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Jesse James No Love Party

Written by  November 30, 2004

I could already tell it was going to be a one hell of a weekend. Flying to California from Kansas City for the first time since I moved to the proverbial Bible belt, and I’m looking for No Love and some Love. An oxymoron? Maybe, but on that weekend, I got to take in Jesse James No Love Party on Saturday, November 13 and Love Ride 21 on Sunday, November 14. So let’s start off with Jesse James’ anti-Love Ride party, or Open House, if you will. I attended the first No Love Party at West Coast Choppers and haven’t been back since. Not that it wasn’t any fun; just had other priorities, as I wasn’t involved with the media then. And now I return, anticipating the throngs of groupies at Jesse’s feet and the endless wannabes. It’s California ya know.

I met Jesse about ten years ago when he had a shop just north of LA Harley. Two of my friends; Coon & Mark, worked at LA Harley and Jesse enticed them away with visions of sugarplums and sick chopper building. Needless to say, it worked for a short time, but being young and dumb, both boys didn’t quite see Jesse’s vision and opted for other vises. Oh well. Jesse didn’t have any problems finding others to join his band of merry monster builders. And all of you, who have seen Jesse on the tele, know it’s either his way or the highway. Attitude is a must, or a given. Really, he just expects the same level of creativity and professionalism out of his troops that he puts on himself. Misunderstood? Perhaps; but aren’t most geniuses. Either you love him or hate him. And with most people who rise to such a pinnacle of success, there are always those who are jealous and talk a lot of smack about you.

A lot of great bike builders have come out of the land of California Uber Alis; like Arlen Ness, Chica, Russell Mitchell, Mitch Bergeron, Matt Hotch, Cole and Pat Foster and of course, Jesse James. Plus, I’m sure there are a few others I failed to mention, so get over it already. Jesse James has taken the chopper building arena to a new level and dominated it through creative marketing, unique vision and attitude. He created a logo that you immediately identify and associate with West Coast Choppers. Hell, you can even buy his swag at Kohl’s or the pawn shop down the street. And of course, everybody is copying his style. Is that business or is that stealing? Jesse would say the latter.

Well, for the party, Jesse went all out as expected, with plenty of cars, trucks, lowriders, bikes and even a boat. Entertainment ranged from the Starboyz and their insane bike stunts to the Carolina Crusher Monster Truck; smashing cars and Winnebagos. Jesse also lined up some great punk bands to play, such as Manic Hispanic, Smut Peddlers, D.I., Fu Manchu and Das Klown. You can find some of them on the soundtracks from his videos and Monster Garage, just to name a few. Listening to them play brought back the old days, hanging out in Hollyweird’s music scene and growing up in the communities of East Los Angeles, Pico Rivera, Montebello and Whittier. But I digress.

This party is open to all who dare to brave the Long Beach Police Department, their snipers on the rooftops, the traffic and the cavity searches. OK, there weren’t any cavity searches but there were large signs depicting all the weapons you couldn’t bring in, and everyone did have to empty pockets and submit to the wand of truth. There had been a few clashes at past parties and they were just making sure it would stick to “my fist your face” warfare. The only patch holders I saw were Mongols, and it looked like they were all there, which was probably a good thing seeing as some clubs just don’t play nice with each other. But much like everyone else, with all the cool rides and entertainment, how could you not have a good time.

I was lucky enough to run into one of my good friends, Kat, and her boyfriend Brad Dorfman, owner of Vision Street Wear. Brad introduced me around and got me access to the VIP section, which was nothing more than free burritos and beer. Right on! OK, so I’m easy to please. They just don’t make Mexican food in the Midwest like they do in California; sorry guys. Besides, it was FREE! And there was beer. Plus a few notables I caught a glimpse of, like Goldberg and Tyson, but sorry, no photos guys. The majority of the crowd was guys, so there was a definite and notable lack of the female species. So, like any red-blooded dog, I was on a hunt to sniff them out and capture their soul with my camera for your viewing pleasure. I spent at least an hour perched on top of one of the West Coast Choppers’ trailers; scowering the crowd with my lens; looking for the perfect shot. But alas, all the action was on the ground. So it was back to the VIP area for a refill.

Jesse recently opened himself up to the Internet and launched a couple live cameras and a plethora of goodies to those who spend the $19.95 (Basic) or $45.00 (VIP) to gain access to the site, complete with a recurring charge of $19.95 a month to watch him and his minions build sick shit, download photos, chat and so on. Naturally, my curiosity got the best of me and I had to join prior to my trip out there. The site is dubbed; Chopper Dogs, and the chat area on Jesse’s site is called Chopper F*ckers. I was lucky enough to meet a group of Chopper Dogs in the VIP area and discovered that they are a very sick and twisted group of individuals. Bottom line; my kind of people.

Jesse came out and invited all the Chopper Dogs into his new intersanctum a.k.a., his personal bike shop, for a tour and some Q & A. I took this as a real privilege; the only bummer is he asked that no photos be taken. So naturally, I just tagged along for the ride. After all, I was now a Chopper Dog. After about 45 minutes of just hanging out, Jesse announced “All right; who’s got a big head?,” at which time he opened a safe and took out several dozen hats, which he passed out to the Chopper Dogs and proceeded to sign. He also shared his latest work in progress. And if I told you, I’d have to kill you. Actually, Jesse would probably hunt me down and have Cisco tear my face off. With everyone stealing each other’s ideas these days, I have too much respect for him to squeal. Anyway, he was very accommodating and gracious with all in attendance.

I look forward to next year’s party and will maybe even get to interview Jesse. Thanks to Jesse and his staff for sharing and being so cool, and thanks to the Chopper Dogs for stalking me and not making me kiss Mangina (I’ll explain later). Also take note in the coming months that I will also be doing a separate follow up article on the Chopper Dogs themselves, and my trip to California for the party.

Story and photos by Wayne Thompson