Earlier this week, we reported that the new TV series Bad Ink, starring Pussykat Tattoo Parlor owner Dirk Vermin and fellow musician Rob Ruckus (both of local punk band The Vermin), premieres on A&E this August. We got Vermin on the phone during production to tell us the backstory and what we can expect.
Who approached whom?
Dirk Vermin: They approached me. The next thing in tattooing [shows] was cover-ups, and I’m definitely one of the top cover-up artists on the west coast. I think it was that fearlessness ... when they got deeper into who I am, they knew I was the guy.
Were you hesitant about being on reality TV?
I did a thing on Miami Ink that left a bad taste in my mouth. I run a real tattoo shop, and at first I told them I wanted no part of it. Then I researched more about [Bad Ink production company] Sharp [Entertainment] and they’re amazing. I realized they’re real. It’s the big time and it was worth looking into.
I was resistant up to the second meeting. I’m a private person and this is all my life, as a father and a business owner, and I’m handing it to the world, trusting this company not to make me look like a fool.
Who wanted to make sure all sides of your life, like family, were represented?
That was them. I didn’t want my family life portrayed at all. I wanted to keep my kids out of it. But they aren’t babies anymore, and I saw the care they took with them on the show. Something like this hasn’t really been shown before, and they’re giving me a chance at so much more depth, letting me be myself. It isn’t a drama show. Ruckus and I don’t get in a fight on one episode and make you wonder if we’ll be friends the next.
How much does Ruckus play into it?
It's a buddy comedy and he’s the co-star. It’s because of our interplay that it’s so good. You get us in a room, guitars or not, and we’ll keep everyone entertained. Playing together all these years really caught their attention.
And how much does The Vermin appear?
The band will be in an episode. I think that’s going to be more second or third season, [when] it’ll become a bigger part of it. To me, a Vermin show is less about the songs and more what we’re saying on stage, and that’s in every episode anyway.
With you and Ruckus, it has to be funny.
It’s as funny as a sitcom and I say that with gigantic balls. We’re in situations with strangers with bad tattoos and just riff on it. It doesn’t feel formulaic. It’s a tattoo show, but it’s so much more. You don’t have to have tattoos to think it’s interesting or funny. It’s a lot like a Vermin show because you have that play between me and Ruckus. It’s [like] Martin and Lewis, or however you want to look at it. The improv is there, and they just let us run free.
Where does your humor come from, anyway?
It comes from the old school. A little Don Rickles and Louie Prima. The Vermin’s a punk band, but our approach, our humor, is attacking the audience, just not that bad. We’ve always been called Black Flag meets Don Rickles.
For more info, visit the show's Facebook page.