I clearly missed the TED talk – How To Get Ahead In Life By Owning Your Worst Ideas – but how heartened I was to see a story about New Zealand’s singing restraining order Kelsy Karter getting a tattoo of Harry Styles, or was it Kyle from The View, on her face.
I’ve long considered permanent scarification in someone’s honour as an under-rated method of starting a long-standing personal or professional relationship with them, as the tattooist who has painfully etched the names of up to 20 NME editors along my inner thighs will testify. And what prouder, more respectful place can you play tribute to someone you admire than on your own actual face, where people mostly look at you, the exes’ holiday Instagram post of the human body, you might say.
It says ‘here is a person I hold in such esteem that I hereby give over a section of my own face to a tiny, shit cartoon effigy of theirs because, as perfectly nice as my own face is, it could only be improved by the addition of any hint of their face, even one copied from an Etch-A-Sketch portrait of them that my Auntie June did one Christmas, fresh from another failed rehab and full of gin and crack’.
It instantly tells everyone you meet that your facial bedfellow should always be considered in any dealing or discussion they have with you – a kind of static group FaceTime – and how could it fail to elicit a warm and welcoming response from its intended vict… erm, target? No doubt Styles has responded just as Brian Wilson did when, as I’ve written about previously in this column, I took Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro to show him his ‘God Only Knows’ chest tattoo. Aghast with appreciation, Brian instantly called for his security, presumably to tell them to get in enough Domino’s pizza for an all-night jam.
It can’t fail, and the facial tattoo is no longer the taboo it once was. I’m always hearing about million-selling new stars with crucifixes, swords, song titles, life slogans and general threats inked all over their faces, generally in the same online news story that tells me they’ve either been shot or arrested for serious domestic assault.
The face-tat’s gone mainstream: Justin Bieber got the word ‘grace’ above one eye, Post Malone has decorated his face like a war memorial and every rapper considering themselves even slightly ‘Lil’ has a mug done out like a bored ten-year-old goth’s school notebook, without affecting their post-fame career prospects. I mean, if a potential employee has given an interview to someone with a 12-year gap in their CV marked simply “666Upyomama”, they’re not going to be put off by the fact they’ve got an arsenal of medieval weaponry where most other candidates have eyebrows.
So I was inspired to get my own face-Jed. The question is, who to go for? Realistically you’ve only got space for a maximum of four faces on your face – two cheeks, two forehead – so unless you’re already set on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘With The Beatles’ or The Four Ages Of Alex Turner, you need to be selective. By Karter’s own criteria, it should be someone talented, attractive and popular with millions, yet someone who might also realistically work with me in some form. After all, I’m not getting their face tattooed on my face for flattery or vanity, this is an astute career move. A cheek-based covering letter. The LinkedIn add of bodily disfigurements.
It was as I stood outside Diamond Jacks nervously clutching a photo of Alice Levine that I heard the news that Karter’s tat was fake. I felt her disappointment. For a few short days last week she stood at the vanguard of a new strata of self-promotion, the next level of narcissistic online desperation. Your Jenners, Morgans and assorted Hiltons rely on a relentless torrent of impacts to build their brand, each adding to – and eventually monetising – their pre-conceived personal narrative. Now here was someone, it seemed, willing to go all-in on one nuclear attention-seeking mushroom cloud of stupid. To be defined forever by one monster celebrity-age gamble and see where it took her, like the first person ever to bungee jump, put their entire worldly possessions on red or eat pineapple on pizza. Beyond a month of chat shows, influencer interviews and ad campaigns for foundation make-up, would it have worked? We’ll never know – and don’t try this at home when there are research professionals like myself to find out for you, unless I sober up. After all, I’ll always have the co-present job with Alice to fall back on. Right, Alice? Alice?