Ink from the clink
Even an egoist like Montel Vontavious Porter -- who will capitalize on any opportunity to rave about himself or what he does -- wouldn't allow WWE.com to photograph every tattoo he's gotten.
"I won't show them to you, but the first tattoos I got were gang related," MVP said. "They were done by hand with a sewing needle wrapped in thread with Indian ink. The first was in my bedroom by my best friend … the second one I got in a park by a girl I knew when I was 16."
Overall, MVP claims his tattoos retell the story of his life; an illustration of his mistakes as well as the triumphs.
"Sometimes people say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so if you look at my tattoos and you know what you're reading, you can draw a lot from them. If you don't … well, (expletive) off."
Porter's latest tattoo, which he acquired in late summer of 2006, takes up the majority of real estate on his right forearm.
"It says ‘Monte Cristo' and was inspired by the Alexandre Dumas classic novel; not the movie, that just sucked," he said. "Underneath it says, ‘The best revenge is living well.' Those who have read the book and followed my tumultuous life understand that in many ways my life parallels the Count of Monte Cristo -- the only difference is his friends sent him away and he did nothing.
"Okay, so I did it," he said referring to the crime that landed him in prison for nine-and-a-half years, "but my friends still ratted me out. That novel, in many ways, symbolizes who I am. Ultimately I'm sure a lot of those people who betrayed my trust see me on TV, some are dead and some, I've heard, are strung out or living normal, everyday nine-to-five lives. And that's just beneath me."
Steve at Amazing Tattoos, a Houston-based operation, was credited with the artwork, and MVP told WWE.com he's decided to have the tattoo on his left shoulder retouched when he heads back to Houston.
The tattoo Steve will retouch is on Porter's left arm, the sarcophagus of King Tut, a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt's New Kingdom.
"I have a fascination with Egypt," revealed MVP. "It's the greatest civilization. When the rest of the world was still in darkness, there were universities in Egypt and there were monetary systems, the pyramids."
The King Tut tattoo originated during MVP's stint in prison. He said it cost him the equivalent of 20 dollars.
As one can imagine, prison tattoo guns aren't as high tech -- or hygienic -- as ones used at tattoo shops on the outside. The primitiveness also didn't help subdue the pain that stems from getting inked.
"I feel no pain," MVP snapped, "but the tattoo guns in prison were usually made of out a motor that you get from an electric shaver or tape recorder," he said. "You take a toothbrush and a tube from a pen; down the barrel of the pen you take a guitar string and file it down and work it into the motor. Then the batteries fuel the motor."
Another Egyptian themed tattoo rests on his triceps.
"I have the all-seeing eye of Horus on the back of my arm, which is a symbol of protection; it watches my back. That one cost me two packs of Newports."
While incarcerated, MVP said he read a biography of Malcolm X. Much like the Count of Monte Cristo, he found striking similarities that he felt the two shared.
"It's a poor portrait of Malcolm X on my left pectoral," he said. "I'm really disappointed with it, but I haven't had the time to get it fixed. Maybe I won't. That's just what I ended up with.
"The going to prison, the transformation, learning, getting out and reinventing yourself were all similarities I shared with Malcolm X. However, unlike Malcolm, I'm not out to change the world. I am my number one concern."