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Artists In Their Own Words: Pauly Jacob Lingerfelt (son) and Debbie Horrigan (mother)

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Pauly Jacob Lingerfelt (left) (photo: Kassandra Cruz); Debbie Horrigan (right)

Who: Pauly Jacob Lingerfelt

What: tattoo artist, actor

Where: 9th Ward

Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: His shotgun house with incense burning and African masks clustered in corners to greet you.

Q: Let’s say that you changed into a woman and then had to impersonate a man. What female traits do you think would get in the way of you impersonating a man?

A: I gotta wrap my head around that for a second. Maybe the high threshold for pain that women have would get in the way. That patience that only women have — that ability to deal with aggravation like no one else.

There are so many people that come into Downtown Tattoos to get tattooed when they’re older — like sixty-five plus — and it’s so hard to work with their skin. Almost impossible. Especially if they’ve been in the sun a lot.

Well, we get a lot of grandmas that come into the shop, and they’re fearless. They act like eighteen-year-olds full of confidence.

I had this one woman come in who was in her seventies. It was her first tattoo, and she wanted it right between her breasts, which is the most horrifically painful spot. And I told her, ‘I don’t know. This is your first tattoo, and that’s a really painful spot.’ But she wouldn’t hear it. She wanted it there. She got this pretty sizeable fleur-de-lis, and she didn’t wink an eye. She sat there like a champ.

I see that with women — they have no issues with the pain.

Q: If you lost everything except your wallet while traveling, what would be the first three things you would buy?

A: Cigarettes. Immediately. A toothbrush would be second. And probably ChapStick. ‘Cause I brush my teeth all of the time, so I need the ChapStick to balance that out. So, yeah, I apparently have an oral fixation.

Q: What’s a good prank that you’ve either pulled or had pulled on you?

A: Well, I’m really particular about who gets to sleep in my bed. You know, good friends of mine or people that I care about can totally sleep in my bed, but I don’t like just random people in there.

And I make my bed every day. Right when I get up. I’m not sure where that comes from, but there’s something about my bed being mine — having the clean sheets and everything — that makes me particular about it.

So once I was out of town for a few days, and I lived with a bunch of roommates. Someone who was at the house had lost a dreadlock, so a friend of mine took the dreadlock and placed it in my bed. They also left an empty condom wrapper near my bed, so when I got home, I see this and start piecing together the scene in my head.

I start thinking that someone not only slept in my bed, but they must have had wild sex in my bed to the point that someone lost a dreadlock. I totally freaked out and started screaming at my roommates.

When they started laughing I knew it hadn’t happened. Luckily, no one had actually slept in my bed.

Q: Why do you think people own cats?

A: Probably…I don’t know...I guess because they need a certain amount of love but not too much. They need a little bit of badass in their life to love them.

People want dogs because they want a real serious love affair. Cats come around occasionally, they’re not clingy, and they don’t really like you all that much. It doesn’t want to snuggle with you. It wants its own freedom.

Having a dog is like being truly married.

We have so many stray cats around here, but I’ve adopted chickens more than anything else. I have so many leaves from all the trees in my backyard that there are plenty of bugs to keep the chickens happy. They live under the house a lot and have little chicks that are all cute. I’ve gotten so used to the roosters crowing that it’s part of my morning now. Other people come and sleep here and are totally freaked by it, but I barely notice it. I can sleep through it if I want to, and I enjoy it if it wakes me up.

Q: What do you feel like you tell yourself a lot?

A: I think a lot about what I’m going to be like when I’m fifty. What am I going to look like? It’s more that that though. It’s more about what I’m doing now and how that’s going to affect me when I’m fifty. Even something as simple as being in the sun. Will I be fifty with this sick, weird tan?

I wonder about what state of mind I’ll be in. Will I be this wacky fifty-year-old or just some content guy? I think about what I can start doing right now in order to become that man. You know, little steps constantly leading to this future of me.

When I start to get really visible tattoos I realize that I’m setting it up so that when I’m forty or fifty I won’t be too regular of a dude.

Making decisions now that will have this effect on who I will be; that’s a thought that constantly goes through my head.

Q: What’s one of your favorite things about your mom that she may not know?

A: My favorite thing about my mom I’d say, is her ability to relate to anyone at anytime. Regardless of age, looks, interests, or any factor that normally would separate people, she’ll relate and force them to relate quickly. She understands that it’s just humans talking to humans and anything else falls to the wayside.

