Photo - Anne Laurent



Today, an article appeared on MSNBC. It was about Julia Gnuse, our good friend and BEST client ever. We tattooed her EXCLUSIVELY from head to toe. Before any of you start judging, READ HER STORY. The story is pretty brief, but accurate. One of the details the story left out was the failure of the medical community to help her with her condition - cutaneous porpherya. There were prescriptions for experimental medications which cause blindness as a side effect, dermabrasions and chemical peels that were supposed to make the skin more resistant to blistering, which also failed. I (Art) started tattooing her from about 1991 to 1998, 2 times a week for 7 years. Steve took over after I moved to open Funhouse Tattooing in Vancouver British Columbia. We have appeared in lots of magazines and TV ("Guiness Prime Time", "You Asked for it", "Larry King Live", "Pro Sieben" - Germany, "Fuera de Serie" - Latin America"... and more) over the years and things had quieted down in the last 6 years until recently. Julia has been appearing all over the world!! Italy, New York, the midwestern USA with plans to do London in September...

Godoy Client: World's Most Tattooed Woman: Julia Gnuse

Buck Wolf, AOL

Many addicts eventually admit to having a monkey on their back. Julia Gnuse actually has two chimpanzees. They're embracing on her left shoulder, just above a vintage rendering of the Three Stooges along with an image of the famous chocolate factory scene from "I Love Lucy."

"I like to honor anything that makes me happy with a spot on my body," says the 55-year-old California woman who has at least 400 tattoos that collide into one another in an immense collage, covering 95 percent of this jigsaw puzzle of a body.

"There are parts I can't show you," she says, mentioning that the only areas not tattooed are below her ankles. Still, she doesn't leave much to the imagination.

"I have a great cast scene in my buttocks area of the TV show 'Bewitched.' I have Samantha flying on the broomstick in the cartoon sequence at the beginning, as well as each character, including my favorite, Gladys Kravitz."

Gnuse dropped her robe and flaunted her colorful body of work at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, where Guinness World Records honored her as the World's Most Tattooed Woman -- a distinction she officially shares with Krystyne Kolorful, a Canadian exotic dancer.

"I saw a picture of Krystyne 25 years ago, when I was in Las Vegas," Gnuse says. "I didn't even have one tattoo back then. I didn't even dream at the time that we'd share this record."

In her mid 30s, this Missouri native developed porphyria, a skin disorder similar to lupus. Exposure to sunlight leaves her body scarred.

"It can look sometimes like I have third-degree burns," Gnuse says.

"So in 1991, I went to a tattoo artist named Art Godoy, and I got my octopus. That covered up one scar. Then I kept going."

Soon, she admits, she became an ink-aholic, visiting Godoy's parlor every week for more than 20 years, painting her body with a collage of images from TV shows, movies and pop culture -- all that meant something to her.

The Beatles, her favorite band, soon took a place on her right ankle. Considering that Ringo sang "Octopus's Garden," that must have kept her original tattoo happy. Naturally, all these critters needed to live happily in a yellow submarine, which Gnuse soon added.

Travel north on this living canvas and you'll find Noah's Ark and the Seven Dwarfs on her left thigh, Winnie the Pooh, Fred Flintstone and Popeye on her right.

Up a little more, and you'll find a Guinness World Records logo.

Gnuse holds Lisa and Marge Simpson close to her heart, just above her breasts. She once had a boyfriend tattooed in that region, too. But they had a falling out, and Godoy did some reinking and turned the ex-beau into Rodney Dangerfield.

"Rodney might be gone," Gnuse says, "but he still makes me laugh."

Only one other tattoo has been inked over, and that is a picture of Elvis, which was turned several years ago into Mickey Mouse. There has yet to be another Elvis sighting, at least on this woman's body.

Other pop culture icons elbowing for attention on her arms: Betty Boop, Jack Nicholson, Jim Carrey, Cookie Monster, Tweety Bird and Elmer Fudd.

Groucho Marx -- who famously sang the novelty hit "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady" -- is proudly featured on the breast of another woman, tattooed on Gnuse's shoulder.

In other words, Groucho is a tattoo on a tattoo on the world's most tattooed woman.

Godoy and his twin brother are responsible for all of the work on this wearable masterpiece, which will be shown off extensively in the 2011 Guinness World Records book.

Gnuse estimates that she has spent more than $70,000 on her one-of-a-kind makeover. And after working as a courier and a cookie seller, among other jobs, she's now developing a business making personal appearances.

