Somebody Wake Up Guinness! The World’s Largest Elvis Velvet Painting

By Brenna Ehrlich

He’s the Pelvis, the King, the Atomic Powered Singer and he’s also allegedly a Jew—and his tear-stained face is plastered across a 12-foot by 12-foot swath of velvet at the Tattoo Factory, Chicago’s oldest continually run tattoo studio. Stop, look and listen—this is the largest Elvis velvet painting in the world.

The creator? She’s Bethany Cisco, AKA Vicious Velvet, a russet-haired tattoo artist from the Windy City who has been putting brush to plush for the last two years, churning out everything from burlesque queens with rotating nipple tassels to glossy panthers with glowing eyes.

“Some people don’t even consider velvet paintings as art,” Cisco told me a couple of weeks ago as she seared a portrait of a fairy onto the calf of a redheaded Russian. “But I’ve always loved them. I’ve got a thing for the underdog.”

Apparently, she’s also got a thing for the hound dog. Although Cisco’s been turned down by Guinness World Records for a mention, she’s got the attention of Portland’s Velveteria, a museum dedicated to velvet painting.

According to Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin, the proprietors of the Velveteria and authors of Black Velvet Masterpieces: Highlights from the Collection of the Velveteria Museum, the origins of velvet painting are pretty much shrouded in mystery; some say that they have their roots in Kashmir or China and that Marco Polo scoped them out during his travels. Since then, these material masterpieces have found their way to Mexico, Vietnam and hotel rooms all across the U.S. of A. But one fact is pretty clear—next to Jesus (another famous Jew), the King is one of the most popular subjects for velvet virtuosos, and Cisco’s got the massive canvas to prove it.

What do you think?

About The Author

Josh became an editor-at-large after accruing exorbitant legal fees as the publisher of Heeb in his efforts to trademark the word "irreverent." Follow him on Twitter @joshuaneuman.

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