Tattooed Revivalists
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Most Visited, Spectacles

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I’ll miss Chris Shea’s blogging for the Boston Globe’s Ideas section! But it’s a relief to know that he’ll soon be writing about similar subjects for the Wall Street Journal.

Chris took over Ideas’ blog Brainiac after I left in 2008. I was amused to learn, from his goodbye announcement, yesterday, that the highbrow Brainiac blog’s most trafficked post to date is a lowbrow one that I contributed about heavily inked members of the Revivalist Generation (born 1974-83; I originally called them “Netters”). Bonus! I couldn’t include images of Drew Barrymore’s and Tiffani Amber Thiessen’s tattoos in the Brainiac post; I’ve included them here.

HiLobrow readers, enjoy:

Angelina Jolie (born 1975)

Tattoos: Gothic script “Know Your Rights” between shoulder blades; Buddhist Pali incantation written in Khmer script on left shoulder blade — covering up previous tatoo; “Strength of Will” Arabic script tattoo on right arm — covering up previous tattoo; “XIII V MCMXL” (date of famous Winston Churchill speech) on her left underarm; Tennessee Williams quote (“A prayer for the wild at heart, kept in cages”) on left arm; cross tattoo and Latin phrase (“Quod me nutrit me destruit”, meaning “What nourishes me, destroys me”) on stomach — covering up previous tattoo; rune style tattoo (the letter H) on left wrist; longitudes and latitudes of the locations where her children first entered her life, on upper left arm — covering up previous tattoo; 12-inch long, 8-inch wide Bengal tiger tattoo on lower back — covering up two previous tattoos; various removed tattoos, including a tattoo in the pubic area referring to Billy Bob Thornton.


Pink (born 1979)

Tattoos: shooting star and angel on back of left shoulder; “What goes around comes around” on right wrist; “tru luv” a little higher up; tattoos on upper left thigh: “Mr. Pink”, oriental style dragon; cartoon cat on lower stomach; barcode from album “Missundaztood” just below hairline at back of neck; frog on left foot; kanji for luck/happiness on right ankle; infinity sign on hip; red star on hand; dad and brother’s army dog tags on left foot; portrait of her dog Elvis; several others.


Steve-O (born 1974)

Tattoos: Over 25 “dumb” tattoos, each one of them intended to get a laugh. They include: parodies of Angelina Jolie’s tattoos (including the name “Billy Bob,” in Gothic script); the phrase “I have a small weiner,” on arm; and a giant self-portrait, complete with signature, on back.


50 Cent (born 1975)

Tattoos: “Love & Hate” on lower stomach; heads of Jesus and Satan on lower stomach; “Beau” (grandmother’s name) on neck; axe with “Marquise” (son) and “Warrior” on right biceps; “Sabrina” (mother) and “Ghetto Angel” on right lower arm; angel on shoulder; “50” on left biceps; crucifix and “God understands me” on left lower arm; “G-Unit” on right hand; giant “50” on center of back; “South Side,” “Gangsta,” “Cold World,” and “G-Unit” also on back; others.


Christina Ricci (born 1980)

Tattoos: lion on right shoulder blade (a reference to “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”); fairy on the inside of right wrist; praying hands on left hip; a bouquet of sweetpeas on lower back; “Move or Bleed” on the left side of ribcage; “Jack” (a dead pet) on right thigh; a sparrow on right breast; a mermaid on left ankle. Unconfirmed: two red stars, plus “I’m the toughest girl I know” in script, under right breast.


David Beckham (born 1975)

Tattoos: Gothic-style “Brooklyn” (son’s name) across lower back; Gothic-style “Romeo” (son) above crucifixion/guardian angel on upper back & “Cruz” (son) underneath; “Victoria” (wife) in Hindi, supposedly misspelled, plus “Ut Amem Et Foveam” (“So that I love and cherish”), lower back; Roman numeral VII (7 was his Man United jersey number), underside right arm; seven-inch image of Victoria, naked, lying on her back surrounded by stars, on left arm; Hebrew text, from the Song of Songs, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”; “Perfectio in Spiritu” (“spiritual perfection”), right forearm; angel, plus “In the face of adversity,” right shoulder and bicep; winged cross, back of neck; many others.


Victoria Beckham (born 1974)

Tattoos: David Beckham’s initials on left wrist; five stars representing herself, her three sons, and her husband, on lower back; Hebrew text, from the Song of Songs, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine,” on neck and upper back; others.


