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September 01, 2017

Porn Stars Reveal the Tales Behind Their Tattoos

This article is the cover story of the September 2017 issue of AVN magazine. Click here for the digital edition. LOS ANGELES—When Joanna Angel married Small Hands in an unconventional ceremony on Halloween last year, she wanted to mark the occasion. So the self-styled punk-rock princess and her husband got matching tattoos. “The most meaningful tattoo I have is the Grim Reaper on my right leg with the date of my wedding on it—10-31-16,” Angel says. “Me and my husband were married by the Grim Reaper on that day. “I got the face and the sickle and [Small Hands] didn’t have enough space, so he got the sickle with the date near his shoulder.” The AVN Hall of Fame performer/director, who founded BurningAngel Entertainment, is a pioneer in the ever-growing legion of adult stars sporting body art that is as integral to their porn personas as their hardcore sex scenes. Whether they’re AVN Award-winning legends in the making or promising industry newcomers, their tattoos tell stories that their performances cannot, bringing deeper meaning to their lives often in ways only they understand. For our September cover story, an eclectic mix of current female performers revealed which of their tattoos carry the most significance, the hidden messages behind them and what inspired them to get the ink. Without question one of the porn community’s most famous tattoos belongs to 2016 AVN Female Performer of the Year Riley Reid, whose Kanji symbols—a system of Japanese writing that uses Chinese characters—on her spine are rooted in her approach to life. “My tattoo is not an exact translation but the concept of it is, ‘When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,’” Reid tells AVN. “When I was in my senior year of high school I was doing a lot of self seeking and I was really learning more about opening my mind and the fluidness of love—in the sense of it being so communal. “I had gotten my first tattoo on my right shoulder at 18, a design I drew up that I imaged from a music note. It’s a heart—with a dying yang inside the heart—and then a peace sign falling from the heart. It was my expression of co-existing and love. After my first tattoo I already knew I wanted another one, I just wasn’t sure yet.” Reid continues, “I had always been an optimist. I suppose it was a side effect of growing up in a struggling home. My mother has depression and I have seen her deal with inner battles since I was a child. I think it was since then that I realized I always wanted to have a better outlook on life and to not dwell on the sad. It’s funny because I know that being optimistic is just kind of blinding oneself to suffering, but who really wants to feel suffering? “Personally, I’d rather make lemonade.” Katrina Jade has never been a follower, whether it was before she stormed into adult entertainment in 2014 or now that she is established as the industry’s most notorious “villain.” The “Slut” tattoo on the right side of Jade’s ass and the spider web on her right temple convey the kind of unapologetic attitude that has translated into porno must-see TV. “I’m a really compulsive person,” Jade admits. “I never really planned out any of my tattoos.” One day a little more than three years ago, Jade decided tattooing “Slut” somewhere on her body was her next move. “Because it was true,” she says. “Obviously, I like being really out there and showing things off. “Then the one on my face—both of the ones on my face—my husband [Nigel Dictator] has the same matching tattoos. The small heart with arrows crossed underneath my husband has on his forearm. “We both have spider webs on the same side of our face, but he has it inside of his ear. The inside of my fingers also match tattoos on my husband’s face as well. … My ‘Daddy’s Girl’ tattoo was for him. For him it’s a pride in ownership thing. I’ve always called him that. It’s right above my pussy.” Jade, who won her first AVN Award in January for Best Group Sex Scene in Jules Jordan Video’s Orgy Master 8, tied the knot with Nigel, who is an industry photographer, in October 2013 and they got the web tattoos a few months later. “I didn’t think that one through. I kind of woke up and said I want to get a face tattoo and I’m going to get a spider web on my face,” Jade says. “I like the darker goth look.” “I don’t regret any of them at all,” she adds. Kleio Valentien, the 2017 AVN Best Actress winner for her role in Axel Braun’s Suicide Squad XXX for Wicked Comix, has become one of adult’s premier inked beauties. “One that has a really deep meaning for me is a lotus in