Known as “The Greek Albanian,” Captain Costentenus was a circus performer and believed prince who was active during the 1870s. Tattooed on every part of his body except the soles of his feet, Costentenus claimed to have acquired his tattoos after being kidnapped in Burma and held down for three hours each morning to get tattooed by Chinese Tatars. Though his tattoos depicted Burmese species and Eastern mythology, it is widely believed Costentenus had himself tattooed for the purpose of a lucrative career in show business. The plan proved successful, as the performer ultimately commanded a base salary of $1000/week at the height of his career.
A New York Times article from August 9, 1880 remarked that “half the people who visited [Captain Costentenus,] this last specimen of Grecian art, looked as if they would be quite willing to go through the process of having their skins embroidered, if thereby they could insure a comfortable living without labor.”
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