Lizard Man, or Eric as he introduced himself, wears a full-coverage body suit of ink. He stands out from across the room, even at the fourth annual Tommy’s Tattoo Convention in Hartford, where the most tattooed skin can blend in with the crowd.
Eric has been getting tattooed for over 20 years. He can’t remember his first tattoo, but he remembers his last tattoo of a scale on his left armpit that he said was his most painful healing procedure.
Though he enjoys tattoos, he does not exclusively identify with them. An oral surgeon sharpened his teeth and split his tongue, allowing him to separately control each side. His most bizarre body modifications are the plastic Teflon inserts that reside in his brow.
He said, “It was as painful as you would think and, yes, I was awake,” as if that was the answer every curious spectator asked him to explain.
The bold lettering on his chest spells freak, making his view on judgments painfully obvious, but Eric warmed up quicker than expected, while introducing this reporter to his best friend and manager, because they both shared interest in the lizard man lifestyle.
Lizard Man’s manager showed me the tribute tattoo that he received on his forearm to pay homage to the years of traveling with Eric. Only one yellow scale differed from the legendary lizard man’s pattern. He said he doesn’t want to copy Lizard Man, just pay respect. Good old Lizard Man brings people together.
Although Eric is an individual, the lizard business is a team effort. He has been transformed through the collaborative efforts of 5 different artists. He selects them based off of their portfolios, and most artists choose to tattoo him for free to receive the chance to work on a legendary canvas.
Some may think he is crazy, but his tattoos and modifications have given him the opportunity to live his dream of traveling the world, and more importantly helped attain the ultimate goal of a visceral reaction from spectators.
Much like a reptile basks in the sunlight to gain energy to move, Eric says, “I like getting tattooed, but after getting tattooed the healing prevents me from traveling on the road. I constantly balance travel time with adding to and maintaining my art collection.”