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Inked: Nikko Hurtado, Secrets From A Celebrity Tattoo Artist!

03/10/20

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(Z-61052V) CM1004 COACH MIKE PODCAST: NIKKO HURTADO

MIKE BAYER: Everyone we are here with Nikko Hurtado and we are at my home at West Hollywood California in a room that I am now calling the “Bayer’s Cave”, grrr.

NIKKO HURTADO: I thought it was casa de Bayer.

MIKE: Casa de Bayer, that’s another one too. So I’m a—I’m here today at the “Coach Mike Podcast” with a friend of mine who I uh, admire as well. Uh his name is Nikko Hurtado.

NIKKO: Yes.

MIKE: Nikko is an artist and he does his artistry on canvas and also bodies.

NIKKO: Yeah, primarily I do tattoos and uh, you know secondary, I mean my passion is oil painting, you know? But tattooing is for my living, so yeah. I love art but I’ll do any kind of art.

MIKE: Any kind of art?

NIKKO: Any kind of art.

MIKE: And uh, we were just talking about how going live that we just did a “Facebook Live” where we were talking and getting questions asked and Nikko was saying, even though Nikko has an enormous following uh, like on “Instagram”, how many followers do you have?

NIKKO: I have one point seven million right now.

MIKE: Yeah which one point seven million on “Instagram” is the equivalent of being like Kylie Jenner if you were doing products.

NIKKO: Yeah, for tattooing. I mean you know for tattooing it’s a lot for sure. I mean it was funny I tattooed a friend of mine, that’s a musician, this guy “Wale” and he was like, he wasn’t trying to be negative but he was like, oh you know, you just tattoo and you got one set—point seven million. He’s all, do you know how crazy that is? I make music. He’s like, I know people like me, he’s all, but you just do tattoos and people like you for that. So I thought that was cool.

MIKE: Why do you think you have so many followers?

NIKKO: I mean I have no idea. Because I just put my work out there. I guess people just like the work and it’s kind of um, pop culture. I’ve always done that like comic book stuff and movies and so they like to see that replicated on the body and you know yeah, I don’t know. I have no idea why.

MIKE: Because I mean there’s a lot of guys who are incredible tattoo artist who can’t seem to get a following because haven’t—how important is having a following with, with building a business and tattoo world?

NIKKO: I mean I think in modern age, it’s important in any business, you know? I think that building a following and having an audience is important. I think social media stuff is important. I’ve been doing social media since “MySpace” so you know, I was tattooing like three years and you know I think at the time when I stopped using “MySpace” I had like seventy-five thousand friends and that was a lot at the time, you know? And then I kind of skipped the whole “Facebook” thing. I just could never understand “Facebook”, it just never—I don’t know. I’ve always, I always kind of was upset with it, because they destroyed what I liked. I liked “MySpace”.

MIKE: Uh hu.

NIKKO: So I was like ah, I’m not going to use it and then “Instagram” came in and I was like, ah this seems cool and so it was just simple, straight to the point. Post a photo leave it alone and now it’s changed again. It’s become more of like, like kind of in the middle of what “Facebook” is and what “MySpace” was and so it’s different, but it’s just evolving and growing with all these apps.

MIKE: Well I have to think tattooing celebrities is kind of like fashion brands putting celebrities in their clothing, right?

NIKKO: One hundred percent for sure. I was lucky man, you know, “Kat Von D” uh, when I, when I was tattooing about four years. She got a TV show called “L.A. Ink” and her and just my friend Corey Miller were on the show and they had called me and asked me to come down and tattoo on the show. And so I come down to, to—to tattoo, but the contract never seemed right. ‘Cause I was so busy at the time and I just wasn’t looking into the future. I was like aw I don’t care about being on TV. So I, I really didn’t think about the big picture being on television. I was just like awe they’re not going to pay me enough, so I’m not going to do this and so I would back out of it and uh, so I was on it for a few episodes for a few seasons, and then the last season on that show I was on the complete season. And then I’ve just been on cameos of a few TV shows, so I think that’s helped me on social media a lot too. People are kind of familiar with me. They see me somewhere. I’m like, they might not know who I am but they’re like I’ve seen that guy somewhere or something, you know?

MIKE: Yeah, and it helps that your work is really good…

NIKKO: Thanks. I…

MIKE: …right?

NIKKO: …continue to work really hard, yeah.

MIKE: On your craft?

NIKKO: Every, every day, like I just work hard in general. Like I work hard every day and uh, I just try to do my very best and I just try to add value to the things that I do-do. Like if I tattoo you, I try to do my very best and hopefully the value is when you show your tattoo, you’ll feel proud of it.

MIKE: Hm.

NIKKO: You know and, and it’s what’s important to me.

MIKE: So what, what do you think is the number one reason people are getting a tattoo?

NIKKO: I mean it’s all different reasons. Some people are getting a tattoo because they want a cross on them because they’re so religious you know and some people want a wizard.

MIKE: Right.

NIKKO: You know? But some people just want to get tattooed because they just love tattooing or they love an artist and they want to get a body suit, I mean it’s just really depends on the person. I got tattooed early on because I wanted to learn, so I got my forearms tattooed in order to watch my heroes and deconstruct what they were doing and then take it back and do what they were doing so I can learn.

MIKE: And when you were a kid did you think you were going to be a tattoo artist?

NIKKO: No, uh when I was a kid I just always knew I was going to do something with art or I was gonna do something with, um with, with something with art man. I’ve just been in love with art since like I can hold a pencil. You know that doesn’t mean I was good at it. It just meant that I just always found my like center and like kind of that uh, what would you say that meditative state.

MIKE: Got it and yet what age did you realize you wanted to do tattoos?

NIKKO: Uh, me and my friend would talk about it in high school when we were like fifteen, sixteen. It’s funny because I used to come down to Melrose, we had a—so he had a car and we would take art classes in—at “Pasadena Art Center”. And we really didn’t take advantage as much as we should of, we would ditch class sometimes and come down to Hollywood and mess around. And so I remember when I was about sixteen, seventeen I was walking down Melrose and I tried to get a skull on my arm and uh, I think I only had like sixty dollars just like a dumb kid, you know? And they were like we can’t do it for less than a hundred. And the guy was such an asshole man, sorry to use that language, but he was such an asshole that I, I was like I’m gonna do tattoos one day and uh, I’m not gonna be like these people. And it’s just funny that I own a shop now on Melrose, because it’s like full circle you know and—

MIKE: Were you really bummed out that he didn’t give you a tattoo?

