So it seems I'm a bit late to the party for the latest in tattoo TV. Last month, the testosterone channel Spike TV launched Permanent Mark, a three-episode special that follows 20+-year tattoo veteran "Permanent Mark" Walters as he travels the world experiencing various tattoo cultures. Here's how Mark explains the show:
I've been beating down doors for 7 years in Hollywood, way before
the Miami Ink and L.A Ink and all the other shows about tattoos on TV.
I was trying to get networks to film a show about how I would break
into the subcultures of indigenous tattoos worldwide no matter what
nasty shit I had to eat, what new fever I would catch, or what hole I
had to crap in with a leaf too small to wipe my ass. All these things
would get me respect in certain tribes and cultures because I never
pretend to be tougher than I was, and my humility and stupidity showed
them I was only human. With this, I finally found myself in
all my tattooed glory, sitting in a lot of network boardroom meetings.
This is when producers at Spike TV, who had a filthier mouths than me,
said to me "do what you want, we don't want to see the usual travel
show. Get down and get f*cking dirty." That was all I had to hear. I
wrote 13 ideas and countries down and we made the decision that the
Borneo headhunters (episode 1), the Yakuza in Tokyo (episode 2), and
the Sak Yant tattoos made by the monks in Thailand (episode 3) would
make the most compelling stories. I'm not going lie to you, I
lived in Japan and had my tangles with the Japanese mob as well as
going to Thailand to collect tattoos by a dear friend who happens to be
a monk, but I had never been to Borneo. Although everything I went
through on the show was completely real, I never used my contacts in
any country. It's really important to me that I show you, the audience
how over the last 30 years I was able to infiltrate and be accepted by
different cultures, and not only that, but have had the honor of
earning their mark, in a culture where money doesn't mean a god damn
thing, but your heart, your drinking abilities, killing the odd chicken
or goat, and having the strength to eat the ceremonial sheep eye ball
got me where I am today.
You can watch the full episodes online here. It's compelling TV. Grittier and more SpikeTV-ish than Discovery's Tattoo Hunter with tattoo anthropologist Dr. Lars Krutak, which we loved. Let's see if Permanent Mark has lasting appeal and gets picked up.