Kat Von D: ‘I’m on fire for Jesus’
Last week, reality TV star, musician, and entrepreneur Kat Von D sat down with Blaze TV’s Allie Beth Stuckey to discuss her recent conversion to Christianity. The transcript below has been edited and condensed for clairity.
I was born in Mexico in 1982. My parents are missionary Christians from Argentina. At the time, my dad was on a mission in a very tiny pueblito in the middle of nowhere in Mexico called Montemorelos. It’s in the state of Nuevo Leon, which is about seven hours south of Texas. And he was building clinics in places that just didn’t have them.
My siblings and I lived in a literal third world country environment, and it was one of the most abundant times in our lives. I remember the floors in our house were just packed dirt. We had no running water, no electricity. And my first memory of Christmas was on those dirt floors, opening up a little homemade present that my parents got us. It was just an amazing time. Some of the best years of my childhood, and hopefully I can give something like that to my son in this crazy, wonky world we live in now.
We were brought up with God in our household. My parents were quite strict with that. I had a lot of questions as a kid, and I don’t think my parents were equipped with the answers. Like what the resurrection was. I did go to Bible studies as a child, and by my early teens I had read the Bible twice but without really understanding it. I remember going to church as a child, being bored out of my mind, and getting down on the floor with the tithe envelopes and the little pencils that were there and just drawing. One of the things I really want to be able to do with my son when he asks questions is not to respond with “that’s just what we believe” or “that’s what faith is.”
I ended up going astray in a way. It’s not that I went around thinking about it, saying, “I’m an atheist.” I just didn’t care.I discovered punk rock at a very early age. I don’t want to blame that for my decision to walk away from God. Because I think the same free-thinking [urge] to question everything is what actually brought me back to God.
I’ve heard a lot more inspiring testimony than my own. Mine isn’t that crazy. I was just searching for answers and meaning in the wrong places like most people do. I ran away when I was 14. I came back, and I had a mohawk. I had started getting tattooed. This was a shock to my poor parents. At the time there weren’t any TV shows that normalized tattoos; to my parents, the only people getting tattooed were gang members, prostitutes, or drug addicts. They really believed their child was possessed by a demon.
At one point my parents were pretty desperate to “fix” me. So they sent me off to a “school” that was essentially a lockdown facility. And there was a lot of abuse. I endured some mental abuse but thankfully avoided the physical abuse I saw others endure. I was there for about six months until I lied my way out. And then I was taken to a kind of transitional boarding school.
At about 16 or 17, I started drinking. Not for fun; it was probably to cope with some of the trauma. When I came back home, my parents and I both agreed I should move out; it just wasn’t good for any of us. By then I had started tattooing and was making good money for a teenager and living in San Bernardino, which is about an hour and a half from L.A.
I fell in love with tattooing. I really saw that as a calling. I was good at it. I was good at people. I was a good listener. And I was an artist. I jumped to another tattoo shop with more experienced artists, and then I made my way to Los Angeles. And from there I just got on TV.
I was never the type of person who wanted to be on TV to be famous. I just love tattooing. And I wanted to be a good representation of the industry. I first got on a show called “Miami Ink.” I was barely 21. At this point I was full-blown alcoholic. I was drinking all the time. I got introduced to drugs at that point, but I was functioning. Somehow I miraculously showed up to work every day, and I did a great job. It was a miserable experience. The other cast and I just didn’t get along. I signed the contract while I was drunk. I didn’t have a lawyer. I [ended up] signing away the rights to my name, my likeness, my art, and everything I created. To nullify that contract, I was offered “LA Ink,” and it opened up my shop in L.A., which I had for about 12 years.
I was a seeker. I wasn’t really actively pursuing any belief system. I just was sad. I was drinking, and I was trying to find answers in the wrong places. And it wasn’t until I got sober, which will be 17 years ago this July, that I really started wanting to fix myself. And that’s when I started getting into a lot of the New Age stuff and self-help books and a lot of meditation
I started learning about Transcendental Meditation. But it felt like patching a sinking ship with a Band-Aid. I would think, “This feels really good. And I’m so at peace.” I’d have anxiety at the airport, and I’d go into the bathroom and say my mantra and I’d be fine. But it was a crutch.
I’m not going to diss on the AA program, because it helps a lot of people. But when I got sober, I didn’t go to AA. I did read “The Big Book,” which I loved. And I still love that book. I think in general everybody would benefit from a 12-step program, doing your inventory and making amends and doing all that stuff. That was very helpful for me.
