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CALENDAR FEATURE: Inking the Deal

John Huntington is bringing the alt world to the Palms floor

Martin Stein

On February 25, Carey Hart, motocross star, and John Huntington, nightlife star, will open the doors on the Hart and Huntington Tattoo Company at the Palms. We caught up with Huntington (that's him on the left) in between meetings and stuck the needle to him.



How did you and Carey meet?


Carey and I met on the Kid Rock video, the Bawitdaba video. It was Kid Rock's first video, he was a friend of ours, and Kid actually drove my car, the Cadillac with the flames, that's my car in the video, and Carey was doing all the stunt work, doing all the motocross jumping in it, and we met on set and we became great friends from then on out.



Is this the first tattoo shop to be in a casino?


This is the first one in the history of the entire casino industry.



Was it your brainchild?


Yeah, I've been kicking around doing something like this for awhile, and Carey and I are both looking for new things to do. So he and I were shooting stuff back and forth on what we wanted to do, and I said, "Hey, let's open a tattoo shop in the Palms." We pitched it to George (Maloof) and he was into it and here we are.



What exactly was the pitch for it? "We're going to have a lot of drunk people running around who want tattoos?"


It was like, "Look it, if you want to be the cutting-edge casino that you tell me you want to be, the best thing in the world to do would be to do a tattoo shop. Everybody wants tattoos, they're all leaving the property to get them, and this would be the coolest, most unique and groundbreaking thing we could do. And in the usual George manner, he got behind it 100 percent.



But you're in a casino, someplace where people's emotions are running higher than normal, maybe they're drinking more than normal. Are you going to keep a watch out on who can get a tattoo and who can't?


We're the same as the gaming industry or the bar industry. If somebody looks too intoxicated to game, then they can't. If somebody's too intoxicated to drink, then they can't. We're going to have to govern it just like that. Obviously, there are going to be people coming in with a drink or two—it's a pretty painful thing to get a tatto—but no, they cannot be legally drunk.



Are you going to have flash up there?


We have an 18-inch-wide cap on our pony wall, the small walls surrounding the booths, and inside the glass, we're going to have flash inside of those. And as well, we're going to have books of flash.



And will you have artists on hand where you can get custom work done?


Absolutely. Our custom times will be from 12 noon until 8 at night, and then from 8 until close will all be walk-in. We won't be doing custom appointments because we only have three chairs.



Everybody knows you as the man responsible for the Pimp 'n' Ho parties. Have you done tattoos before?


No, I'm in no means an artist. I'd be lucky if I could draw a stick man. Literally. I'm just a businessman. I saw a gap somewhere that I think needed to be filled so I went out and just pitched the idea and just opened a business. To me, a business is a business, whether it be an Italian restaurant or a Japanese restaurant or a tattoo shop. Every guy that owns an Italian restaurant isn't an Italian chef, you know what I mean? So it's just the same thing. I'm just basically a businessman opening businesses, and this is just one of those things that I thought would be great in the Palms. Yeah, you would not want me to draw or tattoo on you. It would look like a third-grader.



So, tell me about this reality TV show.


I was actually in the process of developing another show with Fox Television Studios that was going to be more about my nightclubs and everything that I do, and what happened was, we were building this tattoo shop and we decided, "Hey, man, let's do this tattoo thing first." So we decided to do a show all about the shop, about Carey and I, and it's going to be like a Taxicab Confessions-type thing but it's going to be in the shop. So while people are getting tattooed, they're going to be filmed by hidden cameras and it's going to be aired on Discovery. There's actually an hour special coming out on the grand opening, and after that, we're going to go in a weekly time slot.



What was the hiring process like?


I had 307 girls show up for five positions. Carey and I interviewed for seven and a half hours the first day. And then we went down to 45, and we had five positions open and we went down to nine. And then the top five out of that nine made it. And then of course, the hiring of the artists. I think we probably had 45 applications for artists and we were able to hire two or three more. I brought four or five from Southern California, so there was that battle, also.



Any big names among the artists you're bringing in?


We've got Deja, who's a girl out of San Clemente that's pretty well known. We've got Ben Corn out of Riverside, who's really well known. We've got Thomas Pendelton, he's been tattooing for about 15 years out of Long Beach. We've got Brian Abbott out of Oregon, we've brought him, who's a great, great custom guy. And then we've got our local stars we're bringing in with Biggie and Lacie and all these different people from the local shops. And we'll be having other fillers come in, like Dave Logeue from Pussykat, who's one of the local superstar tattoo guys.



Anybody already in line to get a tat?


George is. Maloof's going to get one. He's actually going to get his first one. I'm actually going to be working on some stuff for him right now, some artwork with my artists. Mayor Oscar Goodman's going to come down and get a temporary. Paris Hilton's supposed to get a tattoo. Of course, all the band members, all of our friends. Any celebrities who want to step up, it's free for that night.



What's George's going to look like?


He told me he wants to do the Sacramento Kings logo on his arm. I'm looking into that, morphing it and making it more of a custom-type piece.



I guess that means he won't be selling the team anytime soon.


That's exactly what he wanted to prove.

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