Ruby Rose is not a household name in America—yet—but in her native Australia, she’s a bona fide It Girl. The 24-year-old model turned TV host first turned heads during MTV Australia’s search for the next big VJ when the competition called for playing the Century Club game (downing 100 shots of beer in 100 minutes) against Bam Margera. It was no easy feat, but she held her own and gamely completed other challenges like taking to the streets of Sydney to lock lips with strangers. Needless to say, she got the job—and the country’s obsession with her only began there. The outspoken, outgoing beauty has also earned respect as one of the few openly gay female celebrities in the country, even being chosen as one of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians. As if that’s not cool enough, she’s also covered in ink.
INKED: How many tattoos do you have, and which was your first?
RUBY ROSE: I don’t actually know how many I have. If you counted them individually it would be, like, 30 or something, but some of them are grouped together as one piece. As for my first one, I lived in Germany when I was 16, and I came back home with a tongue ring. My mom was like, “Get that filthy thing out of your mouth.” She said if I got rid of the piercing I could get a tattoo.
What did you get?
It’s a typical tramp stamp, with a rose and an architectural design around it. It’s ridiculous. It’s such a 16-year-old’s tattoo. I would never get that now. But I would never get it removed either. It’s one of my favorites because it was my first.
Did you know it was called a tramp stamp at the time, or was that term coined later?
No! That came out after. I was only 16, and any 16-year-old with a tattoo was, like, the coolest person ever. I was the only person in my whole school with a tattoo, but when I was 18, I saw hundreds of other girls with tattoos in the same spot, and I was like, “Aww, man.”
What else do you have?
Boxing gloves on my shoulder blade [in honor of her godfather, top boxer Lionel Rose], a cross on my arm. … I don’t think when my mom said I could have my first tattoo she anticipated that five years later I’d be completely covered head to toe in ink.
What does Mom think now?
She’s accepted it. And now she has, like, three tattoos. Every woman in my family has a tattoo, but none of the men do. Even my grandma has a small tattoo on her ankle.
Any war stories from the tattoo shop?
I got Meow written inside my lip, and that was the most painful one. It’s so weird, putting a needle right on your face. Clearly I’ll never have cosmetic surgery, because that was scary enough for me. Also, the inside of your arm hurts so much. I know you’re not supposed to, but halfway through getting my sleeve redone, I was like, “Okay, that’s it, I need some whiskey right now! Lots and lots of whiskey!” By the end of it, I was like, “It doesn’t hurt anymore!” But then I tried to stand up and I couldn’t.
Do you have a favorite tattooer?
I’ve gotten tattoos in Canada, Czech Republic, L.A., but the ones I get in Australia are by Rhys Gordon from Inner Vision—he’s world-renowned. He’s done about seven on me.
Have you ever met anyone with a Ruby Rose tattoo?
I never thought I’d be saying yes to this question, but, yeah, there are a few of them out there. One time I was deejaying in Brisbane, and after the gig, a girl came up to me and was like, “I love you so much. Your gig was amazing. Can you sign my arm?” I was so drunk—I’m surprised I even signed my name with the correct lettering. I signed it in a thick black text, but she had this beautiful tattoo underneath, and I kind of wrote over that, not thinking about it, and the next day she put a picture up on Twitter, and she had my signature tatted there! There have been three or four others who’ve gotten my autograph off the Internet and had it tattooed on. It’s the ultimate in respect and flattery, but then I’m like, Oh my god, in 10 years I’m gonna get, like, 50 invoices for people’s tattoo removal laser surgery.
As an MTV VJ, you interview loads of musicians. Who’s got the best ink?
John Mayer has some of the finest art. He was showing me his tats and I was just like, “Damn you! I love that! I wish I had that!” I get tattoo envy. Pink’s got a couple of really cool ones. The Cypress Hill boys and the Wu-Tang boys have awesome ones as well—really old-school mixed with new ones.
Did you know that Snoop Dogg recently got his first tattoo?
Really? I would’ve thought he had stacks. That is so funny. Funny thing about that is that American Idol Kelly Clarkson has, like, 10 tattoos. Snoop didn’t have one until now, and Kelly Clarkson has 10? Bizarre.
What are some of the lamest tattoos you’ve seen?
You can’t just get ink—you have to have a personality for it. It’s a bit silly when someone goes into a store and is like, “All my friends have tattoos, and it’s my 25th birthday and I haven’t got one yet, so I’ll take the one with the naked lady.” Or people who get big Asian writing all down their arm and they don’t even know what it means. Or people who get the Playboy bunny logo. The fact that anyone has that creeps me out. I’m a bit of an ink snob.
You came out of the closet at the age of 12, and now the media is obsessed with your sexuality. What was your experience in terms of coming out?
When I first came out in school, it was really hard. I got bullied. It was the scariest thing I ever did before I did it, because I didn’t know how people would react, or if I’d lose my job or if people would hate me. But since I [came out] I didn’t have to sacrifice that much. Except everyone is now trying to work out who I’m dating. It’s not a negative thing, like, “Gross, she’s gay.” It’s more like, “Wow, she’s gay—she must be dating everyone she’s ever met that’s a female.”
Let’s clear this up. Word on the street is that you’re engaged to model Catherine McNeil. What’s the story?
I think everyone knows I’m in a happy relationship—and who I’m with.
Are you more attracted to girls with tattoos?
It would be hard to be attracted to someone who didn’t have a tattoo. I’d be like, “There’s all that prime real estate! What are you doing? Just one! Just a little one!”