A tattoo-addict has permanently transformed himself into a clown by tattooing his entire face.
Barber Richie Esposito, 32, uses his image to attract members of the public to his business.
The dad, from California, US, regularly poses with scissors and cut throat razors, complete with gold teeth and a snake-style split tongue.
Richie was only 17 when he took his first steps to getting inked. With his high school graduation money, he decided to tattoo his left arm.
But it was when he travelled to Hollywood and started working at a barber shop that he began his journey to becoming a clown and after walking past a tattoo parlour every day. He decided to ask whether he could work there as a barber and they created the first tattoo barber shop in Hollywood.
Richie pictured cutting a customer’s hair. Credit: Media Drum World
After opening the joint venture, Richie started to learn clown tricks such as juggling and riding a unicycle in a bid to get customers through the door.
He then decided to take a leap of faith and committed to getting his face tattooed to look like a clown, complete with dying his hair red.
He explained: “People are curious about me, but I walk it and own it proud and with confidence, so they see that and I break the ice with funny acts of a clown.
“People loved me juggling; smiling and waving at them and they would honk at me and stop by to see me and talk to me – I became a Melrose staple.
One of Richie’s customers brought him his own unicycle. Credit: Media Drum World
“So, one day a guy comes to the shop and he brings me a unicycle and says ‘hey, Richie, this is for you and I think it would be a good use to you’ – my eyes light up, my hairs stand up and I began tearing with joy.
“So, things just started happening over the years – I was clowning more and more and getting little tattoos on the face one at a time.
“I remember, one day I looked into the mirror and I said to myself I want some confetti dots under my eyes because I love seeing confetti fall from the sky as it brings me joy.
“Of course, all my girlfriends over the years didn’t like it but I liked it and I wanted to live my reality of what I see not through the eyes of others.
Richie performing one of his clown acts. Credit: Media Drum World
“Everyone is their own reality and people try to tell others what to do all the time, but we should just let people be who they want be and only reflect our reality with love and never force anything onto others.
“My clown look just started evolving over time; my inner child came out and all I want to do is have fun and one day I looked in the mirror and smiled, then I said out loud to myself ‘I want to smile, I love to smile so I got it tattooed on my face.
“My favourite colour is blue, so I decided ‘why not blue out the face?’ So I did and I did it with a smile.”
Richie’s transformation over the years. Credit: Media Drum World
The process took years over all and each tattoo took hours to complete. Richie said the process was very difficult and involved a lot of pain and swelling, but that it was worth it.
He went on: “The process of my transformation was not easy it was so much pain, so many hours of having needles stabbing into my skin over and over with a lot of swelling.
“But I did what I did because dreams can become reality and if you really want to do something in life you can achieve all your dreams with just a thought.
Richie with his daughter. Credit: Media Drum World
“Now it’s a reminder to always smile and always smile at others around you because a smile is a gift and you never know what they’re going through, so smile and show them that it’s ok to smile and it’s ok to be free and to be you.
“It’s up to you to decide to do it and not listen to others but only yourself and be strong. I am a motivational speaker, I am a teacher for cutting hair and I have a clown school.
“I have eighty acres of land in El Paso and that will be the ‘Richie the Barber’ land – just call me Walt because I have a small Disneyland coming soon over the years.”
You do your thing, Richie.
Featured Image Credit: Media Drum World