water,” Valentien says. “I got it for my best friend who passed away when I was 13. It’s on my right forearm. The number of petals are the age when she passed away. “I got that one around when I was 18. It’s been a while.” Valentien continues, “I have an anchor with a compass and I got that for my significant other who pretty much is my rock and holds me down and helps guide me through life. That’s also on my right forearm and I got that one about four years ago. “On my right hand, inside of my middle fingers, I have the words ‘beautiful’ and ‘strong’ on them. Whenever I’m writing or something or whenever I feel down on myself I always remind myself I’m a strong person and can get through anything.” One of Valentien’s most unique tattoos pays tribute to her mother. “I have a cupcake and needle and thread because I grew up home-schooled and my parents made me learn how to sew,” Valentien explains. “So I have the needle and thread for my mom teaching me how to sew, and the cupcake for her because my mother is a baker. I got them together.” Valentien uses her sewing skills to this day, making a lot of her own clothes for feature dancing as well as her outfits for AVN and Exxxotica conventions—she even sewed a couple of the dresses she wore to the AVN Awards Show. “It’s just something I always remember doing,” Valentien says. “I learned how to do it at a very early age.” Marley Brinx, the Toronto native who was a 2016 nominee for Best New Starlet, tells AVN the Native American woman tattooed on her left arm is in honor of her grandmother, who has been in cancer remission for about a year. “She battled breast cancer and lung cancer in the last few years and recently just had a stroke and she is one of the strongest women I know and is a true warrior,” Brinx says. “That’s why I got the Native American woman, because she all those qualities. “All those hard times she’s been through these past five years, powering through it like a young 23-year-old woman. The lesson is to never give up and live life to the fullest. Don’t take life for granted and cherish any second chances. She is definitely my inspiration when it comes to a lot of my tattoos.” Brinx collaborated with her artist—@kellrosetattoo on Instagram—by showing him a photo of her grandma and an original drawing she found on Google. “I really like the long hair and braids because my grandma had them when she was young—I just wanted the face to look more mature to have my Nanna’s features, like the big Native American eyes,” Brinx says. “My grandma is full Native American. My mother is half, and I’m a half that. It’s called Metis—one parent is of British and one parent of Native American descent.” Brinx continues, “On the opposite side is my very first tattoo I ever got—my Nanna’s husband passed away 10 years ago, my Papa. It’s a sparrow, just a black and white sparrow—a little bird on my hip. He had three strokes in a row and became brain damaged very soon after the third stroke and was in the hospital for three months on machines. “I was close to both my Nanna and Papa growing up. When he passed it was definitely a traumatic event, so this was in memory of him. The funny thing is when he passed away they had two sparrow birds—for some reason it was one of his favorite birds—in a box at his funeral and they let them go and fly away. So it was something very meaningful, that he’s going to always be beside me.” Gia Paige, a 2017 nominee for Best New Starlet who was born and raised in Detroit, has a large tattoo on her right upper leg but says despite its many layers, “that one to be honest doesn’t really have any meaning, I just thought it was pretty.” “At the time most of my friends were getting these skull tattoos and I wanted a girly one,” Paige says. “It has a raven inside of it holding a strand of pearls. It’s like a theater skull, like a flapper’s ’50s-themed skull. Like the flapper dancer girls with big boas, pearls and accessories. I got the skull one when I was 22. I’m 27 now.” But Paige’s Woodstock tattoo is a different story. “I have a Woodstock on my chest, because my Papa used to read me the Peanuts comics when I would come over,” Paige says. “Woodstock was my favorite. And when he passed away I got Woodstock over my heart.” Woodstock was best known as Snoopy’s sidekick and best friend in the iconic comic strip by Charles Schulz. He was named after the 1969 music festival in New York. “Snoopy was his favorite, he was Snoopy,” Paige adds, noting she was 18 when she got it. She also has two interlocking hearts on her wrist. “Me and my best friend both have those,” Paige continues. “She’s actually the only person who I stayed close with. I met her in elementary