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Tattoo Tantalizers! ... Part 8

... the most asked for gallery in our existence!
... the huron village ...

Photos & text courtesy of Rick Martinko ... Tattoo Department, LOTM

After bouncing around to a few different locations, we finally set up base camp at Chimney Rock.  Initially, we were set up in the town for the scenes involving the Huron village.  Chimney Rock is a natural rock formation that sticks up in the air and resembles a chimney.  There's a park in the town for taking tours of the area, and we were set up in the parking lot across the street from the park entrance.  This is also only a couple miles down the road from Lake Lure, where 'Dirty Dancing' was shot. The town is a cute little tourist trap, and gave the crew plenty of opportunity to get away from the production for awhile.  While shooting on the Huron village side of the valley, we continued to stay at the EconoLodge in Morganton even though it was very long drive to and from the base camp each day.


This picture was taken from the "cliff" side of the valley.  You can see the parking lot and tents of the base camp near the bottom of the picture and the small beige spot half way up the mountain from the base camp is the Huron village.
One of the first memorable events that occurred at Chimney Rock was the arrival of Bill Murray.  Bill's personal costumer and friend, Jennifer Butler, was working on Mohicans so he decided to stop by.  If my memory is correct, I think 'What About Bob?' was shot at Lake Lure, so he was familiar with the area too.  In any case, I was sitting in the tattoo trailer working on an Daniel, when someone sticks their head in to tell me that Bill Murray just showed up , and I practically dropped my brush.  I can only imagine what an Academy Award winning actor was thinking as I hurried through the rest of his tattoo session, so I could rush out and meet the star of 'Caddy Shack'.  Bill is very funny in person, and although he stuck around for a couple days I only had the opportunity to talk to him once, and I didn't even realize I was doing so at the time.  We were shooting the scene where the horse falls, trapping Colonel Munro.  They had handlers there anesthetizing the horse.  They also placed a blanket over it's head, and several guys were standing around to help ease it to the ground.  While all this was going on, they weren't shooting so people were talking the whole time.  I was intently watching the drugged horse, while talking to the people standing around me.  After about 15 minutes, someone said "So Bill, how long are you staying?", and I though "Who the hell is Bill?".  I turned to see who they were talking to and realized that I'd been standing beside and talking to Bill Murray the whole time and didn't have a clue.  We talked for a bit longer and I showed him how to use an airbrush.  Eventually they were ready to shoot again, but by that time a storm had blown in and it looked like it was going to rain any minute.  After getting the shots of Munro under the horse, rain started to fall and someone (either Michael Mann or Hunt Lowry... probably Hunt) yelled out to Bill "I don't think this is going to clear.  What do you think we should be Bill?"  He looked around at everyone getting soaked and said "Why don't you let these nice people go home?" Everyone cheered, and Michael Man said "That's a wrap." and Bill Murray instantly became the crew's hero.

Bill and I at the base camp.  Yes... his shirt is on inside out.
Chimney Rock was also the site of my worst experience during the production.  Early on, I was called upon to assist Peter Robb-King with Mike Phillips' (Sachem) ornate tattoos.  There was a lot of ink to lay down, and even with the two of us it took over an hour.  More often than not, Mike fell asleep in the make-up chair.  One day, everyone was up at the Huron village and I'd stayed down in base camp.  The only principle actor involved in the shot with tattoos was Mike, and Peter was on the set so I thought we had everything covered.  Meanwhile, I was airbrushing tattoos on the stunt guys for second unit.  Suddenly, one of the PAs comes running up and says "You're needed on the set, NOW!".  I'm totally confused as to why I'd be needed, but I grabbed my stuff and headed over to a transportation van (the Huron village was half way up the mountains and a brutal hike from base camp).  Once I got in the van, I realized the severity of the situation.  Over the radio I heard one of the PAs tell Michael Waxman (1st AD) that I was on my way, and Waxman yelled something about how I was holding up the whole production and I needed to be there immediately.  The driver turns to me and says "You're Rick Tattoo, huh?" (my nickname on the set) "Man... I wouldn't wanna be you right now.  They sound pretty pissed!".  So, I sat there as the van makes the 5 minute trek up to the set listening to everyone with a radio complain about how much money I'm costing the company.  I felt like I was going to puke.  I think the worst part was that I was totally baffled as to why I was even needed.  Peter was the head of the make-up department, and was more than capable of touching up Mike's tattoos.  In fact, he was Mike's principle tattoo artist and I was just assisting the whole time.  When we finally got there, a couple of PAs practically dragged me out of the van and I ran to the set.  All I was needed for was to touch up Mike's tattoos, and by the time I got there Peter had already done it.  Mike Waxman chewed me out about the importance of being on the set when needed, while everyone glared at me.  I tried to explain that technically it wasn't my responsibility, but John Bayless stopped me and took me aside.  He told me that after a morning of rehearsals, when it came time to shoot, Mike's chest tattoos were looking pretty faded and Michael Mann called for "Rick Tattoo" to do a touch-up.  So, when Waxman yelled for me and I wasn't there, the @#%@#% hit the fan.  It didn't matter that Peter was there and really was the person they needed... Michael Mann had asked for Rick Tattoo, and his word was law.  I could imagine their reaction if I was down in base camp taking a nap or souvenir shopping in town, but at the time I was doing exactly what was needed.  I wasn't needed on the set, but that was irrelevant.  No amount of explaining could overcome the fact that when the director called for me, I wasn't there.  I guess I'm lucky I didn't get canned.  How's that for Hollywood?



