WEEKLY ARTICLES Dikke Dennis; The Man Inside The Legend

Dikke Dennis. If you don’t remember him, you haven’t met him. It’s as simple as that. His presence is undeniable, and not only because he goes accompanied by a formidable and entirely tattooed belly. It doesn’t matter how big his body gets, Dennis’ sprawling personality will always be bigger.

He’s a tattoo artist. That is, when he’s not busy touring the country as guest singer and general mascotte/guru for Peter Pan Speedrock, the Great Dutch Hope of dirty ass rock ‘n’ roll, or playing himself in a commercial. His shop in De Jordaan is legendary in certain circles. It’s been there for 18 years. There’s always something going on, and it might not have anything to do with tattoos. Let’s say the place attracts some of the more colourful protagonists of the great urban circus we call Amsterdam. In fact this small tattoo parlour boasts more stories than the Great Pyramid and, for better or worse, they’re all true. Welcome to Dikke Dennis’ lair.

The street has been renamed so everybody knows whose turf this is; a fake street name sign reads ‘Dikke Dennis straat’. We must be getting close. The shop is easy to recognise. It’s the only one that doesn’t sell itself in any way. Its unique selling point is sitting inside, dressed in a pair of comfy sport pants and nothing else, playing a dice game on the computer. He looks at the screen in contempt.

‘I bought this thing only six months ago. My first ever. I really don’t want all that crap, but it’s getting harder to order stuff if you’re not on the internet these days. But I plan to keep away from all that communication bullshit for as long as I can. Don’t have a mobile phone and don’t want one. I’m not that mobile. I’m here if you need me. Telephone’s right there.’

Dennis lives in the shop. It has his name written all over it, judging by the bizarre and sometimes creepy artefacts scattered around the place. Dr. Caligari’s cabinet of horrors seems like small potatoes compared to this. Snakes and embryos floating in formaldehyde, plastic tattooed arms, a small bottle of Hitler beer, and his priced collection of personal cocaine boogers, locked in a jar for prosperity. Looking at the seemingly hard brown mouldy content I can’t imagine for the world that this actually came out of anybody’s interior. ‘That stuff just falls out of my nose sometimes.’ Dennis adds cheerfully. ‘I’ve been saving it up for a while now.’ Mad scientists everywhere must be extremely jealous.

He sleeps in a kind of upgraded crawlspace right under the floorboards. It’s kinda cosy, and the hustle and bustle upstairs doesn’t seem to disturb him when he’s sleeping in.

‘The water would have to reach my lips before I wake up. I’m a tight sleeper. Been living here for 8 years now. I used to have a regular house but they kicked me out. That was so weird. I was three months behind in rent, so they sent me a letter with a trail date. I immediately paid the whole damn thing and that was it as far as I was concerned. Until one day they show up on my doorstep; ’Hello, we’ve come to evict you.’ I was flabbergasted. I asked them if I owed them any money. ’No, but you didn’t go to the trail, so the judge annulled your rent contract.’ Too stunned to react, I just gave them the keys. Fuck that.’

‘This is my home. For now. Sure I would like a normal house again at some point, but that’s not easy. I was born in Amsterdam but I can’t get a place. Yeah, for 1500 euros a month I could live right around the corner, but I’m not spending that much money on a house. I can’t buy anything, because I don’t own anything. All this is my ex-wife’s. I don’t even get paid officially. When I need money I just take some.’

Dennis has ambivalent feelings towards modern society.

‘You know, I want no part of it. In fact I don’t really exist. I tried to get my passport renewed a while ago, but they wouldn’t give me one unless I explained them where I had been for the last 5 years. Right here, I told them. But on what income? I said: ‘Nothing. I’m a drug addict and I’m fed by my mum.’ They didn’t believe me. Shit, I even told them: ‘He, what do you know? You don’t know my mum.’

‘My parents don’t understand the way I’m living at all. They were young, 17 and 18 when I was born and their generation was about working and re-building the country after the war. I don’t know where my sense of humour derives from, but it sure as shit didn’t come from them. My mum’s name is Rietje (which, apart from being a girls name means a ‘straw’ in Dutch), so I once told her: ‘Funny name, Rietje. You can fuck it, drink through it and snort through it.’ Swear to God, she didn’t even think that was funny.’

When it all boils down, life ain’t to bad for the wicked, though. ‘I just need to get away from the whole charade once in a while. And that Peter Pan Speedrock thing propelled me into another world, in a way. You know, when you’re young and you see those bands in Paradiso? That’s what you want! And when I was on stage, like at Lowlands festival, I was Mick fucking Jagger. But, you know, in the morning, you’re just another Keith Richards in desperate need of drugs.’

For a moment the philosophical side of Dikke Dennis gets the better of him, and he says: ’I’ve been thinking of moving to Eindhoven. No seriously, people in the south are for real. Here, you always get a shitload of bluffers and bullshitters. In Amsterdam everybody’s got a big mouth, but when it comes down to it… You wouldn’t believe how much money people owe me.’

‘On the other hand, this is my city. I belong here. Once a policeman came to me for a friendly neighbourhood chat. until after a while I asked him to leave because my dealer was getting nervous, driving his car up and down the street.’ He smiles and snorts a luscious line. ‘He left. Only in Amsterdam, my friend.’

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3 Reacties

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