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Dave Bautista Revealed His Noble Reason for Covering a Controversial Tattoo

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022). (L-R) Dave Bautista as Duke and Madelyn Cline as Whiskey. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022.

For those who don’t know, the actor who plays Drax from The Guardians of the Galaxy, a.k.a. Dave Bautista, is Greek on his mother’s side and Filipino on his father’s. This might come as a surprise for some, but Filipinos love tattoos.

When the Spanish came to the Philippines, the colonizers nicknamed the islanders “Pintados,” translating to the painted people. Despite the Catholic church trying to eradicate Filipinos’ practice of traditional tribal tattooing, we still managed to continue the practice in the modern day.

The Guardians of the Galaxy star recently sat with GQ to discuss his tattoos. He considers his tattoos “the story of his life,” which mimics the traditional art of Filipino tribal tattoos. 

“I’m a storyteller in every aspect of my life by being an actor and through my tattoos.”

Dave Bautista

Before getting a Filipino tribal tattoo, one goes through a consulting process that would be unfamiliar to those accustomed to western tattoo artists. The artist asks about matrilineal and patrilineal heritage, trying to go as far back into your genealogy as possible. They also ask about your career, what languages your family spoke/speaks, the area your family is from, Filipino intraethnic identity (a.k.a. what tribe your family descends from), your birth order if you have siblings, and more. 

During the GQ video, Bautista shares that he’s always been taught to be proud of his heritage. That sentiment grew with age and after he traveled to his respective homelands. He has the Filipino and Greek flags on his arm, another Filipino flag on the same elbow, and the iconic Filipino Sun on his chest.

Coverups and fallouts


Dave Bautista on why he got one of his coverup tattoos #GQ #TattooTour #WWE #DaveBautista #MCU #Tattoos #Bautista

♬ original sound – GQ – GQ

When Filipinos get tattoos that “have meaning” or an intricate story about acquiring the tattoo, a small part of me considers it an act of decolonization—especially when Bautista’s father disapproved, causing the wrestler-turned-actor to hide a tattoo of a heart that was made of cement on his ass. So when Bautista admitted to having a lot of cover up tattoos and said, “They’re a part of your life story because you have regrets and you make mistakes, so you try to fix them as best you can,” he revealed that one of the tattoos covered up was his friend and hero’s team logo who “turned out to be an extreme homophobe.” Since Bautista’s mother is a lesbian, he immediately cut ties with that person.

There’s been speculation that the person Bautista refers to is the Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao. In 2016, Pacquiao publicly compared gay people to animals. The Philippines is an extremely religious culture and predominantly Catholic, which historically was not the friendliest to the LGTBQIA+ community.

A big teddy bear

Dave Bautista Winnie-the-Pooh tattoo
via GQ

Another tattoo Bautista discusses is his Winnie the Pooh on the back of his leg. This tattoo came about after doing the movie My Spy with the actress Chloe Coleman, who, during a press conference, was asked if Bautista had a Winnie the Pooh tattoo. She immediately said yes, describing Glass Onion star as a sweet giant teddy bear. So, when it turned out she was wrong, her disappointment led Bautista to actually get the tattoo because he loved her so much, proving Coleman right—Bautista really is the sweetest person ever.

dave bautista cillian hooligan tattoo

On Bautista’s thigh, there’s a man smoking a cigarette with the words “gentleman” and “hooligan.” The star randomly found this picture and believes it represents who he is as a person, since he “was from the streets” but always considered himself a gentleman. Because the image was of Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders, he asked the artist, John, to alter it so it doesn’t look like the actor. However, when he posted it, everyone immediately recognized the Irish actor.

Homage to RZA

Dave Bautista knuckles

Another surprising tattoo is the Wu-Tang clan tattoo to honor the founding member, RZA, who helped Bautista start his acting career. The tattoo can be seen on the actor’s right knuckle.

Where to get a tattoo

If you want a tattoo, why not look into Bautista’s tattoo shop? DC Society Ink is located in Tampa, Florida. The shop, opened in January 2022, currently has six artists, with three more joining DC Society Ink soon. Owning a tattoo shop has been a dream of Bautista’s because he appreciates the culture that exists within it.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Nava was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently, they edit economic textbooks by day and write geeky articles for the internet in the evenings. They currently exist on unceded Lenape land aka Brooklyn. (Filipine/a Mexican American)