A bodybuilder spent $7000+ and around 200 agonizing hours getting his entire full-body tattoo suit in just under a year.
Ray Houghton, 59, has been a fitness fanatic since he was a boy but was reluctant to show off his impressive muscles thanks to eight ’embarrassing’ tattoos that he used to sport.
The gym owner visited a local tattoo shop to get some ‘sleeves’ – but returned two weeks later to continue the Maori-inspired design and now feels like a new man.
And over just 14 months he covered his entire body in a black body suit – leaving only his face, hands, feet and penis bare.
Proud Ray, from Manchester, said he feels ‘complete’ for the first time in his life – and decades younger.
He said: “I was young and impressionable when I got my first tattoos and as soon as I left the Army I was embarrassed by them. Being a bodybuilder I used to love people coming up to me and asking for photos or to speak to me but when you get older it doesn’t really happen. I soon realized that I wasn’t getting any younger. I could see visible signs of aging on my body. Being a bodybuilder vanity stepped in and I wanted to feel younger, and also to inspire other older people.”
“I have always invested time and money on my body and the tattoo has completed me. Now when I walk around the shopping center I can see people taking pictures of me. I also go to nudist beaches and when I come out of the sea I can even see people taking pictures then. I think it was totally worth it. I would do it all again if I could and would have done it earlier had I known it was going to look like this. It makes me feel younger. I feel young again.”
Ray joined the Royal Artillery as a teenager and got tattoos on his arms and legs in a caravan near the base from a man called ‘Sailor Bill’.
He admits the eight inkings – including a boat, the words ‘mum’ and ‘dad’, a naked woman and a Geisha – ‘weren’t spectacular’.
The sportsman started to regret them as soon as he left the forces a few years later and added: ‘I hated them early on.’
He opened a gym, started competing in bodybuilding competitions and was crowned North West coast Champion in 1989.
But despite being the envy of his gym pals with a 54-inch chest, 18.5-inch bicep, and 34-inch waist, he wasn’t happy with his body because of his tattoos.
“I didn’t like people seeing them at all,’ said Ray, who now works out six days a week at a gym he owns in Spain. Even though I was bodybuilding and going on stage I didn’t like my tattoos. It was the messiness of them. They weren’t spectacular. I had a good body but it was just disappointing looking at the tattoos. Around two years ago he finally went to a tattoo shop to ask them to cover some of his tattoos – and ended up covering his entire body.”
“It just went further and further and further.”
He endured 14 months of eight to nine-hour sessions every two weeks, starting with his arms and legs. He insists he didn’t feel any pain and said his favorite part is his BUM – where tattooist Toby Dean signed his ‘artwork’.
“It’s amazing how much younger it makes my skin look,’ he said. I feel so young. People who come into the gym and see me, they can’t believe the age I am. The reactions I get are overwhelmingly positive. The older women in their 60s absolutely love the tattoos. When I was having them done, every couple of weeks when I had a new bit they would come into the gym and say ‘get your kit off and lets have a look.”