Interview: Kat Von D

Kat Von D is hawt. How else would you describe a raven-haired bad girl with a penchant for heavy metal, body ink and a fiery temperament to match that of with Miami Ink’s short fused, Israeli army trained Ami James. Chase that up an invitation to check out some hair metal joints in LA and a stripper pole and well, we’re in love. Which is why we can’t wait for LA Ink to hit our small screens. Having tattooed everyone from Steve-O to one of the original members of punk legends The Misfits, after two seasons on Miami Ink, Kat gets her own show. JUICE stripped down to its tightey whiteys (because we felt like it), bent over (the phone) and got ready to do some needling of our own.

Interview Alif Omar Mahfix
Image Discovery Travel & Living

Is setting up LA Ink your way of telling the boys at Miami Ink to take a hike?
No. You know I definitely am not driven by revenge. It was time for me to go home and I just figured it would be perfect for me to start something new and own it and have control over it and set it up the way I wanted, that way everybody is happy in the end, you know?

Was the tension between you and Ami James for real or scripted for drama?
It was definitely real. I think that the behind-the-scenes that people don’t get to see was actually a lot harsher. But I just want to keep it positive and I feel like even as bad of a situation as it was, I learned a lot from it and I took a lot of important life lessons that I can use now for my own shop.

Of all the guys from Miami who do you miss the most?
Darren. Darren was always very sweet and very unbiased and he was always really great support and he is an amazing artist as well so I learned a lot from him.

What is the weirdest tattoo you’ve ever seen?
Let’s see, I’ve tattooed a bear having sex with a cat on Bam Margera. He’s on Jackass and he has his own TV show [Viva La Bam on MTV], but he got that tattooed on his leg one time. That was pretty crazy!

Are you totally jazzed that you get to tattoo celebs? I honestly have always tried my hardest to treat everybody like they’re VIPs. I’ve tattooed everybody from my favorite bands to whatever so to me it’s more like people are people and I think living in Hollywood you see celebrities all the time so it really doesn’t faze you as much. As long as everybody is respectful, I don’t care who you are; if you’re an asshole, I’m not going to tattoo you.

You love glitter. What’s with that?
I think glitter is a nice sparkly thing that I’ve loved since I was a kid. All girls like shiny things.

How many times has someone walked into LA Ink and asked for ‘something really cool’?
Actually quite often. I think more so in my life off camera. I have a pretty long list of clients and most of them that come in are like ‘Oh, I have an idea, but you can just go off and do whatever you want’. I think on the show it’s really important to tell the story behind the tattoo so people can educate themselves on why people get tattooed. But sometimes people just want to get tattooed for the heck of it and I think that’s okay, too.

You’ve tattooed a lot of celebrities. Who was the most difficult?Oh, I don’t want to say. I would feel bad talking bad about somebody. Actually…. I can tell you I tattoo a lot of musicians, a lot of celebrities, but tattooing Sebastian Bach was hardest at that time, but he’s a good friend of mine and he’s really funny and really energetic and sometimes it makes it hard for him to stay still and on LA Ink you get to see him getting tattooed. He’s coming out with his new album and he was playing it just so I could hear it, but when I was tattooing him he was rocking out so hard it was really hard to try to do a straight line when somebody is banging his head. But we got through it and the tattoo looks really great and the record rocked.

Looking at all the tattooists you recruited, is it just us or are all female tattooists hot?
You know when asked to put together a team they [the producers] wanted it to be very female dominated, which I thought was cool, but to me I think the important part was to get the best tattooers. I didn’t really care what they looked like because I always say that good looks will only take you so far and it’s the skill that really backs it up and makes you who you are. I just got lucky and got two really talented, hot female tattooers.

You’re hot. Do you get hit on a lot by clients?
When I was younger I used to get hit on a lot, but nowadays people recognise me more for my artwork, which is really important to me. So once that happened people started getting tattooed for my tattoos more so than anything else. And you know, for the most part I’m pretty straight up with people. I mean, I don’t mind flirting, but when it comes down to it I’m trying to do a tattoo and most people are pretty respectful.

Which parts of your body would you never tattoo?
I’m probably going to stay away from tattooing my chest. I think that I like my chest the way it is and it’s very distracting when females get their chest tattooed. It’s hard to keep eye contact and for me when I talk to somebody it’s really important that they look at me in the eyes.

You’re a huge metal fan, so was the 80s hair metal ever a mistake?
Oh, never. No way, I love the 80s hair. I’m a big fan of Motley Crüe and it’s already coming back. I can’t wait….

If we had one night in LA where would you take us?
Oh, man, I’d take you a lot of places. The Rainbow Bar, it’s a very famous bar for having all the 80s big hair metal bands and Guns ‘N’ Roses shot a lot of their music videos there and on any given night you can always see somebody like from Motorhead or Motley Crüe or Van Halen. It’s just a very cool rock and roll bar. Other than that there are so many different clubs and bars that are opening up every day here in Hollywood. There’s always something to see. So, I would take you all over town for sure. Get you drunk….

Douse yourself. Kat Von D’s LA Ink debuts on Discovery Travel & Living (Astro Channel 707) every Wednesday beginning 2 January at 10pm.THis interview was first published in the January 2008 issue of JUICE,