NIKKO: No it wasn’t about him not giving me a tattoo it’s just tattoos back then, there was no TV shows. It was like, if you ever picked up like an “Easyriders Magazine” or like a tattoo magazine, man it was grimy, you know? It was a different world and it was like this small little cult of people that like had their belief system and it’s like you know they’re cool and you’re not, and that’s everybody. I mean I’ve had old school tattooist tell me this, there’s this guy Gilmani and he was like, you’re—this is exactly what he told me one time. He was like all, yeah, he was getting wasted and uh, he had told me you’re the top of the food chain and I was like, what? He was like, well you gotta understand that a Rockstar will come into your business as a, as a tattooer and respect your place, but they’ll go to a hotel, or go to a concert, or go anywhere and not respect anyone. He’s all, doctor would come in and respect you and tattooed a lawyer, he’s like so you have to understand that, everyone is going to treat you with some kind of respect if they want something from you. And so it just always make me think that’s the mentality of a tattooer like that’s how they feel like I’m fucking cool and I don’t give a fuck and they’re like a pirate and they just set sails and go.

MIKE: It’ll be because they almost have a—they can get per—it’s, it’s like someone who’s a waiter and could put something in your food.

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: If you make someone upset.

NIKKO: For sure I mean back in the day tattooers like was so, it was so gnarly that like even if you worked with the dude at the shop, there wasn’t so much business that you wouldn’t give them your secrets. So like you worked with this guy for twenty years, but you were still fighting for the work that came through the door. And so if someone came through the door and it was like you had that little edge on your art, or you had that little edge on your machine’s running a little better, or you had the better pigment…

MIKE: Mm.

NIKKO: …like tattoo pigment, you would never tell anybody what you were using. You wouldn’t even share that with your coworker because that meant you were gonna lose your money.

MIKE: Right.

NIKKO: So it was like, very cut throat you know? You didn’t share. There was no teaching um, I know that uh “Sailor Jerry”—I don’t know if you ever heard of “Sailor Jerry Rum”?

MIKE: Um.

NIKKO: But there’s an alcohol, but “Sailor Jerry” owned a shop in Hawaii and he would make tattoo flash and he would purposely mess up parts of the flash and then sell it like that, but if you knew how to draw, you would fix it when you traced it. But if you didn’t know how to draw you just tattoo the mistake. And so this…

MIKE: Wow.

NIKKO: …was the mentality back then. Which is really cool to me because it’s like you know uh, that’s where it comes from man and that’s when sometimes like you know tattooing changed so much that it’s become more of a profession and people are taking it a lot more serious but I do really love that part of tattooing that’s like underground and still grimy. Like I remember I went to “The Palladium” for my first tattoo convention, I ever did when I was sixteen like I went to look at it.

MIKE: “The Palladium” in Los Angeles?

NIKKO: Yeah it was called the “Inkslinger’s Ball” and my cousin was a biker and his biker club threw it. And so he was like, I think you’ll really like this, you like art. So we went and I remember it was like a circus side show. I mean there was people with their whole face tattooed they looked like cats or like the lizard, the lizard guy you know? They were selling pictures of you know, you know serial killers and people were getting portraits of serial killers and it was just the craziest situation ever. And I remember—I don’t remember if it was that year or the year after, but Johnny Depp was like uh, he was uh, a judge for the tattoo contest, so it’s just like a different time for tattooing, I don’t know it’s interesting.

MIKE: And are they—in the style of tattoos now, what the style today versus how they were like five years ago?

NIKKO: Styles?

MIKE: Like what’s trendy?

NIKKO: I mean what’s trending right now is heavy blackwork, like real heavy blackwork. Like it’s come back into style, it’s not tribeism—

MIKE: What does that mean exactly? Like, like black lines?

NIKKO: Like full sleeves of black.

MIKE: Just black?

NIKKO: Just solid black.

MIKE: Nothing?

NIKKO: Like black arm, like a black arm you know? Uh full legs of black. Full backs of black but like with designs, so they’ll have like mandala shapes or they’ll have a big bar of black. It’s interesting, it’s really cool, but um yeah you know realistic portrait stuff like the color stuff. Uh, there’s so many different styles of tattooing.

MIKE: Yeah and the way I met uh, you as you did uh, I actually have this thing on “Instagram” that was back in the day where I started the “Coach Mike” brand that was suppose to help you grow your socials, and somehow…

NIKKO: Okay.

MIKE: …it like got me connected with Nikko.

NIKKO: Oh wow.

MIKE: I learned very quickly that trying to gain the system on “Instagram” doesn’t work. Like—

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: It’s I didn’t know what I was doing.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: And I also didn’t want to take the time to like be on my phone all day

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: You know?

NIKKO: Of course.

MIKE: That, that, that it almost like sometimes you feel like as a personal brand you’re like, all right now let me get into this space—oh I don’t have a following and oh! The algorithm’s changed.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: But somehow I got connected with you through the ethers and…

NIKKO: Yeah, yeah.

MIKE: …then we communicated and um, uh, Nikko put a wizard which is “My Best Self” which I named “Merlin” on my arm and uh, it was pretty cool what I liked about you was you know, I came in and we had like, create—it felt like we were constructing a music video.

NIKKO: For sure. Like for sure.

MIKE: Down to like the images and the…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …style and the vibe…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: You didn’t charge me.

NIKKO: Yeah no.

MIKE: You like literally and then when it was time to make an appointment, I mean you, you were booked out.

NIKKO: Yeah I mean it’s almost near—it’s nearly impossible to get tattooed by me right now. Uh, I would say that if I liked the idea, a lot of times I meet people. You know I meet them and I feel their vibe and I’ve been lucky enough that I get to a point where I get to spend the time with the people I want to spend time with. So if you come in and you’re open and we sit together and we enjoy each other’s company and I feel like I can give you my best, then we’re going to do a tattoo on you and I feel like that’s important. Um, I do uh, I do think that you know, it’s important to make sure that if you’re gonna get tattooed by somebody you’re going to carry that energy with you. I mean, think about it like it’s an intimate thing. I really do believe tattooing is intimate like sex man, because you’re trusting me with your body. You know I’m having to make sure you’re okay and I’m just—it’s just back and forth. I feel like you’re in a vulnerable place and whatever we talk about or whatever you think, or whatever is happening in those eight hours I mean it’s, uh, it’s an intimate setting you know? And I respect that and I really love that about tattooing.

