly without shame or judgement – treating sexuality as art, which is what it truly is and how I live my days in this body I have been blessed with and one that provides me seemingly endless delight.
Cleen’s work, especially tattooing the erotic imagery that he’s been working to perfection on me for the last few days could have leapt right from the pages of “Delta of Venus” or “Henry and June”, or the more rare and perverse stroke books I have in my collection, like a first edition copy of ‘Deviant Desires’, writings about and more importantly, illustrations of flat chested flapper sylphs, lithe legs and straight backs with soft tummies and plush fleshy arms, engaged in activities that would violently tousle their perfectly shaped and glossy helmet like bobbed hairdos.
Louise Brooks is echoed a lot in Cris’ work on me. She’s my feminine ideal, as I’d like to both fuck her and be her, and I have had the good fortune of having lovers who bear a striking resemblance to her, and also have used her classic, enduring and essential film “Pandora’s Box” as sort of a Thomas guide for my whole sex life. Her sexual terrorism targeting both sexes and taking as many prisoners as possible is what I dream to achieve some day along with finishing the infamous motorcycle rally from Paris to Dakar entirely on a motorcross bike. I’ll do both, perhaps at the same time.
Lulu as a character was a revelation. Her sex life and easy enslavement of all her conquests is what I aspire too. And it’s never too late for me. Perhaps Cris placed these talismans on me to help me on my journey for world peace, or really world piece. A piece of everyone’s ass in the whole world. That’s what I would like. Cris cleen is so fucking great. The careful constructs of his imagery, the scale and placement and line and color speaks to me like once-in-a-lifetime lover. There is an orange red that seems to appear in most of his tattoos, and I don’t know whether he mixes this color himself, but it’s unique and compelling and bright and lurid and innocent all at same time.
The tattoos I wanted from him badly enough that I sat longer than I have ever done in the past, as I needed them to be finished, loving the work so much I couldn’t bear to leave any of it incomplete. I can now say I have 3 fine pieces from cris in my every growing and illustrious and glorious and famed tattoo collection, and that is a sizeable percentage. And the fact that he did them all in 3 sessions, without my usual crutches of topical lidocaine concoctions, the methodone that serves as the stand in for the prodigious endorphins that tattooing releases into my bloodstream, which won’t come if I have been tattooed too often, which is happening lots lately, says a lot for his light hand, his rotary machine and his lightning fast ability to emblazon masterpieces on living skin without brutalizing it.
Saved Tattoo is in Brooklyn is where Cris Cleen can be found, owned by former wonderful tattooer of mine who I am desperately trying to get another appointment with, who is busy as hell with a long waiting list, Chris O’Donnell. Ah- Chris O’Donnell – my skin burns for more of his artistry laid under it. I will be spending lots of time at Saved Tattoo, which is quickly becoming my east coast Memoir Tattoo/American Electric. You guys got some good stuff going on in Brooklyn. I am so happy be here. Thanks Cris, and Chris – I will see you soon.