Mike Phillips' multiple tattoos.

The guy behind the camera is Gusmano Cesaretti.  He was an advisor who became more and more involved with the project as the weeks passed.  He ended up in the film as the priest who lead the Abenaki boy's choir when Magua comes to the French camp.


Various shots of the longhouses.  These were very authentic, and were huge on the inside.  I always thought that they looked like a Flintstone's Airsteam trailer.

I have one of the rubber fish fillets on the left side of the picture sitting on the shelf in my rec room.
The last thing that really sticks in my mind about the Huron Village was the best prank I ever pulled in my life.  As I mentioned before, during the shooting, we had a lot of time to kill and practical jokes became an art form.  In the town of Chimney Rock, there were a couple general stores and one of them sold gags like whoopie cushions, stink bombs and cigarette loads, and before long everyone had a stash of goodies.  For the most part, the stuff was harmless although the cigarette loads got out of hand when they went off during filming.  Anyhow, we were all trying to outdo each other when it came to pranks.  So, one day while we were hanging out on the set, I reached over and grabbed Mitzy Gunter's Polaroid camera from the back of her pack when she wasn't looking.  Several of the make-up and costume people carried Polaroids everywhere to take continuity shots when we would break for meals or to wrap at the end of the day.  For those of you not familiar with the term "continuity shot", it's simply an instant snapshot for the artist to use as a reference when the shooting resumes.  Otherwise, you could end up with a soldier who has a bloody streak on his cheek in half of the shots, but it's missing in the other half because he accidentally wiped it off with a napkin during dinner and no one noticed before shooting resumed.  This is a very common problem in movies, and some people devote hours to picking this stuff out.  Well, I knew that Mitzy would be taking a few pictures before dinner which was coming up in about an hour.  So, Russell Dodson and I ran off behind one of the Huron longhouses with the camera, Russell turned around and dropped his pants and I took a picture of his butt.  After the picture developed, I took a Sharpie and wrote "This butt's for you!" on it.  Then I removed the unused film pack from the camera and slid the picture back into the top of the pack.  Because a Polaroid will spit out the protective plastic sheet on the top of the pack when you load the film, I stuck an extra picture I had on top of the butt picture.  When I loaded the pack back into the camera, it acted like it was a new film pack and spit out the extra picture I loaded and the picture of Russell's butt was next on deck.  We walked back and carefully replaced the camera back in Mitzy's pack.  A hour later, we broke for dinner and Mitzy pulled out her camera to take a picture of an Indian extra.  She pressed the button, and an exposed picture of Russell's butt comes out of the camera.  The funny thing is that she didn't even notice.  She just pulled the picture from the camera and started waving it in the air like people always inexplicably do with Polaroids.  After a few seconds, the guy she took the picture of started staring at the picture and said "What is that?!?"  Mitzy looked at the picture, let out this high pitched shriek and almost dropped it on the ground.  I've never seen anyone look so shocked and confused in my life.

Mike with the unsuspecting Mitzy.

We cracked a stink bomb on a cotton pad and taped it to the vent on the Special Effects Make-up guys trailer while they were inside taking a nap.  The trailer reeked so bad from all the latex and other stuff in there, I don't think they even noticed.

The real reason why the Mohicans died off.

Steve getting torched.  You can see in this picture that the fire was about ten feet in from of him, but with the camera shooting directly at him with a telephoto lens he appears to be standing in the middle of the flames.  Poor Steve had to do a bunch of takes and by the end he was pretty hoarse.
I was planning on wrapping up the Chimney Rock stuff in one submission, but I overshot the runway again.  I hope people aren't getting bored with all these stories.  I just keep remembering all this stuff and if I don't write it down I'll end up forgetting it. UP NEXT: THE CLIFFS || BACK TO INDEX OF TATTOOS


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