school in third grade and we’re still best friends to this day.” The three flowers located on Paige’s left side are for her sisters. “They are birth month flowers for each of my sisters,” Paige says. “I let them pick their favorite color and I went and got them done. I have two older sisters and one younger.” Gina Valentina, the 2017 Best New Starlet nominee who grew up in Miami and Brazil, has two tattoos on her legs. On her right leg, it says ‘Amor é minha religião cristo’ in Portuguese. “In Brazil we’re really religious, in Rio specifically,” Valentina tells AVN. “It’s such a big thing in Brazilian culture and with Brazilian people. Every Sunday and Monday everything closes. I’m not a really a religious person, but I say love is my religion. I feel like religion and what I believe and what I’ve seen when I was in Brazil was lots of love. That’s what I believe in ultimately—it’s love over everything. If someone hurts you, you still have love for them in your heart and no hate. Try to live a life with love in your heart.” The tattoo on Valentina’s left thigh is not from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, as some suggest when they see it; it’s inspired by her astrological sign. “I am on the Pisces-Aquarius Cusp,” says Valentina, who was born on February 18. “I got this huge tattoo which represents the line between—I think everything has symbolism. Before I got it I looked up the symbolism. It has the ocean and it comes from mystery and the subconscious and spirituality. I got that for water and the Kraken—the deepest creature in the sea—the octopus is the guardian of the line between that and the end.” Valentina continues, “The ship that I have represents man and creation and trying to discover where we came from, where it all started, how we’re trying to understand things. To me it represents the two—spirituality and humanity—and then the line between that is the guardian, the Kraken. “We can only understand so much. It’s a choice to try to find a better understanding of things but we never will. It has Neptune on the ship for the symbolism of the planet. To me it has to do a lot with Pisces, my sign. But I was so young when I got this, too. Now I’m not very to the core with that. It was just an idea I had and I liked the symbolism of all of that.” There is even more to the tattoo, she reveals. “Secretly, the octopus has 8 tentacles and 8 is my favorite number. It’s also the infinity number.” Rising performer Honey Gold, who made her porn debut in a BurningAngel scene earlier this year, says there are a couple meanings behind the baby owl on her left shoulder. “Have you heard about how little baby owls will fall out of the nest or get kicked out of the nest? And they either survive or die? That’s what happens to little baby owls,” Gold says. “And I got this because an owl doesn’t only represent wisdom but the fact that I kind of relate to the whole concept of being kicked out of the nest or falling out of the nest in regards to my family. And I got this as a reminder to constantly push myself and fight to survive.” Her first tattoo, on her right forearm, is a “compass rose” because Gold believes “for some reason I feel like I never know where I’m going but I always end up right where I’m supposed to be.” Meanwhile, the lotus medallion on Gold’s right shoulder is also special to her. “Everyone knows that a lotus grows in mud; it doesn’t grow in beautiful circumstances and this relates a lot to my past because I didn’t have the best upbringing but I feel I’m still able to thrive into something beautiful despite my background and my circumstances,” Gold says. Amia Miley, who was named Vixen Angel in August, tells AVN the tattoo on her left shoulder blade of a beautiful woman who has half her face hollowed out features a quote from the classic horror film The Shining: “Monsters are real. They live inside us and sometimes they win.” “It’s not me,” Miley says. “Throughout your life you meet so many people who on the outside they seem like everything’s together and they’re a beautiful person and inside they’re like not like anything like that. Everybody deals with that. They have a darkness inside of them—demons, monsters, things beneath the surface. I got it two years ago.” Miley continues, “They’re all very meaningful—every tattoo I have. I got my first tattoo at 15 and everything on me, even if it looks like shit, represents a time in my life or something whether it was good or bad that was important to me. Or somebody, something—just a chapter of life.” On her right arm, Miley has “Proverbs 27:19” and “31:10-31.” “It’s Christian Bible verse and I’m not Christian,” Miley says. “Every religion I