MIKE: What, what is the worst decision you’ve made in accepting somebody’s idea to do as a tattoo on them, like where you look back at your decision and you’re like ah…

NIKKO: The worst decision…

MIKE: …I should of trusted my gut.

NIKKO: …I’ve made is, is money. Because you know, people will throw money at yo and say oh you know, I’ll give you x amount of dollars to do this tattoo that I know you’re absolutely gonna hate. And then I’m like, oh cool. Like in my mind I’m like, okay I’m gonna grab this money…

MIKE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

NIKKO: …yeah and I’ll go there and then it’s like, I’m miserable for, just say it’s a full back piece. I’m miserable for how many hours. Forty, anywhere between twenty-five to hundred hours.

MIKE: How they know you’re gonna hate it?

NIKKO: They don’t know I’m going to hate it but usually, I can tell by the personality of the person and then, a lot of people will be like, oh I’ll give you freedom and then they’ll throw some money at you, and you’re, you’re hooked in, right? And you made a commitment, and you gave them an appointment, and then they show up and they’re like rigid on their decision, no this is what I want and you’re like, ah man. And you can say no, but then you don’t want to be…

MIKE: So the worst…

NIKKO: …rude.

MIKE: …the worst decision you’ve made is, choosing money over what?

NIKKO: Integrity, I guess. You know (STAMMER) choosing the right person ‘cause those kind of people usually detour and send them to someone else that will fit them better. You know but sometimes you’re like—

MIKE: How many of those happen in a year for you?

NIKKO: I give a lot away. I send them away.

MIKE: No how many times, how many times do you end up uh, someone offers you a lot of money…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …and when you say a lot of money, how much would people offer you for tattoos?

NIKKO: I mean it just depends, they offer you double your rate or you know, um.

MIKE: What’s your rate?

NIKKO: Right now, I’m $400 an hour.

MIKE: Okay,

NIKKO: So—

MIKE: So they’ll say, I’ll do it—I want to get it.

NIKKO: Eight hundred or more, you know what I mean? Sometimes it’s more, an hour, but it’s very rare I take that. You know because it’s not realistic in the way the way of like the I don’t—I just don’t want to spend time with them.

MIKE: (LAUGHS)

NIKKO: But it is, you know?

MIKE: What is it about someone that you don’t want to spend time with them, like, like is it—what is your red flag?

NIKKO: Just keywords or key things that they tell me. I had a guy reach out that wanted me to go out to—I won’t say what city or whatever but he wanted me to go to a state over—one state over and uh, tattoo him because he has money and um, you know he’s been bugging me about it, but it’s like because he has money he feels like he shouldn’t wait like everyone else. And it’s like, he’s really pushing—he’s like, well I need to know if you’re going to do this or not and I’m like, first of all man, like I have two shops you can come to, you know? Like you’re more than welcome to come and you can pay the normal rate that everyone’s paying. I’m super busy, so for me to have to step out of my life and even just get away from my kids and go to another state. This is how much you’re going to pay and sometimes I even feel like that’s not even worth it, you know? Because it’s just my happiness is more important. (STAMMER) it’s just not in my happy place, I’ve done it with people and I’m totally not opposed to it, but it has to be the right thing.

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: You know, I have to feel right, and usually those people feel like their ego is telling me constantly like: who they are, what they have and, and for some reason they feel that that’s important to me. When it’s like, it’s not that dude. Like convey your message, covey what you want me to do on you and what they—I guess, what the energy is of it.

MIKE: Mm hm.

NIKKO: Not like this superficial thing, you know?

MIKE: Yeah, I find for me um, because I’ll have a lot of people that are like Mike we want you to coach me.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: Right? Like I want you to be my…

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: …my coach and to be honest where I’m at now, is I’ve—I’m almost like freely like giving it away.

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: And I find that it’s people often like you know, even your rate of charging $400 an hour.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: What they’re paying for is you know the twenty plus years of you doing…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …tattoos and having a reputation…

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: …and the wisdom and the work, and I find—I mean yours is probably a good thing. When people idolize me too much…

NIKKO: Oh yeah.

MIKE: …off the bat, I’m like uh oh this is going to go really south…

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: …’cause I’m a human, right?

NIKKO: For sure, of course.

MIKE: But in yours, it’s great if they idolize you, because they’re really looking at a piece of art that they’re giving you the layout for know it already is so sold, right?

NIKKO: For sure. I mean yeah, it’s nice when people trust me.

MIKE: Have you ever started tattooing someone is in so much pain they’re like, I can’t do it.

NIKKO: Of course.

MIKE: What happens?

NIKKO: So I tattooed this guy, he’s a great tattooer from Europe and he and his wife came out and uh, I tattooed him one day or I don’t know if I—yeah, I tattooed him one day, I think the day after I tattooed her first, but they came over here to the California, went to “Disneyland”. Didn’t get no rest and then she drove up and she got tattooed and that’s when I used to work in this other shop in the dessert before I owned my shops and um, I did one line on her; and she was like, I can’t do it. And I was like, ah man I never finished it. I’m pretty sure he did, but did she full on was like—

MIKE: Where was it?

NIKKO: On her back like right here and it was uh—it was gonna be a like a lotus flower and so I did one like little line to start and she just like, dude I’m so beat I can’t even handle this.

MIKE: How often do you do private areas?

NIKKO: Um, I’ve never really done like any private real areas. Like on males I never tattooed their genitalia or anything like that and on females I’ve done it maybe once or twice but like never, never really—usually man, some of those people that, that would come by and want it. It seemed like they were a little bit more freaky. I had a guy ask me one time, I did a perfect circle on his arm and I remember he looked over at me and was like, you ever had someone get an erection from the tattoo? And I was like, nah. And he was just like, oh. And I was like oh, I’m not even gonna look. ‘Cause I’m sure you got an erection right now, you know? But I’ve had all kinds of situations like that, I’ve had you know um, this one guy showed up one time and was like my grandmother’s heating and air guy—heating and air guy and he showed up with his wife and uh, I didn’t think anything of it, they were probably sixty and I had seen them the week before. I told them where the shop was and he was like, oh my wife wants to get this rose and so I’m like, cool . I didn’t ask where it was at because I was like, ah—in my mind I’m like oh this ain’t gonna go anywhere.

