American stand-up comedian Margaret Cho has rebelled throughout her life, using humor to withstand the challenges of being raised Korean American and tattooing her body despite the taboo.

In an interview with the Inked Magazine in March 2020, The Cho Show host shared she knew she would get tattoos from a young age.

She was hugely influenced by the bodysuit tattoos of her father’s friends, which made her determined to get inked in the future. 

Cho Got Her First Tattoo in 2004

Cho’s tattoo journey started after finding a stable space in her career, years after starring in her career-shaping show All-American Girl and a dozen of other movies and TV shows.


A post shared by Margaret Cho (@margaret_cho)

She got her first tattoo in 2004 after her friend took her to the famous American tattoo artist Ed Hardy. She inked Japanese-style designs of snakes and flowers to her stomach and back.

Recalling her first tattoo, Cho told Tattoo magazine in 2015 that she knew Hardy would spearhead her tattoo suit.

She remembered how he had been a fixture since her childhood, impressed by his extraordinary art on her family friends in San Francisco.

Her Tattoo Designs and Favorite Pieces

At 52, Cho has got over 12 tattoo pieces on her body, albeit ranging in size.

Cherry blossom on her calf, eye on her upper arm, gun on her thigh, rose swirls on her upper back are some of the notable designs. Other than that, she has a phoenix covered in feathers on her left upper arm.

When Tattoo magazine asked her about her three favorite designs, Cho shared about her only memorial tattoo.

She gushed about a horse portrait she inked as a tribute to her late dog Ralph. Eddy Deutsche made the picture as majestic as she had expected. 

The All-American Girl actress then dished on her other favorite tattoo and said it was the head of a Medusa with 13 snakes she inked on her stomach. 

She also mentioned the portraits of the U.S. presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on her knees as her favorites. She had got the tattoos from Craig Jackman in Los Angeles.

In her tattooing journey, Cho has embodied arts from Kat Von D, Mister Cartoon, Kim Saigh, and Shawn Barber, among others.  

She Still Battles the Taboo Related to Inks

While tattoos are considered works of art and admired in many cultures, it is not the same for every community and especially not Cho’s.

Having a Korean heritage and being raised in a Korean American community, where revealing one’s inner self was never practiced, Cho knew she would have to put up a fight for tattoos.


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Cho has indeed been fighting the not-so-loud battle, facing unfriendly stares every time she visits a Korean bathhouse.

The San Francisco native shared with Inked Magazine how other females would look at her like she was a gangster.

Thankfully, she could weather the challenges that came with tattooing — courtesy of her parents, father Seung-Hoon and mother Young-Hie, and other family members.

They never made an issue out of her choices and let her embrace her beliefs.