Even as another celebrity chopper builder's name is metaphorically engraved on the tombstone of failed businesses, (OCC files for bankruptcy) a west coast icon signals his intention to resurrect his brand as a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Jesse James, the man who embraced and fostered the chopper building media hype before anyone else, has told Cyril Huze, (bike builder turned blogger) that he intends to restart his dormant brand West Coast Choppers.
WCC was, in its heyday, the brand that inspired legions of backyard/garage custom bike builders. It's founder, Jesse James, who identified himself as a "glorified wielder" transcended motorcycle building to become a Hollywood celebrity in his own right.
But fame and fortune took its toll on James, who divorced his first wife, Karla just as his television career and bike building business was exploding. In 2002 James married stripper/porn star Janine Lindemulder on Discovery's Motorcycle Mania 3. ( James had previously starred in Motorcycle Mania 1 & 2 which helped jump-start his television career.)
After a short and tumultuous marriage to Lindemulder, (she reportedly hit James in the back of the head with a flowerpot, and attacked him with a metal sculpture and had attempted to run him over with a vehicle) James filed for divorce in May 2003.
Just over 2 years later (2005) James seemed to be on the high road. He was appearing / starring in Discovery Channels mega hit, Monster Garage and he met and later married A-list actress Sandra Bullock. During this time James appeared on the second season of Celebrity Apprentice, and starred in Jesse James is a Dead Man (on Spike TV) which drew the largest audience for an unscripted (reality) based television show with 2 million viewers. He also started a burger stand next door to WCC headquarters called Cisco Burgers. (now closed)
Ironically the last chopper building shows James appeared in also featured Orange County Choppers father and son duo the Teutuls. The merchandising division of OCC recently filed for bankruptcy protection.
In 5 short years, James personal life again unraveled when it was revealed the builder had an affair with Kat Von D, and he and Bullock split. James was villified in the mainstream media for the sleazy affair.
James also had an expensive legal battle with CARB, (California Air Resources Board) over emissions. CARB claimed WCC built bikes that violated the states clean air laws between 1998 and 2005. The suit cost James over a quarter of a million dollars in fines.
But, despite all the negative publicity, or perhaps because of it, hard core Jesse James fans still love him.
West Coast Choppers has a new website, which clicks through to http://www.givemoneygetstuff.com/which consists of just merchandise, no motorcycle parts, at least not yet.
Jesse told blogger Cyril Huze, that he wasn't looking to rebuild his motorcycle parts empire. but was "offering exclusive parts, accessories and biker wear he can deliver without huge back orders.....and keeping time for himself to build bikes or whatever goes through his mind to design parts, to ride with friends, to travel to a few select shows just for pleasure not for professional obligations...."
What do you think? Will WCC and Jesse James be able to claw it's way back to the top of the custom bike building heap? Give us your opinion in the poll below.