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: So I get this little rose ready. It’s like this big you know with the little stem, tiny little rose and I tell her, all right, come back let’s get it done. And I’m like, where do you want to get this? And she lifts her skirt up and she’s not wearing anything and she’s like, on her labia dude. And I was like, oh, I’m already in this so I’m not, I’m not going to lose this money, so I did it.

MIKE: So you already put a rose on her labia.

NIKKO: Yeah but the weirdest thing is—

MIKE: Why she want that?

NIKKO: Dude, I think she wanted it because her husband was looking at me like he was into it.

MIKE: Oh.

NIKKO: Like they were—yeah it was strange.

MIKE: So it’s like—

NIKKO: So he was like—

MIKE: Maybe it’s a way of seducing you?

NIKKO: Not seducing me, maybe it was their way of like maybe this was a fun experience for them and maybe it was sexy but I was like kind of tripped out by it, just because the way—the energy he was sending towards me to the side, was like you know like yeah I’m into this, you know? And I was like yeah I’m gonna get this done and get this out of here.

MIKE: And how long did it take?

NIKKO: Uh.

MIKE: Was it painful for her? Did you numb the labia before you tattoo it?

NIKKO: Yeah. Just…

MIKE: Just let her get tattooed?

NIKKO: Yeah it was just right on the outside of like you know.

MIKE: And was she like screaming?

NIKKO: No, it took like maybe thirty minutes, maybe not even that.

MIKE: Okay.

NIKKO: It was small. And this is like, I would say fifteen years ago.

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: Yeah, I mean this was way before TV shows, this is like at the beginning of that, so you had like, I would work till like two in the morning and so you would wait at midnight and wait till someone walked in and you were just doing the walk-in’s. So you had all these crazy—you had like people super wasted, flashing thousands of dollars and dropping it on the floor and like trying to get tattooed you know, you’d have all kinds of stuff man. We’ve had cops show up wasted, bro. Like not on duty…

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: …but like cops that would come around. They would come and get tattooed and be wasted and it, it was just crazy man. It was crazy.

MIKE: And then have you ever started a tattoo with someone is back on this because I’m just imagining you know like the tattoo that you put on my arm is—we’ve done four sessions…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …at about eight hours a time, right?

NIKKO: Yeah, five to six.

MIKE: Five to six, yeah.

NIKKO: I would say five to six…

MIKE: We shoot this shit a lot.

NIKKO: …but we always—yeah we talk a lot.

MIKE: We talk a lot.

NIKKO: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MIKE: About the most—yeah okay.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: So let’s say five hours four different times.

NIKKO: I think five, five to six hours at a time.

MIKE: Fine you guys do the math and um, it is worth it…

NIKKO: Thanks.

MIKE: …because I love it. Um, and what—like with, with the tattoo that you’ve put on me life after day one, if you were like, oh man Mike he’s just a hand full like…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …of—what the hell do you do with me?

NIKKO: I mean I’ll finish it, you know? If it’s somebody that’s too much I’ll finish it, I’ll make sure to do what’s right. You know I’ve committed to it and it’s you know, in the end it’s a business and I need to make sure people get their stuff done. But some people can be assholes, you know what I mean? There’s been dudes that have tried to fight me you know, because I—I had a guy he was a construction worker, real big dude. Kind of like, ‘cause you a big guy…

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: …he was a big guy and I was doing a full sleeve of like all of this religious stuff and um, I, I remember this religious piece on this big guy you know, he came in he was like, hey if you can get it done—it was like five to six months from then. He was like if you can get this done, I’ll give you $10,000 bonus cash and I was like, honestly man, I’m booked out years. ‘Cause I used to book out years, I used to book out like a year and a half, two years. And I was like there is no way possible I can get you in dude, I’m sorry. And he was like, well then I want the stencil and it was on the phone where he was telling me and I’m like, all right I’m not going to give you the stencil because I designed it and you know man, if he was nice about it I probably would have given it to him but he was being a jerk on the, on the phone, so I was like, I’m not going to give it to this guy. So he came in and I put the stencil on my station and you can see my station in the front of the shop. And he was like, you know big guy tries to intimidate me and he was like, I’m gonna take it. I’m gonna come around that desk and I’m gonna grab that.

MIKE: Mm.

NIKKO: And I was like, yeah. I’m like, go ahead I’m all, that’s why I put it there. I’m like come around and grab it and then he’s just like, kind of stared at me and he was like, you’re an asshole. He left but he was like full on like before that, it was like, ready to fight for this thing, and I’m like dude. He thought he can push me around and that’s just always how it’s always been with tattooing sometimes people come in and they’re just super aggressive and I had a guy just—‘cause you’ve been in my shop in Hollywood…

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: …like my guy Hilmar that I work with, really talented guy, really hard working, good person, doesn’t drink, you know vegetarian, really good person.

MIKE: Vegi—I love how the category…

NIKKO: No but it is just—

MIKE: …of a good person is vegetarian.

NIKKO: No it’s just that he’s a discipline person.

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: You know? ‘Cause that…

MIKE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

NIKKO: …takes discipline, you know?

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: And so, he treats his clients really well and uh, he had a guy he tattooed the other day and the guy has a bunch of traditional tattoos and the style tattooing that we do takes a lot longer. So he was getting these two pieces on his chest and as he’s doing it the guy had bought tickets to go to the “Comedy Store” to go watch a show at night ‘cause he thought he’d be done. Get banged…

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: …out and be done, so the time had come and he took a break Hilmar went to the restroom and came back and the guy was like, “Here’s your money, I’m done.” And Hilmar was like, what? And he was like, I’m done dude, like I don’t want a—this is taking me way too long, and Hilmar was like, okay? So he took the money, the dude left and Hilmar was super upset and had to write the guy and say, hey look we left on a bad foot, you know. I would like to know what happened. You seemed upset and the guy was like, oh that took way too long and this or that. But it seemed really weird because why would you just get like a wing of like an angel and not get the rest of the body like you leave? And then he was asking Hilmar for the stencil and Hilmar was like, no like I custom designed this.

MIKE: The stencil, the stencil is basically what you create before you put it down.

NKKO: Yeah, like you put, you put it on the body…

MIKE: Yeah kind of like of—

NKKO: …and in order to have a tracing.

MIKE: It’s to have a tracing.

NKKO: Yeah, yeah, to have a road map or whatever. Yeah so I mean we come across all kinds of weird—that’s very rare that that happens.

MIKE: Yeah.

NKKO: I mean, that’s one every four years you hear about that kind of thing.

MIKE: So what do you think is uh, a determining factor whether or someone should get a tattoo? Because you know people get tattoos removed.

NKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: And people get scared of getting tattoos.

NKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: Like I was a whimp, I waited a few years before I…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …even got a wizard on my arm.

NKKO: For sure.

MIKE: So it’s like, so what helps someone make a decision on getting a tattoo?

NKKO: I think it’s all personality. I think if you’re like a perfectionist then think about it, but if you’re kind of like you know, don’t really care and you’re kind of free bird I mean, go for it. Because that’s just a whole different mentality, right? Like I don’t regret any of tattoos you know and I actually, a lot of them were done by people that I really enjoy or like and uh, it’s a memory. A moment in my time, in my life that’s why even when like uh, when I tattooed “The Rock” he had asked me about redoing the Polynesian stuff and I had told him, you know this was before I was gonna do a new tattoo on him. But he had asked me about doing the Polynesian stuff and I had said, you know I think you should get Suluape to redo that which is uh, like a master Pacific Islander tatooer. And uh, that’s like their title and so, yeah man I just feel like that energy was the right energy like I could of totally tattooed him and been like, oh I tattooed “The Rock” you know, but what was more important to me was this guy to get his, what he deserved and what was right, and you know everything. But in the end man, I fell like aged tattoos are important to have too. Like I love seeing an old biker or like, even an old guy that’s been in prison or you know, an old military guy with a tattoo. I love seeing the aged tattoo, I say don’t redo it. Live with that age, it’s like wrinkles on your face, like a lot of people don’t let that happen but I think there’s a lot of beauty in that and it’s funny because people don’t respect it enough to where you know, time is earned. And if you don’t see it that way it’s kind of backwards, because you should respect age.

MIKE: Mm hm.

NKKO: And you know, I respect the tattoo that was done like, there’s still people alive that had tattoos done at “The Pike” which is one of the oldest tattoo shops in the United States. It was in Long Beach, and it’s where all the sailors used to do tattooed and uh, you know, there’s people that had those dude and they paid like seven bucks for them back then and I just think that that’s cool. I want to see what that looks like today.

MIKE: Hm.

NKKO: That’s rad to me.

MIKE: So what’s, what’s next for you? Like what?

NKKO: Right now, um, I have, I have a new—I do products for tattooing.

MIKE: Yeah.

NKKO: Uh, I have a stencil solution which is what we were talking about the stencil that you put it on and it’s meant for tattooers. Um, I have an ointment which is like uh natural ointment that—

MIKE: It’s called blue—

NKKO: “Vegan Blue”.

MIKE: “Vegan Blue”.

NKKO: And it’s like um, an just an ointment for like skin care. It’s like any kind of skin care but um, I mean what’s next is just furthering my career, I think uh, learning more. I’ve been a student this year. I’ve been taking drawing classes again, so I’ve been doing like figure drawing, learning how to do that. Um and then just growing you know, investing and being smart with whatever I’ve been able to earn.

MIKE: And part of what we ask uh, what I do in this podcast is ask people when, when was the most challenging time in your life in terms of your mental health and then we’ll talk about what you did to get out of it. I think it’s—

NKKO: As an adult?

MIKE: In, in your life period, is there anything that comes to your mind is um, most challenging?

NKKO: I mean, I think I’ve been really fortunate, because art has given me uh, direction and uh, an outlet and a focus. So like really man, tattooing like let’s just say I can, I can—anything can happen right now. And if I go an do a tattoo, I instantly feel better or if I go and do an oil painting, I can focus on that and lose myself in it, or like nothing really in real life is happening. So I really feel that whether it was me as a kid you know or an adult, art kind of centered me and taken me and been able to bring me out of darkness of my own mind. You know or whatever is going on.

MIKE: But what, what does that darkness look like for you?

NKKO: I mean—

MIKE: When it’s happening in the past?

NKKO: I mean as a kid, you know I was a rebellious kid, my parents got divorce and I didn’t have the best relationship with them and actually you made me think about things a lot different and probably if you were to ask me two years ago I would probably would have been a little bit more like probably angry or bitter towards like that past. But in the last few years, I really thought about it and I’ve even read other books on it and stuff and you know I understand that my parents did their best and I love them. Like I do love them and I’m grateful and, and I uh, I don’t want to think about that stuff as much anymore. I try to like you know let that…

MIKE: About what?

NIKKO: ..just about I just, the divorce and you know uh, I think they were going through so much negativity within their relationship and then trying to find other relationships that maybe the kids got thrown to the side a little bit you know and they really didn’t pay attention on what they were doing to their children. So I ended up growing up with my grandmother like I ended up living with her since I was about fourteen and uh, you know my grandmother, she’s my angel. Like she is like the most amazing person I know. But you know she had, she had told me when I lived with her that she already raised her kids and that whatever I chose to do with my life is my choice, so I didn’t graduate high school you know? And I didn’t, I didn’t—I made choices that made it harder on myself to really grow in life and I feel like I had to work twice as hard to obtain the same as someone does normally with a normal job. And I just uh, I didn’t have the help like nobody gave me money or gave me like a chance so I went through a long time of being lonely, you know and that’s also why I think I sustained a relationship with Joanne so long…

MIKE: Joanne your wife?

NKKO: …yeah, she is my best friend. And she really kept me away from—I was lucky to have her and I’m still lucky to have her because she’s been there for me, she’s been my rock and she was a stranger. You know, she was someone that I met as a kid and so—

MIKE: You met at what age?

NKKO: About four—I met her at twelve, but we started dating about fifteen. I met her through…

MIKE: Wow.

NKKO: …my cousin. But I think it’s too because I was like a lonely kid, you know and I think that uh, it should just fill that, that void of love, you know what I mean and it’s kind of crazy like when I think about it because—

MIKE: So you’re saying that the biggest challenge for you is really been a deep sense of loneliness as a kid…

NIKKO: Yeah I guess—

MIKE: …until you connected with her?

NIKKO: I think it’s hard to even as an adult to love myself, like I noticed that I have that issue because someone will tell me something positive and instantly I want to go to a negative place and I’ve constantly thought about that like you know, someone says oh you look good. And I’m like, oh I’m fat, you know where like something negative comes to mind.

MIKE: Quickly happens.

NIKKO: Quickly, every time. Oh your arts good. Make excuses and I don’t think I really ever realized this but now thinking about it and looking at my past is just, I don’t think I loved myself because I didn’t feel a lot of love. Even though I know they loved me and I have a better relationship with my dad an my mom now, I think back then it just I was a lonely kid and I was broken.

