Like Kat Von D? You'll love Viktoria...
How are you?
I’m a little sick. I have some kind of cold, congestion thing.
It’s not the AIDS, is it?
Oh, no. I have the HIV but most of the time it’s the cancer that makes me feel like this.
I only have one or two fluff questions, the rest will be fun. So let’s get that out of the way. How did you get into tattooing?
I started tattooing when I was 14-years-old and I been drawing all my life. I started hanging out with a bunch of punk rock kids from around town and one of the guys had a homemade set up and he would tattoo all of us. One day he said I should tattoo him. I did a Misfits tattoo on him and I loved it and was hooked. I dropped out of school and started tattooing all my under-aged friends. There was never a shortage of kids that wanted to get tattooed and didn’t care that I sucked. By the time I was 16 I got to my first professional tattoo shop where I had to unlearn most of the things I had been doing for two years.
Do you think during those two years you gave anyone hepatitis?
No. Most 14-year-olds don’t have hepatitis. I looked it up. It’s hard to start an epidemic when no one has had sex yet let alone started using intravenous drugs.
You have almost ten tattoos of your recent ex, Orbie’s name. Are you going to cover them up or change them?
Change them to ‘Morbid’, duh. No, I I’ll keep them. My first tattoo was an Olde English ‘J’ on my ankle for my first love, James, and I’d never cover that shit up. I have lots of people’s names on me and it’s not so much like, “Oh, I’m gonna regret my ex-husband’s name on my neck,” it's more like a time in my life that I don’t regret. I don’t regret my divorce either. I’ll rock it forever.
Did it make Orbie cry to look at your body and see all these other dudes’ names all over you?
No. Not at all. You don’t even notice it after while. The one cover up I am going to do is the portrait of my ex-husband I have down there. Every time I go pee I look at it. I don’t know what I’m going to change it to yet I was drawing on it the other day. I was thinking of turning it into a sad clown girl or a bearded lady because he has a goatee. Probably a clown. I love clowns. Anything clown related I’m stoked on, especially the hobo clowns that look like they smell like whiskey.
Orbie was the son of (legendary crooner) Roy Orbison. Did he ever sing Pretty Woman to you?
Did you guys ever pretend like he’s a rich businessman and you’re a young Julia Roberts as a prostitute and, you know, hump and stuff?
No but one time we were having sex and I started fantasizing that I was this hot black girl and that I was his secretary and he was my boss and we were totally doing it in his office and people were right outside and we had to be super quiet and it totally turned me on. It was like the craziest orgasm ever. My publicist is going to kill me.
Bam (Margera) told me a story about you throwing glasses at Metal Skool [Local LA faux-hair metal band that plays The Viper].
Yeah, he always puts that in my face and it pisses me off because it’s not like he hasn’t pissed on the floor when he’s sleeping at my house. God! I was drunk and I used to drink a lot of vodka and at the time I was married and was working out and had lost a lot of weight and I’d be drinking full glasses of vodka. Just pound them and throw them into the crowd from the mezzanine. One time I threw a glass into the crowd and my wedding ring flew into the crowd. My husband was on Warped Tour for two months and told myself I had 2 months to buy a new wedding ring but I procrastinated and never got one and got busted.
I like to stand by the bar and piss into my pint glasses and throw those onto the crowd.
Who the hell are you? Mr. Awesome?
Maybe I am. Growing up did you ever see yourself as America’s heartthrob, plastered in your underwear all over billboards everywhere?
Those aren’t my underwear, silly. Those are borrowed. But I don’t think I’m a heartthrob. I thought the billboards worked, the colours were bright and it was a girl with a lot of tattoos and it got people’s attention. But I have to say that the majority of dudes out there probably don’t think I’m hot. I think the tattoo thing turns a lot of people off.
Not true. Tattoos equal dirty girl. I have a theory that 100% of the time girls with tattoos—
Fuck better. Yes, that’s true.
I was going to say like butt sex.
Oh really? Wow. That’s way better than heartthrob. Oh man. I would honestly answer that question if it wasn’t going to bum out my publicist.
It doesn’t require an answer because, as I said, 100% of the time.
Uh-huh. I think you might be on to something there. It’s something to wrap your mind around.
