Matty Clark owns a bar in Denver, Colorado called the HiDive. Based on his Instagram account, Matty Clark has a lot of fun: he plays guitar, he drinks with his friends, he has a cat named Weezy, and he gets tattooed. A lot. And one year ago, Matty Clark got Left Shark—the memorable backup dancer seen in Katy Perry's Super Bowl halftime show— tattooed on his ankle. While the Super Bowl was still in progress.
Clark "didn't even realize that Left Shark was blowing it until after I already had the tattoo," he told me. "That's how quick the turnaround was."
We talked to Matty Clark to find out why he got the tattoo—and how he feels about it now, one year later:
When did you first become interested in sharks?
Unfortunately, it [isn't] some cool story about my love of these majestic creatures. A couple of years ago I got black-out drunk at a music festival and bit a bunch of my friends, saying, "I'm Matty Shark bitch!" The nickname just stuck. People call me Shark, and for gift-giving holidays I get a lot of shark paraphernalia.
When did you go to get the tattoo and how did you explain it to the artist?
I have plenty of tattoos, and my tattoo artist Rene tagged me in a photo of Left Shark and I commented on it, jokingly, "Tattoo that on me." He said, "I got an opening this evening," and we went and got it done. He had it all drawn up by the time I got there.
Where did you place the tattoo on your body?
On my left ankle. It was an aesthetic choice, because on the same spot on my opposite ankle, I have a tattoo of Tim Tebow doing his Tebowing thing—it just a good place to put a silly tangentally football-related tattoo.
Do you have other tattoos? What are they?
Zillions. Everything from a piece of pizza, to song lyrics, to a butt with a pentagram tramp stamp.
Were you happy when Left Shark became a viral meme?
At first it was kind of exciting, but it got pretty old and weird by day two. My phone was exploding, as was all my social media, and I had to answer a zillion questions about it. People were in awe but it was just a tattoo! Slow news day, I guess.
How do you feel about your tattoo one year out?
I don't have much of a relationship to the actual tattoo. It's pretty alien to me, because in a way, it belongs to the world now. I didn't ask for the attention and it certainly makes me uncomfortable from time to time.
People say, "You're famous!" And I say, well, a picture of my ankle is famous! I'm just the dude it's attached to, ya know?
How did people respond to it?
Most of the coverage is ostensibly making fun of the fact that someone would be "dumb" enough to get the tattoo. So it was easy to get defensive and a lot of interviews or exchanges about it turned south, when I could tell it switched to jesting. If you don't get tattoo culture, or why someone would get a silly tattoo, then I'm not gonna explain it to you. And that's the point, I don't have to explain why I got it, really, I just did. I didn't get it for attention and I'd get it again even knowing no one gives a shit.
How did you feel when Katy Perry retweeted you?
I guess that was pretty cool. If I had a guilty pleasure, it definitely would be her. That was like the pinnacle of the whole thing [because] she tweeted it, and about ten minutes later Jimmy Fallon made a joke about it on The Tonight Show (insinuating I got it because I was high because I live in Colorado where weed is legal— I wasn't high at the time but it was funny). [The people behind] Shark Week retweeted it around the same time that night. If it could have ended right there, that would've been sweet.
Do you think there will be another viral meme at this year's Super Bowl?
No way. Coldplay is boring.
I hope someone does get something though! Maybe it'll be some bizarro new Super Bowl tradition. I did think it was funny when that "what color is this dress" viral thing started happening and a guy got the tattoo, like, hey man, is this a thing now?
Why is Left Shark better than Right Shark?
'Cos no one got a Right Shark tattoo. ;)
This interview was conducted over e-mail and has been edited for length and clarity.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.