Charlotte Guttenberg, 67, says that when she got her first tattoo 10 years ago, her mother thought she had become “a child of the devil.” Today, with tattoos covering 91.5 percent of her body, she’s just been named by Guinness World Records as the most tattooed female senior citizen on the planet.
And the love of her life, Charles “Chuck” Helmke? At age 75, he’s also just been recognized by Guinness as the most tattooed male senior citizen, with 93.75 percent of his body covered in ink.
Chuck got his first tattoo when he was in the U.S. Army, in 1959. After getting a few more tattoos with some army buddies, he went on a 40-year hiatus and did not get another tattoo until 2000. The retired self-defense trainer met Charlotte, an author, in late 2006 as she was getting a fairly substantial tattoo. He kindly sat beside her to help ease her nerves. The two, both from Melbourne, Florida, fell in love and have been together since 2007.
They both say they’re honored to have achieved the Guinness recognition. Charlotte hopes to use her newfound fame to promote mutual respect among tattooed and un-tattooed people.
Huff/Post50 had the pleasure of sitting down with the lively pair Thursday to learn more about their tattoos and, also, their extraordinary life together.
Huff/Post50: You both have so many tattoos. Which are your favorites?
Charlotte: Probably the first one I ever got ― a butterfly and peonies on my chest. I had wanted a tattoo for so long but it wasn’t possible because my husband objected. After he passed away, I decided I’d get a tattoo on my birthday. I was 58. It was the beginning of a body suit.
Chuck: Mine is probably the one on my upper left shoulder of two stuffed animals. They were my wife’s favorites. When she died I took the stuffed animals up to the tattoo parlor and they were able to draw them on my arm while also adding my wife’s ashes to the tattoo. It’s very special.
Huff/Post50: You both have been married before and have had spouses who have passed. How is it to find love again at this stage of your life?
Charlotte: I wasn’t looking for another relationship but here was this gift that was given to me and now he is the love of my life.
Chuck: There is nothing to compare to this. I’d only been married to my wife five years when she died and I thought that was the end of it. Then this woman walked into my life and I feel so fortunate to have been loved by two such extraordinary women.
Huff/Post50: So do you plan on getting more tattoos?
Charlotte: Yes. I need to have a few spots done on my head. I’m going to get another one on my neck. My feet are tattooed but my toes are not. I don’t know if I’ll do them. I haven’t quite decided. And there is always maintenance work to do. We really take good care of our tattoos. We use a lot of sunscreen or wear long sleeves when we’re out. We don’t do chlorinated water in pools. Maintenance is so important.
Chuck: I’m debating about my toes, as well. The head and feet were the most painful so far. A few places in my groin area were not too good either. We’ll see.
Huff/Post50: Among your family and friends, was there ever anyone who had a problem with your tattoos?
Charlotte: The only one who has ever had a problem with my tattoos was my mom. She was 78 when I got my first tattoo and she thought I had become a child of the devil. But she has passed on. Everyone else loves them.
Huff/Post50: So what’s next for you two now that you have achieved this recognition?
Charlotte: We are just enjoying being with each other. I always wanted to learn how to shoot a gun and he has taught me. I’m a writer and he now helps me with research on my books.
Chuck: You can’t rest on your laurels. You have to keep everything fresh. You have to keep doing new things. Otherwise, you’ll just be sitting in a rocking chair in an apartment somewhere doing nothing. And that’s not living.
To see more of this extraordinary couple’s tattoos, scroll through the images below.