The King of Ink Land is in town – and he’s meeting his girlfriend’s mum while he’s here.
Multicoloured Matthew Wheelan – who legally changed his name to Body Art and became classed as The King Of Ink Land – is brightening up the Lib Dem party conference in the North East this weekend.
The 32-year-old party volunteer said his party leader Nick Clegg has publicly proclaimed he wanted to increase the diversity of elected representatives and shake-off the “too male, too pale” image.
Body Art said the “tattooed community” was as much in need of representation as other minority groups.
“While a person with tattoos chooses to mark their skin. Unlike other minorities they are not born that way,” said the former professional wrestler.
Body Art has spent almost 300 hours in the tattooist’s chair getting 80 per cent of his body inked, at a cost of £20,000.
He said the right to start a family and the right not to be forced into marriage were enshrined in equality laws, but having tattoos is not.
“If you get a sun tan, people are fine – should you acquire it on a beach or under a machine – yet you are changing your body,” said the lively Lib Dem, who also used to do alternative modelling work.
“Just marking your body with ink is classed a little more extreme and often will result in problems seeking work.”
As well as rubbing shoulders with his Lib Dem heroes at the Sage Gateshead, Body Art will also get to meet his partner’s parents in East Durham on his visit to the North East.
The 32-year-old – from Birmingham – met partner Lisa Lawrence, also 32, from Seaham, online while she was living in America.
“We use to talk on a tattoo page of a social network,” he said. “She respects what I do and accepts me for who I am not what I look like.
“I’m going to meet her mum while I’m up”