She's not always able to be such an extrovert. While she's quick to parade in a bikini for reporters at a photo op, her condition prevents her from flashing a lot of flesh on a sunny day, and that keeps her covered up much of the time.

"The tattoos have helped me appreciate my body," she says. "When I was younger, I was a pimple picker. It was just pick-pick-pick, and I thought, 'Well, if I put a beautiful art scene on my face ... that would help me not to pick at my blisters and scar myself even more."

In Groucho's song, Lydia leaves the circus after sweeping an admiral off his feet. "The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat," as the lyric goes.

In real life, Gnuse has a longstanding romance with a musician, while sharing her home with her beloved cats.

"My guy doesn't have tattoos," she says, "but he appreciates mine."

See her photos HERE

When Art moved to Canada his twin Steve finished the art on Julia.

Read More: Ink Up! Meet the World's Most Tattooed Woman MSNBC.COM



For us, liking punk was like someone who's 10 years older than we are liking the bands from their era... so it's understandable that the music happening now, is only "good" to the young of today. Our first exposure to the MC5 was the cover version of "Looking at you" by the Damned on the Machine Gun Etiquette LP.

Though we had heard of them before that... that was the song which made us decide to listen to them. So... influences are roots... people who influenced the MC5 did not sound like them. I can' t think of ANY band before them who even came close! But then again, people get forgotten about. I tattooed a kid the other day, 20 years old who didn't know who the Clash was!! Imagine that.

We got into punk at 11 years old, the same year we got into skateboarding. We lived in Pennsylvania at the time and all the new music would come from England to New York and then down to us. Our favorite record store "Stan's Records" would get all the stuff... tons of singles  and LP's. You could go there anytime and get great sh*t. All the excitement a couple of 11 year old kids could want - Music and being active in a sport which, like "punk" music, put you outside the "Norm" which was disco, arena rock and team sports. This lifestyle reflected our personal attitudes and feelings toward the place we lived.

If we had this type of weaponry then... look out all you hicks...

Some years later, when punk started to evolve into Oi!, there came a band called the Cockney Rejects. When we got the "Power and the Glory" LP and saw the tattoos these guys had on them, that's when we went "Holy sh*t!!" spiky hair and safety pins in ripped clothes made a great statement but what better way to say "f*ck you!" to the world than tattoos!!  

This is a feeling shared by the fans of so many revolutionary bands... like the MC5. So there is a parallel between all of this. Some of the Stooges and MC5 fans are older than we are but they can't tell me that they can't relate to this feeling. You must choose wether you are gonna be the problem or wether you are gonna be the solution. What the MC5 saw as the solution could have been seen by the mainstream as a major problem! Same as punk... same as tattooing. 

This attitude affected us later as we became professional skateboarders. The time period was not ready to accept who we were and the image we projected. Tattooed, punk, skateboarders. If any of you remember the 80's, you CAN'T OVERLOOK the lame colors and styles, both musically and fashionably.

Imagine...your kid saying "Mom, dad, I have something to tell you...I wanna look like that!" 
Sooooo bad. So fruity. Really, that era was marked with horrible music, horrible hair cuts and horrible clothing. How can anyone be involved in such a radical sport and wear that pink clothing, bleach your long bangs and listen to INXS!! It just doesn't mix!!!  How about that!!  In an industry controlled by NON skateboarding businessmen, who did market research to find that the boards were being bought for their 14 year old kids by their mommies... and realized that WE WERE TOO RADICAL for their taste, even though we didn't smoke, drink or do any drugs.

Ok.. see this ad? Look at these shorts...GAY! OK,  OK, we wore the sh*t ONCE!!! ONCE!!!  Were homeless in Dallas, and got a message through the skate shop next to this ramp, that we would be paid to actually WEAR these clothes AND these pads... we agreed. The ad appeared in Transworld Skateboarding Magazine. And guess what? WE NEVER GOT PAID!!! F*CK!
We were blacklisted for years! We did get a spread in Thrasher on tattoos... that was 1990, February I think. We had asked a certain photographer who worked for  one of the 3 magazines happening at the time why our "coverage" was so sporadic...if not rare, and he said "if you guys were to appear in a magazine 2 months in a row, it would be too much exposure." Not sure what that meant. Maybe we were real memorable. Nobody who was in the mainstream skate industry realized that we had our own network of "skate hoodlums" all over the world which lived the same way. Though they are older, (and still younger than we are) most of these guys are now tattooers and still skate! Guaranteed. We know this because we get correspondence from tons of skateboard fans from those days.

