One of the most famous tattoo-related news stories is a pretty recent one, which took place in the Belgian town of Courtrai in June of 2009. It concerns an 18-year-old girl by the name of Kimberley Vlaeminck, and more specifically the 56 stars she had tattooed on her face at the parlor run by tattooist Rouslan Toumaniantz. Within days the story was on news wires throughout Europe and the world, with a seemingly furious Vlaeminck announcing plans to sue Toumaniantz, insisting that she had asked for three stars and that the rest had been put there when she fell asleep.
This version of the story was hotly denied by Toumaniantz. Not only had Vlaeminck specifically asked for fifty-six stars, said the tattooist, but she had been wide awake when he was putting them on and showed every sign of being happy with the job he had done when she paid and left the parlor. At one stage, he offered to pay for half of the treatment for Vlaeminck to have the tattoos removed. The news spread far beyond Courtrai, and beyond Belgium as people debated whether Vlaeminck was the unfortunate victim or just trying to shift blame, and then the story reached its conclusion.
Speaking to Dutch TV, Vlaeminck confessed that she had asked for all fifty-six stars and had loved the job Toumaniantz had done. She had not been asleep (this bit would come as no surprise to anyone who has had a tattoo – it may not be agony but it is hard to sleep through 56 tattoos being drawn on your face.) and she had panicked when her father had reacted furiously. Toumaniantz has since withdrawn his offer to pay for the surgery.