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Famous Tattooed Women
Betty Broadbent was famous for her long career with Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus. Born in 1909, she began her tattoo career around 1927. Betty's tattooed body suit was done by New York tattooist Charlie Wagner, one of the few tattooers at the time working with one of the "newfangled" electric tattoo machines. Her body was covered almost to entire solidity with approximately 350 tattoos. She was exhibited for many months as part of an attraction at the 1939 New York World's Fair, appearing as part of the "John Hix Strange As It Seems" sideshow. Along with her circus career, Broadbent also became a tattoo artist herself and supplemented studio work with performing. Betty retired to Florida in 1967, and passed away in 1983.
Cindy Ray was a famous tattooed girl in the 1960s. Born Bev Robinson, the Cindy Ray persona was her image attached to a marketing campaign by a photographer named Harry Bartram. He offered to get Ray tattooed and market a whole line of books, tattoo products and more. She was a young single mother, working in a factory in 1959 Sydney, Australia. She was looking for some way of earning some extra money. She did become a tattoo celebrity and traveled the world, but the bulk of the benefit and profit from her images and products went to Bartram and not her. She too eventually became a tattooist herself and settled down to run a shop in her native Australia.
Before her death in 1970 at the age of 28, Janis Joplin got tattooed by San Franciscan tattooist Lyle Tuttle. If you get the DVD of the old Dick Cavett tv show, you can see Janis talking about her tattoos. The coroner's report at the time of her death recorded her skin art: "A tattoo of a bracelet is present around the left wrist. A small tattoo of a flower is present just behind the lateral malleolus on the right heel. There is also a small heart tattooed over, and medial to, the left breast." In an interview with the New York Times in January 1971, Tuttle remarked that he had tattooed over 100 reproductions of her heart tattoo on fans since the singer's death just that fall.
Canadian stripper Krystyne Kolorful made a name for herself in both the exotic dance world and the tattoo world with her full body tattoos. She spent a decade and an estimated $15,000 getting her entire body covered in a complex pattern of floral based designs. Presently she is tied with American Julia Gnuse for the Guinness title of Most Tattooed Woman. Both women are calculated to have 95% of their body surfaces covered in tattooing.
If you're looking for more information on women and tattooing, you might like
Electric Tattooing by Women 1900-2003 (Triangle Tattoo & Museum Series)
by Madame Chinchilla or Tattooed Women
by Spider Webb
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