Who: Debbie Horrigan

What: “A woman like you’ve never met before” - Pauly

Where: Born and raised in the 9th Ward

Her Chosen Location for Interview: Big Daddy’s, where three of her children met her and Pauly played her favorite songs on the jukebox.

Q: If you changed into a man and then had to impersonate a woman. What male traits do you think would get in the way of you impersonating a woman?

A: I’m already a man. [Laughs] Truly. Pretty much. It could be as obvious as my voice, but I’ll go deeper. As a man, I can’t bullshit. Women can’t survive if they can’t bullshit. If I actually became a man, I wouldn’t have to bullshit, but then to live in a man’s world as a woman, I would have to bullshit.

We’re evolving, but we aren’t evolving that fast, and the establishment is always there. And they know what they’re doing.

After Katrina I was evacuated to Grenada, Mississippi. I was an evacuee, a refugee, and then a detainee. I had to get out the e’s, and I asked God to give me a new letter. And I was an evacuee, a refugee, and a detainee all within a month. I was bad. It took me a year and a half to get back to New Orleans, and I still feel bad for the people who weren’t able to make it back. I’ve got a lot of feelings about that. And the establishment knows what they’re doing.

You can’t kid yourself for a second that it’s not a man’s world.

Q: If you lost everything except your wallet while traveling, what would be the first three things you’d buy?

A: A pack of cigarettes. Right away. A cell phone so I could communicate. Then I’d get a good glass of wine so I could sit down and think about my next move.

Q: What’s a good prank that you’ve either pulled or had pulled on you?

A: The best prank that’s ever been pulled on me, for sure, was by my dear friend Steve, who I love so much — he’s gone now, R.I.P. Steve owned Bud Rip’s, and we were there all the time. Steve was the kindest, most generous guy I’ve ever known. He is one of my heroes in life, and he was comedic in everything he did.

So he owned and tended the bar. They had a deer head, a real deer head from the body of a deer that someone had shot. It had these big horns and these beautiful brown eyes.

What Steve would do, is he would squeeze the door open to Bud Rips and here would come out this deer head with the horns and everything. And Steve was so good with how he controlled that head you would swear — and you’re probably already drunk by the time you get to Bud Rip’s — it was real. And the last thing you expect to be coming out of the side door of a 9th Ward bar is a wild animal. And he was so good at manipulating that thing. He had it down pat.

He planned it perfectly when I was going there. I didn’t know anything about this deer head at the time, so when I showed up and saw those deer eyes and those horns coming out, I’ll tell you what. I fell. Between the libations and the scuffling that I did, I just hit the floor.

Then I saw that he did that to so many others, and I didn’t feel so embarrassed about my reaction, especially when I heard this grown man just scream and scream when it happened to him. And once you knew the prank, you just laughed every time he did it.

‘Cause when you go there you aren’t thinking, ‘Now why is there a wild animal coming out this side door?’ You just react. I didn’t know if that deer was heading for Piety Street to grab a cab, but I was not going to get in his way.

Q: Why do you think people own cats?

A: They have a need to try and draw an emotion that isn’t available elsewhere. Cats are very hard to get an emotion from. We mainly have the choice of a cat or a dog when it’s about having an animal in our house. A dog is giving you love all of the time.

You can leave for five minutes and a dog is yelling, ‘Hey, you’re back home! I missed you!’ Their tail is wagging. They’re going crazy. And a cat is looking at you and saying, ‘What the f@$%? I was happy you were gone. Why are you waking me up? I got the chair and I ain’t moving, so why are you bothering me?’

I gotta think that cat people need to create a leverage to draw out some emotion from that cat.

Q: What do you feel like you tell yourself a lot?

A: That I’m blessed. I could be dead for so many reasons. I’m truly blessed. And I’m a mother before anything else. I have to say, you know what you know when you know it. Even before I was a mother, I knew that it was going to be the most important thing in my life. When I did become a mother, it confirmed that feeling. It kept on and keeps on growing. And now I recognize that, for me, it’s the absolute best thing I could do on Earth.

Q: What’s one of your most favorite things about Pauly that he may not know?

A: I’ve got so many favorite things about Pauly, but something he may not know is that he was my best child when he was a baby. He was the sweetest, easiest child. He was always smiling and always laughing. It was my hardest time — he was my fourth child and completely unexpected — but as a baby, Pauly gave me strength, and he still gives me strength.

Pauly Lingerfelt is one of the tattoo artists at Downtown Tattoos. He has starred in Buttercup Bill and is featured in Hurray for the Riff Raff's music video "I Know it's Wrong (But That's Alright)". You can also find his designs and artwork at his tumblr page or you can follow him on Instagram.