I Tattooed Porn Websites On My Face So My Kids Wouldn’t Starve
In 1990, Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, dreaming of a future in which all barriers to communication were torn down and people everywhere could bask in the glory of an interconnected global world. Two decades later, a man had the URLs of multiple porn websites tattooed on his face. It seemed that the internet had reached its logical conclusion.
Call me a prude, but it’s always been a kind of general rule of mine to not tattoo pornographic websites on to my face. But for Hostgator Dotcom – née Billy Gibby – it didn’t take a second thought. Faced with unemployment and a pending eviction, he did what any good father would do: sold his body, face and legal name as advertising space to over 40 companies. In that sense, it’s a pretty sad story, and one that’s indicative of how few options America’s poor are faced with these days.
VICE: Why, Hostgator? Why?
Hostgator Dotcom: Well, I used to just sell tattooed advertising space on my body, but no one was really buying it. I was laid off at the job I had, my family and I were gonna be evicted and I needed a way for us to survive financially. I didn’t want to do anything illegal and I didn’t have any friends I could borrow money from. I looked for jobs but couldn’t get one, and I couldn’t allow my wife and children to be homeless, so I thought I’d sacrifice my face so that they could have a place to live. I didn’t want to do it – I really didn’t – but I also didn’t want my kids to be homeless.
That’s very noble of you. How many people are you supporting?
Five kids and my wife.
And I’m guessing Hostgator isn’t your given name?
No, I sold my name to Hostgator.com for $15,000 (£9,966).
Wow, I might have to sell my name if you make that kind of money.
I’m actually trying to sell my name again right now. I’m trying to get in The Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s longest name. So if Golden Palace buys my name, then I’ll be Goldenpalacedotcom Hostgatordotcom.
And it flows so nicely off the tongue. Doesn’t that breach your contract with Hostgator, though?
No, because I still have Hostgator.com in my name.
True. What are some of the websites you have on your face?
What do your wife and kids think about that?
My kids are still young and they accept me for me. My wife is OK with it, but she wants me to get the ones on the face removed, so that’s what I’m working towards now.
So you regret getting the porn sites tattooed on your face now?
Yeah. I did it for a good reason, but I wasn’t thinking rationally at the time. I have bipolar disorder, which I’m not trying to use as an excuse, but I wasn’t thinking as rationally as I am today. I take medication now and I’m more rational.
That’s good. So what’s your plan to get the face tattoos removed?
Well, I’m hoping to sell space on my body so I can afford to remove the ones on my face.
No, Hostgator, no! You’ll just regret those tattoos!
No, I don’t regret the ones on the body at all because people don’t really judge me for those. People see the ones on my face and they think I’m a killer or a drug dealer, but my body is fine.
Do you charge more for the face, then?
Yeah, they cost about $4,000 (£2,658) each.
You live in Alaska though, right?
So there can’t be too many people seeing your face each day, can there?
A couple thousand people see it per day, actually.
Oh, OK – I guess that’s alright. How did you convince companies to buy your face space?
They were pretty excited about it because it’s new and because of all the exposure they’d get once I got in the news.
So you just didn’t give a fuck what your face looked like at the time?
Yeah. Part of the reason I did it is because I get really frustrated how people judge one another on looks. A lot of people are racist or judgmental, but I didn’t care how I looked at all. Now I’m starting to realise I care what people think a little bit more.
What other ways do you plan on using your existence to sell advertising?
Well, if I get a world record I’ll have more exposure for companies who can advertise on me. Also, I’m coming out with a website to promote myself soon, too.
Is this a kind of art form?
Some people look at me and they say, “His tattoos are stupid and they don’t mean anything,” or, “They have no symbolism.” But I think they do. Each one of the tattoos I have is another day that I can keep my kids off the street, so for me the tattoos mean a lot.