In the last episode of VH1’s Black Ink Crew, a reality series about a tattoo shop in Harlem, events and marketing manager Sassy came out when she ran into an ex-girlfriend at a tattoo convention in Vegas. Seen as the calm and even-keeled cast member in a sea of crazy, Sassy took time to talk to AfterEllen.com about drama on the show, her relationship with her ex, coming out to her family, and being a role model for young African-American lesbians.
AfterEllen.com: Where were you born and raised?
Sassy: I was born and raised in Camden, New Jersey and I moved to Harlem around 10 years ago.
AE: How did you end up working at Black Ink?
Sassy: I got affiliated with them through Puma. I met Puma at an event where he was working, and we just kind of clicked. I used to do corporate events, and he offered me a chance to come by the shop to help with an event to see what I could bring to the table. The event was super successful, and he told Caesar about me and that I should be a part of the team. Caesar had me help with a small event at the shop, and it went really well, so he said he wanted me in marketing and promotions, and I’ve been there ever since.
AE: There are a lot of strong personalities at the shop, and sometimes people end up butting heads. Alex seems to be the drama queen. Puma is the party guy. How would you describe your role in the dysfunctional family that is the Black Ink staff?
Sassy: I’m the peacemaker of the shop! I’m the glue. I always try to keep people together, sane and calm as much as possible because the personalities there are so large. It gets pretty intense all the time. I feel like I am the cool and calm one. You can argue it out if you want to, but it doesn’t need to get physical.
AE: Have things gotten physical at any point?
Sassy: Actually it hasn’t. I’ve been afraid a couple of times. But it’s mostly just high tension, a lot of yelling a screaming, and then everyone goes about their day.
AE: Black Ink seems to be a hangout place in addition to being a tattoo shop. In one of the press videos you tell us of a party that went out of hand, where the cops, detectives and fire department showed up. What happened that night?
Sassy: If I am not mistaken, that was my birthday! I had planned a little get together at Black Ink before I had my big party downtown, and it just got crazy intense. There was too much Hennessy getting poured, too many mixies (i.e. groupies) around, and once the mixies got full of Hennessy, they had a falling out with some of the girls. So there was a royal rumble down at Black Ink and the cops came and shut it down. The fire department came. It was wild.
AE: Did that put a damper on the partying, or are the nights at Black Ink just as wild as before?
Sassy: It’s never gotten that crazy again. I’m trying to make sure that never happens again. It was just too much.
AE: You have a tattoo of an AK-47 on your back. What is the story behind that?
Sassy: If you go to any country in the world that makes the AK-47, and you take it apart, and then you replace some of the parts that were made in a different country, you can still put the gun together, and that is how I am. I meet all different types of people, and I absorb so many different cultures, different ideas, but I still remain myself. It’s like I have a little bit of everything but I still manage to remain Sassy. When I met Dutchess, she and I clicked really really well. She has a little revolver tattooed on her side, and we talked about it and how guns can sort of represent a women’s movement in a way. Guns are so powerful, but usually looked at negatively. Women are portrayed as so dainty and pretty all the time. And so we think it represents a woman recognizing that she is her own secret weapon. So now we have girls coming in from all over the place getting gun tattoos. One of my best friends just got a gun tattoo on her arm, and another friend of mine is getting a little AK-47 on her hand. It’s really just taking off.
AE: What is the most questionable or ridiculous tattoo that a customer has requested?
Sassy: One time this gay guy came in and wanted the five star general logo tattooed on his butt – the word “general” and five stars above it. It was so funny, because he was so nonchalant. He told everyone “I want it tattooed on my ass,” and everyone just breaks into laughter. He eventually flaked out, so no one had to do it.