When Charlotte Guttenberg walked into a tattoo parlour for the first time aged 56, she was overcome with nerves. Although she’d always longed for a tattoo, the buzzing sound of tattoo guns on skin unsettled her stomach.
Taking a deep breath, she eased herself into the tattooist’s chair and closed her eyes. For years, she’d longed to have a tattoo, but knowing her husband hated the look of them, she put her dreams of ink on hold.
When her husband passed away after a long illness in 2001, Charlotte was utterly devastated. Although she busied herself with running her small business and spending time with friends, Charlotte, now 68, swore she’d remain single for the rest of her life.
"To see someone pass away the way my husband did was too much heartache, and I decided that love was no longer for me," she says. "It was a few years before I plucked up the courage do something entirely for myself, and that was getting my first tattoo."
The customer’s name was Chuck, and he too was widowed, having lost his wife a
few years before. Chuck, now 71, told Charlotte he had a few tattoos and was planning to have more, and by the time she walked out of the tattoo parlour several hours later, Charlotte was hooked – not just on tattoos, but on Chuck too.
"We exchanged numbers, but because of the grief of losing my late husband, I’d told Chuck I was involved with someone," recalls Charlotte. "But as soon as I got home, I was berating myself. I said, 'You are such a fool! That guy was fantastic.'"
"I kept arranging to meet Chuck, but then my mother would find some way to meddle," she says. "This happened a few times, with me cancelling at the last minute. I knew I had to find a way to make it up to him, so I made him a hamper full of cookies and sweets and gave it to our tattoo artist, Lisa, who was having a Christmas party."
Fast-forward 11 years, and the romance that started at the tattoo shop has become
a romance that stayed in the tattoo shop. Chuck and Charlotte discovered that, not
only can they not live without each other, but they can’t live without the thrill of a
new ink either.
After years of sitting in the tattoo parlour, holding hands side-by-side, the couple now hold the Guinness World Record for the most tattooed female and male OAP on Earth. A whopping 91.5 per cent of Charlotte’s body is covered in ink, while 94.3 per cent of Chuck’s skin is covered.
Chuck and Charlotte now have a tattoo parlor routine: they get breakfast in their favorite restaurant, before heading to the tattoo shop together. Only one of them will get inked at a time, with the other person on hand to fetch coffees and hold their hand.