Charlotte Guttenberg and Chuck Helmke
Charlotte Guttenberg and Chuck Helmke

Meet the world's most tattooed senior citizens

The couple met in a tattoo parlour

Olivia Blair
Thursday 30 March 2017 17:36
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Charlotte Guttenberg got her first tattoo when she was 57-years-old. 11 years later and she is the world's most tattooed female senior citizen.

Guttenberg, from Florida, has covered 91.5 per cent of her body in ink. Her partner Chuck Helmke’s body is 93.75 per cent covered in tattoos leading the Guinness World Records 2017 to officially declare them the most tattooed senior citizen female and male, respectively.

The couple met – unsurprisingly – in a tattoo parlour in November, 2006 and have been together since 2007. Guttenberg got her first tattoo as a birthday present to herself following the death of her husband who did not like body art. Helmke, whose wife had died a month earlier, had popped into the parlour to see friends when he was asked by the tattoo artist to comfort Guttenberg who was uncomfortable during the long session.

“We both love this ancient art form, both the history and the artistry of it,” they told The Independent.

Helmke entered the world of body art long before Guttenberg, getting three in one day at the age of 18 when he had enlisted in the US army along with several of his friends.

Years later, and the couple has “full-body suits”. Why do they have so many?

“Because we can. There is no limit on the amount anyone can have, it is only limited by your own desire. It is up to the individual,” they say. “We both have body suits that are Oriental and Spiritual in theme, although they are very different. Our tattoos tell the story we each want to tell. It seems we both have a lot to say.”

Guttenberg and Helmke

The couple, who have no matching tattoos, have favourites among their sea of ink for different and poignant reasons.

“My favourite has to be the memorial tattoo to my deceased wife,” Helmke says. “ It includes her name and her two favourite stuffed toys that travelled numerous times to Japan with us, as well as to other places. It has her ashes tattooed into it.”

Guttenberg’s favourite is her first, a colourful butterfly on a peony, because “it was the start of my tattoo journey”.

A double vision of head-to-toe body art must lead to a lot of stares and reactions, which the couple says has mostly been positive, saying they even enjoy people looking as they can then share their “artwork” with others.

“We realise tattooing is not for everyone,” they explain. “We never attempt to force our ideas on to anyone or even encourage people to be tattooed if they are not interested in it. It is a personal decision to do so.”

However, there has also been negative comments yet Guttenberg (a writer) and Helmke (a retired self-defence trainer) have quite a refreshing and straightforward response to that as well.

“There has been some rudeness and offensive comments made – mostly on social media – but we both consider that says more about that individual than it does us. Many people are religiously and culturally opposed to tattoos, as we said, we don’t try to force our artwork on anyone. If you want to look at it, please do. If not, don’t. For us, no other response is necessary.”

In 2015, Guttenberg was recognised as being the most tattooed female senior citizen. While working on her profile, the company then came across Helmke and ratified him as the world’s most tattooed male senior citizen.

They have since had more tattoos and are awaiting to see if they have broken any more world records.

“It has been an honour for both of us to have these titles from Guinness World Records. We have enjoyed meeting, in person and on social media, the many people who have contacted us and admired or inquired about our artwork... It gives us the opportunity to interact with people that we wouldn’t have otherwise met. One of the things we both have noted, is that many young people come up to us in public, and strike up conversations with us.

“Ordinarily, they probably would not consider talking to people in our age bracket. We think our tattoos make us more approachable – they realize we are just like them despite our ages…The titles have given us the opportunity to promote a better understanding of tattooed people, especially older tattooed people, as well as affording us the ability to bridge age and gender gaps.”

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