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INTERVIEWS: THE DISNEY TATTOO GUY

George Reiger is the Disney Tattoo Guy, universally recognised as the number one Disney fan in the World.

Over the years he's spent an absolute fortune on his hobby, from monthly visits to the Disney theme parks to turning his home into a tribute to the company.

We tracked him down and asked him to explain this fascination, and George responded by revealing why some people consider him a God, and the strange plans the Japanese have for his body.


What is it about Disney you love so much?
Always feeling like a kid, all the time. I'll never grow up until the day I die.

What was the first Disney film you saw? How old were you?
Snow White. I was around 4 or 5 yrs old.

What's your favourite piece of Disney memorabilia, and why?
There's actually 3 pieces out of my collection of over 19,000 that are are my favourites:

  • a pewter mug given to me by the opening night cast of Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, signed by the whole cast.
  • a signed Mickey hat given to me by Dianna Disney Miller (Walt's daughter). It's signed, "my father would have loved knowing someone who loved Disney as much as he did me."
  • my Bob Baker Fantasia marionette. It's worth about $39,000, and is number seven of only ten in existence. Numbers 1-5 are with the Disney Family, six and eight are in Michael Jackson's collection, number nine is owned by Diana Disney, and number 10 was buried with Walt.

    Have you got any tattoos of the old style Mickey - before they changed him to have bigger eyes etc? Do you like the old style Disney cartoons?
    I'm famous far around the World for being the only person in the World (with permission) to have every Disney character there is and yes, I have over 119 Mickeys on me, from original to today's styles. I have over 1575 characters in total.

    Have you ever fancied working at Disneyland?
    Yes, but it could never happen. I go to Disneyworld every month from Pennsylvania, but because I'm more than 87% covered with Disney tattoos I couldn't work for the company because cast members can't have visible tattoos.

    Not to sound morbid, but what will happen to the collection after you're gone - it sounds so amazing - will you donate it to a museum?
    My 18 year-old daughter was to get everything, but as of September 30th she got tired of Disney and ran away. To date that's 6 wives and 2 daughters. Now I don't know what will hapen to my collection. As for my body, I'm selling it to a Japanese company to be displayed for all time.

    Do your children like Disney, or has rebellion made them like someone like Geiger instead?
    My 23 year old left at the age of 13 - she got tired of it, and as I said my other daughter left a few months back. Every thing has to be Disney, and they couldn't cope with it.

    What do you think of cartoons like the Simpsons?
    I've never seen a single episode, so I couldn't tell you - I only watch Disney.

    Can you draw? Do you ever wish you were an animator instead of your current jobs, or would that take the magic away?
    I do some artwork, and I make some of my own pieces, but it's just fun being friends with all the Disney artists.

    Which is your favourite tattoo and why?
    A Fantasia Mickey from 32 years ago. I was 18, he was my first and besides, I'm a professional magician, so what would be better?

    What do you think of the rumours that Walt Disney's head is cyrogenically frozen?
    That's funny, because everyone asks me where he's frozen, but I go to his gravesite every 3 or 4 months when I go to Disneyland.

    Is there a place you wouldn't tattoo?
    I don't do my face and hands because I'm a professional magician.

    How did you meet wife number six?
    Doing magic in a bar.

    What has been the Disney Corporation's reaction to your fame?
    No comment from them - it's a catch 22 situation. They allow me to have the tattoos, but won't publically back me because they don't want anyone else have similar tattoos because of copyright issues. On the other hand, they get a lot of free advertising - as of today I've done over 541 interviews - 50 for American TV, 23 for International TV, plus many newspaper, radio, magazine & book interviews.

    Any regrets?
    None. This is what I want to do with my life.

    What was the last good book you read?
    I only read Disney books, so it would be the new Haunted Mansion book that came out in September.

    What do you look for in a partner?
    Someone who allows me to do my Disney and let me go wild. Thats why wife number six is OK - she lets me go every month, no questions asked.

    What do you think of the Pixar characters?
    I've had Bugs for years - Disney gives me new artwork every month. I've had Brother Bear for more than eighteen months and Nemo for around three years.

    Can you tell us a secret to a magic trick?
    Yes, but then I couldn't really, because a magician never gives up a secret.

    What sort of reactions do you get from people?
    All types, but mostly everyone loves it. Some people think of me as a legend or god. You name it, I've been called all kinds of neat names.

    Tell us a joke.
    God, you stumped me. I really don't know any (clean ones at least ).

    Who built your house? The Mickey fireplace is a lovely idea.
    Many of the items were designed by Disney artists, but I had one builder who put everything together.

    What do you focus on when the needle's running?
    The wall. Even after 32 years it hurts more then ever.

    How has fame treated you so far?
    Wonderful. I love it. I get to meet a lot of famous and interesting people, and I get the media to tell my story around the World.

    Is it possible to capture an animated character in a still tattoo?
    Yes, With shading you can work wonders.

    Do Disneyland Paris/Tokyo Disney feel different to you in comparison to the US parks?
    Yes. Paris love me - they show me off - but Japan is a little picky because having a lot of body tattoos in Japan represents the mob.

    On your site there's a picture of you with MC Hammer. What was he like?
    Great. We flew 1st class and talked all the way over to Disneyland Paris.

    Have Disney reacted to your plans to spread your ashes at Walt Disney World?
    They won't know - when the time comes my wife or daughter will spread them.

    You say you've spent $900,000 on your Disney love over the past 30 years. That's 30,000 per year. How can you afford this?
    It's actually more that that (my web site is 3 years old). I've spent over $100,000 just on the tattoos. The house is worth around $500,000, and my collection is in the millions. I've worked for the Post Office (for 26 years) but I also do over 250 magic shows a year. That's what pays for Disney (so, if anyone in England needs a magic show, please let me know).


    Visit George's website to discover more about this remarkable man.
    Thanks to the eager b4ta beavers for the questions, and to Fraser Lewry for putting it all together.