ZANA BAYNE bra and peplum belt; URANIUM jewelry (worn throughout); stylist’s own skirt.Megan Massacre is a tattooer without borders.
Thanks to her skills and the exposure she’s gotten from the television shows NY Ink and America’s Worst Tattoos, she is recognized in Japan, Australia, South America, and other spots around the globe where TLC is broadcast. In fact, it was her international fans that got her and NY Ink back on the air. “The show wasn’t going to come back, but the international affiliates loved it so we shot a mini season of five episodes for overseas,” Massacre says. “And when TLC saw a cut they were so stoked on it that they are going to put it back on American television.”
TV executives have been wrong before. Shows such as Family Guy, Arrested Development, and Star Trek were all resuscitated thanks to fans. The network’s original doubts about the show might have been a blessing in disguise, as it led the producers to cut the drama and shuffle the stools. “If you saw the first two seasons [of NY Ink] you saw how bad we got along, so we did away with the negative influences,” Massacre says. “There are some people I am sad to see go, but they left of their own accord, either because they were homesick or they were following their paths in life.”
In this new season, Tim Hendricks, Chris Torres, Robear, and Jessica Gahring are no longer at Wooster Street Social Club, but Massacre, owner Ami James, Tommy Montoya, and Billy DeCola remain. And they’re joined by Rodrigo “Hot Rod” Canteras, Lee Rodriguez, Mike Diamond, Steven Huie, Jes Leppard, and Diego Miranda. “I think this new, positive environment definitely breeds more creativity, and whenever you bring new, good artists into any tattoo shop they inspire the other tattooers,” Massacre says. Critics from within the tattoo community (yes, including some of you, as well as some of INKED’s Facebook commenters) have long thought the problem with these “Ink” series is too much drama and not enough craft. Certainly tattoo shops are crucibles of ego and attitude, but the shops shown on TV have fostered a feeling of contrived conflict that distracted not only the artists, but also viewers.
The new season of NY Ink promises to offer viewers a moving image of a good piece rather than inject Killer Karaoke–like gimmicks while an artist is trying to finish a sleeve. “I think that this time, I had so much more fun shooting because it was so stress-free,” Massacre says. “We have the negative drama that any work environment has, but this time around it feels way more real.”
Don’t get Massacre wrong: Tattooing while being filmed is hard work. “It is not glamorous,” Massacre says. “You have really long days of cameras following you around and watching every drop of ink you put into someone. You have to be tough, and you need to deal with the rest of the world judging every piece. People who will never see your tattoo in real life will tell you that you suck. I am not only putting myself out there, I am hanging my art and my livelihood out there.”