Thursday, 29 September 2011

First Look: High School Confidential, Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry, Ed Hardy Tattoo the World

Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry
Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry: The Life of Norman K Collins
As part of its First Look program, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) presents three films about rebellion with the classic tale of teens gone wild, High School Confidential, and two documentaries on the masters of American tattooing Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry and Ed Hardy Tattoo the World.

Banned in several countries upon release for its exploitative depiction of drugs and drag car racing, High School Confidential (1958) is the story of Tony Baker, a cop that goes undercover to expose a drug ring at a high school. Directed by Jack Arnold, and featuring "Hollywood's Bad Girl" Mamie Van Doren and a youthful John Barrymore, the film also includes an inspiring cameo by Jerry Lee Lewis who performs in the opening scenes of the film.

In Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry (2009), director Erich Weiss delivers a biopic on the godfather of contemporary American tattoo art, Norman 'Sailor Jerry' Collins. Combining archival footage and anecdotes from Sailor Jerry's renowned industry colleagues - Ed Hardy, Michael Malone, Lyle Tuttle, Zeke Owen and Eddie Funk - the film is a lively tribute to a true folk artist.

Setting up shop in Hotel Street, Honolulu - the place sailors went to get 'stewed, screwed and tattooed' during the Pacific War - Sailor Jerry was a committed libertarian, and considered the underground world of tattooing the "ultimate rebellion against the squares". Despite his humble surroundings, he went on to advance the American tattoo industry through colour creation and machine building, and also introduced sterilisation.

After the Second World War, Sailor Jerry explored his interest in Eastern tattoo art by studying the work of Japan's most revered tattooists, Horiyoshi II and Kazuo Oguri. Earning the honorary title of 'Hori' (Japanese for dig or carve), Sailor Jerry went on to fuse Eastern and Western influences in his designs, and in the process created his own signature style.

Mentored by Sailor Jerry, Ed Hardy is one of America's leading contemporary tattooists and fine artists, and in the film Ed Hardy Tattoo the World (2010), director Emiko Omori reveals the influences and passions that have shaped his life to date. The film will screen in the Australian Mediatheque at ACMI from 1-30 November.

Hailing from a protestant background the lure of forbidden art was strong for Hardy, and at the age of ten, he was already experimenting by applying mock tattoos to his friends. He later graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute but passed up the opportunity to complete a fellowship at Yale University to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a tattooist.

Combining his studies of fine art with his broad knowledge of Asian, Polynesian and Mexican art and culture, Hardy was able to bring a fresh aesthetic to the world of tattoo design. A savvy businessman from the outset, he also recognised that tattooing would afford him the opportunity to make money from his art, and in 2004 after being approached by a clothing designer, the Ed Hardy clothing brand was established.

ACMI Film Programmer Kristy Matheson says,"Sailor Jerry's iconic tattoo designs adorn the bodies of many Australians and the work of his protégé Ed Hardy has become commonplace on everything from coffee cups to caps, but the story of these men is not widely known. Whether it's Hollywood's version of a forbidden world with teens gone wild or the early days of tattooing, screen rebellion is an absolutely irresistible proposition for First Look as we head into summer."

High School Confidential (3-6 November) and Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry (10-13 November) screen as part of First Look at ACMI in Melbourne, along with Ed Hardy Tattoo the World which screens in the Australian Mediatheque at ACMI from 1-30 November. For more info visit

Further information

Frances Mariani
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2475 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 655
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