Pete Wentz wasn’t about to partake in just any old reality series. The Fall Out Boy rocker, 33, wanted to do a show about something important to him — tattoos. Wentz has picked up hosting duties for Best Ink. The second season, premiering 10 p.m. Wednesday on Oxygen, follows 12 tattoo artists competing for a $100,000 prize. All they have to do is create the coolest, most impressive tat; think Top Chef without the food. We caught up with the Chicago native on a recent conference call:
Since you haven’t done reality TV, what did you want to get out of the experience?
I feel like every once in awhile, I get hit up to do whatever kind of reality show or whatever, and they don’t really make a whole lot of sense for me. This one did, because I felt like it was authentic to my brand. I’ve been into tattoos for awhile; I wanted to learn more. And obviously I’ve been an enthusiast. I felt like I’d get to learn a lot about the inner workings of a tattoo shop and more about tattoo culture. That was really important to me.
How was the “Best Ink” job?
One of the things I learned on the set of a TV show, and especially from hosting, is my job was basically to be the ringmaster as far as a lot of the stuff went. But there was a certain kind of patience or listening skills that weren’t maybe my greatest skill set before, but I realized that from listening to different people I could inject better things rather than broadcasting all the time. And that helped me in the studio [with my music]. But just every day in general, it’s helpful to stop and listen and really formulate your opinions before you talk.
Why are tattoos so fascinating to you as an art form?
Tattoos serve as snapshots of moments in my life. They serve as different moments in my life to remind me of things. To be a walking canvas is a pretty cool thing. It’s an actual living, breathing piece of art. It’s interesting because everybody kind of has a different skin tone and shape so tattoos look different depending on who it is, depending on when you got them. They all tell different stories. It isn’t something that hides in the shadows anymore. I have friends who are doctors who have tattoos. I have friends who are in bands who have tattoos. It’s kind of all over the place.
How do you feel about seeing people with Fall Out Boy tattoos?
I have such a split opinion about it. Sometimes we’re signing stuff, and you’re signing people’s arms, and they say they’re gonna get a tattoo, and it feels just so weird because I don’t know — I feel like as goofy as I am, I don’t feel like I’m maybe narcissistic enough to feel like people should have my handwriting or ideas on their body forever. So that always worries me a little bit. But at the same time it always blows my mind when I see fans who are that dedicated.
What are some of your body art standouts?
I have my whole right sleeve done. I have my chest. I have part of my left arm and then a little bit on my legs. My favorite’s probably one inside my left swear finger. It’s hidden. It’s the directions to Neverland, second star to the right. I got a keyhole on my arm when our band sold a million records first time from Under the Cork Tree. It was just symbolic to me at the time. It meant a lot. I don’t know if I ever told anybody that. And I got my buddy Gabe [ Saporta] from Cobra Starship on my leg in a bad bet.
What tattoo do you hope to have one day?
I remember I actually told my son [4-year-old Bronx] on the way to school, as soon as he learns to write his own name, I’ll probably get tattooed in his handwriting. At some point that’ll happen.