Pauly D's Tattoos Explained

For six whole seasons of MTV's "Jersey Shore," which originally ran from 2009 to 2012, Paul "Pauly D" DelVecchio was a regular fixture on the small screen. Fans of the reality TV series watched the aspiring DJ get into all sorts of antics and while he and the fist-pumping crew elicited a love-hate reaction (there are even a number of celebs who openly can't stand the show), it made him a household name and helped him amass an estimated $20 million net worth.

In the years following his small screen debut, Pauly D has stayed busy. He's launched spinoff shows, debuted an unrecognizable quarantine look, embraced fatherhood with daughter Amabella (whom he had with Amanda Markert in 2013), and starred in reboot series "Jersey Shore: Family Vacation." Throughout it all, a constant source of fascination has been his extensive tattoo collection, although not always for the right reasons. When Complex ranked the 25 worst celebrity tats back in 2011, Pauly D's elbow star made the cut. In addition to calling him "a fine example of someone swayed by large scale, mostly meaningless, decorative tattoo," the outlet quipped, "The arm band and dragon above prove tattoo trends have wronged Pauly on more than one occasion." Ouch. But is there really no meaning behind his eyebrow-raising ink? Here are Pauly D's tattoos, explained.

Pauly D's favorite tattoo is a tribute to his best friend

In 2005, Paul "Pauly D" DelVecchio lost his best friend, William "Billy" Iannotti, to a motorcycle accident. The 24-year-old owner of Krazy Karz was riding in a "motorcycle run for charity" when he got into a fatal crash, according to his obituary. The reality TV star decided to commemorate Iannotti by getting a cross tattooed with the words "In Loving Memory" above it and "R.I.P. Billy" within it. The medium-sized design takes up most of his right bicep and, as he told The Baltimore Sun in 2011, it holds a special place in his heart. "I have eight tattoos [but] my favorite one is my rest in peace tattoo for my buddy Billy," he said, adding, "It's the only tattoo that I have that has real meaning."

But the cross wasn't enough. In December 2010, TMZ reported that Pauly D made three additions to his ink collection when he stopped by Indelible Ink Tattoo Studio in Fall River, Massachusetts. According to the outlet, owner/artist Tony "The Doctor" Estrella sat down with the "Jersey Shore" alum for a 12-hour session, adding to the existing cross by putting what appears to be a tombstone around it. He also covered much of his left bicep with religious iconography, getting a black and grey portrait of Jesus and Mary wrapped around his arm.

Pauly D showcased just how strong his bond with Iannotti was during a 2017 appearance on "Hollywood Medium" during which he called him "my best friend in the whole entire world," noting, "we did everything together."

Did Pauly D immortalize a supermodel in ink?

It's one thing to commemorate your loved ones in ink, butPaul "Pauly D" DelVecchio decided to pay tribute to someone he'd never met before... and he used his entire forearm to do it. In December 2014, right as the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was airing, Pauly D took to Instagram to reveal that he had permanently paid tribute to one of the most famous Angels in the world. Sharing a snap of his right arm, the DJ proudly showed off a massive black and gray portrait of a mystery beauty with long, flowing hair covering her left eye. But the design, which covers the space from his wrist to his elbow, isn't just of any beautiful woman. It just so happens to be a portrait of supermodel Adriana Lima. "In Honor Of #VSFashionShow #VSFS2014," he wrote in the caption before tagging Lima.

It's unclear when exactly Pauly D added the sultry portrait to his collection, but when he showed up at a Las Vegas nightclub just a few months prior in June 2013, his right forearm was only half covered and the portrait was nowhere in sight. So what did Lima think of her likeness? According to Daily News, she was so impressed that she started following Pauly D on Instagram following his very permanent profession of admiration and even praised the tattoo, writing, "Thank you so much, what a[n] honor." 

