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Tattoo Tantalizers! ... Part 2

... the most asked for gallery in our existence!
... albany ...

Photos & text courtesy of Rick Martinko ... Tattoo Department, LOTM

After leaving Biltmore, we shot exteriors of Albany behind an old manor house in Asheville.  I have no idea how much work went into the set dressing, but it looked like colonial Williamsburg.  We only shot there one day, and aside from the morning tattoo session, there wasn't much activity.  There weren't any close-ups, so although the actors were sweating because of the brutal heat, we didn't do many touch-ups.  Here are some pictures of the set:
 

 
Yes, those were real oxen.
 

 

 

 
The period costumes must have been torturous on these poor kids.
 
The two things I remember best about this location have nothing to do with the shooting.  First I remember running all around the neighborhood searching for a pay phone so I could call to increase the balance on my credit card.  I was sending what few paychecks I'd already received to my bank in Cleveland, and ATMs weren't nearly as common as they are now, so I was rapidly running out of available funds.  The motel I was staying at wouldn't take a check, my credit card was nearly maxed-out and I had no cash.  Standing in a phone booth that was something like 120 degrees and REALLY humid, I was told that they could increase my balance but it wouldn't be available immediately.  In a panic, I called my dad and explained the situation to him.  He called the motel to ask if they would accept his credit card, and when he explained that I was working on "that movie", the desk manager said "Really?  Well, tell your son not to worry about it.  We'll just take care of the bill when he gets paid again!".  Needless to say, my dad was impressed.

 

Which brings me to the second thing I remember best about this location... the audience.  Somehow, word got out that we were shooting in the neighborhood and a large group of locals showed up to watch.  The people were very respectful of the production crew, and in spite of a pretty big crowd everything went smoothly.  After lunch, as I was walking back to the set I started talking to a family that had come by to watch.  It was truly bizarre, because these people acted like I was some sort of celebrity.  They were very nice, but had about a million questions and I remember that as I walked away, the mom told some people standing near-by that she talked to one of the "real Hollywood make-up artists" and I was "actually really friendly" (like a tattoo artist for extras wouldn't take time to mingle with mere mortals).  It was about that time that I realized that I was involved in something some people only dream of.  Here I was, living in a cheap motel with no money, about as low on the production totem pole as possible and people outside of the project were treating me like royalty.  That kind of stuck with me as the weeks dragged on and I heard cast and crew people complaining endlessly about the weather, schedule, accommodations, etc.
 
A lot of people ask me about how the tattoos were applied.  There were two methods: hand painting and airbrushing with stencils.  The paint we used for the extras was made from a mixture of greenish-blue rudder stamp ink, Pros-Aid (a liquid adhesive used for applying prosthetics) and matte medium.  It was brushed on by hand or thinned with water to airbrush over an fibrous plastic stencil (like a thick dryer sheet).  After it dried, we patted it down with tan colored talcum power and brushed off the excess.  The end result was a realistic looking tattoo that appeared to be under the skin.
 

 
That's me painting a tattoo on Jay's arm at Massacre Valley.  You can see that a good amount of the tattoo stayed on from day to day, so we did a lot of re-painting rather than starting from scratch each day.  We encouraged the guys to not use much soap on the tattooed areas when they showered, so that the morning tattoo sessions went a lot faster.  By the end, even after the tattoos washed off, you could see the pattern on the un-tanned skin.
 

 
J.D. Evers removing a chest stencil from a Mohawk extra.  We used a light spray adhesive to make it stick to the skin before airbrushing.
 
For the principal actors (Daniel, Eric, Wes, Russell, Dennis and Mike Phillips) we used a different kind of paint.  It was made specifically for theatrical tattoos, came in little bottles and was "very expensive".  It was a little greener in color than the stuff we used on the extras, and it was smoother to paint on skin (the Pros-Aid paint would clump-up on the brush in the heat).  Otherwise, it was the same process as tattooing the extras.  The actors had to shave their fore-arms so that the hairs didn't interfere with the painting.  Wes required additional preparation for his head tattoo, too.  The pattern was printed out on paper, and run through an old mimeograph machine onto a sheet of acetate.  We then applied a thin coat of a mild solvent called Detach-All to the side of Wes's head, carefully lined up the pattern and pressed it against his head for about 15 seconds.  When we removed the acetate, the pattern was faintly visible from the mimeograph ink.  We then cleaned off the Detach-All, and filled in the pattern with ink.  This was a tedious process, because the placement of the tattoo was critical.  There were several continuity Polaroids floating around, and if the tattoo you just painted didn't match the one in the picture exactly, you had to do it over AND you got chewed out in front of everyone.
 

 
Wes also has very dry skin, so his arm tattoos would flake off every weekend, and we'd have to start from scratch.  Sometimes, if he was needed on the set early, the other principle tattoo artist and I would go to Wes's hotel room on Sunday night to apply his tattoos so that they only needed a touch-up on Monday morning.  I spent a lot of time around Wes, and thankfully he is a very patient person and one of the nicest guys I've ever met.
 
I'll try to find some of the pre-production sketches of the specific tattoo patterns that we used for the different Indian groups.  There's an old painting of a Mohawk warrior who is covered in tattoos and a lot of the designs were patterned after it. UP NEXT: CAMERON'S CABIN  || BACK TO INDEX OF TATTOOS

MORE TATTOOS
TATTOO TANTALIZERS! || TATTOO TANTALIZERS ... Part 3 || TATTOO TANTALIZERS ... Part 4
TATTOO TANTALIZERS ... Part 5 || TATTOO TANTALIZERS ... Part 6 || TATTOO TANTALIZERS ... Part 7
TATTOO TANTALIZERS ... Part 8 || TATTOO TANTALIZERS ... Part 9 || TATTOO TANTALIZERS ... Part 10

 

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