In·flu·ence: noun, verb
The capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others
Like it or not, love 'em or hate 'em, it's hard to deny the influence the Teutul family from American Chopper (AC) has made on not only the motorcycling community but across the globe. While other motorcycle "reality" television shows have come and gone and have definitely helped propel custom motorcycles and builders into the face of the general public, AC has been watched by millions of viewers domestically and internationally for almost a decade. And judging by the 2.8-million viewers (tvbythenumbers.com) who watched the season seven premiere of the show's latest rendition, American Chopper: Senior vs Junior in which Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. are competing for bike building business a mere 4 miles apart from one another, people are still very interested in what the feuding Teutul's are up to.
After being fired by his father from Orange County Choppers (OCC) in 2008 and bound by a one-year non-compete clause, Paul Jr. (Paulie) is back with a new shop, Paul Jr. Designs (PJD), a new attitude, and a new outlook on life. "My father firing me seemed bad at the time, but it was probably one of the best things that happened to me. It was freeing," Paulie commented during our phone interview. Paulie described the situation working at OCC as oppressive with his father constantly monitoring his comings and goings and his work progress, or non-progress as his father might argue.
"It's interesting because I feel like the look and feel of OCC comes from me in the sense of the inception. I designed the logo and was in charge of the look and feel of the entire company as well as all the motorcycles," Paulie stated. And while he may still have some ownership in the company (20 percent, as of this writing, for which his father is suing him) all the bikes he designed and built at OCC are locked away and inaccessible to him. So what better way to start off his new company than to build himself and the shop a bike?
Theme bikes have always been around; in fact doesn't every custom bike have some sort of theme to it whether it be snakes, fire, skulls, or barbed wire. But what Paulie and the other AC members have done over the years is taken theme bikes to a whole new level not only in style, but in the people who buy them as well. "Who would have ever thought that a company like Intel would buy a motorcycle," said Paulie. And while some might find the bikes kitschy or overdone, once again, you can't deny their influence as many builders have tried to emulate them in style and in name-how many (enter county name here) County Choppers have you heard of?-and thousands upon thousands of people have stood in line or traveled far and wide to see the original bikes. "People relate to theme bikes on a different level. They love the integration. You can grab people that wouldn't be interested in motorcycles with a theme bike. And not only that, it's ever-changing. I mean if we were building flat black motorcycles with the same engine and the same everything, we would have had one episode and we would have been done. But the theme keeps it interesting and keeps it changing," Paulie added.
One of the most popular-and Paulie's favorite bike that he built-was the Black Widow bike. "The Black Widow has been a fan favorite and a favorite of mine. But with the separation, I don't get to have any of those bikes. So I have to create a whole new set of bikes for myself and for my new company. As far as this Anti-Venom bike, it's my first bike as Paul Jr. Designs and it had to be something special and unique," Paulie stated.