You must have clients in the fetish world who would get off on tattooing, without the vibrating panties.
Oh, definitely. What I love about the fetish scene is that the women tend to be more neurotic. … If I'm at a party and there's one girl there who looks like she's ready to fall over dead, that's the one I'm all about—the one who's emaciated with makeup running down her face, an emotional wreck ready to jump off a bridge … I just think that's hot. It's not like I'm out to save them either.
Maybe you're out to share your own bit of crazy. What's your big neurosis?
Oh my god. I'm certifiably insane.
Yet highly functional.
No, I fake it. I have patterned my universe to fit my disease. I live in a microcosm. I am the master of my universe, no matter how great or small it may be considered. I need to control my environment to keep myself somewhat sane. Between my natural instabilities coupled with my career choice, it's driven me deeper into a darker place.
With that need to control your environment, how did you deal with your former Last Rites crew all leaving you suddenly last year?
Do you mind talking about it? I don't mind.
Then for those not in on the gossip, give a recap first.
In a nutshell, I've always been a bit psychologically unstable. When I was a kid, mostly it was depression, and as I grew older it became other things. Stress triggers it. And with a lot of things I was doing four or five years ago—like Tattoo the Earth, a music tour I produced, the beginnings of Art Fusion, and all these crazy things—I drove myself too hard. I ended up having a breakdown in Europe. My girlfriend then and manager got me home. I started seeing two separate shrinks a week for six months and took all these brain-candy cocktails to find the right recipe to keep me functioning. It became a battle. The medicine kills the demons but the demons and the art come from the same place. It took me a year to get back in the rhythm and create in a way to give a client 100 percent. And if I don't feel 100 percent, I can't work.
In the end the people close to me had to nurse me all the time. I couldn't go out without a crew. I couldn't go out without people I trusted around. I had a greater safety requirement than the average person. That can range from legitimate paranoia, like someone really out to get me, to aliens peeping under my door. Weird shit.
So through my struggle, everyone was getting tired of being around me. It started with my girlfriend bailing out. And I don't blame her because I knew then what a pain in the ass I was, but I couldn't help it. Nonetheless, it devastated me because this was a girl I thought I was spending the rest of my life with. She did what she could. I don't think anyone in my life has let me down easier. Then, one year to the day that we officially broke up, my entire crew walked out on me on the same day.
The funny thing is that, after they left, a big part of me felt that a cancer had been cut out of my body. I was sitting in my shop alone feeling nothing but relief, not even knowing until that moment where a lot of my stress was coming from.
Was there a big fight?
No. My issue was never them leaving, but how they left. It wasn't cool how things went down. I'm not going to go into detail. I'll just save it for my book. It was more important for me to bite my tongue and stand by my reputation and my professionalism, than proving gossip wrong. I spent so many years hearing rumors about me that have ranged from being a gay heroin addict or baby-eating satanist. …
I really have heard the gay heroin thing.
Yes, I'm the world's fattest heroin addict. Is it even possible? I got a hot chick on my arm at every convention, and I weigh more than three people. Over the years, I would start my own rumors to see what they'd turn into, like the child-slavery-ring rumor.
That's a good one.
Listen, I've always known that human nature generally sucks. Where I grew stronger from all this is the evolution of myself, and the awareness of human nature that I have now is much greater than ever before.
I had a gallery opening two months after the shit went down, and people actually wrote in the guest book all kinds of shit like, “You asshole. How does it feel now?” All based on rumor. The amount of people who called me to get more than one side of the story, I could count on one hand. I was bedridden for three months. I mean, really bedridden with some dark shit—but I survived.
Did anything positive come from it?
I know it will take a lot more than nine people to take me out. I have a new crew. I'm less concerned with what people think, which is good because I was always too concerned. Now I can just give the entire universe the middle finger.