The bad tattoos are bigger and the backstories even crazier when Season 2 of TLC’s Thursday night guilty pleasure America’s Worst Tattoos premieres March 27 at 10:30pm ET.
“A lot of the tattoos this season compared to last season are a lot bigger and a lot harder to cover up,” says Megan Massacre, the show’s good-natured, flame-haired star, of the challenges facing her and her fellow AWT artists Jeremy Swan, Tim Pangburn and Lisa Del Toro. “You definitely see the stress level from the artists who are scrambling to figure out how they are going to get this done. But it’s a good range of different scenarios. And they’re all real scenarios — scenarios that we as artists are dealing with not just in the TV world, but in real life, because this is what we do.”
And yes, Massacre says, the artists are usually as confounded as the viewers at the stories behind the embarrassing ink.
“It’s always interesting for me to hear how people got these horrible tattoos, because it’s always something way different — it’s never, ever the same thing twice,” she says. “You might have a lot of people who got a tattoo when they were drunk, or the tattoo artist was drunk or they broke up with an ex boyfriend or girlfriend, but the stories always have their own interesting twists. It never ceases to amaze me how people end up in these same situations.”
Massacre says that while the show’s producers do make sure the bad tattoos can be covered up, she, Swan, Pangburn and Del Toro meet their subjects for the first time with the cameras rolling. And while each artist has their own favored styles, she’s always open to trying something new.
“Each us do kind of a different thing, so when someone comes in and wants something that is up one of our alleys, I think it’s best to stick with the artist that does that kind of artwork,” she explains. “But for me personally, I actually like a challenge, so I don’t mind going outside of my comfort zone and trying something new. On the new season there is a tattoo style that I did for a coverup and it was the first time I ever tattooed that style. I was going way outside of my comfort zone, so I’m curious to see how that plays out. I also did my longest tattoo session ever in one sitting on this show.”
And speaking of sitting — later in the season, Massacre herself will undergo an on-camera coverup. She won’t reveal which of her fellow artists does the honors — but she cheerfully admits they had their work cut out for them.
“For me, it was weird getting tattooed on TV because I’m so used to being on the other side,” Massacre says. “And I’m the worst at getting tattoos. I’m a huge baby! I complain and I whine, so I feel bad for the artist that had to do it, but I think it’s going to be pretty entertaining and I was very, very excited about my cover up.”
Massacre says that bad ink is part of the bargain for tattooers, as they subject themselves to apprentices’ work and their own bad decisions, so when the show’s producers asked, she figured she would use it to connect with and educate the show’s fans.
“Ultimately I thought it might be really cool for the viewer to see me on the opposite end of the spectrum, just like them, having to say, ‘Look, I made the same mistakes. We all make these same mistakes at some point!’” she says.
And education, Massacre adds, is what America’s Worst Tattoos is really about. “It’s definitely focused on helping people get the best tattoo they possibly can,” she says. “We let them know when they walk into a tattoo shop what they should focus on and what are some red flags to hightail it outta there!”
Here’s what else Massacre had to say about the tattoo industry, her burgeoning business adventures and potential future seasons of NY Ink.
CGM: Has the increasing prevalence of laser tattoo removal affected the coverup business, or is that still enough of a cost and time and pain-prohibitive thing?
Megan Massacre: It’s actually not something that we consider a hindrance on our business. We believe they go hand-in-hand. It’s not like people get laser tattoo removal or they get a cover up. If they get one lasered off, they usually get another tattoo back over that spot. It just lets you have a lot more options, because sometimes tattoos are really dark, but if you get a couple of laser treatments, they get lighter and you don’t have to completely remove them. You can actually get a much cooler tattoo.
I’ve had laser tattoo removal myself a couple of times and I actually recommend it to people all the time. It goes hand-in-hand. We actually need it for all those tattoos that cannot be covered up.
CGM: You travel to trade shows and conventions quite a bit — are you getting more requests for coverups in that setting because of the show?
MM: I do some coverups, because people are seeing me do them a lot so I get a lot more requests for them. But I do tattoos that are not coverups, as well. I do a lot of different styles, which isn’t as common for tattoo artists to do a lot of different things. I try to keep it interesting. I get too bored if I work on the same thing over and over and over. So I’ll do a coverup here, a portrait there, some flowers … I kind of like to have different options.
CGM: Sounds like you are still a committed multitasker — modeling, clothing design, painting …
MM: I’ve found more of a passion for artwork outside of tattooing — fine artwork, like painting and making prints. And I’ve been doing a lot of t-shirt designs and stuff like that. So the artwork started taking a bit of precedence. And I’ve definitely been working more on the clothing design and actually a clothing line for myself, so hopefully I will get that together.
CGM: In your line of work, you meet new people all the time. Tell us about a memorable fan encounter.
MM: One time I tattooed this guy — this was a couple of years ago — and it was, like, a weird, inappropriate tattoo. It was pin-up girl but it was on his waist area, where girls usually get tattoos on their hips, and it was just the top half of her so it was like peeking out of his underwear. And it had “Your Mom” tattooed on its arm. It was a funny tattoo and I was joking with the guy and we finished up and everything was fine — and then all of sudden he got real serious out of nowhere and he was like, “I was kind of hoping I could take you out on a date.” And I was like, “Yeah, man — no! It doesn’t work like that. It’s not a date and a tattoo. And he was like, “Well that’s the only reason I got tattooed by you, was to try to get a date with you!” He got really mad at me. I was like, “Sorry buddy. You gotta think up better pickup lines!”
CGM: Your Facebook posts mention Wooster Street from time to time. What’s the status of NY Ink? Will we ever see you guys back together?
MM: I honestly have no idea! I still work there and I love working there and I love everybody I work with, so I would love to shoot more episodes of the show. But the stars just aren’t aligning in one way or another. I don’t think that it’s a definite that it will never come back — I just think that it’s a when!
America’s Worst Tattoos Season 2 premieres Thursday, March 27 at 10:30/9:30CT on TLC.
Photos: TLC/Jeff Smadbeck