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Rough Rider Tattoo Expo

By Erica Rapp

The city of Fargo is gearing up for its firstever tattoo convention. Sailor Jerry presents the Rough Rider Tattoo Expo, which will take place in late October in conjunction with local shops Dead Rockstar and No Coast Tattoo. Attendees can expect tattooing on site, celebrity appearances, contests, collaborative art and live music for entertainment. Celebrity guests Brett “Big Schwag” Wagner (house emcee) and Corey Miller were able to provide Fargo Monthly with a brief Q&A about their background and their upcoming journey to Fargo.

Corey Miller

Corey-Miller

As a major influence in the tattoo industry, Miller is the owner of Six Feet Under Tattoo and was a former core tattoo artist on the reality series “L.A Ink.”

How did you get started in the tattoo industry?

“I got started tattooing as a teenager hanging out with the wrong crowd. I had some guys that were doing street tattoos that lived in my apartment building. I did my first tattoo on myself when I was 15. I started making my own tattoo machines. The early 80s punk rock music scene kind of fueled all that. I was never a formal apprentice either; I just started hanging out in tattoo shops when I was 16.”

Who are your biggest artistic influences?

“When I started, my first influences were from the style I liked, the black and grey style. So I kind of radiated to the best guys in that business. Jack Rudy and the guys at Tattooland out here in Southern California were some of the best ones. Mark Mahoney and Freddy Negrete were also in that kind of circle. There are just too many names in the business; I’ve been doing this for 30 years, you know?”

What is your most memorable tattooing experience?

“I would have to say that it has to be tattooing rockstars and stuff like that. Not that I tried to follow them and tattoo them, but I tattooed James Hetfield of Metallica and I was extremely thrilled to tattoo them. He’s a bigger-than-life rockstar and he’s a super nice guy. And I was doing that kind of stuff way before I was on television.”

How did being on reality television help or hurt your business?

“I don’t really know if it really helped it, but it definitely fueled business as a whole. It definitely brought tattooing into the living room of people. It can be good and it can be bad but it’s what you make of it, and I think I would do it again. Typically Hollywood will take something that’s cool and start tweaking it and making it stupid, but I was lucky to get that chance to represent tattooing. Television as a whole is hard, but I’m proud of what we did on ‘L.A Ink’ looking back on it. It was life changing, but I don’t think it changed me that much. There is just so much beautiful tattooing going on all around the world and so many amazing artists out there now and it’s really amazing.”

Have you ever been to Fargo? What are you expecting or looking forward to?

“I still can’t believe I’m getting requested to come out to Fargo. My wife was really excited when I told her we’re coming here because of the movie, I think we’re going to try and do some cool photo-ops while we’re there. I really want to check out some antique stores. And I’m stoked for the afterparties of the expo, but I heard I’m going to need a good jacket. I’m really looking forward to coming out there.”

Brett “Big Schwag” Wagner

Brett-Wagner

Wagner has been in the entertainment business for more than 20 years, starring in over 60 different television shows and films, with some of his biggest projects being the host of “Monster Garage” on the Discovery Channel, FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” and various horror films.

How did you get started in the entertainment business?

“When I was very young, I never left my television set. I loved the ‘Twilight Zone,’ sci-fi and horror movies. I knew when I was an early teenager that I wanted to be an actor. I got an agent when I was 21. At night, I worked as a bodyguard for bands and at bars in Hollywood, and during the day I auditioned for acting roles. During my 30s, I had more experience and I was able to make a living off of it.”

What is your favorite television moment that you’ve been a part of?

“Hosting television shows and especially my own show, ‘Past Times’, has been really cool. Getting to work on and going under makeup for the movie ‘The Crazies’ in 2010 was very exciting. I was pretty tickled pink about being on the cover of that DVD. Working on the first season of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ was very thrilling as well, along with ‘The Mentalist.’ I’ve also been on quite a few Disney shows. I’ve really loved all of it.”

What do you enjoy doing most out of all of your projects? (Reality TV, radio, appearances, wrestling, acting, writing)

“Reality shows and game shows, like when I worked on “Monster Garage,” is always fun. I really like working with a live crowd and being spontaneous. I liked being able to improvise and I got to do that with live television shows. It keeps things exciting and unexpected.”

Where did your nickname come from?

“The “Big Schwag” was my pro-wrestling name. A couple years later when I became the voice of ‘Monster Garage,’ I asked the Discovery Channel producers if I could use that as my name and they were cool with it. People on that show knew me as the Big Schwag, but I was known by my real name on other shows. It’s kind of like having a double life.”

Have you ever been to Fargo? What are you expecting or looking forward to?

“I have never been to Fargo. I hear a lot about it, and that it’s more progressive than TV makes it out to be. Ten years ago, I would have thought it was just a stop sign and a few older people. I hear it has a lot of cool things to do. I did Google Fargo… I know about The Hub and some sort of raceway. I also hear about a place you have called Sweeto Burrito and we don’t have those in California. I know there’s good music and awesome tattoo artists there. I think the expo is going to be a big hit and that a lot of people will show up.”

WHERE: Fargo Civic Center

WHEN: Friday, Oct. 24 from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25 from 1 a.m. – 10 p.m.

COST: One-Day Admission $16, Two-Day Admission $26

VENDORS: Motorhead Boutique, TAG, Youngblood Coffee Roasters, A Pound of Flesh, Midwest Irons and TotTude Clothing

FEATURED ARTISTS & SHOPS: No Coast Tattoo, Dead Rockstar, Addictions Tattoo & Piercing, Paul Johnson – 46 and 2 Tattoo, Tanna Hill – Dead Rockstar, Eric Noble – Empire Tattoo, Tom Doherty – Diamond in the Rough Tattoo Co.

For more information and a schedule of events visit roughridertattooexpo.com or like them on Facebook at facebook.com/roughridertattooexpo.

Written by Erica Rapp

Erica is the former editor for Fargo Monthly magazine and worked with social media and fargomonthly.com's online stories. In her free time she is in Halloween mode year-round, teaches dance, enjoys live music and wishes that dinosaurs still walked the Earth.

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