November 19, 2018
Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers new mascot, was not but a week old when word traveled far-and-wide along the social-media information superhighway that someone had permanently marked their skin with an image of the googly-eyed orange creature.
It was apparently the first Gritty tattoo known to man and mascot, but was obviously not going to be the last.
And so it would be written that on Friday, November 16, 2018, East Passyunk Avenue’s Eastern Pass Tattoo would share with the world a rather unique piece of skin art.
Created by Michigan-based artist and former tattooist Craig Horky, it’s an image of Gritty reimagined as a four-breasted, winged-and-hoofed version of the deity (and Illuminati goat-headed god) named Baphomet.
As fate would have it, it would reach the eyes and soul of a local tattoo enthusiast named Hank who couldn't wait to take it to his preferred artist, Scott Bakoss, for installation on his leg.
In the time since, Horky, Hank and Bakoss kindly shared details of how the tattoo pictured above came to be.
Horky is the creative mind behind an image he titled "The Real Devil." Besides it being co-opted into the realm of tattoos, he's selling T-shirts emblazoned with the image via his website.
"Celebrate the dark lord and greatest new mascot with this new design I just dropped," was how he described it on Instagram a week before Halloween, a post that jump-started a boatload of attention.
Horky is a self-described "huge hockey fan." Being from Michigan, he's a Detroit Red Wings supporter (which Gritty probably hates on account of that whole Stanley Cup Finals sweep in 1997) and loathes the Chicago Blackhawks (which Gritty probably loves because of that whole Stanley Cup Finals heartbreak in 2010).
"When Gritty emerged on the scene, I was immediately enthralled. He was such a dichotomy: equal parts pure joy and nightmare fuel," he said. "As a professional illustrator, I knew I was going to have to honor him in some way."
That realization meshed with his recent reading about "Baphomet's duality and dichotomy" while doing research for a current project.
"I realized that it was a perfect vessel for a Gritty homage. It was also just absolutely ridiculous," said Horky, whose image quickly became a meme unto itself.
Much of that meme-ification came courtesy of the Philly tattoo, which was inked by Bakoss, who has done several pieces for his customer Hank since Eastern Pass opened about four years back. Still, none have been quite like this.
Going into Friday's session, he didn't know what he'd be doing that day. Then, Hank showed him the image, which his wife initially saw on Instagram.
"The boobs were a great addition, and the candle on the head was perfect." --Hank, who got a tattoo of Gritty as Baphomet
"I instantly thought it was a really cool design. We printed it out, put the stencil on and got to work," he said of the tattoo that took less than two hours to apply to Hank's upper right thigh. "It went really smoothly. Once I saw (the shirt version), I told Craig that people would go nuts for these in Philly."
Though he'd seen others since the mascot emerged into the public realm, it was the first Gritty tattoo that Bakoos had done. It was quite popular on social media, with the artist hearing about tons of retweets along with likes and followers on Instagram.
All that buzz wouldn't have been possible without Hank and the ink he will wear into the afterworld. (He asked kindly that his last name not be used in this article, a request we will honor.)
The 24-year-old bartender, originally from Northeast Philadelphia but now living in East Falls, isn't much for social media. He said he doesn't have any accounts. When his wife showed him the Gritty/Baphomet mashup, though, he was sold.
"Right off the bat, when the whole Gritty thing started, I saw how funny and ironic it was," said Hank, who estimates he has 60 to 70 tattoos. "When I saw this one, I instantly thought it would be a great idea. It was a done deal. As soon as I saw it, I knew it had to be done."
Though he wanted to be the first, Hank has since heard someone else got a similar tattoo before him, and whined to that effect once Bakoos shared the image. ("Get over yourself, dude," said Hank of the other Gritty-wearer.)
So what was it about the image that sold him on it?
For starters, Hank was already a fan of Baphomet imagery even though "he's not a Satanist or anything like that."
"The boobs were a great addition, and the candle on the head was perfect," he said. "Just a few people who know me have seen it so far. I'll kinda just spring it on people from here."
That couldn't make the creator, Horky, any happier. Sure, he gets bummed as any artist would when proper credit isn't given, "but I also understand the nature of the beast so I don't lose any sleep over it," he said.
"Gritty just makes sense to me. I love that he has taken on this whole life of his own," Horky said. "All my hockey-loving friends have become obsessed with him."
Now, he just hopes that enough people will want to wear the image to the point that "I can pay my rent."
Interested in helping a Gritty fan out in the name of sporting nightmare fuel-inspired garments? You can find it on Horky's website via this link.
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