Mari (JPN), Performer, Tokyo

‘Before I got into tattoos, I was all about piercings. It got to the point that people started calling me a binder because of all the hoops piercing my skin. Later I got in touch with a tattoo artist. I still remember the first time I entered her shop, it was the first time I saw a woman completely covered in tattoos. I’ve always been a fan of the surreal and tattoos got me closer to this image I had of myself. It was like I had found a hideaway from ‘the normal’.’

‘I fell in love with fantasy creatures and non-human beings through manga, games and anime. I know I can’t become one of the characters I love reading about, but I sure enjoy dressing up and acting like them. It’s like living in my little fantasy world, my refuge. My interests have always shifted from those of my peers. While they were going out I had my nose in these books with monsters and fighting princesses, removing myself completely from the actual world outside. And I loved it. Sitting there in my little personal library, I was part of a great adventure in my head that surpassed anyone’s life outside of it.’

‘I’ve had a variety of jobs throughout the years, ranging from an S&M-bar to the office job I have now. People have no idea who I am underneath my corporate outfit. I take off the wig, the make-up, the piercings and become somebody different. For a long time, I struggled with having these two versions of myself. I wasn’t sure who the real ‘me’ was anymore. But now I have found peace in having my two personas next to each other. I realized I need both of them to be the complete ‘me’.’