A reality TV artist who’s been in the middle of reality TV controversy for many years as the executive producer of MTV’s Jersey Shore and Snooki & JWoww, SallyAnn Salsano is also connected to the tattoo industry. For those of you not in the know, SallyAnn’s show Tattoo Nightmares has been on your TV every Tuesday night on Spike TV after the competition show, Ink Master, which SallyAnn is a huge fan and supporter of.
Tattoo Nightmares is the show where people explain their horrible tattoos to artists Tommy Helm, Big Gus and Jasmine Rodriguez supported by a reenactment of their tattoo nightmare. Tommy, Gus and Jasmine then turnaround to cover-up the nightmare tattoo to create a beautiful brand new tattoo. SallyAnn’s show has brought awareness to millions in that no one has to live with a bad tattoo anymore. Before you laser it off, there’s another option to have it covered up for a better piece of body art.
Tattoo Nightmares was so successful in its first three seasons that Spike TV and SallyAnn have come up with Tattoo Nightmares: Miami, which debuted this week! SallyAnn gave me a call last week (because I always get phone calls from one of the biggest reality TV producers in the business) to talk about her new show. Here’s how it went down:
Hey SallyAnn! Congrats on expanding on your Tattoo Nightmares brand now in Miami. Now, why did you choose Miami as opposed to, say, New Jersey, or New York?
I don’t know. I gotta tell you that Miami is kind of a little bit of a sexy city. Let’s put it this way: I feel like everyone is scantily clad a little bit, so all of their tattoos are kind of hanging out. So, I feel that the tattoo is more a part of your wardrobe in Miami because you’re outside and because of the weather everything is sort of exposed.
Since you’ve been doing Tattoo Nightmares, do you feel that you understand the tattoo industry much better?
You know what? First of all, I don’t think that tattoo artists get enough credit for actually how much goes into it and how much they actually have to think, care and genuinely be creative. It is crazy how much time goes into it and how much precision and how serious they take it. If you have the right tattoo artist, they really do take it to heart and think, “This is stressful. This is someone’s life.” They look at it that way. I think if you ever walk into a tattoo shop and they’re like, “Sure, no worries, we’ll freehand it,” I would run for the hills!
On this new show, Tattoo Nightmares: Miami, you bring in a whole new cast of tattoo artists like Clint Cummings, Samuel Suarez, better known to his clients as “High Noon,” and female artist Reese Hilburn. Can you tell us more about these guys?
Yeah, Clint was on season two of Ink Master, and the other guys we found just through a nationwide search and found. High Noon we found right in Miami and Reese we found in L.A. and I have to tell you, they’re awesome! They have such good chemistry. I love my Los Angeles crew so much, but these guys are just a different vibe. I love that it respectfully continues the brand, but also is not exactly a carbon copy of it. We do some different things on this show like, “Sure, we do tattoo cover-ups, but we also do tattoos that are just a fuckin’ nightmare!”
Your tattoo does not have to be a cover-up to be a nightmare. We have a lady who got a tattoo, she had it covered up. Then she got a tummy tuck, had a scar from it and wanted to cover it all. Now, that’s not a party for anybody. Also, we had people who wanted to shave their head and do their skulls and have their heads tattooed. We all know that’s crazy. There were a couple of elbows. We did a glow in the dark tattoo, which is freakin’ awesome! We did a tattoo on a guy with glow in the dark ink, so it looks like nothing and then lights out and his skin lights up. It is cooler than shit! It’s really awesome! I believe that’s in episode three. But it is literally crazy! We had this big military guy come in to get a cover-up and he literally had without even knowing it some sort of sinus infection or a flu and wound up passing out and leaving in an ambulance. It just was so insane in Miami and it just took height in the fact that it took the experience and took it to another level. It was really, really crazy.
Now, I know you said you changed things up a bit in Miami, but will you still be adding those hilarious reenactments of the clients’ tattoo nightmares?
100 percent! It’s everything that you love. We just expanded on the term “nightmare” because we’re like, “You know, yes, do cover-ups.” There are cover-ups in every episode. There’s like two cover-ups at least in every episode. In Tattoo Nightmares: L.A., there’s three cover-ups an episode. In this one, it’s two with the reenactments and then one tattoo that’s just a fuckin’ nightmare. It’s not a cover-up. It’s just that we’re tattooing somewhere in a place where tattoo artists in every other shop have told these people, “I don’t want to do it. That’s a bad area. This shouldn’t be done.” And our guys did it.
Have you ever thought about pitting the two shows against each other in the future? L.A. versus Miami?
I don’t know that it’s so much a competition. I think we’re only up against Bad Ink. I think it’s just L.A. and Miami right now up against shitty tattoos and I gotta tell you, this show for a lot of tattoo artists has become their attention plan. Because since this show has come on the air, tattoo artists are like, “Oh, my God!” Now everyone’s realizing that they’re not just stuck for life with a crappy tattoo. There is a way. If you find the artist, you can really take something that you don’t like or a tattoo-gone-wrong and get it fixed. So, I think that it’s kind of breathed a little bit of life into the tattoo industry from that perspective.
When you were doing Jersey Shore, there really was no competition out there. You mentioned Bad Ink. How do you stay competitive when you’re competing with shows like that?
I think it’s quality. I think the reason why shows like Tattoo Nightmares continue to grow and continue to stay is because it embraces the artist and celebrates how good they really are. It’s like Top Chef. You have the best in the business all the time and you’re watching and I don’t know, I just think people can relate to it. I think our show has a good mix of great art, great artists, as well as the hilarity in the reenactments. It’s kind of like, “We get the joke.” I think like Jersey Shore, this show has a personality and a point of view.
Were there ever any plans to publish a book of all the tattoo cover-ups that were on the show and maybe some of the ones that didn’t make it onto the show?
That’s really up to Spike. God knows what will wind of happening. I mean, I hope so. I think the artists deserve so much accolades for this. I think the detail and the precision is actually really interesting.
Now, how many tattoos have you gotten since you started producing Tattoo Nightmares?
I am still ink-free!
SallyAnn! Are you really?
100 percent! I can’t do it! I am such a dork! I am so hot and cold that whatever I get tattooed on my body, I know that I’m going to hate in a week.
One last question: What is SallyAnn Salsano spinning into gold next?
Well, we’re doing Party Down South right now for CMT. It’s like a redneck Jersey Shore and I have to tell you, it is fucking awesome! I am so proud of that show. I love the characters. If you have not seen it, check it out. It’s on CMT on Thursday nights. It is literally insane. It’s hilarious and funny and the cast is really, really good! Season two is on the air now and we’re filming season three, literally, as we speak. I’m also working on a new talk show called The Real, which is going to be on FOX in September. I’m doing a new show on ABC Family called Freak Out. It’s going to be a Halloween hidden-camera show and it is awesome! This one is great. We freak people out and it’s just funny, crazy and scary and all of those things.
Catch SallyAnn Salsano’s shows Tattoo Nightmares on Spike TV every Tuesday night at 11:30 p.m. and her new show Tattoo Nightmares: Miami, which debuted this week and every Tuesday hereafter on Spike at 11 p.m. For more on these shows, log onto spike.com.