Danish Imports: The Freaks

“I won’t tell you the name I was born with, because what’s a name, anyway?” These are the words of wisdom from the polite, baratone vocals of the tattooed gentleman that is Enigma. Covered from head to toe in jigsaw puzzle tattoos and sporting a pair of silicone horns to boot, Enigma and freak show partner Serana Rose stopped by in Copenhagen for the city’s 2013 Ink Festival. “I’m very expensive,” he tells me.

The interior of a Scandic hotel was as much of Copenhagen that Enigma got to see during his stay, but he’s no stranger to Denmark, having performed once before at the Roskilde Festival. And as well as performing on stage with musicians such as Nine Inch Nails and David Bowie over the past 20 years, Enigma has also starred on The X-Files and countless talk shows around the world.

An artist and trained classical pianist, Enigma’s gentle off-stage persona was a true paradox of his touring self. And the queue of people waiting to be photographed with him said enough about his strange, exotic appeal. But I would have loved to have photographed him glaring menacingly outside Amalienborg during the Changing of the Guard, with a chainsaw in one hand and an empty black bin bag in the other. I think it would’ve caused quite a scene.

The Danes in the audience didn’t look massively impressed with the show, even when Enigma sliced in to an apple, placed carefully in to Serana’s mouth, with a chainsaw. The lack of crowd support made the show uncomfortable to watch, for all the wrong reasons. I wondered whether our generation has seen it all and is hard to please these days.

Enigma and Serana Rose (who was equally polite and charming) now appear in their own comic book called Show Devils. The misadventures are best described as ‘Scooby-Do meets Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects .’

Getting the Shot

It’s true that this story deviates slightly from the original theme, but I still felt it was important to include. And although Enigma and Serana Rose don’t live in Denmark, technically they’d come here to work, and they had a good reason for it.

Backstage there wasn’t much to use in terms of props or backdrops, but it just so happened that this pair had everything I needed. Plus they were used to being photographed, so it was almost too easy. I simply nudged them in to the right spot to get everything looking just right, and they did the rest.

The lighting wasn’t anything special either. Standing against a non-reflective black surface and covered in ink and make-up, a simple light source was enough here, and it was a speedlight sitting in a hotshoe softbox. I held it in my left hand high above my head and to the left, and started shooting. As always, I moved the light around as I snapped, because most of the time the perfect light is just a few inches out. So by shooting non-stop and moving the flash I was able to “shoot and prey.” One of them would work, I thought, and I was right.