‘I’m no different to anyone else’ – meet Lucky Diamond Rich, the world’s most tattooed man
Meet Lucky Diamond Rich, the world’s most tattooed man.
Born in New Zealand as Gregory Paul McLaren, an extraordinary and record-breaking future lay ahead of him.
He grew up to be a performer, joining the circus aged just 16. As he got older, his repertoire expanded to include chainsaw-juggling, unicycling and sword-swallowing – and a brand-new name.
But how did his unusual name come about?
“I guess I’m lucky by nature; to be able to juggle a chainsaw, to be able to swallow swords, ride a ten-foot unicycle,” he explained.
“Diamond came about because my friends call me a bit of a rough diamond, and Rich because I’m rich in spirit.”
Aside from his name and his profession, Lucky’s stand out feature is of course his heavily tattooed skin.
His layers of ink have earned him the record for most tattooed man (current), a record he has held for over a decade.
It’s been calculated that Lucky has spent more than 1,000 hours having his body modified by tattoo artists.
In addition to his tattoos, Lucky has had his earlobes stretched and has his teeth replaced with silver veneers, as well as various piercings throughout his life.
His striking image can evoke many different reactions – not all of which are positive.
“What other people think of me is none of my business. I don’t get my self-esteem from what others think of me. I like myself today,” he said.
“Everyone’s different with how they react. It’s like the weather, you can’t predict it, you can’t control it, you just deal with it as it comes.
“I’m no different to anyone else, I’m just heavily tattooed. I bleed like anyone else, I have the same sorts of problems that most people have living through their daily life.”
The road to Lucky’s iconic look has humble beginnings.
“The first tattoo I ever had I was 16 – I was travelling with the circus in Australia,” he recalled.
“I’d never been tattooed before and I got a small juggling club on my hip. I got it on my hip because I didn’t want my mum to see it.
“Just one tattoo at a time I guess, that’s how everyone does it.”
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After his initial tattoo, Lucky waited two years before getting another.
“I got tattooed again when I was 18, and then I got regularly tattooed as much as I could.”
“I’ve met a lot of tattooists from all over the world, so I don’t have any particular tattooist that I go to. It’s wherever I ended up. I just said ‘here’s a section of my body, go for it’.
“I was performing all over the world, travelling as a street performer. With the money that I made, I put it back into how I look. It seemed like the right thing to do, karmically.
Ten years on from when his obsession began, Lucky had his first body suit completed – a body suit being an extensive themed tattoo that covers the entire torso or the entire body.
“I got my first body suit completed when I was 28. Then I started going over the tops of tattoos I already had.”
“I blacked my entire body in, and I was going over the top of that with white, and then colour over that. It’s just layers on layers.”
He now boasts more than 200% coverage, including his eyelids, the delicate skin between the toes, the upper part of the ear canals and even his gums.
Despite his multitude of tattoos, Lucky is of the opinion that he just has one.
“I have one tattoo and it’s the biggest one on the planet. It’s multi-layered which means I’ve had more than one layer of ink. In some areas it’s three or four layers. I’m 100%, plus layers.
“I don’t have any particular favourites, every one has got a story attached to it. My favourite tattoo is the one I’ve ended up with.”
You’d think that someone who’s received so many tattoos over the years would have at least one regret, but Lucky is adamant he does not.
“No. I don’t regret anything that I’ve got or done. I think that’s a fear that people have that aren’t tattooed. You can always get them fixed, covered, changed, or removed.”
After retaining the title and breaking his own record for so many years, Lucky has decided to be the other end of the needle.
“I haven’t been tattooed for about 6 years. These days I tattoo people. I get to enjoy the buzz through doing it for others.”
Despite not topping up his tattoos in years, no-one has beaten Lucky’s record.
He once tied the record with the aptly named Tom Leppard (UK) who resides on the Isle of Skye. Tom has covered 99.9% of his skin with a leopard print design, the skin between the dark spots tattooed saffron yellow.
But after adding more layers, Lucky is the clearly in the lead when it comes to record-breaking ink.
“When I was a kid, I’d look in the book, and think how amazing it would be to be that person in the Guinness World Records book.
“It’s an honour and a privilege. To have young kids come up and want to get a photo because they recognise me.”