Story about Ink from Hello Bali Magazine

I chose Chocolate Café in Jimbaran Corner to meet with Jerinx to talk about the inks on his body because I anticipated that talking tattoos with Superman is Dead’s charismatic drummer, songwriter, guitar player and singer would become less of a story about ink. I had the sense that it would be more about a journey through the life and times of a man who has seen the beauty of the sunshine and the rain, put pen to pain and lived and loved in a world shaped by his own self perception and fascinations. Somehow, I thought the venue would fit well.

That journey has taken Jerinx, now barely into his thirties, through the streets of Kuta where colourful characters as bountiful as those found in any circus sideshow or boardwalk arcade drift in and out of dreamlike scenarios from a world of shadows and intrigue. “I grew up in Kuta, surrounded by the dispossessed and the marginalised, and they played a seductive game, introducing me to the world of outsiders. By the time I got into creating an existence of my own, I was really proud to belong on the fringes of society,” he confesses.

But let’s start at the beginning: My first inquiry is only skin deep. Aren’t people surprised to discover that the man covered in tattoos is one of the most genuine, generous and kind hearted men around, always quick to laugh and offer friendship, generally laid back and easy going? Jerinx hardly seems the hard man he looks. “Sure, people who don’t know me expect a tough guy but these days most people know me, sometimes almost too much, but that’s okay,” he says. Jerinx moves in a world in which his work and actions are widely recognised, so most people are already aware of his tender side, which is evident in his song lyrics, as well as his gentle smile.

Jerinx’s ink journey began back in the ’80s when tattoos were seen as an antisocial form of self-expression in Bali, and to an even larger extent in Indonesia as a whole. At that time, tattoos were primarily associated with gang members and petty criminals. Jerinx had seen tattoos on the drifters who populated his local environment of Kuta, the runners and the petty crooks with coded admissions of being beyond the reach of normal society. “It was weird, I had seen tattoos before but I saw this guy on TV, some rock music performance, I don’t even remember now, but I remember that that is strong commitment.”
His first tattoo was inked by Pak Alit, who still tattoos on Iman Bonjol, and although Jerinx’s parents were concerned that he had been peer pressured, they weren’t overly alarmed by his choice. By the time he had left high school and formed his band, he recognised that he too had made a commitment to the lifestyle that would allow him to fully express himself in music and art. The tattoos now began to tell the story of a life that identified itself with the outsider, that loved the music coming from America, bands like Green Day and Social Distortion that embraced the rockabilly creed of bikes and babes, the charm of Lady Luck, the temptations of alcohol and the lure of high risk gambles on life.

Jerinx’s tattoos also reflected the culture of his heritage: the jagged krises swords that cross his feet, the Hanoman monkey god and the chequered Poleng cloth that represents the balance between good and evil. Bare breasted women vie for attention on his forearms. “Yeah, one of them was sitting on my luck, the other, well she burned my money... and that’s me, the cupid hiding!” he shares.

One tattoo lies under the bicep, as he is perhaps unwilling to reveal his softer side, although the rose on his neck tells of a love kept alive now only by the burning candle beside it. “That was a strong love, no longer with us, and here is my grandmother.” She is inked in a traditional maritime style
and here’s a cursive statement “No More”. “Yeah, I was like, ‘No more man,’ I think I may have been a bit drunk,” he says. The diamond on his chest symbolises his strength and value, as does the King of Gold, and every day, as he faces himself in the mirror and sees the word “Conspiracy”, he is reminded that nothing is as it seems. The symbols of his craft adorning his back make him feel proud. The falling towers I find strange but he explains: “It marked the end of the world as I knew it.” And the spark plugs on his torso? “Sometimes I am just a machine, sometimes I have to be, just energy.” And he points to his dreams of fortune and success as they rocket into space on the luck of four aces.

Now that he and the rest of his band have made their mark, which has included opening up Indonesian music culture to embrace their style, including their tattoos, they have become role models for others. Fans often ask them about tattoos, what they should have and if a certain image is taboo in their religion and how to deal with that. In responding, Jerinx maintains that it is not about the tattoo, it is about the search for authenticity. A tattoo that goes along with a trend is meaningless, so his advice to anyone asking about tattoos is the same: “It’s not about the tattoo it is about being who you are.”

When he receives criticism for his tattoos being influenced by foreigners he points out that “tattoos were here first, in the Mentawai. The people of the Mentawai are credited with being the among the first to ever create tattoos.” Yet now, with tattoos being seen even on the bodies of athletes who would at one time have reviled them, as well as on models and actors who would once have been marginalised had they had them, it seems that having a tattoo has become a completely mainstream undertaking. “Maybe if I was starting out today, maybe I would have NO tattoos, that would be the rebellious thing”

A man with “LOVE RAIN” etched onto his knuckles is always going to be a bit of an enigma to unravel, if indeed it is possible to unravel such complexities of the mind through an investigation of the body. But isn’t that what we all do, look for physical clues to the mental life within?
With a body of work such as he possesses, Jerinx is wears his heart on his sleeve, as well as his neck, chest and back. And there’ll undoubtedly be more to come. • Katy Roberts

Taken from : Jrx

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