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The Comeback Kid

American Apparel bodysuit; Fleet earrings; Nicole boots.On her 21st birthday, Tess Taylor checked out of rehab and attended her party at Dusk, a nightclub at Caesars in Atlantic City. The closest she came to sniffing a drink was on the breath of the other revelers—and thus began her comeback story.

Taylor might have Aphrodite DNA, and she certainly has tigress blood. A few years ago, she and the sisters of her adopted family, Alexis and Gabby Neiers, caught the eye of TV producers who signed them up for a reality show based around their Hollywood lifestyle. They were led to believe that they would be portrayed glamorously, that their show would be a younger version of The Hills. But the girls’ high jinks were more rock star than Audrina Patridge’s, and in the editing bay Pretty Wild turned into a familial Bad Girls Club. The tape doesn’t lie, but it does wrap the sisters in a cloak of infamy that’s been hard to break out of.

Alexis spent a month in jail for her involvement with the “Bling Ring,” a group that burgled the houses of Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, and Paris Hilton, among others. Taylor wasn’t involved in the scheme, but she is often associated with the scandal. Her vices were different: opiates, booze, and the alluring scene that plies them. When things spiraled way out of control, she stopped talking to Alexis and, of her own volition, went to rehab and started going to Alcoholics Anonymous. A.A. helped her get off the sauce and introduced her to tattoo artist Christian Cervantes. “We just kind of started talking at a meeting and he told me that he does tattoos—it just worked out.” His handiwork is all over Taylor, including a recent piece on her arm that features a Banksy graffiti girl with a gas mask.

Taylor’s new addiction just may be tattoos. “When Playboy named me Cyber Girl of the Week they told me that I should hold off on getting more tattoos in case I won Girl of the Month,” she says. “I didn’t listen to them. Then, after I won Cyber Girl of the Month, they said the same thing in anticipation of Cyber Girl of the Year. Again I got more tattoos, and I won anyway. I was happy about it, but still glad I got the tattoos.”

Her collection continues to grow; between her INKED interview and photo shoot, she got three more pieces—and we’re talking in a matter of days, not weeks. Her tattoo featuring a Day of the Dead skull with a bow is one of our favorites. “[The skulls] are getting so popular, so I wanted to make mine unique and more like me,” she says of the bow.

Taylor says she’s currently taking some “me” time as she plans her next move. It’s something you’d expect women twice her age to say—but those women probably don’t have paparazzi following their every move. Rather than decamp to a farm to recover, Taylor has returned to Hollywood clean, more tattooed, and more mature. She vows to handle her next project with a clear head, and she says she now has the experience to navigate the reality TV landscape safely. She’s also cut ties with her sister Alexis, a tough but probably smart move.

When asked if she feels stigmatized by her first bout with fame, Taylor is quick to set the record straight. “In Hollywood, it doesn’t matter what people think of you.” So why even go back? “It’s an awesome lifestyle; it’s fun, it’s fast, and you get to meet a bunch of awesome people. It can become very overwhelming, but then … you need to step back and look at the bigger picture and not be so in the moment. I am going to do things right this time and give them something to think about.”

American Apparel tank top; Meghan vest; Levi’s jeans.

Felder Felder leather crop top; Levi’s shorts; All Saints bracelet; Nine West heels.

Felder Felder leather crop top; Levi’s shorts; All Saints bracelet; Nine West heels.

Levi’s vest; American Apparel tank top; Sexy Panties and Naughty Knickers underwear; Nicole booties.

Honeydew bodysuit; American Apparel T-shirt.

Levi’s shorts; Vero Cuoio boots; Pennyroyal necklaces; stylist’s own vintage T-shirt and jacket.

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