Sabina Kelley
Sabina Kelley

LOTL chats exclusively with Sabina  Kelley about her upcoming trip to Melbourne, her tattoos, her idols, her children and her love of performing

You’re the VIP guest at the Melbourne Tattoo and Body Art expo this year. We’re lucky to have you, are you looking forward to the event?

Yes, I am super excited about the event.  Australia is one of my favourite places in the world and I have never been to Melbourne, so I can’t wait to go there.  Plus I can’t wait to see all my friends at the expo and meet all my amazing fans.

Will you be visiting any other parts of Australia?

Yes, I will also be visiting Sydney for a couple of days.  I wish I could stay longer and go all over Australia, but that’s hard to do when I have family at home waiting for me.

Can you tell us a bit about your modelling influence on Bettie Paige, and how that came about?

Bettie Page is probably my biggest inspiration in the modelling world. With being a Pinup model, I love the fact that she can be so cute and fun, then the next second is a complete sex pot.  She pulls off both looks without ever looking or being trashy.  I have always been into the 1940s-1950s Pinups, the look, the hair, the makeup, the clothing, and the lingerie.  So, I just began doing my own style of Pinup shoots having my own look being heavily tattooed and my hobby ended up being my career.

When you started getting tattooed, were there many tattooed models out there? What was that like for you? (I read that photographers cautioned you against getting both your arms tattooed – you showed them)!

No, there was only about 1 other model out there that was tattooed when I first began modelling.  It was extremely hard to get photographers to shoot with me.  When I only had one arm tattooed I would angle so you could not tell I was tattooed.  Photographers warned me and begged me to not get any more tattoos.  I did it anyway because that is what I wanted to do.  I did not care if I could not model any more.  I just got really lucky that I just created my only little niche and made a name for myself before it became popular.  I definitely do not suggest anyone getting tattoos thinking it will make them a model, because that is far from the truth.  It has made my modelling career a million times harder and I am having to trail blaze my own path because I have no one to look up to.

What’s your tattoo process like, when you decide you want a new one and how do you decide who’s going to do it?

When I decide I want a new tattoo I figure out which tattoo artist would do the best job for what I want.  I only trust a handful of tattoo artists to tattoo me.  I will not just let anyone tattoo me if even if it’s for free.  I then sit down with the artist and go over what I want and we create it just for me.  Then I usually cut out the tattoo, and tape it on me and run around the house with it on for a day or two to make sure I love it.

 Photographer: Shannon Brooke
Photographer: Shannon Brooke

I’ve read that guys don’t really come up to and talk to you! Why is that? And is it different with women?

I’m not sure why.  It’s been like that all my life.  All of my friends say I really intimidate guys.  I think it’s funny because I am really shy, super laid back, and easygoing.  Maybe because most of my best friends are guys too, so I’m usually around a group of guys and get treated like one of the guys.  It is a little different with girls.  Most girls come up and talk to me.  It amazes me though when people will completely ignore me at an event and then Instagram or Twitter me they saw me there and wanted to say something but were too scared.

I can imagine that you have some die-hard fans! What’s the coolest fanmail/fanart you’ve had?

I do, I have the greatest fans!  I think the coolest fan art I have ever gotten is when people get me tattooed on them or my signature tattooed on them.  That is a complete commitment and I feel truly honoured that people are that inspired by me.  It’s pretty rad!

You have 107K followers on Instagram (as of today)!

Yes, I do!  My Instagram is @sabinakelley

There aren’t many real showgirl shows left in Vegas, but you were in one at Bally’s Hotel, what was that like?

I know it is really sad that Las Vegas does not really have showgirls left, and I feel that is a huge part of Las Vegas’s history and attraction.  The Circc De Sole shows have kind of taken over.  Being a showgirl in Jubilee at Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas was probably one of the most amazing jobs I have ever had.  Dancing is my life and what I am the best at.  I can’t wait to start performing again.

How is Judging on Best Ink going? When you’re judging, what do you look for in a tattoo?

I love my job of being a judge on the TV show, Best Ink.  There are all kinds of things that I look for when I’m judging a tattoo like clean lines, smooth shading, a saturation of the colour, placement on the body, colour choices if they gave the skin what they asked for, and that the size and proportions are correct on the tattoo.

What projects should we look out for from you in the future?

I have a lot of big things in the works that I can not talk about yet, but I can say more TV, movies, my new 2014 calendar, and a bunch more travelling and amazing photoshoots.  You can follow me on my website or any of my social media sites to keep up on what is going on in my world.

Photo: MichelleXStar


What was the first tattoo you wanted?

The first tattoo I wanted or the first tattoo I got?  Lol!  Thank god I never got the first tattoo I wanted.  The first tattoo I wanted was when I was 16 and I was in high school.  I wanted a tribal armband like Pamela Anderson.  That is so embarrassing to say now, but at least I was too young to get it.  The first tattoo I got was on the back of my neck and it was a horseshoe with a dead swallow in the middle of it with flames, flowers, and the number 13.

Do you have advice for people seeking out their first tattoo design?

Yes, I do have to advise people seeking out their first tattoo.  Do not get a tattoo if you don’t know what you want 100%.  Also, do not get a tattoo because you think it’s cool.  Never get a tattoo that you just pick off of a wall and don’t copy someone else’s tattoo.  Get a tattoo because it is something you love, and that means something to you.  Do your homework to find the best tattoo artist for your style of tattoo, so you get the best tattoo for what you want.  Then draw up the tattoo with your artist, so it is special for you.

Can you imagine any reason for trying to talk any of your children out of getting tattoos one day?

I would never talk my children out of getting a tattoo one day.  I would just hope that they would be smart enough to have us help them find the most amazing perfect person to do it for them and that I have made them aware of the benefits and backfalls of having tattoos has been for me.  Honestly my kid’s joke about getting tattoos now and draw them on themselves, or put the fake ones on, but realistically most kids don’t usually do what their parents do.  So they probably won’t want tattoos to cause their parents to have them.