Jackie may be slightly familiar to some of you long-term readers of Skin Deep, as she once graced the cover of this tome many years ago. Since then she has been in the limelight regularly as a fetish model, a regular convention attendee and as one of the London Rockin’ Rollers skater girl troupe.
Jackie still has the passion and vigour to be just that little bit different from others, having found her rebellious side some years ago whilst hanging out with the local bikers. Her time wasn’t misspent, as she isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in under the bonnet of a hot rod or strip a bike engine and can put many a ‘spanner-shy’ bloke to shame with her engineering knowledge. We caught up with Jackie in between her roller derby bouts to find out a little more about her life and passions...
Where were you born and what was you like as a child?
I was born in quite a small town called Hertford. I lived there until I was about 18. I was a normal happy, healthy child from what I remember, no dramas. A mum, a dad and a brother. I was a bit of a “tomboy” I suppose, preferring to play army and climb trees with my brother, but like any other little girl I loved dressing up and horses (I still love dressing up). It was once I became a teenager that I became trouble; a gobby punk (or pariah, if you will). I can’t remember how I met them exactly, but I used to hang out with the local bikers. They are probably responsible for who I am today. Teaching me to have my own mind and not do everything that I was told, question everything, especially authority! I became very interested in cars (proper cars...classics, hotrods and muscle cars) as well as motorbikes. The bikers would take me drag racing with them on the back of their chops until I was old enough get my own bikes and cars. They would also show me how to rebuild engines and stuff like that. I wouldn’t say I was a bad person or anything but I know I was definitely responsible for my dad’s hair turning grey and my mum’s high blood pressure! Always up to no good, drinking (or worse), disappearing for days. I loved art at school (that’s about all I liked about it) and I did go to college and get qualified in motor vehicle technology which got me a got a good job as a mechanic (or vehicle technician, as they liked to be called these days) at Mercedes-Benz. Once I turned 19 I sold my beloved bikes and cars and disappeared to Australia and New Zealand, working my way around for a couple of years. I got MOST of my rebellion out there, I think. Having no parents or other authority figures holding me back, I could do as I pleased...and I did! It was a lot of fun! I came back when I was 21 a much more mature person but still very much a non-conformist.
When was it, you first became interested in tattoos and piercing and what was it that initiated your interest?
Well I don’t really know what first sparked my interest in tattoos or piercing as such. I just always knew I was and wanted to be different from everyone else I knew. I definitely think the bikers were a huge influence although I’m sure that’s why I was drawn to them, because they were different. I remember always drawing tattoo designs in my art class. I had a really cool art teacher that really loved my drawings and paintings and would encourage me to be my own person, unlike every other teacher in the school that would try and suppress you and make you conform. I remember having body piercings at school (awful homemade piercings, done with an ice lolly and a leather stitching needle) and being made to take them out and also trying to dread my hair and being told to comb it! I just knew as soon I was old enough (I would have been way too scared to go into a tattoo shop under 18) I would get tattooed. I planned endlessly what I would get done, drawing and sketching hundreds of ideas. I remember drawing a tattoo design for my aunty when I was about 12 and she got it done as a tattoo, which was really exciting for me.
What was the first tattoo work that you had done and who was the artist?
Pretty much as soon as I was 18 I got tattooed. At a biker rally (ok I didn’t research my artists back then) I got (a now ex) partner’s name on my finger (don’t ever do this!), then went back for 2 fairies on my lower back which I’m actually in the process of getting lasered off now so I can get them covered. I got more tattoos off the same artist after that and was planning my sleeves (it was going to be engines on one arm and tank girl on the other) but luckily I met Nutz (at a bike yard owned by one of my mates) and we became very close. He was tattooing in St Albans back then. Shortly after, we heard of a new tattoo/piercing studio opening in Hertford and we began working together there for a few years. Then in 2005 we opened our OWN studio together, Nutz Tattoo, in Ware, Hertfordshire. We are now our own bosses with our own rules and the studio is going from strength to strength. See www.nutztattoo.com for details.
Tell us about the tattoos that you have accumulated over the years. Why have you chosen those particular designs and what do they mean to you?
My first tattoo, as I said before, was the name, which wasn’t exactly planned but seemed like a good idea at the time, and then the fairies, which I got to represent my femininity. Pretty much all of my friends were male and I worked in a garage, which was obviously male dominated. I wanted something feminine and sweet to separate me from the boys a bit. My next tattoo was a small tribal dragon on the back of my neck to represent strength. Then I started getting tattooed by Nutz. I soon realised that the tattoos I had already were not as good as I thought they were and decided that I would eventually get them covered. I decided to take my fairy idea and turn that into a colour sleeve, which I have (unfinished, I might add) on my right arm. It’s based on the Cicely Mary Barker flower fairy books. I love the innocence and playfulness of the fairies...they are not sexy or anything, just colourful and fun. Half way through getting the sleeve done I embraced that slightly darker side to myself and started getting a lower leg piece done (also still unfinished... I guess this is what happens when you work at the shop you get tattooed at...I’m sure its meant to be the other way around!). So far I have 2 black and grey dominatrix type rubber-clad women on my lower left leg. I plan to have more of these going down onto my foot and to finish it off by having them set in a colourful outer space background. These are based on some paintings by Marcus Gray. After that I went girly again and got a black and grey floral design on my left ribs. No meaning, just because I liked the picture. This was based on some tattoo flash we had in the shop. Nutz left parts of it ‘open’ so I can add to it – he tends to do that. Next I got a pin-up type design. I like to get tattoos to reflect the different facets of my own personality and initially wanted a Gil Elvgren type pin-up tattoo to do this, as I think they make beautiful tattoos, but as Nutz pointed out, they are not really ‘me’. I decided to go for a tough looking 1940s military/police woman riding a motorbike (an Indian to anyone interested) on my right thigh. Although this one IS finished I have plans to add more to it...maybe throw in some retro UFO’s chasing her and stuff like that, ‘kinda like a B movie poster. My chest piece represents my mind being opened. I wanted a skull with a keyhole and crossed keys and asked Nutz to come up with the rest. I’m really pleased with what he has done for me. It’s almost like jewellery and a complete one-off! (So please don’t copy it!) My last tattoo done by Nutz is a sexy pirate woman fighting a pirate man on a ship. It looks like she’s about to kick some ass too. Another strong, female image. I absolutely love it! The tattoo on my lower right leg I had done by Jime Litwalk while I was in Vegas. It’s a roller skate and knuckle-duster with a ‘skate name’ in a scroll. I was over in Vegas for “roller con” last year representing Roller Derby for the UK with some of my teammates and wanted to mark the occasion. I think that’s about all I have at this moment in time although I’m getting a magpie tattooed on my left arm by Leanne Moule in the not too distant future. I really love magpies, beautiful but vicious, cheeky, they like shiny things and also have symbolic meanings too. I won’t stop there though. I’d like to get A LOT more ink, a roller girl after that I think, then who knows.
