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Freddy Negrete is inarguably one of the world’s greatest legends in the tattoo world. The former Chicano gang member perfected the art of “prison” black and grey tattoos before going to work for fellow tattoo legends “Good Time” Charlie Cartwright and Jack Rudy in East LA. He logged time working with Ed Hardy (who, for the uninitiated, is a real guy and not just a t-shirt line) and now makes headlines when he tattoos famous folks like Henry Styles. Despite his current celebrity status, Negrete has hardly had an easy life: the son of a Jewish woman and a Mexican father, Negrete was pretty much orphaned when both his parents went to prison. He joined a gang, entered a life of crime, started going in and out of juvie halls and prison and, along the way, became a heroin addict. Now sober over a half decade, Negrete is the co-author of a memoir based on his life, Smile Now, Cry Later: Guns, Gangs and Tattoos: My Life in Black and Gray. In this episode, we talk about how gangs provided camaraderie, making tattoo guns out of cassette tapes and his sudden spiritual awakening, among many other topics.

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