HARRY HUDSON & JONBOY

HARRY HUDSON & JONBOY

FADE IN:

INT. TATTOO PARLOR, LOWER EAST SIDE, NEW YORK CITY – EVENING

The buzz of needles at work echoes inside a popular tattoo parlor in lower Manhattan. JONBOY, in a pair of black glasses that match his all black outfit, preps a station in a private area at the back of the shop.

CUT TO:

HARRY HUDSON enters, and strolls to the back of the shop. HARRY greets JONBOY, rolls up his sweatshirt sleeve, and settles into the chair at JONBOY’s station.

HARRY
We met at church.

JONBOY
I think that might have been your first time at [New York City’s] Hillsong Church. I remember texting Hailey [Baldwin] to thank her introducing us, because there was something different — glowing — about you.

HARRY
We connected right off the bat. When my energy aligns with someone else’s like that, I want that person in my life. The world has too many fake people in it already.

JONBOY
When you shared your story — that you had cancer and basically died, went to Heaven, and came back — it was an amazing testament. Before I found Hillsong, I had a moment in a jail cell when I [all but] gave up on life. Both of us should be dead, but God decided otherwise, and now we’re making it count. A ton of my tattoo clients today are from Hillsong — including the pastors.

HARRY
I used to be so against tattoos until, in fighting cancer, I realized that your body means nothing. By the time we met, I had gotten my first ones, so I would come to the shop to hang out with you. When you asked if I wanted one, I was like: Yeah, I guess, I’ve got nothing else to do. [Since then], you’ve given me a bunch. Like the rose [on my middle finger] —

JONBOY
That was a fun one.

HARRY
I wanted to get three, not one, but when the needle touched my body I knew there was no way I could endure two more. It hurt so bad. The picture of the finished rose that you posted on Instagram got the most likes of anything you’d shared at the time. The flower is very powerful to me: it was my grandma’s favorite.

JONBOY
I often don’t know what I’m going to tattoo on any given client, so it can be a challenge. But that’s exactly why I love the work.

HARRY
Tonight I’m getting a quote from one of my favorite authors: the philosopher, Osho. It says, “A certain darkness is needed to see the stars.” In other words, one needs to go through darker moments in life in order to see the light. As soon as I read it I wanted to get it.

JONBOY
Whenever I have a bad day, or a moment when I think, “Fuck life,” I remember how bad you had it. You’re someone who died and is now alive. You never gave up. And whether you know it or not, you are a light. You’re the salt of the earth, dude.

HARRY
When I got cancer, I quickly learned who my true friends are: the people who have my back no matter what. I can call you about anything — like my aunt being sick, or wanting a tattoo — and you’ll listen, even if it’s insignificant.

JONBOY
That you want to wear my tattoos shows me that you believe in me and what I do. And I believe in you, too. How’s your music coming along?

HARRY
It’s going, you know what I mean? It’s a process. I’m working on an album, which I keep changing. Creating art that has meaning to me as well as to others can be hard.

JONBOY
Being that you’re close with the Kardashians, do you ever get tips from Kanye [West]?

HARRY
I don’t ask for tips, I just watch how he, and they, work. That’s the best way to learn, and I’m very blessed to be able to see greatness in action.

JONBOY
Definitely. While I’ve been fortunate enough to create sick tattoos, I know they’re not all me — they’re inspired by the ideas of others. I don’t consider myself an artist: my job is to realize someone else’s vision. And in doing that I get to hang out with the coolest people, like you.

HARRY
I think that whatever one does, if pursued with genuine love and passion, he’ll succeed. I knew you when you had 3,000 followers [on Instagram], and now you have hundreds of thousands. I can tell that when you wake up in the morning you’re happy to go to work — something many people aren’t.

JONBOY
Before finding Hillsong, I was told by my former church members that tattooing was the devil’s work. To hear it was wrong to use a gift I’d been given was very hard. I fell away from the church for a long time after that. It wasn’t until I had that moment in the jail cell, when I surrendered myself to God, that I realized I could dedicate the use of my talent to Him.

HARRY
I grew up Catholic, went to mass every Sunday, and was so into it until I realized how much of the institution was bullshit. I continued to believe in God, but also lost my taste for church until I found Hillsong, too.

JONBOY
You can go there believing what you believe, wearing what you want to wear. There are no rules.

HARRY
That’s why I find it to be really beautiful.

JONBOY
If God is love, then why would anyone who believes in Him tell someone else he is going to Hell? Jesus was accepting. He hung out with prostitutes and preachers.

HARRY
When I was getting chemo, I talked to people 40 years older than me who thought the same thoughts and had the same fears as I did. I realized [that deep down] every person is the same. In that way, for me, getting sick was a rebirth. I have a second chance to do anything I want to do. I have no fear. That’s why I’m getting tattoos: I don’t live for my body, I live for life in full.

JONBOY
Yeah, dude! And I live to serve others, to make sure they get where they need to be and to inspire them to be all they can be — even if it’s by tattooing them. In doing that, I feel like I have a purpose.

HARRY
Whatever it is, if there’s something you love, that you have fun doing, then chances are it’s your path in life.

CREDITS

Photography byRyan Petrus

Conversation moderated byAnthony Rotunno

JonBoy (née Jonathan Valena) is a tattoo artist based in New York City.
Harry Hudson is a musician based in Los Angeles.

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THE END