Mexicans aren’t too up on internet memes. Perhaps it’s because we don’t really keep indoor cats; maybe it’s because we need to save up memory on the camcorder for an upcoming quinceañera. Whatever the case, my heart swelled up a few weeks back when the inked mug of one Mariajosé Cristerna popped up everywhere from Fox News to The Huffington Post. With two sets of titanium horn implants, permanent fangs and pretty much every square centimeter of her body covered in tattoos, Mexico’s “Vampire Woman” became an instant weblebrity.
Catching up with her during a appearance at the Expo Tattoo Tijuana, where she took pictures with fans at 50 pesos a pop, the attorney and mother of four opened up about her battered-woman past, answered questions in the third person and sent out a message to a certain pop star who clearly wasn’t born that way.
Enrique: How did you react to the sudden bolt of fame?
Mariajosé Cristerna: Mariajosé has been working in tattooing and body modification for 21 years. This didn’t happen overnight, but I’m elated because Mariajosé is Mariajosé. Mariajosé never lets fame go to her head. Mariajosé is the face of the Mexican woman. I am the new Frida.
Any interesting fan stories?
The other day, my daughter Silvana said there was a little girl asking for me on the phone. I picked up, and she said: “Thanks to you Mariajosé, my mom will never allow herself to be beaten.” How do you think that made me feel? That my fight is not in vain. I love tattoos because I am an artist, but I love life and [showing] respect to others even more, being the good lawyer I am. It makes me proud to see women stop perceiving themselves as objects and come into their own.
What do you tell people who think of you as the antithesis to femininity?
Look, I am of Greek blood from my father’s side and Mexican from my mother’s. Both the Aztec culture and the ancient Greeks modified their bodies. It’s a means of expression, and it’s far from bad. It’s art.
Tell me about your fist tattoo.
My dad took me to get it done when I was 14. It’s a star with a devil inside it. I was in the middle of my abhorescent years, and that was my inner devil manifesting itself—not as something bad, per se, but as a metaphor for change.
What do you think of someone like Lady Gaga who’s currently sporting fake modifications?
Listen, I like her message of changing the world, but let’s not do things half-assed. Conviction doesn’t sprout because of money or for appearances sake. Conviction should come from the heart, because people can tell when it doesn’t. Perhaps she should feel things more and not just give lip service.