Ceaser and Dutchess Interview – Rise of the Black Ink Empire
The stars of VH1’s Black Ink Crew are back! When the show returns to VH1, the original show and cast members will be returning to their Monday night glory in a new location and with more juicy drama. The king of Black Ink, the tattoo shop, Ceaser Emanuel, is grinding with hopes to take over Harlem with his queen, Dutchess, by his side. Ceaser decided to move the shop from its iconic location at 55 Lenox Avenue to the heart of Harlem, right on 125th street. Parlé Magazine caught up with Cease and Dutch at the grand opening of the new shop to discuss their relationship, new independent ventures, and the reason for the move. The full Ceaser and Dutchess interview her:
Parlé Mag: Dutchess, you recently opened your own shop called Pretty-N-Ink, how is it going?
Dutchess: It is so busy. I am enjoying every moment of it. I love what I do, and I love the fact that it is more than just a tattoo shop. We are doing a lot for the CIAA tournament and the arts. It is truly a beautiful thing, all that we do in the community. Once a month we have a charity event that’s geared towards someone or a group from the community. The first event was for children in foster care; the second was for battered women in shelters and for February we did single dads. I am just grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love and to be able to make money off of it and to live out my dreams.
Parlé Mag: How are the wedding plans going?
Dutchess: I’m not even thinking about planning a wedding at this point. My business just got started. I am trying to make sure that everything I need to do get done before we take that next step is done. A lot of people rush and take that next step and wonder why their marriage and business fails. I don’t want to have to worry about that, so I am trying to take care of everything. With Cease opening this shop, it doesn’t make sense for us to go out and spend a whole a lot of money on a wedding right now. I want to work smarter, not harder. That’s my whole philosophy of life right now.
Parlé Mag: Last season on the show, you were against Ceaser buying Ink 124. Were you against him buying this location also?
Dutchess: See television is very deceptive. Let’s be honest, buying Ink 124 would have been a waste. Did it last for Puma? No. It wasn’t a viable business offer for himself, so why would Cease go and try to do that. I feel like you do what’s best for you and whatever someone else is doing, that’s their journey. Take your own path and do what you have to do.
Parlé Mag: Ceaser, why did you decide to move from your iconic spot?
Ceaser: I feel like this. I was there for many, many years and I did what I was supposed to. There is nothing more I can do on 113th. I feel like me being on 113th from the time I was is now a part of my past. 125th is the next stepping-stone. Also, there are too many people coming in and taking over Harlem. It’s about time we take a piece of it back, even if it is piece by piece. We as a people need to start taking back what is ours. I feel that 125th Street is ours. They have all these new franchises such as Red Lobster and GAP trying to take over our hood and just want to give us minimum wage, that’s bullshit. This is our hood; you should be giving us our money.
Parlé Mag: What are your thoughts on Dutchess opening her shop? Are you two going to be commuting between North Carolina and New York or are these two separate businesses?
Ceaser: I mean we are both hungry, young people. We love the business side and the art of tattooing. We feel like this, there is a whole bunch of young Black people who want to put their art out and a lot of them will not be heard and seen if they don’t have the right platform like say Black Ink. We are looking to franchise in the future.
Parlé Mag: Will you and Puma ever be cool again or have you washed your hands of the situation?
Ceaser: I’m not the type of person to say never, but for right now I can’t see myself doing that. We are in two different places in our lives. We are on two different paths. He still wants to be mad over dumb shit. I am a man at the end of the day. There is no reason to be mad at me ringing your doorbell, honestly. At the end of the day, I have a bad ass new business, and my fiancé is bad, so I have nothing to be worried or mad about.
Parlé Mag: You recently put up a post on Instagram where you referenced some situations going on with you and your daughter’s mother. How are things going on with that relationship and is it affecting the time you get with your child?
Ceaser: How can I say this, envy is a motherfucker. She is mad that I’m making it. She didn’t think I was going to do anything or make it. Now that I am where I am, she is never going to get over it. At the end of the day, she is the mother of my child, but she does the most. What pisses me off is that everyone in the community will paint me as a good man even outside of all the bullshit. When it comes to her, she still tries to paint me as some type of dead-beat dad. I have tried and still try to do the best I can for my daughter.
Black Ink 125 is located at 50 West 125th Street. You can stop by the shop or catch Cease, Dutch, O’Sh*t, Skyy and Teddy when the show returns to VH1.