Joni ‘Tapaturma’

The name ”Tapaturma” (in English: injury/accident) goes back far in the past. I’ve been doing freak show for over 20 years, and somehow I’ve managed to damage my body quite a lot on my free time as well. During the years, I’ve broken my bones about twenty times, crushed my joints, dislocated my shoulder a couple of times, been in a snowmobile accident, car accident, crashed with a motorbike…

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My first tattoo was an ankle tattoo I made myself when I was about 18 years old. I was hanging out with my friends, and at some point, I tattooed my initials on my ankle with a thumbscrew compass.

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I still carry this tattoo with pride, and I have no reason to cover it up. Those were good days, and besides, I guess the theme of this tattoo could’ve been something far worse!

All except my first tattoo are done by a professional tattooist. My next tattoos were the ones on my upper arms. The other is a classic tribal-themed piece that was tattooed on a tattoo festival many years ago, the other is my own design, a tribal-styled piece as well. I have to admit that I still like tribal tattoos, even though they’re not the latest fashion. Dark and bold lines always look good in my eyes.

My tattoos don’t have any unified theme. Many of them are on my skin just because I enjoy collecting them. At first, I wanted to have only black tattoos, but at some point, they began to have some grey shades as well.

I still like to keep my tattoos mostly black and grey to maintain a clear and simple style. I have a couple of color tattoos just because those designs happen to look better with colors. Most of my tattoos are by Martin Harrison at Sacred Tattoo in Espoo.

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On my other leg, I have a portrait of my tattooist Harrison. He just asked me once whether I would get a tattoo about him, and I just replied why not! When my wife saw this, she just said well, it turned out to be quite large. But hey, once you’re getting tattooed, it’s better to do it properly!

I think the most painful tattoo was the tattoo on my left rib cage. Mainly it hurt just because I had broken my lowest two ribs three days before the tattoo appointment, so the tattooing turned out to be a bit painful experience.

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The tattooing of throat felt pretty unpleasant, too.

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I’m a comic book and movie nerd, and I’ve wanted to represent those themes somehow on my skin as well. The Joker on my arm is made after an illustration by one of my favorite comics artist, Brian Bolland. The illustration is from the graphic novel Killing Joke.

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I’ve loved the Joker ever since I was a kid. In a certain way, this tattoo is also related to my own sideshow stuff, since my mask is inspired by a traditional clown mask.

Besides the Joker, I also have a couple of Star Wars-themed tattoos on my skin. On my other leg, I have a portrait of Princess Leia.

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The Bobo’s Loco Carneval tattoo on my wrist is one of my most meaningful tattoos. The tattoo is a symbol of our sideshow group. Nowadays our group has split up, and my friend and I perform under the name Los Bobos Hermanos.

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I ended up doing sideshow by chance. When you have a curious mind and certain kind of friends, you just end up doing all kinds of strange things! On the stage, we do traditional sideshow stunts: self-piercing, playing with fire, hook suspensions, lifting things, shooting rubber bullets… all kinds of nice stuff.

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Once during the show, I wounded my knee and it infected so badly I ended up in a hospital for a couple of weeks. The doctors were already considering a leg amputation, and for four days, they monitored the condition of my leg. If the infection would’ve reached my upper leg, the only choice would’ve been an amputation. During those days, I lay on the bed and wondered what I’d do with one leg only – I already invented many great stunts for the next shows!

On our circus group, we had a tradition that whenever you come up with a new stunt, you’ll be the one doing it. One day I was browsing the Internet and saw a less-lethal launcher that is used for riot controlling by the police force of Argentina, for example. I found out that the weapon is legal in Finland as well, so of course I had to get one. And since I had to get one, I had to try it as well.

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After the first time, I understood quite well why the police have chosen the same weapon. The first bullet hurts like hell, the other slows you down so that you’re unable to do anything, and after the third bullet, the only thing you can do is cry. That’s why I only take two bullets, tops!

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My physiotherapist once asked me where have these round scars come from. I just said that we have this freak show where my friends shoot me with rubber bullets.

I’ve been working at the airport for over twenty years now, and nowadays I work as a ramp supervisor. Where else could you expect to find a guy looking like this than working at the airport, haha! Truly speaking, the aviation industry has traditionally been a very conservative field of work, although the general attitude has finally started to change.

Many years ago, my photo was used as an example of a wrong-looking airport worker in educational material for people working in a certain airline.

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But here I am, still doing the same job, and I’ve even been getting more and more tattoos on my skin. Still, I started to collect tattoos on visible places only about five years ago. At that point I just thought fuck it, I’m a grown man and already built my career, there’s no reason to hold back anymore.

My other regular tattoo artist is Kimi from One Eye Tattoo. For some reason, he’s tattooed only the most visible places on my body: the tattoos on my fingers, side neck and head are all his artwork.

Humans With Tattoos

I have a memorial tattoo for our family dog on my neck.

I knew I wanted to get something on my knuckles, but the traditional love/hate design didn’t feel like my thing. Hard work describes both my day job and the freak show stuff – I’ve constantly been pushing my limits in both. After I got married, the ring has covered the letter R, so nowadays this tattoo has turned into Hard wok. Which is also fine by me.

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Many of my tattoos are on my skin without a special meaning. Instead, the ones that do have a meaning are truly significant for me. My most important tattoos are associated with my family.

On my lower back, I have an epitaph for my little brother. He died of an overdose in 2001, when he was only 18 years old.

The death of my brother was tough for me. He was still a young and stupid kid, who paid a price too high for his stupidity. A couple of weeks after his death, I also found out that my friend had died in a motorbike accident. It was a pretty tough year all in all.

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I met my wife via pro-wrestling. We’ve been married for seven years. I have her initials tattooed on my head, and she has my initials tattooed on her neck.

At first, there was just this heart tattoo on my chest. Later the heart was continued with tattoos that form the same kind of scars our daughter got after her heart operation.

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I’m currently 43 years old. As I’ve grown older, I’ve somehow started to realize that I’m a mortal being as well. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become wiser – I guess it’s more just the fact that nowadays I’m more aware that I have some limitations as well.

These days, as I have a family and a day job, I have less spare time than I used to have before. Some things have been left behind just because the older you get, the harder it becomes to recover. There was a time when we could do even three freak show gigs in two days, and after those days I literally felt quite beaten.

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Once my body caught fire during a show, and a part of this tattoo got burned away. I’ve been considering that maybe I should tattoo here a pair of scissors and a dotted line at some point.

At times, I’ve been thinking that if I wanted to get more tattoos on my fingers, I might get a text that says good luck. In the end, I guess I’ve had a pretty good luck in my life – it’s a lucky thing to be alive in the first place.

Humans With Tattoos