After meeting in a coffee shop as "blank slates"--or rather, sans tattoos--The Enigma (better known as "that puzzle-piece tattoo guy with horns") and Katzen (she of the tattooed tiger stripes and Teflon whisker implants) transformed themselves into full-body works of art, a rock band and sideshow legends. Ten years of marriage, and they're like any other couple. He finishes her sentences, and she finishes his...tattoos. I spent some time with the Human Marvels during their gig with the Bros. Grim Side Show (www.brosgrimsideshow.com) at Thrillvania in Terrell.
So what do people call you to get your attention? The? Enigma? Do they use the full name?
Enigma: Or the Enema...because everybody sees me and they shit their pants.
Are you tattooed everywhere?
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E: Well, you wouldn't just paint the front of your house...[Everywhere but] the soles of my feet.
So that was painful...
E: The bottoms of my feet?
No, other parts.
E: Like my nose?
I would think the testicles would be pretty harsh. Seriously, though, if it's everywhere...
E: Now get your mind out of my pants! About the tattoos and all of it, people ask what happens if we change our minds? That would be like getting a sex change and then changing your mind.
The pain question. Do you get that a lot?
E: Yeah. Pain is a symptom of the art. People think it's crazy and such a big commitment, but they have kids all the time. A lady will ask, "Didn't that hurt?!" and I say, "Well, now how many kids do you have?" They say the usual two or three, whatever. And I say, "Well, c'mon, didn't it hurt to have those kids!?"
Speaking of moms, did your family know you were planning to do this, and are they cool with it now?
E: They didn't know. You know the kids think it's cool, but you know moms. If I was president of the United States, she'd still call up and say, "Are you eating your greens?" That's what moms do...These aren't really horns. They're worry warts. It's my mom's fault. Actually, they're Teflon right now, but the next step is to replace it with coral, which your body theoretically registers as dead calcium and then replaces it with living calcium. Then you cut the skin off and sharpen them up. And then after a hundred years, they dig up your skull and the tabloids read, "Satan's skull found." I'm just planning ahead.
So did you do sword swallowing before the sideshow?
E: Oh, yeah. When I was 16 years old I started swallowing swords. I led a very creative childhood.
Katzen: We also both read a lot of comic books and watched a lot of monster movies.
E: I was spending most of my life in the backseat of a car going back and forth to private lessons, you know, casseroles in the evening. In junior high I stumbled upon magic books and all of these miracle things that you could do such as sword swallowing and stuff. So I decided to bring that art form into the next generation.
People of all kinds relate to you. From the average person to people with deformities, outcasts, what have you.
E: Hey, in this business oddities are a money maker. It's valuable.
K: Sideshow performers call it the blessing and the curse.
So about the Human Marvels CD...
E: Buy the CD! Visit the site. If there's a drummer out there that needs a job...especially if that drummer is a little person. That would be an honor...they're like royalty to us. --Merritt Martin
Are You in or Out?
When Playboy came to town with its Spin-the-Bottle Tour (Full Frontal, February 27), it didn't go so well for me. Which is a bit of an understatement, really. All you need to know about the event is my wife ended up having to simulate sex with some random dude.
So it was with more than a little trepidation that I attended Playboy's latest foray into Dallas on October 22 at Gypsy Tea Room, which found the venerable men's magazine teaming up with Dewar's to try to bring back lounge culture, tapping into the Ocean's Eleven vibe. As a precaution, I left my lady at home.
This time, the guys who came out for the shindig (and it was pretty much all dude, all the time) were busy watching the girls go-go dancing on the ad hoc stages, or the World Series game on the huge screen near the Tea Room's actual stage. Where, for some reason, a ponytailed gentleman was playing drums along with the music (including a big chunk of the Kill Bill soundtrack) coming over the P.A. system.
Another weird thing: Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't lounge culture already come back, and then go away again? But, whatever, Hugh Hefner's face should be on Mount Rushmore, so if he wants to reminisce about the Playboy Club's heyday, fine by me. If that means putting up big bucks to remake the Tea Room in the Playboy Club's image (the room was draped in more velvet than George Costanza's dreams, and there were plenty of piles of pillows to, you know, lounge on), fine. If that involves bringing a few Playmates to town, even better.
I'm not sure exactly how many of the aforementioned Playmates were, indeed, up in this piece, but at least Miss March 2003, Penelope Jimenez, was on hand, dolled up in her emerald-green Playboy Bunny outfit. If you happen to be on my Christmas card list, you'll get to see what I just described, since the Polaroid I took with the 24-year-old Jimenez (favorite food: "anything vegetarian") will be gracing the cover. The cheerful snapshot of my cat and two dogs dressed as reindeer will have to wait its turn. --Zac Crain
In the Army Now
A dusty Army uniform wasn't what Dallas actress and singer Denise Lee dreamed of wearing in her film debut. The popular chanteuse affects a more glam image in her weekly cabaret appearances at Bill's Hideaway, a Dallas nightspot. Onstage at local theaters, Lee is a high-powered performer known for belting showstoppers in productions. But Lee happily shed false eyelashes and lip gloss to play 30-year-old Army cook Shoshanna Johnson in the fact-based NBC made-for-TV movie Saving Jessica Lynch, airing during prime time November 9. Johnson, Lynch and other members of the 507th Maintenance Company took a wrong turn and were ambushed in An Nasiriyah, Iraq, on March 23. Eleven American soldiers were killed; five others were captured. Johnson was shot in the ankles by the Iraqis and held as a POW for 22 days.
Did you ever watch war movies before being cast in one?
I'm a wuss. I could never even watch Saving Private Ryan. Movies affect me so much emotionally. After Cry Freedom and Schindler's List, I cried for weeks.
This was a fast shoot, 23 days. Did you have time to do boot camp-type training?
We had one day of weapons training to learn how to hold the M-16s. I got to shoot mine in the ambush scenes. That was fun. I shouldn't have enjoyed it so much.
Do any stunts?
Not really. I'm a tall woman, so my stunt double was a guy named Kiante Elam, who has doubled for Samuel Jackson. But the first day on the set, we had scenes where we were in the vehicles and they were shooting marbles at the windshield. That will get your attention. They were very safety-conscious on the set, but the actors playing Iraqis had to point guns right in our faces. Talk about finding motivation to be scared.
Which would you rather be--diva or action star?
Diva! I loved making the movie, but it was really hard. We had to wear all the same Army clothes, including the heavy vests, that the real soldiers wear every day in Iraq. We had medics on the set because actors were getting heat exhaustion, so I can't imagine what they're feeling over there. Jumping in and out of the Humvees day after day--I was glad I'd started aerobics training four months before. I might not have made it otherwise. My respect for the military increased 12-fold after this.
It was sad that in that area of South Dallas where we were shooting the ambush scenes, all these guns we were using were going off day after day, and nobody ever came outside to see what was going on. --Elaine Liner
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