Michael Ouellette is a 42-year-old Stars Wars fanatic who runs his own screen printing and graphic design business with his wife, Jessica. Known as the “Star Wars guy” by his friends, Ouellette has two full tattoo sleeves on either arm: the left arm Darth Vader, the right arm Luke Skywalker.
He also has another, easier to cover up but far more surprising Star Wars tattoo: a huge, Steve-O-esque back piece, featuring Jar Jar Binks, giving the thumbs up with the caption “Oie Boie, Mesa Bombad!”
It is spectacular, impressive, and invites a wide range of questions.
We asked Ouellette just how he came to get the tattoo that has now gone viral, been retweeted hundreds of times, and left the world wondering “why Jar Jar?”
Parts of this interview have been slightly edited for clarity.
PTV: What is the story of your tattoo?
Ouellette: So, I’m known as the “Star Wars guy” because of my love for all things Star Wars and my Star Wars tattoos. I have two full sleeves: left arm is a Darth Vader theme and my right arm is a Luke Skywalker theme. Whenever people look at my tattoos they think they’re being funny by always asking ‘so, when are you getting your Jar Jar tattoo?’.”
“What most people don’t realise is that I love the prequels and I don’t hate Jar Jar. I understand why people have a problem with the character, but he’s part of Star Wars. Make peace with it and move on. It’s been 20 years, get over it. I’ve actually grown to love Jar Jar because so many 40+ year-olds get so angry because of him. I think it’s hilarious.
PTV: So why did you get it?
Ouellette: For years I’ve been asked the same Jar Jar question and it would lead to the tired process of me having to listen to the same prequel hating shit talk over and over. I started to think about the tattoo more and more. I needed a Jar Jar tattoo to shut them up. But I knew it had to be something epic. It needed to be a joke, but a really well done joke. I wanted something that paid respect to the character and was still absurd.
I thought about it for a couple of years. Do I get a tramp stamp Jar Jar? A pin-up Jar Jar? All the ideas I had were too jokey. Then one night I was sitting at the bar of my favourite restaurant having a few cocktails and talking to the bartender about getting what will be seen as the dumbest tattoo ever, then it hit me: Steve-O’s back tattoo.
What if I got a portrait of Jar Jar Binks striking the Steve-O pose and instead of “Yeah Dude, I Rock!” It says “Oie Boie, Mesa Bombad!”? We laughed about it for a while. It was perfect, and I knew exactly who to call.
Chris Dingwell is an amazing tattooer and painter. He had painted a few Jar Jar portraits and they were amazing. I texted him from the bar, asking him if he knew the Steve-O tattoo and if he would be interested in recreating it with Jar Jar. He immediately texted back, “YES! Can you come in this Saturday?” My Saturday was booked, so we made an appointment for three weeks from then.
PTV: Did it hurt?
Ouellette: Steve-O’s tattoo isn’t his full back but I thought if I’m doing this, I have to go big. I told Chris to make it as big as he could.
It took three 7-hour sessions and it was extremely painful.
Each session started out fine, all tattoos hurt, but after the 5th straight hour it got pretty bad. I’m glad it’s my whole back so I can’t get anything else. I don’t want to sit through that pain again. When it was all done and healed, it was more than I had hoped for. The amount of detail he was able to put in there was beautiful.
PTV: What is the reaction usually like to your tattoo?
Ouellette: The reaction I get has been mostly positive. Because the tattoo is so well done, people get past the initial shock of Jar Jar pretty quickly and really admire the work Dingwell put into it. People get the joke. They admire my level of commitment and the technical skill of the tattoo. It’s still a stupid tattoo, but it’s a really good stupid tattoo.”
People ask if they can get their photo with it. I don’t mind. I love Star Wars and I love talking about Star Wars. This tattoo has actually made talking about Star Wars fun again because it moves the conversations past the usual prequels bashing. There are haters out there but it’s all on social media. I don’t give a shit about their comments. It’s always the same shit. I’m a virgin. I’ll never get laid. I’ll be alone forever. I deserve to be shot. I should get my ass kicked. I’ll be raped in prison. When people see it in person it’s always positive. Well, I do get called an idiot or crazy but it’s with a laugh and they always buy me a beer after.
PTV: Any other tattoos planned in the future?
Ouellette: I do have some more Star Wars tattoos planned but nothing comical like this. I thought of putting some cherub pit droids on the back of my shoulders on either side of Jar Jar but I don’t want to mess with it. Jar Jar is perfect the way he is.
PTV: Anything else you want to add?
Ouellette: For the record – I don’t live with my parents. I am married. I have had sex (multiple times). I have friends. I have a job. I do go outside. I know that Star Wars isn’t real. They are just movies.