One of this year’s most uncomfortable television moments unfolds on the latest Black Ink Crew: Chicago on VH1, when a woman gets a face tattoo of her dead son — and immediately hates it, saying she can’t recognize the man in the picture.
The scene takes place after the woman comes into the 9 Mag studio featured on the show requesting that tattoo artist Phor — who is also a rapper — carry out the artwork.
Phor is evidently uneasy at the request due to its sensitive nature and the fact she wants it on her face, but agrees to do it after she shows him both a picture of her dead son and the image of him alive that she wants inked on her cheek.
She tells Phor and fellow artist Van Johnson how her son was killed six months earlier after being shot in the face. She says: “When you ask me why am I putting it on my face? I want to feel the pain…the pain of his last breath.”
Phor talks her through the tattoo as they do it and shows her the pen-and-ink version before he turns it into the actual inked artwork. But things come crashing down when he finishes and walks her to a mirror so she can see the end result.
She immediately shows a dislike to it, and says she can’t recognize the man on her face. She says: “That don’t look like him to me. I don’t know who that man is.”
Phor tries to explain that it might look different because she is looking at it in reverse because it’s in a mirror, and takes a picture on his phone to show her. But she fails to be convinced, saying: “No, I don’t know who he is.”
Even after getting a second opinion, she is unable to see her son in the image. She says: “No, it’s not my son.”
The woman, growing more and more upset, then turns to one of the camera crew, and asks him: “Take the camera off me.” She then tells another cameraman: “Take that motherf******* camera off me!”
Phor, who is visibly shaken, says: “I’ve never had this happen to me, ever, in eight years of tattooing. I’m at a loss right now.”
Black Ink Crew: Chicago airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on VH1.