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Tattooed pin-up model loves her body art

"Everyone here seems to have tattoos, it's great."

Last updated 05:00 22/11/2013

U.S. tattoo celebrity Sabine Kelley is in town for the NZ Tattoo and Art Festival 2013.

American television star Sabina Kelley
PIN-UP POWER: American television star Sabina Kelley has arrived in New Plymouth for the tattoo festival and is looking forward to hitting the beach.

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American pin-up model Sabina Kelley is set to make the New Plymouth tattoo festival sizzle.

Star of television show Best Ink, Ms Kelley flew into New Zealand yesterday ahead of her weekend gig as a spokes-model and judge for The Mill New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival.

She will be at the event on Saturday and Sunday and said she may walk away with a new piece of artwork on her body.

She never seemed to be able to leave a convention without an addition to her body, she said.

In her home country the pin-up model is sometimes looked down on for her ink, but people in New Zealand loved her appearance, she said.

"Everyone here seems to have tattoos, it's great."

Ms Kelley, 35, hasn't always been covered in ink, though.

Although all of her friends were tattooed at a young age, the former Los Angeles showgirl didn't get inked up until she was 20.

Her career as a dancer had always stopped her from getting a tattoo and she knew when she sat down for her first one that she was waving goodbye to be being a showgirl.

L.A showgirls had to look exactly the same as each other, she said.

"I'd always had a love of art and the way tattoos looked on a body, ever since I was little.

"I knew I wanted to at least have sleeves," she said.

Despite saying goodbye to her career as a show girl, Ms Kelley quickly became a pin-up model and a burlesque dancer.

Since then she's covered her arms and her back in ink and has lost count of how many tattoos she has. Her favourite of the lot is the three black and grey roses, etched into her neck, that represent her three children.

Despite her love of ink, Ms Kelley understands not all tattoos turn out the way you want them to. That's why she owns a tattoo removal business and is often found lasering off other people's ink.

At the moment she's halfway through removing her ex husband's name from her arm.

"People's lives change," she said.

Today she'll be covering her remaining tattoos in sunscreen so she can enjoy sunbathing in the New Plymouth heat.

"We are going to head to the beach. It's so lovely here and so warm so I can't wait to go to the beach," she said. The New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival runs on Saturday from 11am to 10pm, and from 11am until 7pm on Sunday at the TSB Stadium in New Plymouth.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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