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Ulrika Jonsson reveals stories behind her 13 tattoos including a devil on her bum, a dog’s paw and a sex symbol

IT was October 1995 and I’d just been outed by the Press for cheating on my first husband, John.

We had a son aged one, my career was at its height but my personal life was a mess.

I felt nothing but guilt and remorse for my actions but as they were self-inflicted I couldn’t find an ounce of self-pity.

It seemed like the perfect time to get my first tattoo.

The whole idea of actually getting one terrified me but I have a high pain threshold and am nothing if not determined.

So when it came to that rebellious time back in 1995, I felt I needed to put my money where my mouth was and get one done.

I looked up the nearest tattoo “parlour” in Yellow Pages and headed off. Not only was it an intimidating environment — male-dominated and heavy rock music — but I was nervous, and desperate not to be recognised as off the telly.

I must have stood out like an apprehensive and hesitant thumb in among all that testosterone.

I had planned on getting a tattoo of a pig. I had a fascination with pigs — might even have acquired the odd one for a boyfriend.

But the only image they could offer was Piglet from Winnie-The-Pooh. Piglet is cute. I didn’t feel particularly cute.

I felt bad and wicked, like Public Enemy No1.

I was forced to choose an image out of any number of laminated books on display and an angry devil screamed out at me — he represented just what I felt.

I’d done something terrible to my husband and I felt hated by everyone, but most of all by myself. I was the devil.

I told the owner I wanted it on my bum cheek because that way, I reasoned, it wouldn’t be on permanent display. That did mean getting my bum out in front of a stranger in a fairly large, open room.

I had to leave my modesty in my car. He chatted a bit and asked my name: “Margaret!”, I shouted, the first name that sprung to mind.

And yes, it was a little bit painful but it was the sound of the electric needle which was more intimidating.

Goes without saying, after all these years of waiting: I bloody loved the result.

Two months after that my father Bo died aged 53, and although he didn’t have any tattoos himself, he had seen mine and I knew, for sure I’d gone up in his estimations.

He’d never wanted a princess for a daughter. He wanted a rock chic.

My mother’s response was somewhat different. “Oh, my God, Ulrika!”, she screamed with her Swedish accent: “You know it’s permanent? And what will you look like when you’re 80?”.

After a very strict and much repressed childhood, I was pleased I’d horrified her.

Believe it or not, I’d been an angelic teenager. Now, aged 28, was my time to rebel, disappoint and appall my mother.

At one point my tattoo almost became more famous than me.

I was on a photoshoot for a lads’ magazine and while getting changed it caught the attention of the editor and became part of the printed interview.

Infidelity and a little red devil on my bum propelled me from girl-next-door weather girl to rebellious sex siren.

As a young child I’d been fascinated and intrigued by ink on skin. In those ancient times, back in the 70s, tattoos weren’t terribly common.

I don’t recall seeing many on a woman. When I moved to England in 1979 I watched a documentary about the history and art of tattooing and was utterly captivated.

My mates might have been impressed by covert smoking or drinking, I was impressed by tattoos.

There was something much more hardcore about the application of pigment into the deeper layers of the skin.

For me, the combination of the history and the skill stretching back to Neolithic times was what captivated me. The permanence of it really struck an inexplicable cord.

After that first tattoo, I always knew I’d want more ink.

Some people say they’re addictive. I can understand that, but for me it’s so much more.

It’s an instinct, an intuition. It’s about feeling the desire to mark your body with something which not only lets others know who you are and what you are about, it’s a small “celebration”.

It’s a permanent reminder of a moment or a chapter in your life.

Equally, you don’t have to make it quite so profound, it can be more playful than that, a cute, fun way to express the lighter side of life, nothing particularly meaningful.

My oldest son Cameron, 25, is creative and has played for time about having a tattoo for years.

For him, it’s about the artistic process of planning the “ultimate” design, and if you’re super artistic, I guess that may never actually happen because the possibilities are endless. You can have any design in any colour in any style.

I’m much more pragmatic. I think of something that motivates me, come up with a design, find a tattoo artist I like, we discuss my ideas and they give me their input based on flair and experience — and off we go.

My second tattoo was three crowns, the Swedish National Emblem.

With the passing of my dad, I needed to pay tribute to him and my Swedish heritage.

After that I went on to have more tattoos over the years and at the last count I’ve got 13. For now.

I don’t regret any of them. One, for example, is a sizeable dedication to my ex-husband, Brian, whose nickname is “Jen2” which I had done in a very retro heart shape on the top of my right arm.

Regardless of the fact that our marriage broke down, he will always be a part of my life and he is father and stepfather to my children.

I did have a matching tattoo with the biological father of my daughter Bo back in 1999.

It’s a kind of symbol and I liked it because I think it looks like the entrance of a woman’s honeymoon passage.

We both had one done at the nape of our necks. He turned out to be an absolute turd but I still don’t regret the tattoo.

I’ve got my children’s initials — and get this — at the time, I only had three children and their initials were B, C, & M. Which very freakily were the initials of my then soon-to-be husband.

When I had my final child we put his little M for Malcolm above the others.

Recently I’ve had an apron featuring a bulldog on the inside of my right arm, a little nod to my love of cooking and my never- ending passion for the bulldog breed.

I also had the Leo sign on my wedding finger inked on, a Morse Code tattoo which I can’t tell you the meaning of because then I would have to kill you — it’s between me and my BFF, Laura.

And I also had a rather naughty one near my undercarriage with some cheeky words. But that’s for the privileged. Or the unlucky, maybe.

I have my darling dog Dexter’s pawprint on my shoulder. He passed away when he was only four.

One of my favourites is definitely one I had done a couple of years ago on the outside of my left arm. It says Feminist, but spelt phonetically: “Fem-uh-nist”.

I have “Pappa” on my collarbone and “Mamma” (dedicated to my own motherhood) on my foot.

Gone are the days when tattoos were seen as some kind of deviance. They appear to have had a renaissance in the 1950s and, with the invention of the electric tattoo machine, things are a lot less laborious.

A friend of mine had his tattoo done by a local in Polynesia with ink and . . . a shark’s tooth and hammer.

Now, that’s hardcore. I acknowledge that today tattoos have become common as muck. But it is still possible to seek out an individual, unique design which can make you stand out, that represents you.

The point is, mine are all deeply personal. There is no style that unifies them, they’re all in different fonts, colours and character.

They cause a bit of pain, but I’m a hard b*d and pain is only temporary.

I love my tattoos and I have no doubt I’ll go on having more and could not be one of those who talks eternally about having one but never gets their bum in the tattooist’s chair.

For me, they’re an expression of independence — something which was sorely lacking from my childhood.

They adorn my body, are often a talking point and they attract lovers and haters.

Bring it on, I say.

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