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Newsflash! Tatt’s incredible, Paul Henry!

The cheeky media personality gets to the bottom of things

Look at it! Isn’t it brilliant?” With a grin plastered across his face, Paul Henry stretches out his arm and holds up the mobile phone, which is currently zoomed in

on a picture of his naked behind.

The host of TV3 and RadioLIVE’s morning show is sharing pictures of his new tattoo – a sprawling grapevine that runs across his lower back – but is trying to find his favourite image of his body art.

“There’s a shot where I think I look a lot like Kim Kardashian,” he muses, flicking through the photos. “It looks fantastic. It’s a good butt, actually. It’s one of my finer points. I know I’ve said previously that I’m no Magic Mike… but you know, I’m starting to think I might be!”

And with that, the trademark giggles begin and Paul’s lost in his own joke for a while as he continues to scroll through the images. Fans of the Paul Henry show will know Paul’s tattoo journey has been a long and well-deliberated one, with the gregarious broadcaster frequently mentioning his desire to get inked on air.

Paul’s cheeky tatt.

But now, after almost three years of to-ing and fro-ing, Paul is finally, as he so proudly proclaims, “in the club”.

“I love it so much,” he says. “I got to the point where I thought it would be highly unreasonable to die without having a tattoo. This body went 55 years without having one. Certainly, there are a lot of people who ask, ‘Why?’, but really, why wouldn’t you? You probably only live once.”

It’s a bold move by the presenter, who last week celebrated his 56th birthday. But the idea was actually first mooted by his youngest daughter Bella, who wanted to have a matching tattoo with her dad who, at that point, was dead set against body ink.

“Because of the whole permanence thing,” he nods. “But now, I realise that in the past, through my condemnation of people with tattoos, I was slightly envious. The righteousness was very old-fashioned, you know, ‘How could you do that to your body, you fool!’ But secretly, I was thinking, ‘I’m a bit into that.’ And now I’m right into it!”

While Paul was quite surprised when Bella – who works with her dad as a make-up artist on Paul Henry – came to him with the plan, he found himself coming around to the idea.

“She loves Disney, so her whole thing was for us to get ‘To infinity and beyond’ – you know, what Buzz Lightyear says in Toy Story. She would get the ‘To infinity’ and I would get the ‘and beyond’, because, hopefully, I’d die first and I really would be beyond.”

But then a spanner was thrown in the works when Bella backed out, leaving Paul with a seed planted but no idea of what to get inked.

“I mean, you can’t just get ‘and beyond’, can you, when the person who was supposed to have the other part backed out! No-one has the heartbeats to listen to that stupid yarn,” he chuckles. “But I was now fixated on getting one.”

Knowing his obsessive-compulsive tendencies, Paul saw there was great potential for him to become hooked on tattoos after getting his first. So he resolved to have

a design that could be added to if he wanted, rather than a body peppered with little drawings.

Eschewing the many design suggestions made to the Paul Henry Facebook page, such as the New Zealand flag, Hilary Barry’s face or a less-than-complimentary word across

his forehead – “Is that really necessary? Isn’t it obvious?” he says, roaring with laughter – Paul settled on the idea of a vine. And given his well-known love of a glass of red, a grape variety seemed most appropriate.

Then settling on his rear end as the location – “It’s easily concealed,” he explains – Paul was finally ready to get inked.

“Little did I know how much it would bloody hurt,” he laughs. After spending 40 minutes on the table at The Tattooed Heart on Auckland’s Karangahape Road two months ago, Paul had his much yearned-for body art, but says it was 40 minutes of pure hell.

“So here’s the thing with the pain. I knew it would hurt a bit,” he begins, scowling. “I’d canvassed opinion and even though I’d read somewhere that the butt is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo, I didn’t believe it. Because logic tells you it doesn’t make sense! But I was shocked at how much it hurt. I don’t remember how much now, but I remember the shock!”

However, Paul braved the pain, rejecting the tattooist’s suggestion to stop and return another time to finish the vine off, because he knew if he left, he’d never be back – and he’d have an unfinished tattoo for the rest of his life.

“Oh, God, that would be the worst thing. I hate unfinished business. What was it I said in my book? It hangs like a bloody dagger over your head on a very thin, tenuous cord.”

But as he emerged from the tattoo parlour, Paul was a changed man. Heading to his favourite brunch spot, he (gingerly) sat down and felt an immense sense of smugness.

“I was having my mishmash or whatever it was, and I was just so proud of myself,” he grins. “And because it hurt so much, it felt like even more of an achievement. I absolutely loved it. I just knew I had to have one.”

He continues, “I mean, what was the worst that could have happened? I look at it this way. People always ask me if I get nervous when I’m on TV. No! No-one’s going to die. If I make a complete a*** of myself, it wouldn’t be the first time. Same with a tattoo. I don’t like it that much? It wouldn’t have been the end of the world. It’s not on my face!”

The inking also got the seal of approval from Paul’s nearest and dearest, including his beloved mum Olive. “I showed her a photo – she’s very liberal,” tells Paul. “Also, she’s quite old, so I’m not sure she’s entirely aware… but she’d be okay with anything. I could graft another head on and I think she’d be quite happy with that.”

Bella also loves the tattoo, though Paul doesn’t seem as sure about his other daughters, Lucy and Sophie.

“Well, it’s certainly got the tick of approval from the daughter that thought it was a good idea!” he laughs.

“I’m very close to all my girls. I have a slightly different relationship with each one – Bella and I see each other every day because she works with me.”

Having just returned from a holiday in Palm Springs, California, Paul, being an enthusiastic nudist, says he appreciated having body art even more when staying at

a popular nudist resort.

“It’s interesting,” he nods. “I’m not really obsessed about being a nudist, but I’m sort of obsessed about having a tattoo. I never used to look at people’s bodies before – that’s why being a nudist is great – but it’s a sort of camaraderie! I was chatting to this young woman who had her whole body done, and we had a fascinating conversation about it.”

Of course, Paul has zero regrets about his inking and shuns any notion that it eventuated due to a mid-life crisis because, “I’m well beyond that already. I had my first convertible in my late twenties.

“It’s part of the rich tapestry of life, literally,” he continues. “Look, here’s my tip. You must never wait to live. Everyone does it. But now is the time. Sometimes things happen in your life when you’re shaken into thinking, ‘S***’. I’ve got to live now.’ That happens to everyone, but people don’t seem to learn from it. You’ve just got to.”

But he’s pretty sure his current masterpiece will be his last. “The problem is, if I wanted to add to it, they’d have to start where they finished and I’m not going through that again. Less is more. It finishes here!”

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