As a heavily-tattooed person, being asked tattoo-related questions happens on a daily basis. Did they hurt? (Yes.) Do they mean anything? (Sometimes.) How much did they cost? (A lot.) What are they going to look like when you’re old? (Not sure.) Can I touch them? (No.)
Being a heavily-tattooed man, I’ve also come to expect that people are randomly going to ask me about my junk — specifically, everyone wants to know, since I have ink pretty much everywhere, if I have a tattoo on it. Even among coworkers, this query isn’t off limits (something I discovered the hard way during a recent work function).
I’m not alone in this: Marcus Lundqvist, a heavily-tattooed friend of mine (with an epic collection by world-famous tattooers), also experiences this bizarre phenomenon. “The only reason I’d get a d*** tattoo is to finally be able to say ‘yes’ when people ask if I have one,” he says.
So for the record: No, I don’t have a tattoo on my junk. And while I’ve never once seriously considered getting one, the constant badgering has certainly left me wondering why — even within the tattoo industry — junk tattoos are still so taboo.
For an answer, I tried to reach out to tattooers around the world — with varying levels of experience — but not one of them had ever tattooed someone’s junk. L.A.-based tattooer Dillon Eaves summed up the general sentiment pretty well: “It just seems like the most unappealing thing ever to tattoo,” he says, addressing the inevitable awkwardness that comes with handling (and sticking needles into) another person’s genitals. “It takes a special kind of person to get a tattoo in that area, and a special kind of tattooer to tattoo that area.”
Because of the down-and-dirty nature of a penis tattoo, says Eaves, they also cost extra. “I would charge an additional $100 per hour,” he says. “If someone is serious about getting [a penis tattoo], I’d need them to prove it with a financial commitment.”
Even if both parties overcome the awkwardness (and additional costs), however, junk tattoos are far more difficult to execute than those on other parts of the body. Because penis skin is inherently elastic, it must be stretched taut throughout the entire process. “Normally, if you get a spoon or a wooden spatula and put it under, then bend the d*** over it, it stretches right over,” reality star tattooer Steven “Sketch” Porter explained to Digital Spy (stretching your penis over your thumb is also an option, by all accounts). “You do need to stretch the skin, or the needle will keep catching it.”
That’s not the only complication. “I wouldn’t know where to begin when it comes to placing a good stencil on it,” Eaves adds, referring to the stencil of the design that’s placed on the body before the tattooer takes the needles to the skin.
Tattoo artist squeamishness aside, there’s also a massive drawback for the customer: Penis tattoos hurt like hell. “As soon as everyone sees it, they ask if it hurt and if I had to get hard when I did it,” LiGee, a dude with Chevron stripes tattooed on his shaft, told VICE. “Obviously it hurt, and no I did not have to be hard.” (For those who are curious, being stabbed by a bunch of needles will pretty quickly wilt an erection, so don’t consider a boner to be your Plan A — no matter how much of a masochist you might be.)
But above all, Eaves believes that junk tattoos simply have a trashy reputation — even within the tattoo industry — which discourages people from getting (and giving) them. “While a woman with a tattoo in that area may be seen as sexy, it can be a big turn-off when a guy has one,” he says. A poll of the office shared his sentiment: One staffer expressed their feelings about penis tattoos with the help of this scene from Down Periscope (which is thankfully submerged in the past).
There are a few reasons behind this stigma, but the one that seems especially pervasive is that guys seeking out a junk tattoo tend to be the creepy type, sometimes asking that only female tattooers take on their project (and only when no other tattooers are at the shop). Case in point:
The notion of getting a “funny” penis tattoo, meanwhile — say, Pinocchio — might seem less immediately creepy, but this also contributes to the trashy stigma, according to Eaves. “I wouldn’t want to do something funny or joke-oriented if I were to ever tattoo that area,” he says. “That just seems to amplify how lame [a junk tattoo] can be.”
But for me?
A penis simply doesn’t leave much room for a solid piece of art, which is my real beef with them. “The ideal design would be something that compliments the body,” Eaves says. Lundqvist believes this may come in the form of a classic rose or barbed wire: “Barbed wire around the shaft would be insane!” he says. But know that whatever the design, it’ll end up looking different, depending on how excited (or cold) you are at the time.
So, friends, family, coworkers, Instagram followers, basically every drunk bro I’ve ever met in a bar: Does that answer your question?