MIKE: So, so it’s just roleplay, right?

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: So, so um, I have an idea.

NIKKO: Okay.

MIKE: So what we’re going to do is I have some glasses with me…

NIKKO: Okay.

MIKE: …and uh, you’re gonna throw these on and you’re going to roleplay a little bit, all right?

NIKKO: Oh man, yeah okay.

MIKE: So I didn’t know, just my instincts were to grab some glasses.

NIKKO: All right.

MIKE: Um, and these one pair I has, uh black x’s on them uh, and uh what I’m gonna have you do is—I know you have glasses on, so you could—

NIKKO: I can take them off.

MIKE: Put these on.

NIKKO: And I’ll become someone else or what?

MIKE: Well I want you to become so—we’re gonna play out. I just want to understand the dialogue a little—yeah.

NIKKO: (LAUGHS)

MIKE: So I just want to play out a character—

NIKKO: This is awesome! Cool, all right, yeah.

MIKE: Uh, let’s say I go, “Nikko you look great.” Just play out…

NIKKO: Who this character is?

MIKE: Who this character is. All right, so, so, so—

NIKKO: Oh this character is on, I’m fire right now.

MIKE: The voice is like, when I say “Hey Nikko, you—hey man you look great.”

NIKKO: I do. That’s how I feel with these on!

MIKE: That’s how you feel—

NIKKO: Which is so strange right?

MIKE: You’re like tucked away (UNINTELLIGBLE)

NIKKO: I’ve just seen the x’s in it it’s just—I think it’s ‘cause I’m tucked away huh? Like I’m hidden behind some black?

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: So you feel good, you do feel like your—you look amazing.

NIKKO: I don’t know what I look like but I feel like I’m amazing.

(MIKE AND NIKKO LAUGHTER)

NIKKO: Awesome.

MIKE: Okay but if you were to play out that voice of, yeah here we got to mirror so you can see what you look like.

NIKKO: So you’re gonna show me what I look like?

MIKE: Yeah we’re gonna show you what you look like.

NIKKO: All right. Turn it this way a little bit. Awesome.

MIKE: You look awesome.

NIKKO: I love it.

MIKE: Okay so take off the glasses.

NIKKO: All right.

MIKE: Now look at yourself in the mirror.

NIKKO: I’ll see.

MIKE: Let’s bust this up

NIKKO: Mm hm.

MIKE: And what’s your initial first thought?

NIKKO: …probably that I’m aging.

MIKE: That you’re aging?

NIKKO: Getting older, yeah.

MIKE: First thought, is that you’re aging?

NIKKO: Yeah it brought me to a different place.

MIKE: Totally different place?

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: And, and was it negative that you’re aging?

NIKKO: A little bit and I just said I like it.

MIKE: It’s funny isn’t it?

NIKKO: Yeah, it’s weird.

MIKE: So it’s like, it’s uh, your initial reaction was a little like oh like uh, we can remove the mirror. I mean Nikko…

NIKKO: Oh it’s okay.

MIKE: …is scared of himself.

NIKKO: Nah, I’m good.

MIKE: Um, so we remove the mirror and uh, and your initial thought is negative and any idea why…why that is—like in real time, right? Not like in the past, like where do you feel it when you instantly think um, oh I’m aging? Like that thought what feeling comes with it?

NIKKO: Um, I mean it wasn’t…I just I think I looked at myself and said I looked older like in my mind but I don’t really know where that would come from.

MIKE: Do you feel a certain type of way at looking older?

NIKKO: Uh, honestly I don’t. I really don’t.

MIKE: Makes you feel good about?

NIKKO: I don’t feel good about it, I’m kind of indifferent with it because…actually I feel better looking older to be honest, you know, but I just, I could just tell I looked older.

MIKE: Got it.

NIKKO: That’s the first initial thought.

MIKE: Well I’m trying to get to ‘cause you’re saying you know, it’s, it’s hard for you when people compliment you.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: Uh tell you that you look great or that your work is amazing.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: That you have an initial reaction.

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: That uh, that like uh affects your like—

NIKKO: I think I’m better with it now, but there was a time that it was a lot worse. You know and I think that’s why as well, I don’t think I’m perfect at it and I still struggle with it that’s why it’s kind of indifferent in the middle. But it definitely I’ve been working on myself for years, you know?

MIKE: How do you wanna feel? Like it if—meaning like if someone said to you, “Nikko you look great.”

NIKKO: Mm hm.

MIKE: How do you—how—what—when you say you’re aware that like instant reaction is negative…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …how would you like to feel?

NIKKO: Yeah, fuck yeah I look great.

MIKE: You wanna, you wanna think yeah I do?

NIKKO: Yeah I look good. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MIKE: And you wanna think fuck yeah I look good.

NIKKO: Yeah and I feel good.

MIKE: Okay cool.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: And uh, but that’s not that often?

NIKKO: No I mean I think as I get older and I think now, I do feel more like that because it used to be worse.

MIKE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

NIKKO: Yeah, I, I, I wouldn’t look at myself at all in the mirror ever, like ever. You know I don’t know why. I just—I think I kind of hated myself, you know and I think I made a lot of choices to feel that way. You know, I think I, I think—so now, you know I don’t drink. Like I’ll drink—have like an alcohol—like so I went to Vegas this last weekend.

MIKE: Like it’s so funny you’re talking about this, my dog went right up to you.

NIKKO: Your dog’s awesome.

MIKE: Right?

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: Like I hate myself, my dog Vida is like let me go hang out with him.

NIKKO: I know, she feels it, but um yeah I went to Vegas; I had some drinks with Joanne, but that’s with Joanne you know what I mean? Like I don’t drink with my friends. I don’t go out um, anywhere to uh, you know party. I think that was another thing man, is I—before, I had no self-discipline. I was like, uh like doing whatever I want like a gypsy, free bird like drinking, partying you know, going to these conventions around the world and being treated awesome. I just—I think that on the outside it felt like life was good and great but now really looking at it, I think I was just like kind of lost…

MIKE: Mm.

NIKKO: …and kind of hated myself for making bad decisions when I was drinking and that’s also another reason why like I don’t like drinking or doing anything of that sort because I get like the next day—even if I didn’t do anything wrong I have instant guilt. And so I just—I know it’s not good for me. And that’s telling me something, that’s telling me that I shouldn’t be doing this, and so I make sure not to do it. And you know, I have friends that come and visit from all around the world come to my shop and they’re like, let’s go out drinking and man it take major discipline for me to be like, nuh uh, I can’t. I can’t. I really want to.

