INKED: What's the current state of your shop, Last Rites?
PAUL BOOTH: November 22 being my 20-year anniversary, I feel pretty good saying that, although I feel old, I'm feeling really solid. And with my new crew, it's exciting because I have the creative environment I really wanted. I mean, it's always been a creative environment here, but I find myself really vibing well with this crew, so I'm psyched about moving ahead.
These days, tattooists are rock stars, and you're one of them. How do you feel about that?
I still laugh about that. I think I said this once or twice in the past: I have a different way of looking at these things, but deep down I still just see myself as a really lucky fat guy from New Jersey. At the end of the day I can't believe the shit that comes my way. I have hot chicks all around me—I ain't no prize. I can complain about worse things, I suppose. Imagine me feeling like a piece of meat. Lucky me.
So you embrace it?
Well, no. I spent a few years celebrating it. I did the whole rock star thing. It was fun, sure. The real fucked up thing about it is that it left me feeling pretty alone. And I still tend to feel alone quite a bit because there are not too many people I know that can relate to what I've been through in my life … and my career.
Don't get me wrong, I really love what I do—the fans, the experiences. It really is true, though, what they say: Be careful what you wish for. There are reasons why I'm a shut-in now. I understand more than ever why bigger celebrities are also shut-ins and why they can't go out. They are like a prisoner of themselves.
For me, going out to a bar with some friends to hang out and just relax isn't that much of an option. I don't mind if a sincere fan shakes my hand and it's all good. But people get drunk over the course of the night and I end up spending hours with someone repeating to me their next tattoo over and over again, shaking my hand with their beer-soaked paw. [Laughs.] There are a lot of cool people out there but, you know, I can tell you stories that will totally make you understand why I stay home.