There were 254 official tattoos in the Lexington Tattoo Project. But judging by the crowd that turned out at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom Friday night, the project inspired a lot more interest.
The finale party, part of this weekend’s PRHBTN street art festival, started appropriately with another big group of Lexington artists: the March Madness Marching Band bringing its own flair to the proceedings with a festive lineup of tunes, many band members flashing their LTP tattoos as they played.
Eventually, Buster’s side doors opened and mystery man Hendrick Floyd came dancing into the party, just minutes away from showing off the Project’s secret image, tattooed on his right thigh. Floyd’s wife is Bianca Spriggs, who wrote The (blank) of the Universe, the poem that was scattered across the bodies of Project participants.
“I told him to bring the singles to me,” Spriggs said of Floyd, as he appeared to have a night of showing off his decorated gam ahead of him after the initial reveal, with appropriate striptease music from March Madness.
Tattoo Project organizers Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova said Floyd had the image inked in May, and then kept it under wraps for nearly six months — we are guessing he does not favor short shorts.
The image was of a circle with the number 4 in it, symbolizing New Circle Road, a common landmark for Lexingtonians that surrounds the heart of the city. When Gohde mentioned the image and the highway sign for New Circle, which is Ky. 4, reminded him of the superhero collective The Fantastic 4, he got a big cheer from the audience.
But the biggest cheers were for the music video, featuring Spriggs reading the poem to the music of Ben Sollee, as photos of tattoo recipients with their ink flashed by in sync with the poem. And they had multiple chances to cheer as the poem had been written in a contrapuntal style, where there are two poems that can each be read separately or together, and the video featured each separate poem and then a final reading of them together. Sollee’s languid cello became much more sprite with that final read of the complete poem. Gohde and Todorova said they are not posting the video online yet, so Friday night was a singular chance to see it, for the moment.
As photos flashed across the screen, cheers erupted from different pockets of the audience that packed Buster’s, a particularly loud one going up for Spriggs, who had “gravitational pull” on her foot.
Spriggs also favored the audience with a “remix” of the poem, A (blank) Love, the story of the Universe, which she said, like its title, contained every word from the original poem. When she read “errant nipple hair,” one of the original poem’s most noteworthy phrases, there was another cheer, and Spriggs said, “That took a lot of work.”
And that was what Friday night celebrated: a lot of work to celebrate the unique culture and community that is Lexington.