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Rides Back Into N
Jesse James, the tattooed founder of West Coast Choppers, has won fame, money and movie star girlfriends by selling an outlaw bikerwithablowtorch image to the cubiclebound masses.
Mainstream folk know him as the star of the Discovery Channel series Monster Garage, a car makeover show in which James and company transform normal vehicles into bizarre fantasy machines. cities.
A West Coast Chopper is the bike you will buy when you win the lottery or your stock options are worth something. Until then, you will have to settle for a West Coast Chopper Tshirt or a copy of James new book, I Am Jesse James, which he will be signing Wednesday right here in Albuquerque.
Yes, you read that correctly. Jesse James will be in Albuquerque.
The city is one of just five on his tiny booksigning tour, and the smallest metropolis on the schedule. Why us?
Because Lindsay Lancaster, intrepid promotions director for the tiny North Valley store Bookworks, badgered James publisher relentlessly about him coming here. And because Albuquerque, James says, was a logical stop for a bluecollar man of the people like himself.
As proof of his regularguy status, James points to his clothes. I have on shoes and a shirt from WalMart right now, the 34yearold says.
Hes calling from Las Vegas, Nev., where he was doing voiceovers for a video game with skateboard god Tony Hawk.
James goes on to extol WalMarts low prices as populism in action, which will surprise all of those who see the mega discount store as the epitome of culturecrushing capitalism.
Theres an obvious contradiction here.
James bikes sell for between $80,000 and $150,000 each, and they sit beneath the butts of people who make more money in a minute than the average WalMart shopper makes in a month. Keanu Reeves has a West Coast Chopper; so do Kid Rock, Shaquille ONeal and James current girlfriend Sandra Bullock.
These are hardly the sort of folks who feed their dogs Ol Roy.
But James says the luxochoppers are only a tiny part of his empire. His shop in Long Beach, Calif., produces just 20 bikes a year which he says is hardly enough to pay the bills.
If all I did was build my bikes, I would have been out of business years ago, he says. Bikes are way too labor intensive.
The bulk of West Coast Choppers income, he says, comes from the motorcycle parts and custom kits his company makes. And those Tshirts.
All of which, James says, are in the financial reach of his beloved Regular People.
Any plans to make a West Coast Chopper bike for the WalMart crowd? Yeah, were going to put a lawnmower engine in it, he cracks. Wednesday.
You can buy a book in advance at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande NW. It will come with a numbered bookmark assigning you a place in line at the event.
Just so you know, James is not happy about the appearance at the Harley dealership.
Im antiestablishment. In my world, the Harley dealer and the Harley factory is establishment, he says. HarleyDavidsons demographic is 45yearold guys who can buy their bike with a credit card swipe.
James will speak and then sign copies of his book, a glossy coffee table tome which features photos of his bikes, buxom babes sprawled across his bikes, his tattoos, his pit bull, his shop and some text about his views on the world.