TATTOOED PEOPLE

 

 

Tattooed people, like the sword swallowers, fire eaters, etc., choose to make themselves into human oddities. The finest tattooing
 
on anyone who worked for us was an Ann "Artoria" Gibbons. She has been tattooed by her husband, "Red" Gibbons hi 1920-21. Red was an oil prospector by trade and tattooist as a hobby. The years spent on our show, she was a widow. Red had gone blind and she cared for him for many years. She joined the Ringling Show in the early twenties, where she told me Clyde Ingalls, the manager, tried to take liberties with her. She left the show.
In 1979, at Muskegon, Michigan, the ladies on our show organized a surprise 76th birthday party for her. She was very pleased and told us it was the first birthday party she had had. Always on time and always a perfect lady, she has respect from public and co-workers.
 
She suffered with arthritis, but never complained. When working with Dean Potter's show, she fell, breaking an arm, but refused to go to a hospital for treatment until she finished the last performance of the day several hours later. She loved being with the show and was very disappointed when we retired her. I felt it was not in her best interest to be climbing stairs, getting on and off the platform. At her age, a fall would have been disastrous. Fortunately, she was not dependent on any income from show business. Mr. Gibbons had left her some producing oil properties in Oklahoma.
 
When we cast her in the film "Being Different", the director wanted her to say she allowed Red to tattoo her because she loved him, but she refused for she said "That's not the way it was".
 
Sally and Sandy Sandy were a tattooed couple. Sandy had been tattooed when a young seaman, and was a tattoo artist. In middle age he met Sally and she allowed him to tattoo her because she loved him. They were with me several years through thick and thin. I felt obligated to book fairs where he could pursue the tattooing. Because the Michigan State Fair would not permit it. I canceled it going to Fayetteville, Tennessee instead.
 
That week they left because business there was bad.
 
It was about the same time, in that an attractive lady approached me for a job. I was surprised to learn her body. legs, and arms were covered two hundred and eighty seven tattooed  copies of famous works of art. On the bally, showing her find figure as well as
 
her tattoos, wearing a bikini and dancing, Lorette attracted a lot of customers.
 
The bikini has given way to a more conventional costume, but Lorette will celebrate her seventy-fifth birthday while on our show this year.
 
We both enjoy Chinese cuisine and beautiful scenery, and have taken short trips to enjoy them on our days off. Lorette spends many hours on stage, but her hands are never idle. She crochets with the speed of lightning and sews exquisite quilts. The good Lord willing, we will continue our association.
 
My last tattoo artist was in 1960 with William T. Collins Carnival. Joe Queen was a competent and conscientious tattooer. At Okmulgee, Oklahoma, he put a two dollar name on a nineteen year old man who had a large tattoo on each forearm. He had just been discharged from the military. Two days later Joe was arrested for tattooing a minor, I was sued for allowing a minor to be tattooed in my show by the man's mother. The Oklahoma law stated a person had to be twenty-one to get a tattoo. The sheriff released Joe and told the man's mother to sue the Army since that was where he was when he got the first two tattoos. The case never went to court.
                     


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