Would Duke be as memorable without his tattoos?

Use this forum to discuss the May 2018 Book of the Month, "The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid" by Gary Robinson
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K Geisinger
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Would Duke be as memorable without his tattoos?

Post by K Geisinger » 08 May 2018, 07:19

The first thing people notice about Duke are his tattoos. Would Duke be as instantly recognizable and successful without that large visual appeal? Is it Duke's personality or his visual "otherness" that makes the character?

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Post by Kendra M Parker » 08 May 2018, 11:54

As a reader, I think it is Duke's personality that makes him memorable. Sure, his tattoos are pretty cool. I loved how much he reveled in them and the special meaning that each one had, but I think his personality on the stage is what keeps people riveted to his performances. The tattoos just catch people's attention to watch him in the first place.

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Post by CatInTheHat » 08 May 2018, 12:07

I think that during his "hey-day," his tattoos would have really stood out. They are so common now that it would be different if he were in his prime now.
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Post by kfwilson6 » 08 May 2018, 13:23

I think his tattoos really added to the intrigue that surrounded him. They made him even more unique and "dangerous." I don't think he would have been as widely recognized without the tattoos. I do agree with CatInTheHat though that they would have such a huge impact today.

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Post by kdstrack » 08 May 2018, 23:02

Tattoos can intrigue or they can alienate. Duke had so many other things going for him that he didn't really need the tattoos. Just being a sword swallower would make him memorable. As the author mentioned in the book, there are only about two dozen people - in the whole world - who can perform that act! But I do think Duke needed the tattoos as a crutch to build up his own self-image.
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Post by Ginnamassa19 » 09 May 2018, 05:18

I feel like it depends! Are we talking about Duke being memorable to the readers or to the people in the book? If it's the former, I feel like his personality would be the defining thing; if it's about first impressions during the show, his tattoos are probably important in catching the eye of the audience. Then again, like what Kendra M Parker said, Duke's stage persona is the bigger part of what keeps the audience rapt--the tattoos are just what he uses to draw people in.

Having said that, I found Duke's personality more interesting than the tattoos :)

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Post by Jeyasivananth » 09 May 2018, 14:21

K Geisinger wrote:
08 May 2018, 07:19
The first thing people notice about Duke are his tattoos. Would Duke be as instantly recognizable and successful without that large visual appeal? Is it Duke's personality or his visual "otherness" that makes the character?
Well going by the novel, tattoos weren't mainstream then. They were still regarded as a fringe art or even tabooed. In such circumstances having a tattoo would have garnered him an instant attention. However, it is definitely his personality and rare talent that makes his memorable and endearing to the people to know him in the book and to the readers.

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Post by Christina O Phillips » 09 May 2018, 19:41

Yes, I think he would be recognizable from his talent and personality.

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Post by bootsie0126+ » 09 May 2018, 21:10

Yes. All the old clichés regarding the character of a person is on the inside are true. For instance, "You can't judge a book by its cover, it's not what's on the outside that matters but what's on the inside, or beauty is only skin deep, it's the inside that counts." There are many people who are able to describe you but only those that really know you will be able to answer the question of "what type of person you are." Duke's personality is what people will remember about him. Without the tattoos, he would still remain the same wild, adventurous, destructive person that he really is. The outer appearance is what people see first, but the characteristics of that person is the thing that people who truly know you will remember. The tattoos, made Duke more visible to stares and whispered conversations but his personality traits stayed the same and what was remembered by people.

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Post by bootsie0126+ » 09 May 2018, 21:25

Jeyasivananth wrote:
09 May 2018, 14:21
K Geisinger wrote:
08 May 2018, 07:19
The first thing people notice about Duke are his tattoos. Would Duke be as instantly recognizable and successful without that large visual appeal? Is it Duke's personality or his visual "otherness" that makes the character?
Well going by the novel, tattoos weren't mainstream then. They were still regarded as a fringe art or even tabooed. In such circumstances having a tattoo would have garnered him an instant attention. However, it is definitely his personality and rare talent that makes his memorable and endearing to the people to know him in the book and to the readers.
You are right, this book was set in 1967. Different times completely. Tattoos were mostly seen on bikers and people who lived life outside the norm. Back then it was not a common occurrance to see someone with tattoos. Not like today. Duke's tattoos attracted attention to his physical appearance but his skill and talents of entertaing people is what kept people returning to see him. Sure in this day and age, a tattooed person would still draw attention but for most people, it's not uncommon to see.

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Post by Nena_Morena » 09 May 2018, 22:59

Surely his art was the main thing that made him memorable, but Duke was also so unique because of his personality and the character that he built over the years; his tattoos were part of that. His appearance was the first thing that caught people's eye. The curiosity the tattoos brought led people to want to see his show.

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Post by M Nshangika » 10 May 2018, 05:42

I think the tattoos are one facet of his nature that is combined to create an unforgettable character. He is one complex person, but I believe he would still be memorable, just not in the same way as he is now.

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Post by K Geisinger » 10 May 2018, 07:37

Jeyasivananth wrote:
09 May 2018, 14:21
K Geisinger wrote:
08 May 2018, 07:19
The first thing people notice about Duke are his tattoos. Would Duke be as instantly recognizable and successful without that large visual appeal? Is it Duke's personality or his visual "otherness" that makes the character?
Well going by the novel, tattoos weren't mainstream then. They were still regarded as a fringe art or even tabooed. In such circumstances having a tattoo would have garnered him an instant attention. However, it is definitely his personality and rare talent that makes his memorable and endearing to the people to know him in the book and to the readers.
They weren't mainstream, but I can't help but wonder if he still would have managed to shock and awe during performances to the same extent without them. Especially after he couldn't swallow swords anymore, his act became more common. Humans are so visual, I wonder how many of his followers started that first conversation because of how he looked.
"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." (Victor Hugo)

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Post by gen_g » 10 May 2018, 08:23

Ginnamassa19 wrote:
09 May 2018, 05:18
I feel like it depends! Are we talking about Duke being memorable to the readers or to the people in the book? If it's the former, I feel like his personality would be the defining thing; if it's about first impressions during the show, his tattoos are probably important in catching the eye of the audience. Then again, like what Kendra M Parker said, Duke's stage persona is the bigger part of what keeps the audience rapt--the tattoos are just what he uses to draw people in.

Having said that, I found Duke's personality more interesting than the tattoos :)
I agree with you! After all, I do think that Duke's tattoos are part of the stage persona, all calculated to draw the audience in - it is his job, after all.

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Post by bootsie0126+ » 10 May 2018, 20:27

gen_g wrote:
10 May 2018, 08:23
Ginnamassa19 wrote:
09 May 2018, 05:18
I feel like it depends! Are we talking about Duke being memorable to the readers or to the people in the book? If it's the former, I feel like his personality would be the defining thing; if it's about first impressions during the show, his tattoos are probably important in catching the eye of the audience. Then again, like what Kendra M Parker said, Duke's stage persona is the bigger part of what keeps the audience rapt--the tattoos are just what he uses to draw people in.

Having said that, I found Duke's personality more interesting than the tattoos :)
I do agree that Duke's reasoning at the time for getting tattoo were based entirely on enticing greater attention to him and his performance. Shock value works better than most thing that I know of. It is a fact that the stranger things are the more people will talk about them, regardless of whether or not it is good or bad. If people are talking, the focus of attention is on them. When your curiosity is peak, it either makes you want to find out more or more than likely have a discussion about what's wrong with it, either way that person is in control. The more outlandish the more people talk about and remembers.

I agree with you! After all, I do think that Duke's tattoos are part of the stage persona, all calculated to draw the audience in - it is his job, after all.

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