[In AA] they talk about having a higher power. And that’s the part where I’m like, “I feel like you’re missing the God part.” Because your higher power can be this cactus in the corner. It can be Ozzy Osbourne. Whereas for me, I’ve been sober for a long time, but I don’t feel like I was free from alcohol until I found God.
I kind of blame my husband for starting it. When the lockdowns happened, he said, “I think we got a lot of things wrong.” And he started showing me articles and some videos. And I started rethinking a lot of things that I thought were true, and it was the first step into questioning everything I had been doing. At the time BLM was going hard, I was in the middle of it [in Los Angeles]. I lived three doors down from the mayor. So we had Antifa in our front yard threatening people with Molotov cocktails and stuff like that. We were seeing things in real time. And they were much worse than what you saw on TV.
I started going down the list of what I was doing with my life and what my perspectives were. When I got to my spirituality, that’s where I started really rethinking a lot of things. A friend had sent me a sermon from Pastor Jack Hibbs. And I loved it. It really spoke to me and answered a lot of questions that I had At the time, my son was still a baby and I wasn’t going to church. But would we would watch the sermons every Sunday. And I just desired more and more and more, so I started studying the Bible.
[In 2020] I posted this post on Instagram where I just took a picture of a good chunk of these books from my library that I just wanted to get rid of. I don’t want to say that they were haunting me, but I knew they were there. Everybody honed in on the witchcraft books, but I also threw away all my meditation books and books on yoga. I prayed a lot before posting that. I spent time writing that caption because I knew I wanted to start being able to talk about where I’m at in life.
I came to this really awesome realization that night that I don’t want these crutches in my life any more. I just want Jesus, and it’s a very narrow, a narrow road, right? All these breathing techniques, or spell work or nature worship — they’re just crutches. They’re not really the answer. I would rather eliminate any distractions. It was a symbolic gesture, proclaiming where I stand. And it was crazy to watch the reaction in the comments. It was like demons hissing at each other. And it was coming from both sides. People who said “I don’t think Aleister Crowley’s evil” and then Christians attacking those people.
That night, two people came to my house. We lived in L.A. at the time and had a gated security system. I was upstairs with my son and the doorbell rang. My husband looked at the video screen, and it was this possessed person saying, “Hi, I don’t want to freak you out, but I just want to know if I could please have those books. I really need those books. I need those books.” And you could see the darkness in their eyes.
I think a lot of people, especially in the Christian community, call everything demonic. And I don’t think everything is demonic. But in this case, I think it was. This person was possessed and no longer in control of themselves. People get obsessed with fame or with the desire to bring certain evils into your life. My husband ushered him away, but then a second person came and tried to break into our trash cans [to find my books]. It was a very sobering moment for me. I realized I didn’t want to have anything to do with this any more.
I have a lot of friends who are into stuff like tarot cards. And I love them so much and think I have more empathy and understanding than the average person, because I’ve been there. But there’s always this drama and dread and doom and gloom. But I would look around at my Christian friends and think, “I want what you have.” They’re not perfect by any means, but I love the light they have.
I wasn’t born into a Baptist church. I’m seeking more traditionalism. When it comes to my worship, I don’t want to go to a concert. We all dress nice when we go to church. And that’s just our own personal thing, like, this is a sacred space. And I feel like other [churches] just didn’t really align with what I’m looking for. I feel like God just, like, spit me out on the doorsteps of the most perfect church for us. It’s a very small congregation. It’s a lot of old people. I have anxiety about being late. And so I got there too early and interrupted their prayer circle. And these people just stood up and embraced us. And they didn’t really care about who people think we are. They just said, “You’re the lady that bought the house down the street. And we’ve been praying for you.”
After I posted my baptism video, I saw a lot of sensationalized headlines. I was never in a cult. I was never a witch. I was definitely not a satanist. I know I look and dress like a villain. I’ve been documenting my life since I was 20. And I, this was one of the most important days of my life. I wanted to document it just like I would document my wedding and to share it with the world. Part of it for me was making amends with my followers, because for so many years I’ve been putting out a certain message. So to publicly proclaim this was me setting some things right.
I have no intention of cutting off my friends whom I don’t agree with. I don’t think Jesus would either. I got a lot of criticism from Christians after I posted that baptism video. I think that Christians, when you do that, you don’t realize how much harm you’re doing. Some of the comments were really cruel and annoyingly holier than thou. And I would look at some of them and say, “What is to be gained from this comment? Who does it help? Does it help me? Does it help all my other followers?”
