Best Ink, hosted by Pete Wentz, premieres Wednesday, April 3, at 10pm ET on Oxygen.
It’s natural, if not completely fair, to look at it skeptically whenever a rock star tries to branch out. Acting, writing novels, trying to play sports, all these can be dicey propositions. But hosting a show about tattoos? Seems like Pete Wentz is playing it smart here.
The Fall Out Boy bassist takes over hosting duties for Season 2 of Oxygen’s Best Ink, a 10-episode series that goes inside the cutthroat tattoo industry, giving 12 of the best tattoo artists in the country a chance to compete for $100,000 and a cover story in Tattoo magazine. Wentz is quite the tattoo enthusiast himself, and the show gives him the opportunity to rub some painted elbows with such industry luminaries as artist Joe Capobianco, who returns as head judge, along with pinup model and removal shop owner Sabina Kelley and a new judge, pinup and portrait tattoo specialist Hannah Aitchison. Celebrity guest judges will include singer Ray J and Gym Class Heroes frontman Travie McCoy.
Wentz, who is currently back with Fall Out Boy in support of their upcoming album, says the show can appeal both to hardcore tattoo enthusiasts and people just curious about the culture.
“I think there’s something for everybody,” he says. “I think that if you’re coming at it new, that there’s an aspect to Best Ink that’s more pop culture-driven than maybe other tattoo competition shows out there. … We showed the way that tattoo culture permeates pop culture in general. On top of that, for tattoo enthusiasts and people who are part of tattoo culture already, somebody like Joe and Hannah are so knowledgeable and so credible. Just the stuff that they were saying, whether the critiques or the advice they were giving, it was all stuff that went deep and it wasn’t just for cameras. I learned a lot myself about line waves to shading. I don’t know, I had a whole different respect for it. Just from the first day when I showed up, Joe said you don’t call them tattoo guns; they’re tattoo machines. So, it was cool, it was good for me.”
Wentz says what he learned from the experience wasn’t limited to tattoos. He also got a lesson in listening.
“One of the things I learned on the set of a TV show, and especially from hosting, is my job was basically to be the ringmaster as far as a lot of the stuff went,” he says. “But there was a certain kind of patience or listening skills that weren’t maybe my greatest skill set before, but I realized that from listening to different people I could inject better things rather than broadcasting all the time. And that helped me in the studio. But just every day in general, it’s helpful to stop and listen and really formulate your opinions before you talk.”
Might sound like an easy enough idea, but that’s difficult for a lot of everyday folk. Just imagine if you’re a rock star whose job it is to perform to an adoring fan base hanging on your every word.
When it all comes down to it, though, it is Wentz’s love of tattoos — he got his first one at age 15 — that brought him to Best Ink.
“I think to be a walking canvas is a pretty cool thing,” he says. “It’s an actual living, breathing piece of art. It’s interesting because everybody’s body kind of has a different skin tone and shape so tattoos look different depending who it is, depending on when you got them.”
Photo: 2013 Oxygen Media, LLC Credit: Andrew Eccles