The new host of MTV’s Headbangers Ball, José Mangin, got his first tat- too at 16 (Pantera’s famous Cowboys From Hell logo) and was hooked. But it was his encounter with the band’s late, great guitarist, Dimebag Darrell, that got him addicted. “I walked up to him and said, ‘Scarred for life, man,’ and he totally tripped out! Dime gave me a Coors silver bullet—I still have the can!—a black-tooth grin, and some hits off a killer bomber he had going around. I was never the same since.”
Mangin was raised on “a healthy diet of tacos and metal.” He’s quick to profess his love for both, as well as for tattoos. It’s a jumbled recipe for success, but his résumé reads like every headbanger’s dream: heavy metal nerd becomes college radio host, gets picked up by FM rock station, wins awards for programming and hosting, works with record label, gets hosting gig at Sirius XM, and lands at Headbangers Ball (a goal he’s had for nearly 20 years).
Since he’s a TV personality, Mangin takes care of his appearance a bit more than your typical horn-throwing, goatee-braiding, die-hard metal fan. “I do care about dressing well, and I try to visually represent all the hemispheres of my life in what I wear,” he says. “Some dudes are thrown for sure, but after talking to me and seeing what I’m all about, they’re always cool … metal can unite anybody!”
As can tattoos. Mangin’s black and gray Aztec work comes from Memphis tattoo artist Kevin Johnson of Ramesses Tattoo. But he’s also picked up ink from Paul Booth, tattooer to the metal gods. “In junior high I hung up Paul’s artwork he did on my idols Max and Igor Cavalera from Sepultura,” Mangin says. “I met [him] outside a Superjoint Ritual concert in New York City about six years ago and offered him a job hosting the first-ever tattoo radio show. I also got tattooed by Booth live on the radio inside one of our studios for the first official bloodshed in company history!”
None of Mangin’s success is lost on him. If he comes across as excited or just plain happy, it’s because he is. “I know every day I wake up that I’m one of the luckiest dudes alive.”