The eclectic tattoo collection of Pauly D

During a 2011 appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Paul "Pauly D" DelVecchio gave host Ellen DeGeneres a complete walkthrough of his tattoo collection at the time, which consisted of seven medium- and large-scale pieces. The reality TV star stripped off his shirt to applause, then proceeded to break down some of his most eyebrow-raising choices, starting with the massive illustration in the middle of his back. "So I got the Italian flag right here," he said, pointing to the glimpse of a green, white, and red flag, which sits below a tribal design that stretches between his shoulder blades and above a Gothic line of script that runs across his lower back, simply reading "Pauly D." Digging into the design, which is the only tattoo the DJ has with any color, he told DeGeneres, "It's like my skin ripping through and underneath is the Italian flag cause I'm an Italian man."

He then continued to the side of his torso, explaining that he got the word "Cadillac" inked down his side because "my favorite automobile is a Cadillac, so it says that." Jumping to his right bicep, he showed off the "rest in peace tattoo for my friend who passed away on a motorcycle." Then, he lifted up his arm and shared, "And that's Jesus over there [and] Mary over there." Finally, flipping over to his left bicep, he pointed to the tribal design he has there, concluding, "then I have just a dragon." Hey, sometimes you have just a dragon. 

Pauly D paid tribute to his favorite clothing line in ink

As RadarOnline learned in 2010, Paul "Pauly D" DelVecchio went into Federal Hill Tattoo Shop in Rhode Island to pay tribute... to a clothing line. The "Jersey Shore" alum has often been spotted wearing T-shirts from the Dirty Couture clothing line and he decided to immortalize his passion for the brand by putting the logo (a star made up of three star-shaped outlines within one another) on his left elbow. As one source shared with the outlet, the design was actually supposed to be a nod to his friend who runs the label. "That's what a great friend Pauly is!" the insider gushed, adding, "Now he's a walking billboard for his buddy's store!" Meanwhile, Pauly himself told Radar Online, "Yeah, I got a new tattoo, it's a logo from my boy's clothing line. I love his clothes, I wear it all the time."

Pauly D has previously shown plenty of love for Dirty Couture, which was founded by his childhood friend, Pasquale Dipippo, and trademarked in 2005. In 2011, he actually teamed up with Dipippo to launch his own T-shirt collection for the brand called Dirty Beats, according to TooFab. DelVecchio also opened the Dirty Couture Shore Store on the Seaside Heights boardwalk that July to help sell Dipippo's line, but apparently, his "Jersey Shore" gig interfered. Sources told TMZ that his contract with MTV prevented him from promoting his new venture "because he's locked in to work exclusively at the infamous 'Shore Store' t-shirt shop nearby." Talk about T-shirt time trouble.

Pauly D's tattoos show off his roots and his friendships

Paul "Pauly D" DelVecchio may have told "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" audience that his Cadillac tattoo is nothing more than a nod to his favorite car, but as MTV notes, its real inspiration may be a little deeper than that. The script, which runs from his right armpit down to his pelvis, might actually be a nod to his humble pre-reality TV beginnings as a used car salesman. Pauly D opened up about his previous career to Jay Leno in 2010 (via MTV), revealing that he started DJing at 16, but despite making the rounds at various Rhode Island clubs, he just wasn't earning enough. So he took on a day job working at Metro Honda as a car washer and eventually worked his way up to a salesman. Speaking about the realities of those early years, Pauly D told the AP (via Access) that he "lived paycheck to paycheck" and although "DJ'ing wasn't paying the bills, the car business was." He added, "I was struggling working all those hours. It was tough."

Pauly D also likes to pay tribute to his friends in ink and, as Us Weekly confirmed in 2012, he, Ryan Labbe, Gerard "Big Gerry" Gialanella, Jason "J-Rock" Craig, and Michael "DJ Biggie" Morgan all got matching palm tattoos as "a bonding thing," per Labbe. As Craig joked to the outlet, "Ryan wanted to take a knife and slit hands and do blood brothers, but we figured we'd just [get tattoos] instead." Aw, yeah. Bonding tattoos, yeah.