A dying man requested to be skinned, after his death, so that his tattoos could be preserved and displayed as art for his children and grandchildren. Now that he’s passed, his wife is making sure he gets his wish.
Chris Wenzel, 41, was well known for his tattoo work in Saskatoon, Canada. As the owner of Electric Underground, Wenzel was emphatic about his love of skin art. He was only nine when he executed his first tattoo, on his aunt. His wife, Cheryl, told The Globe and Mail he often said he was a “slave to the needle.”
Wenzel struggled with an inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis, which can also cause a fast or irregular heartbeat. Last month, after complaining of chest pains, Chris died in his sleep.
Now, Cheryl is on a mission to make her husband’s dying wish become reality.
She told The Globe and Mail:
“I thought, that’s different, but yeah, that’s cool. I don’t care what it takes, I’m going to get this done for him. You can hang a picture on a wall. A tattoo is something that has been done for hundreds of years. It’s just preserving it.”
According to The New York Post, Cheryl hired Save My Ink Forever to make it happen. The Ohio-based company specializes in preserving tattoos of the dead, and the process will take three months and could cost nearly $80,000. But the sticker shock didn’t deter Cheryl, who set about raising money via a GoFundMe.
In fact, the company has already begun work. Kyle Sherwood, the company’s chief operating officer, master embalmer, and funeral director, said it is the largest undertaking of its kind in North America and called it “groundbreaking” in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
He told CTV Saskatoon:
“Tattoos, you know, tell a story about a person. And for someone to get something tattooed on them that they’re displaying for life, you know, means something to them. You wouldn’t burn or bury a Picasso and that’s what some of these pieces are.”
Once the process is complete, Wenzel’s tattoed skin will be displayed in a tasteful frame for his kids and grandkids to remember him by, after the work is shown at a spring tattoo expo in Saskatoon.
Most commenters on Twitter were grossed out by the idea:
It sounds like an atrocity from the Third Reich.
— W. Clayton (@weciv01) November 16, 2018
I thought that too. So gross.
— Cara (@Farenelli) November 16, 2018
No thanks, worms like them!
— Ramon Cardona (@RamonCardona20) November 16, 2018
Cheryl, who Chris tattoed, has also decided to have her tattoos preserved in the same manner and hung next to her husband’s after her death.
Judging from the response online, this is not for everyone:
That’s disgusting. Cremate him he’ll never know.
— I like my freedom (@Ilikemyfreedom1) November 16, 2018
— Wayne Griffith (@JerryGr32075048) November 16, 2018
— Phoenix34 (@Phoenix3413) November 16, 2018
Props to Dean1960 for at least having a different reaction:
Wow, that’s crazy but somehow cool.
— Dean1960 (@Dean19601) November 15, 2018
RIP, Chris Wenzel.