I’ve been a massage therapist for well over 30 years. The pandemic put a temporary end to that part of my activities. I may be a massage therapist again in the future; we’ll see.
I massaged some really interestingly tattooed bodies through the years.
Around 1988, one of the first tattoos I ever massaged has remained maybe the most intense and in some ways most frightening tattoo I’ve ever seen up close. A young woman had a skull, snakes crawling in and out of the empty eye sockets, inked on the breast above her heart. When I think about her now, I know that tattoo was a claiming of some dark and needed power. I have never forgotten the intensity of the energy she radiated.
I massaged a soldier of fortune with a Thai demon on his shoulder. “He has my back,” the guy told me.
One of my closest friends worked for decades as a trial lawyer. She always dressed up to go into court. She has an eternity knot tattooed on the top of her foot, and the image is elegant and discrete.
My nephew owns two bars/bistros in Hong Kong. Niko recently got himself inked with Native Americans on each arm to honor Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. His left shoulder depicts Mount Hood and a Haida eagle. On his right forearm is a pineapple: it’s the traditional symbol of hospitality, he told me. I didn’t know this, and appreciated the fine work even more.
When it came time to write my first book Broken In: A Novel in Stories, I gave my character Jeremy tattoos. His tattoo images were inspired by the massage clients I have been honored to touch over the years. His chapter is titled, Punctured.
The ink on his body is his fate.
The first time they slept together and she saw the tattoos she said, “It’s like being at the movies. Or inside the pages of a very Technicolor comic book. Oh! There’s the snake in the grass!” Jeremy was amused, knowing she was being flippant to mask her nervousness and the erotic appeal of his colors on her skin.
Abigail traced the outline of the demon turned towards her on Jeremy’s shoulder. She marveled again at the detail in the scales. It was such a small tattoo compared to the crouching tiger. She moved her small hand and placed it on his thigh where the tiger waited. “A tiger in my tank,” she murmured in wonder, just loudly enough for him to hear. It drove him wild. 
NOTES: Text and photos © Jadi Campbell 2021.  “Punctured” from Broken In: A Novel in Stories © Jadi Campbell 2012. Thanks Niko for allowing me to use the photographs of your tattoos!
Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase Broken In: A Novel in Stories or my other books.