Happy birthday to the late Jack Dracula (Martin Semnack, 1935-2011). A Brooklyn native, he got his first tattoo in Coney Island in 1954, followed by another 29 tattoos that same year. By the time he was done he had over 400 tattoos covering his whole body including his face. With this level of devotion it was inevitable that he turn professional and he worked at many sideshows over the years, including Dave Rosen’s Wonderland Sideshow in Coney Island (in the building where Coney Island USA is currently located), Hubert’s Museum, Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus, Palisades Park and many others. I was delighted to see in this article that he also exhibited for a time in New London, CT (right near where I grew up) back when it was a waterfront town full of sailors (it’s still a waterfront town, of course, but no sailors — a very different sort of place.) He also gets a shout-out in Matt Cimber’s bonkers horror film The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976), in which a seaside tattoo artist with his name is played by comedian Stan Ross.
Jack Dracula was inducted into the Side Show Hall of Fame in 2011.