MIKE: Right.

NIKKO: Because it’s fucking awesome and I’ve had some of the best times ever like that, but I just know that the next day, or the next three days or you know it’s just, I’m not going to feel proud of myself. I’m not “My Best Self”.

MIKE: Yeah, it’s always just, it’s always a trip coming by your shop ‘cause you’ll be like, these two people are from Russia…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …Sylvania and they’re going to be here working for the next month…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …it’s almost like you’re black anchors become uh, kind of like a hub for people internationally…

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: …for a certain style of realism…

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: …to do tattoos.

NIKKO: Yeah, I mean I have people from all over. I had this guy from New Zealand that’s a great tattooer you know come out to my shop in Hesperia and he told me when he was there, this is my dream to be at this shop. To work here, even just for those couple of days that he was there like he was—it was his dream.

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: You know, and that meant a lot to me, you know so I think also too like for me, like you said, I have a big following tattooing and uh, I really want to be a positive force in tattooing.

MIKE: Is there, is there something about younger generation that you see different than generation now even as tattoo artist? Or is it pretty—

NIKKO: Like what do you mean? The generation before me and compared to now?

MIKE: No I mean the one that exist today for, for younger tattoo artist do you see um, that there’s a different mentality—

NIKKO: For sure, I think that for me, because of how I’ve lead my career, I think people initially thought that my goal was to be famous and so I think the—I think that that gets confused. I think I’ve inspired a lot of younger tattooers that’s also why I stop drinking, and, and you know, smoking weed and things like this, um because I wanted it to be a better leader in that aspect. A better you know, example and I don’t feel like I was being a best example for these young kids coming up and I finally had to make a choice like, for the betterment of like my industry and something I love I need to be a better human being. I think that that’s the choice like these people wanted—the only thing I would say to the younger generation that I see is that they’re lost in the money aspect and they’re lost in the fame aspect. And I think that’s also the generation of these kids today is social media has really given them something that they really want to be in and that’s famous and I think that uh, you should ask yourself what kind of value are you adding to the world? What are you doing to better people’s lives? And I think that if you’re doing something true to your heart, you’re gonna become probably famous for that but really, you want to feel like accomplished within yourself and maybe within your peers, but the fame thing is just it is what it is, you know?

MIKE: Yeah it’s interesting, like there’s, there’s fame and then I almost see in someone connect the dots necessarily, but it’s like respect.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: And respect comes from heard work and…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …doing whatever it takes to be as great as possible and evolving.

NIKKO: And there’s no cheating in that.

MIKE: No.

NIKKO: You know and that takes time.

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: You know, and effort. So yeah, some people get it faster, some people don’t but it’s all effort, you know?

MIKE: And what uh, in terms of uh, client service can so much that you do is client service what advice do you have with dealing with clients in general? ‘Cause I mean your business is similar to and it can be similar to being a waiter, it can be similar to uh—meaning like you’re—it’s client centered.

NIKKO: Yeah I mean I definitely have to constantly remind myself that I’m in the service industry and I’m a servant to these people that I’m tattooing and that’s one thing that a lot of tattooers lose sight of and even myself. And so I have to always reevaluate that and made sure that I’m doing my best because you know being a tattooer, you do make bad choices—I never had to be on time to anywhere, so I’ve always just lived my life however I want, you know and so it’s time for me is probably my biggest challenge ‘cause I’m like the worst with time management, you know like I’m never a like a punctual person. It’s, it’s a struggle.

MIKE: Yeah I don’t think I’ve ever met up with you…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …and where you’ve been on time.

NIKKO: Yeah I—

MIKE: I literally said before it’s so funny…

NIKKO: Yeah that he was gonna to be late.

MIKE: I said, well we’ll make sure you know, we’re doing this at one.

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: And I said, just plan the schedule in for two.

NIKKO: Yeah, you’re smart.

MIKE: Um, I said because Nikko…

NIKKO: You’re smart.

MIKE: …I said as tense he is, something happened or is coming up.

NIKKO: No I mean, yeah, and, and that’s my life. I mean I’m better at it now, like I said, like it’s been a working progress.

MIKE: Yeah.

NIKKO: But I definitely—I also add some much to my plate that time is difficult.

MIKE: And plus, tattoos take a long time and some take a lot longer than others…

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: …you also have three kids.

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: You also lived two hours away…

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: From your two shops.

NIKKO: Well no, my one shop is right down the road. Which is the home shop…

MIKE: Right and the other one is two hours away

NIKKO: Yeah that’s right here yeah and I actually got that shop because one of my friends had issues going on with his life that he couldn’t maintain it and uh, he had to get rid of it. He had to get out of his lease.

MIKE: Let me ask one more question and then we’re going to do the “Universe Decides Wheel”, we always use random questions…

NIKKO: Cool, awesome

MIKE: …that uh—

NIKKO: Sick.

MIKE: You’ll spit fire answer.

NIKKO: Ah.

MIKE: In terms of mental health in the tattoo industry ‘cause I’m asking—you know, I’ve been sitting down with different experts and different spaces.

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: What do you think is the challenge is it alcohol and drugs, is it depression, is it like uh, anxiety like what do you see amongst tattoo artists?

NIKKO: I mean I do think all those things you’re talking about are heavily with tattooing. I mean I deal with it, you know and uh I know that people struggle with it worse than I do and I see it. You know you are your own worst enemy, like the craziest things is that I always explain it to people like this and this is maybe tattooers will get mad about this or not. But let’s just say you went to a restaurant, right? And the chef is on heroin and you knew the chef was on heroin, would you eat there?

MIKE: …no.

NIKKO: All right. So let’s say this, you go into a tattoo shop but the dude’s a fucking bad ass, but dude’s on heroin and you know it. Would you get tattooed?

MIKE: Ho—

NIKKO: A lot of people, a lot of people would.

MIKE: They would?

NIKKO: For sure, as long as the work was good and the dude is not nodding off, they’ll look past it.

MIKE: Wow.

NIKKO: And so I think there’s been, the same as a Rockstar, some, some musicians and stuff will do drugs and nobody—everybody looks past it, because they’re creative and this and that, but if (STAMMER) that dude was preparing your food, you ain’t gonna eat it.

MIKE: Right.