think you can find things to believe in and a way of living life. “The first one is you can see a man’s face through a reflection of water but you can see the man through a reflection of his heart. And this one is actually 30 pages about the proverbial woman. … A proverbial woman is someone who treats people in their life a certain way, cares for her family, her friends, the best interests of others and whether you’re doing porn or something else, that doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a good heart. “So I got this when I was 15. That was kind of like how I wanted to live my life and treat people in it.” Arizona native Luna Lovely tells AVN her red “Fuck Everything” tattoo on her ribs is the name of a song written by the metal band Suicide Silence. “There are a lot of different meanings, like life gets really stressful and if you worry about all the different pieces of it all the time it’s nice to say ‘Fuck Everything’ once in a while and focus on what you need to,” says the 22-year-old Lovely, who got the tattoo when she was 19. “My aunt actually paid for it. I wanted it to be like it was carved into me almost. And it’s all bloody and gory—the more brutal it is the better.” “With the lyrics it’s perfect and the way he sings it. It’s always really heavy vocals when he’s singing it.” Lovely’s right leg is covered in lace and flowers because “I wanted something feminine to balance all my demonic tattoos,” she says. “On my left leg it’s just a fun story. I had a roommate who was starting a tattoo shop and he did this really cool drawing. When I saw it I hadn’t really had a tattoo yet but wanted my body covered. He never got into a shop, but he was practicing on his own and was really good at drawing. I call it an Octophant, an elephant head with tentacles coming out. “He has a cut eye and looks like he has war scars. It means to me just to stand up and be a warrior if you can and you need to—that it’s possible.” Lovely, who started her porn career last October, points to another tattoo inside her right arm of a nun with a ball-gag. “I like her a lot. She represents my feelings toward religion to some measure,” Lovely says. “Nuns aren’t allowed to do a lot but have to devote so much to god. This one is at so much mercy—tied, bound, very submissive. I like that aspect of it as well.” Lovely continues, “On my right upper arm I have a girl looking into a vanity mirror, but she turned into a zombie in the mirror but she’s fine in real life. That one I came up with on my own. “It’s about my fear of death more so. Every day we’re approaching death; we’re still decaying but we can keep it together. It’s pretty brutal, but you still stay together in the end for the most part.” Joanna Angel, who is widely credited with helping to popularize the tattooed look in porn, says her first tattoo when she was 18 was the “So It Goes” on her left shoulder. “That was because one of my favorite books was Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and he says that phrase a lot,” Angel says. “It’s kind of a phrase he says to deal with his pain. He’s just like, whatever. You sort of mock and brush off things that probably shouldn’t be taken seriously. “I liked that philosophy on life and still do to this day.” Angel says the most meaningful tattoo she has aside from that is a DJ headset around a calla lily flower on her left thigh. “It’s the flower that they use at funerals on coffins,” Angel continues. “Then I have ‘Live Trash Die Young’ because a close friend committed suicide and that was a phrase he used to promote the weekly party he did. “His name was DJ Jess and I got that three or four years ago.” Angel, who created BurningAngel in 2002, got the “XXX” on her right shoulder underneath a girl skull—done by renowned artist Chris Garver—in part to announce her arrival in the biz. “I wanted a bad-ass porn tattoo just to show the world what I’m doing,” she recalls. But Angel’s No. 1 tattoo of them all is a Statue of Liberty on her left arm that she added after breaking up with an ex. “Because I felt a lot of freedom,” Angel says. “That is my favorite tattoo to this day. I just really like the style of it, not because of the meaning. Tattoo artists always point that one out, the way it’s done. I really like the colors. It’s my favorite tattoo.” (Photo 2): Riley Reid by Jeff Koga (3) Katrina Jade by Jeff Koga (4) Kleio Valentien by Andre Madness (5) Marley Brinx by Jules Jordan (6) Gia Paige by Jeff Koga (7) Gina Valentina by Jeff Koga (8) Honey Gold by Jeff Koga (9) Amia Miley by Dan Miller (10-11) Luna Lovely by Jeff Koga (12) Joanna Angel by Chris Streams

 
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