Do you think the photos of you in your underwear in magazines is helping change a lot of young boys into men?
No, but I tattoo a lot of the guards in prisons and I heard that I am quite popular late at night in the jail cells. They watch LA Ink in prison. I get a lot of letters from jail. Like, “Hey, I have tattoos like you. We have a lot in common. Except I kill people.” It’s awesome, I love it. They’re always cool. They usually say when they get out they’re going to come get tattooed. A lot of them say Ami is fucked up; he’s the guy from the show prior to LA Ink.
Are you and Ami, whom you worked with on Miami Ink and had a major falling out still broken up?
Yeah, that bridge is definitely burned. I’ve never spoken to any of the cast from Miami Ink after I left. Not even Garver. It’s sad.
Does it make you cry?
No. It was a heartbreak for sure Garver was my homeboy at the time but people prove themselves to not be that down for you at times and you just have to deal with it.
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 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?
Do you ever get into your pyjamas and do dances of joy on your bed when you get the ratings for your show back?
Ha. No, 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.
No you don’t.
Yeah, I do. 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 rating got triple of what theirs ever got.
But you’re not counting.
No. But the three months prior to the premiere I was super depressed because I worked my ass off and then they didn’t air the show right away but it finally aired and my agent called and said, “Kat, you’re the most watched show for your time slot and you have triple the amount of viewers Miami Ink ever had.” It wasn’t even so much a fuck you to Ami, it was more like all that depression was worth something.
And 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 so everything was so forced and produced. Whereas I promised myself, aside from my divorce, I would talk about anything. People can relate to you more when you’re real and open and show your imperfections. Our show is more rock n roll and fun and honest. I don’t have any control over what is edited and 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.
I never thought that I would care about that stuff but reading emails from kids, I don’t want kids to think it’s cool to be a wastoid. As lame as that sounds. 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.
What were those 2 weeks of high school like?
Man, I hated it. It was different. I was hanging with all these older punk rock kids and the social aspect of it seemed lame. School was always easy for me - I was always in the gifted and talented classes. It was just the social part that I hated. I didn’t give a fuck if I was a cheerleader or not. In junior high I’d always get in fights with people trying to talk shit but to me I always knew there was something more important than to be cool.
If you could be a tabloid editor, what kind of good Kat Von D tabloid story would you like to make up?
Let me think of a good one. There will be anal involved, I promise. Maybe we could say me and Amy Winehouse did it because we’re both brunettes and have tattoos. I don’t know.
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 that 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. I knew they were going to do this show anyway, with or without me and that’s why I signed up. When I did Miami Ink, I didn’t even read the contract. I knew the network wanted a girl and if I don’t do it I’d be damned if I’d let some hot girl who has been tattooing for three years represent everything I’ve worked for since I was 14. But I’ve gotten a lot of backlash.
I couldn’t give a fuck what people think about me but it just hurts when you’re discredited because I love tattooing.
Tattooing is oversaturated with people that don’t love tattooing and new people are getting into it for all the wrong reasons because shows like mine glamorise 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. 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, empowering 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. The one thing that I am proud of with the show is the education and opening people’s minds. My parents never stepped foot in my shop for the entire ten 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. 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.
With the shop, do you have to handle the books/business side of things or are you able to just tattoo and be creative?
I do everything. I have compiled a team to help. Last year I fired everyone and hired my friends and family. It’s hard to trust people and so I brought in the people I am closest to. I oversee everything. I haven’t had a day off in six months but it’s my baby so it’s hard to step away from it.
Best advice anyone has ever given you?
Fuck! I always forget that one. You know what creeps me out though? Every time I go to do a meet and greet there’s always a gypsy fortuneteller and they always say the same shit, “There’s a lot of death around you and something bad is going to happen if you don’t slow down right now.” I look at them and say, “If you were really fucking psychic you would know that I really didn’t want to hear that.” What a buzz kill.
Gypsies are jerks.
Totally. My mom was a gypsy. I know what they’re about. They fucking scam people. She was in a gypsy camp in Argentina and she was an acrobat in her teens. She would tell me how she would “read people’s palms.” It’s all bullshit.
Check out more of Kat at Katvond.net or Highvoltagetattoo.com