NIKKO: You know and so…

MIKE: You’re so right, it’s like people will look past um, I would say you know it’s interesting with, with people are really successful or celebrities.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: Is if, if you if the name-if your friend down the street um…

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: …your is using drugs or alcohol you would have a conversation with that friend and say look man, like I—at a certain point, you’re like they can’t be around you if you…

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: …don’t want to be sober because you’re…

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: …causing consequences in my own life.

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: And then when there is uh, famous people, ah everyone views it so much differently.

NIKKO: Yup.

MIKE: And uh, they, they don’t even look at what’s really going on…

NIKKO: For sure.

MIKE: …they kind of just look at the, what they want to believe.

NIKKO: For sure, of course. And so that’s the thing, people—tattooer’s get away with a lot, you know and I think that uh, it’s become an excuse of like, that’s okay, I’m a tatooer. That’s how it is, you know?

MIKE: Mm.

NIKKO: And it’s like, at some point you know in order for you to level up in life you have to straighten up or not, you know?

MIKE: I love that.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: To level up in life you have to straighten up or you don’t

NIKKO: And that’s the point dude, like I wanna level up so I have to look at myself and be like, yeah I do love myself and I do want to be better and I’m going to feel better, I’m going to be happier, and I’m gonna take the things out of my life that don’t make me happy and don’t suit my goal.

MIKE: Yeah. Well let’s do the “Universe Decides Wheel”.

NIKKO: All right let’s do it.

MIKE: Is it charged up you guys? This thing for whatever reason it’s almost you would think that it is a rocket ship, because the power…

NIKKO: Or really?

MIKE: …seeps away on this one really quickly. It’s a trip.

NIKKO: On the “Ipad”?

MIKE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) okay so the producer put some questions in.

NIKKO: Yeah that’s good.

MIKE: So the reality is, uh some of these may be random and every time we’ve done this…

NIKKO: Okay.

MIKE: …this is the fourth one, it ends up in a question.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: Where I say I don’t know what that means although I do get some creative spirit into this.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: So what you do is you click um, resume.

NIKKO: Resume? So I box it in?

MIKE: Resume, yeah you just spin that wheel.

NIKKO: All right. Set.

MIKE: Let me make sure the volume’s on. Yup. All right.

(UNIVERSE DECIDES WHEEL SPIN)

NIKKO: Amazing, what does that say?

MIKE: Nikko Hurtado what is your favorite junk food?

NIKKO: My favorite junk food? I mean ice cream.

MIKE: Ice cream?

NIKKO: Love it.

MIKE: Specific kind?

NIKKO: Any.

MIKE: Okay.

NIKKO: I don’t care what it is, yeah it can be the cheapest ice cream, the best ice cream just love it. I don’t know what it is a shake whatever. Ice cream’s my shit.

MIKE: Ice cream’s your shit.

NIKKO: Yup.

MIKE: All right, well let’s eliminate that question and let’s give it a little spin.

(UNIVERSE DECIDES WHEEL SPINS)

NIKKO: All right, let’s see.

MIKE: All right. All right.

NIKKO: Celebrity impersonation?

MIKE: You have to do a celebrity impersonation.

NIKKO: Oh ho, my God I don’t even know! Um….

MIKE: And I’ll try to guess who it is, that’s—

NIKKO: All right, ah man I don’t even know, I’ve never even done one, um—

MIKE: What an exciting opportunity to try something new?

NIKKO: Yeah I’m gonna try something new, let’s see.

MIKE: (LAUGHS)

NIKKO: You know what I quote movie quotes all day long, but um—I don’t know but I got it. And I’ve thought about it.

MIKE: Oh impersonating me?

NIKKO: I totally thought about it. I totally thought about it right now. So—all right, Nikko what makes you—I don’t know! I don’t know I was gonna do “Coach Mike” but I didn’t do it. Nah, I’ll just do, “Get to the choppa”, I don’t know.

MIKE: Who’s “Get to the choppa”?

NIKKO: You don’t know who that is? “Get to the choppa”?

MIKE: It is not in my head.

NIKKO: Oh man—don’t come on.

MIKE: Who is that?

NIKKO: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don’t know. Let’s see I’ll tell you another one. Um, let’s see here, ah man I can’t even think—I don’t know. You messed up.

MIKE: So “Get to the choppa”?

NIKKO: I don’t even know, like that’s so famous.

MIKE: No, no, no you know, who is that?

NIKKO: It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

MIKE: Oh yeah.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: Got it. I kind of got that.

NIKKO: Dude it was so bad. It was so bad.

MIKE: No it’s just.

NIKKO: It was so bad.

MIKE: I was—my head

NIKKO: I’m not an actor bro.

MIKE: No I think my head was…

NIKKO: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) not doing.

MIKE: …in arts and culture indifferent. All right, we’ll eliminate that one.

NIKKO: All right let’s do this.

MIKE: Okay and…

(UNINVERSE DECIDEDS WHEEL SPINS)

NIKKO: All right let’s see.

MIKE: Oh my God.

NIKKO: My drag queen name?

MIKE: So what is your drag queen name?

NIKKO: I don’t know, how would we, how would we figure this out?

MIKE: Well, it could be Nikita.

NIKKO: I was gonna say Nicole.

MIKE: Nicole? Okay.

NIKKO: Yeah.

MIKE: Nicole.

NIKKO: Nicole I don’t know the first thing that came to my head is “Nicole the Great”.

MIKE: “Nicole the Great”!

NIKKO: Yeah, real flamboyant. You know?

MIKE: Yeah, or they say it’s the street you grew up on in your childhood.

NIKKO: Okay so it’s “Nicole Goleta”.

MIKE: “Nicole Goleta”?

NIKKO: Yeah, that’s my name.

MIKE: That sounds like a winner.

NIKKO: Yeah that’s a winner right there.

MIKE: Cool well you did the “Universe Decides Wheel”.

NIKKO: I liked it.

MIKE: Thank you for doing that and thank you for coming out and uh, you as you know your story is in my next book that I can’t name.

NIKKO: Yes, for sure.

MIKE: What it is yet, but it comes out in Fall and uh, by design I did not ask you some questions that uh, I know are fascinating to me uh, because I want to make sure that…

NIKKO: Okay.

MIKE: …I don’t spoil anything for the book.

NIKKO: Okay, okay, cool, cool. Very cool.

MIKE: But thanks man for coming out.

NIKKO: Thank you so much man…

MIKE: All right brother.

NIKKO: I love Mike thank you so much.

MIKE: Love you.

(END PODCAST)