Chris Nieratko (writer),
Lionel Deluy (photographer)
I read that Ami was losing his mind upon seeing billboards of you all over New York City. I read about that too. I don't know. After I left Miami, the only line I've ever drawn with my friends was that line. Before it was, ‘You can hang out with whoever you want, I don't care. You're my friend.' Now I can't associate with anyone that is associated with them. I won't. Are you his fucking friend?
No. I don't even know him. And I don't like bald people. Oh, the Blue Man Group guy without makeup? Margaret Cho told me that joke. It's great.
Do you ever get into your pajamas and do dances of joy on your bed when you get the ratings back? I don't jump around and dance. As long as the overall ratings say we're doing good, that's what's important. I'm definitely not driven by competition. I didn't get my own show to say, ‘Fuck you,' to Miami. Deep down inside I wish them the best. I don't want their show to do better than my show, but I don't wish them any harm. But I do know our ratings were triple of what theirs ever were.
You made something good. It's fun to watch. Miami Ink was always— Monotonous and repetitive. The guys weren't willing to involve their real life in the show, whereas I promised myself, aside from my divorce, I would talk about anything. People can relate to you more when you're real and show your imperfections. I'm an open book. Our show is more rock ‘n' roll and honest. I don't have any control over what is edited or what the final outcome is, so in the end they can use whatever they want. There is definitely some footage out there where I'm wasted out of my mind, crying and really talking about gnarly shit. Thank God they didn't use it. But they had the option to. Luckily we're far too PG to put that stuff out there. I never thought that I would care about that stuff but after reading e-mails [from viewers], I don't want kids to think it's cool to be a wastoid. The first time I was on Miami Ink I said I dropped out of high school at 14, after two weeks. Then I get 12-year-olds telling me they want to drop out of school and be a tattooer too. I was like, ‘Fuck!' That is not something I promote at all. For me, it was an exception.
What has been the worst part of this mainstream notoriety? The worst part has been how much respect I've lost in the tattoo world. It doesn't matter how hard I try there are always going to be people who hate me and what I do. The majority of it is the tattoo industry having the wrong idea about what I'm driven by, thinking I'm making a mockery of tattooing. All the hard work I've put in over the years to gain that respect went out the window now that I'm on TV. What are you driven by? I'm not driven by status or money because I was successful prior to the show. Family is number one, and I have been supporting a good chunk of my family for a long time. My mom is living in Mexico so I'm trying to bring her back to America. I knew they were going to do this show anyway, with or without me, and that's why I signed up. If I didn't do it, I'd be damned if I let some hot girl who has been tattooing for three years represent everything I've worked for since I was 14. I knew I had to do it, and I did it. I've gotten a lot of backlash, but I can't give a fuck what people think about me. It just hurts to be discredited— because I love tattooing. And tattooing is oversaturated with people who don't love it. New people are getting into it for all the wrong reasons because shows like mine glamorize it. Tattooing was always such a secret society and now you have every soccer mom saying, ‘Oh, I want my daughter to be like Kat Von D.' Well, that's a really hard road to go down and knowing what I went through at 16. I would never wish that upon anybody's kid. I saw a lot of shit kids shouldn't see. That's why I get so much hatred; people feel like I'm doing a televised apprenticeship and promoting kids to buy bullshit tattoo machines and start Hepatitis epidemics. I'm down to promote the strong, empowered female doing whatever the fuck it is she wants to do, but in no way do I think kids should start tattooing. It's a biker world. People used to burn each other's shops down if you opened too close, and in some places it's still like that. But the thing that I am proud of with the show is being able to open people's minds. My parents never stepped foot in my shop for the entire 10 years that I was tattooing, until the show came out. My dad called me and said, ‘Oh my God, Kathy. I didn't know this is what you do. You help people.' That's awesome. And whether you have tattoos or not, every person can relate to the stories that are being told on the show, and that's a great thing. For the full, uncensored transcript of this interview, go to inkedmag.com. Check out Kat at katvond.net and find out more about L.A. Ink at tlc.com.
Kat Von D : http://www.katvond.net/
High Voltage Tattoo : http://www.highvoltagetattoo.com/
The Learning Channel : http://www.tlc.com/
Six Feet Under : http://www.sixfeetunder.com/
Hanna Haitchison : http://www.hannahaitchison.com/
Pixie On Myspace : http://www.myspace.com/cupcakeandpix