Sometimes I get invited to things that sound vaguely interesting, and so when I received an invite to the opening of Ami James' and Huey Morgan's new tattoo shop (Love Hate Social Club), I got the date circled in my diary. I was also offered an interview with Ami, which of course I leapt at the chance!
Now, I like to face challenges, and try and say yes to any opportunity thrown my way, but I haven't formally interviewed someone before, so immediately went to Alice, the editor of Things and Ink, which is a new tattoo magazine that I have a column in. I asked if the magazine would be interested in my interview (which it is!) and whether she had any tips!
But back, to the party. So off I went with Pip Jolley (my plus-one of course!), and as it was rather wet and windy I rocked a scarf tied around my hair (see above). It may look rather old fashioned, but at least your hair survives the journey!
I managed to take a quick blogger outfit of the day outside (brrrr) which I always feel very embarrassed about doing! Pip was rocking a super cute vintage dress too.
The party apparently started with 700 cans of Brooklyn Lager, but as we were a bit late, we managed to grab the last two cans! Phew!
The small shop was bursting with people, a mixture of tattoo, music and media people I guess.
Despite his preceding reputation, Ami was very charming! We briefly debated body hair (he flashed me his leg to show me to believes in body hair maintainence), Things and Ink magazine, and my hair salon (which he said he recognised from Instagram). Having a chat with him certainly made me less nervous about my interview with him in the next few days.
The party was wrapping up at the shop, and we were all moving on to the room they had hired for the after party across the road. This may be where it gets a bit messy!
What we found rather unusual was that despite it being a tattoo shop launch, there didn't seem to be that many heavily tattooed people, and so I had quite a few people approaching me to have a chat about mine.
Now, we were having a good time, but we both had work in the morning, and so we decided to be sensible and head home.
However, on the way to the station, I spotted a busy bar, and persuaded Pip to have one more drink. I'm not sure what happened, but instead of ordering one glass each, I ordered another bottle. Whoops.
I can find it hard to find the time, and the headspace to really let my hair down, so although I regretted it the next day, I really needed it!
A few days later, I returned back to the Love Hate Social Club to interview Ami James. I was armed with a dictaphone (borrowed) and ten questions I was aiming to chose from. I arrived a few minutes late, after a train delay, but thankfully Ami was running much later!
Eventually Mr James arrived, and we headed across the road to a coffee shop to share coffee and breakfast. Ami James definitely has a legion of female fans (when I asked Twitter what they'd ask him, I only got requests for dates!), and I can definitely appreciate why. He certainly has a presence, and walking into the coffee shop felt rather interesting!
We ordered (I had a latte, while Ami had a latte and eggs, salmon and toast), and I got down to business (while praying the dictaphone would work its magic through all of the cafe noise).
Thankfully Ami was a talker, and in actual fact I only ended up asking five of my questions, which he answered with above and beyond responses.
I will save the actual interview write up for the article in Things and Ink, but thought I would share a few llittle tasters in the mean time!
I asked Ami about whether he thought the number or type of women getting tattoos had changed, and he definitely agreed,
"When tattoos hit the mainstream it became a lot more bearable for knuckleheads to fucking see women with tattoos on them. In the industry there's always been women that have been tattooed but when it comes to a woman that's a waitress, with sleeves, or a girl that works in a boutique, or an assistant in an office that wants to wear a cardigan but she can't because she's fully sleeved. All these things have happened in the past 5 years, 6 years.''
What do you think? Has it become more acceptable for women to be heavily tattooed due to tv shows such as Miami Ink and the media?
My current column in Things and Ink is about the old school traditions for not 'allowing' people to get hand, neck and face tattoos until you are already pretty covered. I asked Ami about his neck tattoo, which he got nineteen years ago, and wanted it gone for the first seven,
"I remember the first time a lady asked me to help her walk across the street, it was in Denmark and it was 15 years ago. I was in shock 'cos till them I was an ex con, that's how people treated me; like an ex convict. I did my neck tattoo and that was like really fucking taboo. These days the first tattoo people get is a fucking neck tattoo, but back then it was like crossing a line that nobody crossed. There were only a few tattoo artists that had their necks tattooed and I remember I would walk outside the front door and they'd grab their kid and they'd walk across the street."
I can't wait to finish my actual write up of the interview, as its something new to me, and I like to see how far I can stretch myself with new challenges when I can. Watch this space for the finished piece!
Ami was great to chat to, he was passionate and educated in his opinions, and very open with his responses. He believes in traditional values of hard work and leaving egos at the front door. He is first and foremost a hardworking tattoo artist, and I can't wait to visit the shop again (there may be some new ink coming my way soon.....fingers crossed).