[They said,] “Her hand wasn’t completely submerged.” So this is fake, or it doesn’t count. You have to be fully submerged. But I was holding on to Pastor Brian’s hands and I weigh 150 pounds and he’s an older gentleman. I was thankful he didn’t drop me. And then other people were like, she’s faking it. This is just for a PR stunt.
My dad plays a trumpet, and he ended up doing a trumpet version of “My Tribute” when I was in the back getting ready to go in the water. So I was already crying. And then I’m listening to Pastor Brian and the whole world disappeared, and I’m in this water with my pastor, and then he calls me a sister in Christ. The whole time I was just fighting tears. And somebody’s like, “Look, she’s just laughing the whole time. It’s fake.” And I was like, man, you know, you’re no fun.
I don’t watch horror movies any more. I just don’t want to get scared any more. But some of my favorite movies to this day are about exorcisms. And I reflect on that on in a biblical way. I see demonic possessions, especially in addiction and in the guy who came to my door that night. So when I do watch some of that stuff, I think about my faith, I don’t think, “Whoa, this is so great and gory.” People change. I’ve said some really cringey and awful things in my past interviews that I’m like, “Oh, I hope nobody ever looks at it.” Or even the books I’ve written in the past. I was a 20-year-old dumb kid; that’s not who I am any more. And so why would I turn away my friends who know where I stand on things and know that I will always be an open door if they have a question?
And so when people say things like, “Oh, how could you be friends with them?” It’s like, what do you think I should do? Should I just leave this guy with a bad [impression] of Christianity? I’m still gonna love my friends. I have friends who are prostitutes. I have friends who are drug addicts. I have friends who are going through really rough times or, you know, cheating on their spouses. But I have people who go through things and I pray for them just as much.
The one person whom I think about through all this is my husband. When we got together, we were both not Christian, and he’s really helped me find my way without knowing it. And he’s not necessarily on the same page, but he is very supportive. We go to church together every Sunday. But there’s parts of him that are still questioning. Hopefully one day he can come to me and say, hey, I’ve given my heart to Jesus. That hasn’t happened yet. And when you have an entire community of people attacking you, it turns people off.
If these [critics] genuinely cared about me or my husband, instead of picking us apart, I would hope that they would just pray for us instead. When you look at people, you just don’t understand what they’re going through. I remember tattooing a man who accidentally killed his only son. He got a portrait that was paying homage, and it’s like, how are you still here? I remember that day; I was pulling out of my tattoo shop and I saw him bandaged up and crossing the street to go back to his car. And I’m at the stoplight, and he’s just passing people, and the people who are passing him have no idea what this man is carrying right now. We just treat each other so poorly all the time.
I’m not going to dress [differently]. Nothing’s changing in that department. You have no idea how many DMs I got from other goth kids who are in the same boat I was. Saying, “I’m at this crossroad. And I want to go back to church, but I don’t have a church to go to,” or “I feel like an outcast even in my own family. I’m trying to make my way back to Jesus.”
I don’t think I’m a dark person [because] I wear dark clothes. I’m not scared of death. I talk about it all the time. I’ve tattooed portraits of dead people [for] their loved ones for decades. I’ve read every grieving book, every bereavement book, and I think death is something we should be able to talk about. When I see a skull, I don’t think, “That’s demonic.” But if it triggers you spiritually, then keep scrolling, or don’t listen to my music.
I was very lucky that I had parents who were Christian. I remember finding myself in very dark moments and intuitively praying. And it’s so much more meaningful and real when you fall in love as adult. I’m on fire for Jesus. The more I learn, the more excited I get about things and the more at ease I am about what’s happening in this world.
I don’t plan on talking about it too much. I feel like there are some people who have that gift. And some people can be quiet witnesses. And that’s me — I do better one-on-one with people. If somebody DMs me, or if someone on the street comes up to me, that’s totally cool. But I’m not going to be pounding on everybody’s front door.
If you would have known my heart and mind before, your mind would be blown. I’m the best wife and the best mother I can be now, because of the changes that I’ve had. It’s like a deprogramming that has taken place. My life before, I would have just been like this career boss babe or whatever it is that they call them. I have no interest in that any more. I love to be creative. And I love to have ideas and make them come to life with my mind and my hands. But my priorities have shifted.
Catch the full interview below:
Kat Von D’s Incredible Christian Transformation: Must-See Interview!
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