Decoder Ring

Tattoo Flash

Four stories about tattoos.


Episode Notes

Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every episode, host Willa Paskin takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians, and obsessives to try and figure out where it comes from, what it means, and why it matters.

On this episode, Decoder Ring senior producer Benjamin Frisch takes us through four stories about tattoos and the effects of time. First, a look into a collection of 300 preserved tattooed skins from the 19th century, then a personal investigation into the Tasmanian Devil tattoo, a profile of a man so devoted to Microsoft he got multiple Zune tattoos, and finally a look into why Chinese character tattoos are so often mistranslated.

Some of the voices you’ll hear in this episode include preserved tattooed skins researcher Dr. Gemma Angel; Zune superfan Steven Smith; author of How Music Got Free, Stephen Witt; fairy princess tattoo-haver Mindy Bonner; creator of the Hanzi Smatter blog Tian Tang; associate provost and dean of the college at Clark University Betsy Huang; writer and speaker Ryan Takemiya; Dr. Matt Lodder; tattoo artist Misha; tattoo artist Juli Moon; character designer Becky Dreisdadt; Taz-tattoo owner Rob Brucker; and animation historian Jerry Beck.

Thanks this episode also to tattoo historian Carmen Nyssen; artist and writer Jonathan Shaw, Brett Lemoine, and Mike Hawman.


This episode was produced by Willa Paskin and Benjamin Frisch.


About the Show

In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.

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