Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry - My Work Speaks For Itself

Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry - Now Available to buy & on Netflix!


Hori-Smoku, Erich Weiss Interview Featured in Skin Art Tattoo Revue


Skin Art - Tattoo Revue

Hori-Smoku, Erich Weiss Interview Featured in Skin Art Tattoo Revue

Take a look at the revealing interview with Hori Smoku Director Erich Weiss by jason Whyte from Efilmcritic.com, which was featured in a special issue of the Skin Art - Tattoo Revue Magazine.


Hori Smoku - Sailor Jerry: The Life of Norman Keith Collins

Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry is a feature-length documentary exploring american tattooing through the life of its most iconic figure,Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins. Collins is the father of modern day tattooing whose uncompromising life-style and larger-than-life persona made him an american legend. Through rare interviews, photographs and hours of archival footage, the film explores the Sailor Jerry mystique.

Writer Jason Whyte, of Efilmcritic.com, interviewed the director, Erich Weiss, at South X Southwest, where the film premiered this past March.

Could you give me a little look into what led you to want to make film?

I was in Philly seeing family when I was approached by Steven Grasse, the owner of the Sailor Jerry Brand. He wanted to do some archival interviews with Mike Malone and Don Ed Hardy, the two tattoo artists that inherited the artistic estate of Sailor Jerry Collins. I've been getting tattooed since I was a teen, so I jumped at it. After two days at Ed and Mike's respectively, we all decided there was a lot more to film and a great story to tell...

It's funny, we didn't set out to make a movie, per se. We really just wanted to document Mike Malone and Ed Hardy's story and get some insight into Sailor Jerry's life. As wee interviewed everyone, we all started thinking, "Hey, you know, there really is something more here." Each interview opened up another door; like in San Francisco, Ed Hardy would say, "You know, I don't really know that story but Zeke would," and then boo! Hardy would make a phone call and three weeks later we would be sitting with Zeke Owen in some tattoo shop in Maryland hearing these crazy yarns.

I mean, you enter this secular, secret world, and it's all sorts of people vouching for you to the next guy. Like Zeke, you meet him and he's like everything you wanted to be as a kid, this stuntman/biker/tattoo artists/Lee Majors-type of dude with a Hawaiian shirt and crazy stories of bar fights in Guam or riding his Harley across America with a tattoo needle sterilizer strapped to the back.

And the list goes on... we started to realize that all these fiercely independent guys have a shared lineage and artistic respect to this one man, Sailor Jerry. It really hammered in the fact that Jerry shaped tattooing as we know it; he created a type of American folk art that combined the Asiatic nuances of what was being done in Japan with the traditional blood and thunder bold lines of American tattooing. And he did this all from a tiny little shop in the middle of the seediest strip in Hawaii, at a time when the world was still such a big place... and so our story basically evolved form there.

Of course, now that it is all said and done, we would love as many people to see it as possible - in theaters or festivals, especially with how tattooing had become so commonplace in pop culture today... I think it's important to show the roots of tattooing in America, to show that it wasn't this hipster thing; it wasn't du-jour or "family friendly," it was dangerous and adventurous and scary. People earned their way into that world through apprentice-ships and pure will.

Everyone we interviewed showed this deference towards their teachers - whether it be Philadelphia Eddie towards Bob Shaw, or Michael Malone to Sailor Jerry - and there is something to be said about that.

I think one of the best moments in the film comes from when we were sitting in Taylor Street Tattoo in Chicago, after we had interviewed Mike Malone. Taylor Street was owned by Mike and his protegee, Keith Underwood. Well, Keith and I are talking, and in walks three navel cadets, dressed to the nines in shore leave uniforms, straight from the Great LAkes Naval Academy. They were getting ready to get shipped off to Iraq and were marking the moment. The kid picks some flash - an old Malone re-draw of a Sailor Jerry classic. So there's Keith tattooing this cadet with a Sailor Jerry "Homeward Bound" tattoo, doing what his mentor's mentor did 60 years ago! To me, that sums it up pretty damn well.

What was the biggest challenge in the production of the movie, be it principal photography or post-production?

With all the footage, obviously editing it all down to its core elements was a real tasks within itself. I credit my editor, Anderson Bradshaw, for working that out. At times it was a bit daunting to say the least.

Please tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film's cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

Run and gun! We shoot HD digital out of budget and time constraints; a lot of these interviews were spontaneous/ spur of the moment... no real time for set up/lighting etc... mostly available lighting. A lot of the people in the film were real cynical about the project at first - most [of them] coming up in a time when tattooing was still a real private world. Many don't really agree with the current high profile nature of the business - Sailor Jerry was also notoriously against that kind of hype - and you go to respect that, so we felt like barging in with a bunch of cameras and equipment wouldn't exactly be the best approach. Many a times, it was casual, and then we would whip out thew camera. We wanted real stories, not cleaned up for the camera. So ti wasn't an artistic decision, it was a practical decision.

Additionally, we really were limited with the amount of imagery of Sailor Jerry himself, both photo-wise and film-wise. Like i said, he was notorious for not wanting to be filmed. In fact, Ed Hardy told me a story about how Jerry's funeral was actually filmed but when extended members of the family went to view it on the projector, the film caught fire and burned up! it figures....