Godoys, Argentina 2008.

It's funny to look at the skateboard industry now. Most of the professionals in the magazines are tattooed. This cross over can be seen in the Bart Saric film "Skinned Alive". 

We started tattooing in 1985-86. Working on each other and on our friends. It was not what people think, that we skated professionally and then decided to tattoo. It wasn't like that. We were tattooing while we skated and when our skateboarding careers were over (at 23 years old) and the new generation came in, we had a career to fall back on - Tattooing. 

For us, the connection between all of these lifestyles is what has kept us on the same path for all these years. We have devoted our whole lives to 3 things - Skateboarding, tattooing and punk rock. We have gotten notariety in ALL of these. Pro skateboarders, we hold 2 patents on tattoo machines - have exclusively tattooed the Guiness Book's most tattooed woman Julia Gnuse, and our bands have become relatively known in punk circles and have played with musicians from our favorite bands!!!



We have been so lucky in our lives to have gotten to play with people we have admired as kids getting in to punk. Everything we set out to do, we do. We are doers. Steve has been drumming for Gary Lammin (for the last few weeks on tour) who was in Cock Sparrer... the bass player was in CHelsea!!!... Steve has toured with the Vibrators for 6 weeks in the U.S. , We have and still do play with Deniz Tek... RADIO BIRDMAN is STILL our favorite band after all these years... just something about the energy of the music, the stealthness of the symbol... not to mention, they are ALL cool friends of ours now.

Steve and the Vibrators.

One thing we did, was a Visitors reunion tour in Australia. There were few dates but it was successful. We got into the Visitors in about 1986. We had been learning about the Radio Birdman off shoot/family tree bands, as well as bands which were influenced by them. First, it was the New Race!!! Holy Sh*t, that record didn't leave the turn table for months...

The excitement of finding and buying these records was putting us in the poor house!!! We couldn't get enough. Sh*t, when we found the Visitors LP, and saw that it had a version of Haunted Road on it, we couldn't drive fast enough to get to the house to listen to it!! We devoured all the information... band members, song titles, lyrics.. we even had a business card with the album's statues on it!! Who knew that we would be in the reformation line-up!!

The history is so long... and it's so mind blowing to be part of the family tree!! You know who's the best? Pip.. that guy is the funniest. It was so great to meet him... when we would watch old birdman footage where pip explains the difference between assertiveness and aggression, approximately 3:16 into this footage....

So great... Pip rules. We couldn't wait to play "Disperse" in the rehearsal room... f*ck, it was the greatest. Here's Pip live...

Another character is Mark Sisto... we had met him years before this date, when he was in California in 1996. He stayed at the house in Orange, the same house we did the Deniz Tek Jalisco tours... check him out, sneaking up on me in Deniz's back yard...

The guy is a genius. Listen to the lyrics on the Visitors record. "I left Paris on a midnight train, I was bound for Northern Spain when I spied a miracle creature, I couldn't talk so I sang to the wind and trees and country rolling out the window outside..." or how about "like spoims on a hot street dying with no target to meet she laughs at my death in pleasure..." everyone feels like that sometimes... like a spoim drying and dying on a hot street.

Me and Mark Sisto.

Here's Deniz dispersing during "DISPERSE" ...check the snake shoes... so smooooooth, just like the feedback coming outa that Marshall.

Here's Steve behind the drums at the Gaelic Club show... great lighting, cool logo on the front of the drum!! Guess what??? we have coming up?? Never mind, we'll share it next time.. you'll just have to wait...




Steve Godoy drumming for Gary Lammin (Cock Sparrer) on tour NOW.

May 5th Denver,CO. 3 Kings Tavern
May 6th Omaha,NE. The Hole
May 7th Minneapolis,MN. Honey's
May 8th Chicago,IL. Rockbox
May 9th Milwaukee,WI. The Rave/Legion Hall
May 10th Detroit MI. Corktown
May 11th Grand Rapids,MI Jukes Bar
May 12th Indianapolis,IN E.S Jungle
May 13th Fort Wayne, IN The Brass Rail
May 14th Louisville,KY. Skull Alley
May 15th Indianapolis,IN. Melody Inn
May 16th Bloomington,IN. Bears PLace
May 17th Knoxville,TN. Long Branch Saloon
May 18th
May 19th Austin,TX. The Palor North
May 20th
May 21st Scottsdale,AZ. Rogue Bar East
May 22nd Las Vegas,NV Boomers Bar