News & Politics

Would a DC Tattoo Artist Put a Portrait of Nixon on Your Back?

Roger Stone has a Tricky Dick tat. Maybe you could too!

Photograph by Evy Mages

One of the many fascinating things about Roger Stone is his back tattoo, which features the grinning visage of Richard Nixon. With Stone very much in the news, we wondered: Has anyone walked into a local tattoo shop lately and asked for something similar? 

Nate Smith, a tattoo artist at Adams Morgan’s Tattoo Paradise, says that would be a new one“I’ve worked here for about four years and no one has ever asked for a Nixon tattoo,” he said. “We’ve done George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and obviously Barack, but never a Nixon.” Apparently, as Smith puts it, Nixon is “not the kind of person people want to align themselves with.”

Two other tattoo artists we contacted—Benjamin Proudman, who works at Fatty’s Tattoo & Piercings in Silver Spring, and Sheila Larson, from Electric Cat Scratch on Florida Ave.—also said they’d never been asked to ink Tricky Dick on anyone’s skin.

All three say that occasionally a customer will ask for something Trump-related—often anti-Trump rather than pro, as with the customer who asked Larson for an image of the current President’s head on a spike. “She was full of general anguish and frustration and she was pretty sure that she was not going to stop disliking this person,” Larson said. “Part of our job is to make sure people really understand the magnitude of what they’re doing. But I won’t tell anyone what to get.”

Proudman said that if he only gave the tattoos he wanted to give, he’d barely make any money. But he also wants to make sure customers think things through before he sets needle to skin. I’m there to provide some guidance to people to help save them from themselves, because that’s part of the service we’re providing,” he said. “If a kid comes off the street and wants a giant portrait of Donald Trump on his hand, that’s a terrible idea. If he wants one on his shoulder, and he has a good reason? All right, let’s do it.”

There is a line, however. All three were adamantly against giving tattoos they perceived to be hateful, racist, or homophobic.

But a big ole Nixon tat? “I mean, yeah, I would do it,” said Proudman. “I would do it without question.”

Editorial Fellow