Her life’s ink-credible journey is all over her

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Elena Venetia photographed outside the Fox & Jane salon, at 277 E. 10th St. Photos by Bob Krasner

BY BOB KRASNER | Symbols of hope and perseverance. That’s what most of them are, says Elena Venetia, a model, hair stylist (Fox and Jane salon), actress and radio podcast host (“Dying Scene Radio”).

She began recording the voyage of her life journey on her 18th birthday, with a simple nautical star tattoo — on her hip, so her parents wouldn’t notice.

“It’s very traditional artwork, but it’s about the beginning of a journey — finding your way,” she notes of that first bit of body art.

Although she admits that she has lost her way on occasion, she has nonetheless recorded the bad times along with the good. An ex-boyfriend is represented by a snarling wolf with the word “MERCY” below it, to remind her that you will get no mercy from the heart of a wolf.

A former good friend whose actions left Venetia homeless has been noted with the image of a skeleton with its fingers crossed. Her conviction that it would not happen again is embodied with a hobo inked above the words “NEVER AGAIN.”

“LOVE LOST” is what’s left of an abusive relationship that resulted in broken bones, as well as a broken heart.

The first guy who broke her heart is represented by a tribute to the band Social Distortion. And her love affair with punk rock is further noted with images from bands Alkaline Trio, Misfits, Tiger Army and the Suicide Machines. The tats are each related to a song from each band that represents a certain time in her life.

Skulls are everywhere and it would be easy to misinterpret the two that reside beneath a burning candle that represent her current relationship.

“The skulls represent our past lives fused together as soul mates,” she explains. “The red candle represents honor and wisdom shedding light through dark times.”

In addition, there is the French word “DEMONTER” — “to come apart,” or in slang, “to screw up” — which came to her in a dream. In the tattoo, there is a line through the word, as if to say, “Don’t.”

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Current states of flux show up in the two sets of images that have to do with what she calls the “moments of decision that we face every day.”

There are two sparrows on her stomach — one in fine shape and the other, damaged. The point being that you have a “choice whether or not you are going to let what has hurt you ruin you.”

Stating the obvious as far as daily choices go, she sports an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.

“It’s funny,” she notes. “All anyone sees is the devil.”

Many of the images were inked by noted artist Jeff Madonna.

“He taught me a lot about traditional American tattoo art,” she says.

Many of the images were inspired by Madonna’s private collection of tattoo flash art and were produced using needles and colors from the ’50s.

Although she has wanted to look like “the tattooed lady from the circus” since she was a little girl, her family didn’t quite understand the appeal.

Ironically, she says, “My grandfather was the one who got me.”

His stint in the Merchant Marine is represented by a mermaid surrounded by the notes of the song “Amazing Grace.”

Her most recent Thanksgiving was notable for her father’s acknowledgement that, despite her having veered from the path that he would have chosen for her, she has made her own way. In his honor there is a Kewpie doll with boxing gloves, accompanied by the slogan “DADDY’S GIRL,” because, she says, “Dad taught me to be a fighter.”

Although Mom likes to pretend that all that ink just isn’t there, she still wanted to know, “Where’s my tattoo?” Venetia says that she hasn’t decided yet how to honor her, but then we notice the shamrock with the word “IRISH” underneath.

“That’s my mother’s side of the family,” Venetia says. “Everyone who is Irish should have that shamrock, as a warning.”

So Mom is represented after all.

Sadly, her most recent embellishment is a tribute to her good friend Aly who just passed away. A makeup artist, Aly’s memorial is a lipstick in her favorite color, put on her arm by Baz of Clash City Tattoo, at 273 E. 10th St.

Not just symbols of hope and perseverance, the images that adorn Venetia’s body are the bits and pieces of a woman of great spirit and energy — and, like her, they add up to more than the sum of their parts. And what’s that cat on the palm of her hand?

“A fierce pussy,” she laughs. No doubt.

If you live or work in the Village, East Village or Downtown area and have a personal story about your tattoos that you would like to share, please contact Bob Krasner at [email protected] 

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