Meet the ‘High Priest of Hollywood Tattoo Artists,’ who started out illegally tattooing bike gangs and now calls Johnny Depp ‘brother’

Mark Mahoney

Business Insider recently sat down with the “High Priest of Hollywood Tattoo Artists” Mark Mahoney.
The tattooer recently finished a residency at The Mandrake hotel in London’s West End.
He told us stories of the old days when he used to tattoo Boston’s bike gangs — when it was illegal at the time.
He also talked about the celebrity clientele he now surrounds himself with, including David Beckham, Johnny Depp, and Lana Del Rey.
Mahoney might just be the most interesting tattoo artist in the world.

Mark Mahoney is a man who has seen it all.

The legendary so-called “High Priest of Hollywood Tattoo Artists” started out tattooing drunk Hell’s Angels in his native Boston, Massachusetts, and now counts the likes of Johnny Depp and David Beckham as friends. It’s been a hell of a transition for him.

I’m catching up with Mahoney during his residency at The Mandrake hotel in London’s West End, where he’s hosting a £500-a-ticket charity dinner and tattooed VIP clients in the lobby.

I open Mahoney’s hotel room door to find his own piercing blue eyes, which have been immortalized by Lana Del Ray, staring back at me. He’s holding a can of Monster energy and wearing his trademark stand-up collar shirt and a pair of outrageous, purple, crocodile-skin monkstrap shoes.

His voice honestly has to be heard to be believed — it’s like it’s been specifically engineered for an Al Pacino gangster flick.

As he sits down, Mahoney tells me that he recently recovered from throat cancer, which may have something to do with why he sounds like Ray Liotta after a heavy night out.

In the tattoo world, Mahoney is known as the founding father of black-n-grey single needle art, which was born out of jailhouse tattooing as prisoners often only had access to one needle (instead of the traditional five or seven needle cluster) and no colours.

“When I was a kid I’d get a box of crayons,” Mark tells me, “and a couple days later the black one would be half an inch long and the colours would be untouched.

“So, the black and grey single needle style was more the way my aesthetic — the way I drew — worked.”

He started tattooing in his native Boston when he was just 15, back when doing it was still illegal. His patrons weren’t exactly law-abiding types anyway, mostly Hells Angels bikers.

I get a lot of calls from prison, yeah.

He got out of the east coast just in time, he tells me, as the tattooers he left behind were either getting arrested by the police or hit up by the mafia who wanted a slice of their action.

Now that every teen boy band and their mums are covered in ink, I ask Mahoney if tattoos have lost some of the outlaw appeal that once made them so enticing.

“I never thought it would be this big or this socially accepted,” he says. “[Back in the day] it kind of symbolised… bikers and gangsters — those were all the people …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Life

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