Tattoo doc sails into Calgary
Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry
The Uptown Theater
By Kelsey Hipkin
Sailor Jerry’s signature style with hints of Asian influence from his time with the Navy have come a long way since the pipe smoking, tattoo legend started inking sailors that came to port. Today Sailor Jerry merchandise can be found all over North America and abroad.
Calgarians can gain a little insight on the man who said, “Good work ain’t cheap. Cheap work ain’t good,” at a showing of the documentary Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry at the Uptown Theater Aug. 19.
“We want to give people an opportunity to understand more about who Norman Collins was, and to some extent still is, in our minds,” said Iain Moodie, Sailor Jerry grand manager.
“He (Collins) had such an enormous influence on pop culture as we have it today and with tattoo culture being more and more entwined and more and more the norm; but back in the day when Norman Collins was tattooing all these sailors across Hawaii, to have a tattoo was a big deal, it was a statement of intent for the rest of your life and meant that you were always going to be in the fringes of society so what we want to do is take it back and let people now know where it all came from and try and understand the tattoo culture that we all live in.”
The Sailor Jerry brand, Moodie explained, originally developed from a small group of people in Philidelphia who had the opportunity through the relationship they had with Collins’ estate to get artwork out to a large audience.
They started with t-shirts.
“We started with some very select pieces, not super expensive, not trying to put rhinestones on it and sell [them] in super high-end shops and charge people a hundred bucks a t-shirt,” Moodie said.
“We really just wanted to get the artwork out there.”
Being made in Philadelphia Sailor Jerry clothing is sweat shop free and with those first few t-shirts the brand took off and led to more products like hoodies and home-ware. And then with continued success Sailor Jerry turned to creating a spiced rum.
“Everything that we do is about honouring the memory of Norman Collins and putting the spotlight on the talent and the very interesting life that he led, from there we started making the rum. We tried a few recipes…we landed on this one that we particularly like ourselves so tested [it] out on some friends and family they loved it,” Moodie said.
Launched in the U.S, Moodie said that Sailor Jerry rum took off enough to launch it in the U.K then Canada and now they’re moving into Europe.
Moodie explained that Sailor Jerry rum has been in Canada for a number of years and lately they’ve been trying to bring up distribution. After dealing with the “red tape” of various liquor boards Moodie said, “now that we’ve got out there we think it’s time to start talking to people.”
Enter Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry. Directed by Erich Weiss, Hori Smoku takes a look at the history of tattooing in America.
Calgary is the second stop for Hori Smoku in a cross-Canada tour that will see the documentary also hit up Vancouver on Aug. 21 then Halifax, Nova Scotia and Montreal later in the year.
The Calgary show after party features the band OFF with Keith Morris, Steven McDonald, Dimitri Coats and Mario Rubalcaba.
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