Johnny decorates his body with tattoos and habitually wears a collection of ornaments and jewelry that are as unique and personal as a signature. For those trying to learn to “read Johnny,” here is a guide to his visible body art.
TATOOS:. This list of Johnny's known tattoos was compiled by Irene, the Zone's former webmistress. To the best of our knowledge, Johnny's most recent tattoo is the one inked on his right forearm in celebration of his son Jack. Sharp-eyed viewers will note that this tattoo of a bird in flight and the name “JACK” is not identical to Captain Jack Sparrow's tattoo in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Captain Jack's bird flies away from his body: Johnny's tattoo reverses that direction. He had the image flipped and moved so that the bird would be flying toward him, because it represents his son Jack — and, as Johnny told an interviewer in spring 2004, “You always want him coming back to you.”
The tattoos are not given in chronological order; some dates are impossible to determine. Others — like the “Winona Forever” tattoo that morphed into “Wino Forever” after Johnny and Winona Ryder called off their engagement in 1993 — are so (in)famous that they have become part of pop culture. “It's the kind of thing you do on the spur of the moment,” Johnny told Playboy's Bernard Weinraub in 2004. “Then you break up, but it's still there. [. . .] I changed it to WINO FOREVER, which is actually a bit more accurate.”
People's “Sexiest Man Alive” issue claims that Johnny has twelve tattoos, but does not identify them. Perhaps they are counting the name “Jack” and the bird in flight as two separate tattoos; Irene's list totals eleven. The tattoos include:
(1) WINO FOREVER on Johnny's right bicep (2) Portrait of the head of a Native American on Johnny's right bicep (3) Symbol from THE BRAVE on the inside of Johnny's right forearm (4) Inverted triangle on Johnny's left bicep (5) Heart engraved with “BETTY SUE” on Johnny's left bicep—this tattoo honors Johnny's mother, Betty Sue Palmer (6) Three small rectangles on Johnny's right index finger. In many movie roles, Johnny will wear a large ring to cover this tattoo (7) The number 3, on Johnny's left hand, between his thumb and index finger (8) A skull and crossbones with the inscription “DEATH IS CERTAIN,” on Johnny's lower right leg, on the outside (9) A small unknown symbol on the inside of Johnny's right ankle. (10) The inscription LILY-ROSE in ornate lettering, over Johnny's heart. This tattoo honors Johnny's daughter. It is visible at times during the island sequence in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. From some angles, it looks as if the name reads “Lilly-Rose,” but if it does, the tattoo has a typo! Mlle. Depp's name is spelled Lily-Rose. (11) The inscription JACK and a bird in flight, on Johnny's right forearm, to honor his son Jack.
There may, of course, be other tattoos the camera has never captured, and new additions to the Johnny Depp traveling body art exhibition may appear at any time. Excellent pictures of Johnny's tattoos are available on-line at Jonathan Shaw's Fun City Tattoo site and also at the Vanishing Tattoo site.