Your appearance is especially unique. How has it developed and how does it affect the reactions you get in terms of everyday life?
Thank you. Mostly, the reactions I get are positive. It’s quite rare these days that people are negative (to my face anyway) I have had rude comments but to be honest, I like that. If I get a reaction, I’ve won! People are often intrigued and ask questions. You get the best reactions from children, because they don’t hold back. I like their honesty. Most of my friends are ‘unique’ looking too so I don’t think I look that different when I’m out with them. That’s the great thing about having my job though. I can express myself however I wish. I don’t have bosses telling me what to wear or how to look. In some jobs you have to look a certain way and I have had to change my appearance for work before. Mostly people just say “What about when you’re old?” which I personally find a ridiculous question. But I haven’t always looked this way and like to change my appearance now and again; back when I was a teenager I was a bit grungy looking...leathers, cut off tees, scruffy hair (although I never got my dreads) and piercings, then when I started college and was in this male dominated environment I went a bit more girly and cut my hair and bleached it blonde, Wendy James style.
During the photo shoot you mentioned that you enjoy skating. Tell us more about that.
Yes, a couple of years ago I joined a roller derby team (THE LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS – they were featured in Skin Deep a few months ago actually) I’d heard of roller derby through my dad who used to watch it on Sky TV years ago. It’s an American sport that is all female, full contact and on quad roller skates. Imagine a sport like rugby, with women on skates and no ball and you’re kinda halfway there. It’s made a big revival in the States but it’s also made its way over here the past few years and as soon as I heard there were teams in London I had to check them out. I loved it straight away and seemed to pick up the skills quite quickly. The team I play for has played a few “bouts” against other teams, national and international, Birmingham, Glasgow, Stuttgart (Germany) and I’ve also played for England against Australia when I was in Vegas and I will be doing this again later in the year (against Scotland) at Nass-fest in UK. Our team has “home” bouts in London every 3 months and we sometimes play away games in-between them too. I absolutely love roller-skating and it’s like roller derby was invented for me…or girls like me. I’ve met the BEST bunch of women and made some awesome friends through this sport. I highly recommend it. It’s a sport that isn’t prejudiced. You can be fat, thin, sporty and athletic or like me...not into sport at all, yet it works. We have girls from all walks of life. Some are tattooed and pierced and some are not at all, we have punks and rockers and also girls that work in schools and banks. It’s so awesome! We do allow boys to join too, they can be referees and helpers but the actual game itself is strictly women only. I like the fact we have something just for us. Check out www.londonrockinrollers.co.uk for more info. We are always looking for new recruits. No skating experience is necessary as we provide training.
You have worked as a body piercer for several years. How did that come about and what do you enjoy about the job? What are its biggest challenges?
I liked piercings as soon as I knew what they were, I pierced myself (badly) as a teen and I remember getting hold of an ear piercing gun and piercing my mates at school. I got into “professional” piercing while I was in Aus. A friend of mine over there was a piercer and I saw piercings that I didn’t even know existed. It totally fascinated me. Maybe the magpie thing again, but it excited me that you could decorate your body in that way. When I got back, Nutz convinced a piercer he knew to show me more of the fundamentals and it went from there. It’s amazing how many people donate their skin when you’re offering something for free! So I continued practicing on friends and myself and researching different techniques and eventually started doing it professionally. There are many things I enjoy about the job. I like the fact that it’s not something anyone can do. I like decorating people and making them feel good about themselves. I meet some very interesting people. However the biggest challenges can also be the people. My favourite parts of the job are when people ask me to do more challenging piercings. A couple of years ago I did a corset piercing on a friend of mine and also some pierced wings. I’ve also done beading and branding/scarring. I’d like to get into doing more extreme mods or piercing performances. Like tattooing, it’s something that you never stop learning and if you don’t want to get left behind you have to keep pushing yourself everyday to get better.
Are there any ambitions that you’d like to fulfil?
Well, Nutz has been teaching me to tattoo so I’d like to continue with that more seriously. I’m still in the early stages really but I’ve been watching him like a hawk for years so that certainly has helped. We have recently taken on a 2nd artist at our shop (Strangy). So it’s good to watch how another tattooist works and pick up tips from him too. It’s exciting but hard work and VERY challenging. I draw and paint quite a lot, which is helping with my art, which is improving my tattooing. So watch this space. Maybe one day I’ll be featured in your magazine for the work I’m doing on other people. That would be a good ambition to fulfil!
Other ambitions are to keep up with my skating and just to enjoy my life and make the most of everything. Oh and to teach my 2 pet ferrets to use their litter tray. Haha!