Ted Frisco


Ted Frisco

Ted Frisco was born in Dublin, Ireland and had been a world traveller and wandered long before he found himself in Belfast appearing alongside the Vallars.TED FRISCO READY.1

He had been an avid seafarer with a great sense of adventure. He had apparently lived in Victoria, Australia and had acquired his first tattoos in Japan and the Bowery in New York.

On his travels around 1898 he had found himself in the busy English seaport of Liverpool. It was here that Ted Frisco met the famous Australian born Tattooist W.H.C. Ryan who was tattooing at Crouches Wonderland, 80 Lime Street, Liverpool. Ryan was renowned for his coloured work and offered ‘Ten permanent colours and tattooing by hand or electricity.’

Ted Frisco was so impressed with Ryan’s work that he began collecting an elaborated full colour bodysuit of tattoos. This decision would allow Ted Frisco to earn a good living as a tattooed showman, exhibiting his living art with some of the biggest waxwork and amusement operators throughout Britain and Ireland.RYAN

W.H.C. Ryan also sold tattooing equipment and advertised that ‘would-be tattooers could visit him and view Frisco’s tattooed body’ as well as having the opportunity to purchase the necessary equipment to enter the profession. Ted Frisco learned to tattoo from Ryan and began to work the major Waxworks, travelling exhibitions and sideshows.

In June 1903 Frisco had sailed to American on the Russian Ship Triton. Arriving in the USA on 7th June The Philadelphia Inquirer Newspaper announced the arrival of the ‘coloured tattooed man’. He stayed in America only a few days, returning home aboard The Teutonic, arriving into Liverpool England on the 17th June 1903 just in time to accept an engagement to become the resident tattoo Artist at Carters Waxworks at 10 Castle Place, Belfast.

Here he would appear on the same bill as Stephen Vallar and Henrietta Rosene. He had been recruited to occupy the vacancy created by the departure of famed English tattoo Artist Professor Joe (Patrick) Kilbride who had been tattooing at Carters up until May that year.with vballars for website

Prof Joe Kilbride had departed from the hot seat at  Carters and was now tattooing at 115 Donegall Street, Belfast. He was planning bigger things than tattooing for J. C Carter in the Waxworks...he was advertising for an apprentice!!

Note: Please click here for information on Irish Tattoo Artists.

Ted Frisco tattooed at Carters for two further seasons in Belfast returning in 1904 and 1905. He also appeared in London exhibiting as a Tattooed man.  Around 1905 Ted Frisco decided that there was more money to be made in appearing as a tattooed showman and decided to pursue this career path.  He continued to work the Theatres, fairs and exhibitions but mostly as a tattooed showman for the next few years.