I chatted with Jersey Shore creator SallyAnn Salsano back in October here in Inked Out to talk about her new reality series on Spike TV, Tattoo Nightmares. I have since become a fan of the show, so it was great to talk to SallyAnn again about season two after finally seeing her vision on the small screen.
For those of you who haven’t seen Tattoo Nightmares yet, it’s a show that follows real people with really bad tattoos that range from hilarious to downright disturbing. The cameras follow these poor tattooed souls as they seek the help of three of the best “cover-up” tattoo artists in the business to fix their “tattoo nightmares.” They are former Ink Master season one finalist Tommy Helm, the fun-loving Big Gus and the super-sultry Jasmine Rodriguez. The stakes are higher this season as the regretful clients go under the tattoo gun for a second time around to see if Tommy, Gus and Jasmine can work a miracle and turn their disaster-pieces into masterpieces. The one thing that makes SallyAnn’s hit series so entertaining is the reenactments, which allow us to see how the nightmarish tattoos were born.
In season two, we’ll see things like a suburban dad who woke up in the emergency ward in a bloody gown with no recollection of how he got “Thug Life” tattooed across his entire stomach or Catholic schoolgirl who mistakenly got a pentagram inked on her lower back or how a woman who was so blinded by love let her legally blind boyfriend tattoo her. There are these stories and so many more that you’ll see depicted on this new season of Tattoo Nightmares. As the writer of Inked Out every month, I love seeing the outcome of these repaired tattoos and, of course, seeing the challenges that Tommy, Gus and Jasmine have to face week in and week out. The season began last week, but Spike reruns these episodes so often that it will be easy to catch up! SallyAnn gave me a buzz last week to talk about the new season. Here’s what she had to say:
Hey SallyAnn! Season two is here! How excited are you?
Season two is even crazier! I think once people saw the show, everybody started writing in with the most psychotic and craziest tattoos of all time!
I have to admit that after speaking to you last time, my fiancée and I started watching the show. We’re huge fans now and our favorite artist is Jasmine Rodriguez! She’s a full-on hotty and her tattoo work is just amazing!
She is right! She’s hot and she’s so fucking good!
I don’t want to take anything away from Tommy and Big Gus, but every time Jasmine turns something out, we are just blown away with the detail of her work.
Yeah! They’re all really good and they all have their own little specialty. I kind of dig ‘em!
What I also love about your show is the reenactments of where the bad tattoos came from. Pure genius!
Yeah, I also love the comedy that’s injected in the show because you do have to be able to laugh at yourself if you’re inking something on your thing that’s definitely comes up to be a bad idea, but also I love the way that we do the makeovers. Like when we show the transition of where it was and the transformation of that. Even I, every time I see it, I’m like, “Dude, I love that so much!”
That’s another thing I liked too! When you show the old tattoo covered by the new one.
Yeah, when we superimpose it. It’s so cool because you see the precision that it takes the artist to actually cover it.
Now, what do we have to look forward to in season two? Because season one was pretty crazy…
I would say that last season, people were like, “Who are these people? I already have a bad tattoo. I’m not sure that I wanna go down the path again.” And also people just don’t know. They just don’t know about the show when you’re casting a show that’s not on tv yet. We had 15,000 emails from people who wanted us to cover their bad tattoos and we literally went through every single email.
I will tell you that there’s some pretty crazy stuff! There was a story about a guy who paid for this woman’s breast implants and she was like, “You know what would be so hot? If you got a picture of my breasts tattooed on your arm.” He did it and then she broke up with him! There was another guy who was really fit and in shape and he had like “Fuck Love” tattooed on his stomach, but he used to be a really small guy and now he’s like 250 pounds. So now he’s like, “My problem keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
So there’s so much fun stuff and there are so many great breakup stories and there are so many people, I would, literally, say the characters this season have stories that are way more outrageous, but they’re all legit.
After Tattoo Nightmares came out, I felt like channels such as TLC and Lifetime had these knockoffs on their networks. How do you compete with that?
Listen, I always say it’s some form of flattery. When we did Jersey Shore, then came Jersey Couture, then came Jerseylicious, then came The Housewives Of Jersey. Listen, I think it’s a form of flattery. I think sometimes you’re lucky when you’re the first and it also shows that it’s working. I like the model that we created. I love the look of our show and I think the storytelling is still different than the other shows.
Season twos are always your make it or break it. I always say, “Season one, when you get a pilot, you get a chance to swing and get a hit. If season one works, you’re like, ‘Okay, this is good, I’m lucky enough to get season two.’ Season two is your make it or break it moment.”
Has there been any talk in bringing in a guest tattoo artist to fix one of these bad tattoos?
No, not yet! To be honest with you, I think that fans of the show and the people in the tattoo world realize what a big deal it is to get tattooed by Tommy, Gus and Jasmine. I think on the conservative side, all of them have up to a two-year waiting list to be tattooed by them. These guys are booked out like maniacs! They were before we had them. They were really well known. Maybe not to the public of the masses, but in their little world, they were very well known and I think since the show hit now, it’s unbelievable.
How long does it take out of Tommy, Big Gus and Jasmine’s time to film a full season of Tattoo Nightmares?
It depends on the amount of episodes. Season one, we only had like eight episodes and due to the demand of the shows, season two was over 20 episodes. So they were out here for 14 or 15 weeks. So it takes out a big chunk of their lives. You know, and they all have kids and they travel. They put a lot into being on the show.
You said you’ve generated 15,000 emails for this season. Have there been any celebrities who reached out to you about their own tattoo nightmares?
Yeah, well, we’re holding out on the network! Give us season three, we’ll give you celebrity episodes! You need something to barter!
What final thing can you say about this new season of Tattoo Nightmares?
I would just say that I think the other thing that we have that’s way better is that Tommy, Gus and Jasmine, last year, they met right before we started filming the show. So you know when you first meet people, everyone minds their Ps and Qs and stuff like that.
I would say now, those guys know each other so well that they just razz each other. It’s not a mean show where they don’t get along, but they just razz each other and it is so funny to watch their interaction. I also think they know what’s funny about the show and I think they are more into hearing people’s stories and I actually think the whole show has elevated because of that. Their comfort on camera and their comfort with each other, like they’re just calling each other out, having a good time, messing with each other, it really is a fun thing making the overall vibe in the shop better.
Catch SallyAnn Salsano’s Tattoo Nightmares on Spike TV Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. For more information, go to spike.com.
Well, I’m off to check out my next tattoo spot! Who knows what state it will be in! If you have a tattoo shop that you want to suggest, please e-mail me the name of the place and whom I should ask for at firstname.lastname@example.org.