Christina Aguilera (born 1980)

Tattoos: “Xtina” on back of neck; flower on left wrist; design on inside left forearm; Hebrew text (I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”), on small of back; unknown tattoo just below bikini line; others.


Justin Timberlake (born 1981)

Tattoos: Initials on ankles; cross on left shoulder; large angel with “Guardian” on back; others.


Drew Barrymore (born 1975)

Tattoos: large cross on ankle; butterfly under belly button; angels on back; blue moon with smile, plus star at tip, on right foot; flowers on left hip bone.


Lil Wayne (born 1980)

Tattoos: Couldn’t find a description anywhere. I’m not the only one interested. The internets are replete with questions like this one: “what does lil wayne’s tat on the left side of his back say??!?! anyone?” Lil Wayne, please let your fans know.


Nicole Richie (born 1981)

Tattoos: rosary beads and cross on ankle and foot; angel wings on shoulder blades; “Richie,” plus red bow and ribbon, on back of neck; tiara on hip; red shooting star on right wrist; “Virgin” on left wrist; ballerina slippers on abdomen; cross on lower back; dots on finger; others.


Britney Spears (born 1981)

Tattoos: fairy on lower back; daisy circling second toe on right foot; butterfly leaving a vine on left foot; lower with Chinese symbol for mystery on lower stomach; three Hebrew characters on back of neck; pair of pink dice inside left wrist (changed); small star on right hand; red and pink lips on wrist; black, white, and pink cross on lower hip; others?


Tiffani Amber Thiessen (born 1974)

Tattoos: flower on back; angel on ankle; small green heart on stomach; sunflower just above panty line; possibly others.


Amy Winehouse (born 1983)

Tattoos: winged ankh on back; feather on left forearm; lightning bolt on right forearm; several pin up girls; “Hello Sailor” plus anchor, on stomach; others.


Robbie Williams (born 1974)

Tattoos: Maori design on left arm; Celtic cross on right hip; lion with “Born to be Mild” under it, and “Elvis, Grant Me Serenity” above it. on right arm; musical notes and Beatles lyrics on small of back; saint holding cross with name “Jack Farrel” (his grandfather) under it, inside right arm; “Mother” on outside of same arm; “Chacun A Son Gout” on chest; others.


The whole point of the Suicide Girls — a Revivalist phenomenon — is that they’re heavily tattooed.

ALSO: Lindsay Lohan ( a flower and a ladybug on the back of her neck, a Sanskrit character for lotus flower on her wrist, and a bow tattoo on the small of her back); Jessica Alba (a flower and a ladybug on the back of her neck, a Sanskrit character for lotus flower on her wrist, and a bow tattoo on the small of her back); Bam Margera (heart-a-gram symbol on his lower stomach, a large tattoo design on his right side, large portrait on his right shoulder (done by Kat Von D), a large razorblade under his left arm and several others); Travis Barker (a large checkered-flag design on both sides of his neck, a large banner inscribed with “Can I Say” across his collar bones, the outlines of nude women on opposite sides of his upper chest, a large “Boom Box” radio on his stomach, a large design on his mid-lower back, both arms sleeved (one arm contains a Virgin Mary dedicated to his mother), his left leg has a logo from a Descendents album, many other tattoos); Kelis (a saying on her right wrist, a butterfly on her stomach, a Kanji symbol on her right calf, and a large Japanese inspired design that runs from her buttocks, up her back all the way to the shoulder); many others.

NB: Descriptions of celeb tattoos were adapted from various celeb tattoo sites.



Joshua Glenn is a cultural and brand semiotician, and co-principal of the agency SEMIOVOX LLC. He is editor and publisher of HILOBROW and the Radium Age sci-fi paperback imprint HILOBOOKS. He is author of (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY (2008) and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY (2011); and he is co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY (2007) and SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS (2012). With Elizabeth Foy Larsen and Tony Leone, Josh produced the popular family activities guides UNBORED (2012), UNBORED GAMES (2014), and UNBORED ADVENTURE (2015), not to mention two UNBORED activity kits from MindWare. In the ’00s, Josh was an editor and columnist for the BOSTON GLOBE's IDEAS section; in the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT. He was born and raised in Boston, where he lives with his wife and sons.