Sailor Jerry – Hori Smoku, The Sailor Jerry Movie
Norman Keith Collins was an American tattoo artist who was also known as “Sailor Jerry”. Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, was born January 14, 1911 in Reno, Nevada, and learned tattooing while he hopped freight trains across the country, from a man named Tatts Thomas. Thomas is credited for showing him how to use tattoo machines. “Sailor Jerry” is said to have practiced on drifters and later sailed the Pacific Ocean in the Navy and then settled in Hawaii. A big rough edged guy with a dirty mouth, he often wore plain white T-shirts, exposing his ink-sleeved arms. Sailor Jerry got his name when his father noticed a similarity in disposition between Norman and the family mule “Jerry”. Mike Malone who took over Sailor Jerry’s shop after he died, said of Jerry “he was a class-A pirate.”
“Sailor Jerry” enlisted in the United States Navy when he was 19, and during his travels at sea he was exposed to the art and imagery of Southeast Asia. He stayed a sailor for his entire life, even during his career as tattoo artist. He worked as licensed skipper on a large three-masted schooner, with which he conducted tours of the Hawaiian islands. Sailing and tattooing were only two of his professional endeavors. He was a saxophone player in his own dance band and for years, hosted his own radio show at the KTRG radio station. He was a prolific writer and could carry on in-depth communications with the pen-pals he had all over the world.
Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins entrusted his artwork to his two proteges, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone, both of whom have become prominent figures in their own right. Hardy, who turned down a scholarship to Yale to pursue tattooing, is known for his artistic sophistication and large tattoos. Malone, who designs under the name “Rollo Banks”, is known for his conceptual boldness and distinctive designs.
In 1999, Hardy and Malone partnered to establish Sailor Jerry Ltd., a clothing and collectibles(ashtrays, knick knacks, shoes) company, and it is also the company that started Sailor Jerry Rum. A 92 proof spiced rum featuring a Sailor Jerry hula girl on the label. The reverse side of the label peels off to reveal Pin-up girls designed by Sailor Jerry.
Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins letters, art and flash are owned and managed by Sailor Jerry Ltd., and are licensed out to various other companies such as Converse for designs on their shoes and hi tops. After his death, friends of Collins found an old Navy rum recipe that became the basis for Sailor Jerry Rum and is still used today in the production of that rum. It is produced in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The story goes that ships would pick up rum, a cheap liquor from various islands, and because it wasn’t that good, they put spices in the rum to flavor it up, hence the named spiced rum.
Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins passed away on June 12, 1973, and is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, a military cemetery in Honolulu. His grave is marked at #124/Section T.
Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry, is the movie about Sailor Jerry, his life and times. The Name Hori means tattoo artist or tattoo master. Be sure to check out the movie available through Amazon.com. Be sure to check out the trailer below.