GEORGE CHRISTIE HELLS ANGELES

Exclusive Interview With Ex-Hells Angels George Christie: The Man Beyond The Myth PART 1

george christie interview alice carbone

Ex-Hells Angels George Christie: An exclusive interview – PART 1

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Set aside everything you think you know about the myth of the outlaw motorcycle culture, for I am about to take you on a journey with Ex-Hells Angels president George Christie Jr., a man who is synonymous with myth, or used to be, or is trying not to be anymore, slowly walking towards the new life he has chosen for himself and his family.  Because we all make choices we must live with, while accepting the consequences and taking the responsibilities for our actions; then we make new ones, choices, in order to deal with those we have made in the past, to keep looking across.
I believe no other writer but Norman Mailer has ever described with the most accurate choice of words and metaphors the painstaking research into the depths of America’s need and hunger for the myth and the dangerous romance with it, violent and controversial at times.  He was covering the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in 1960; the myth was Kennedy back then, but Mailer was able to look beyond politics, and he saw how the psyche of this country had changed, especially after War World II.  He published one of his best essays, Superman Comes to the Supermarket, on the Esquire; it was November of 1960.  Today America is still starving for the hero; it is August, 2013.
Set aside everything you think you know about the Hells Angels and the motorcycle myth.  That is what I did, while sitting on a wooden bench with George Christie in a small coffee shop in the heart of Ventura, a town a few miles from Santa Barbara, where he has been the leader of the local Hells Angels Chapter from 1978 until 2011, when he decided it was time to retire and leave the life he had chosen for the past forty years. 
It is a sunny, windy day of August and he is exactly what I thought he would be.  Magnetic, a man who has been fought by life and who has fought life back with the weapons he thought were the most appropriate from time to time, yet, also seeking peace, whenever he got the chance to.  He is inked to the bone, with a mysterious book of history to reveal and a very secretive burden to share.  He does it at his own pace and with his own careful choice of words.  This is not the story of the most infamous motorcycle club in the history of America since 1948; this is not a quest about who the Hells Angels are and about what they do.  This is the story of a man, George Christie, the last American outlaw.
For those of you who don’t know who George Christie is, I am about to share with you – in two separate parts – the life of the founder and former president of the Hells Angels Ventura Chapter.  After Sonny Barger, George Christie has been for 35 years of service the most notorious Hells Angel in America and one of earliest Filthy Few.  Don’t get blurred by the idea of the average biker smelling beer and sweat, because he is the one man that became the new breed of outlaw.  A call for leadership, culture within the widest subjects of life, curiosity, his well mannered temperament together with a deep knowledge of the legal system enabled him to gain the status of Hells Angels spokesman, quite often saving the ass of many of his club members from a destiny that could have been much worse.
george christie interview alice carbone
I have never been a Hells Angels groupie, but while I was doing some research for my new novel, I had stumbled upon a 2005 documentary on the HAMC and Christie was in it.  That’s how this journay started; something had caught my attention.  It was the approach he had used when managing to sharply and elegantly avoiding the questions, yet giving away what he could about the club he still belonged to at that time.  There was truth in both his eyes and his words, yet a conflict and a struggle that I wanted to explore further and personally retrieve.  
I knew that Christie as the myth wanted him to be wasn’t the whole persona he was known for, and I knew there was more.  I was also aware of the The Last American Outlaw, a documentary on him, by the British filmmaker Nick Mead; the movie was about to be released and it was encountering many obstacles because of Christie’s latest indictment for alleged extortion, conspiracy and arson of two tattoo shops in Ventura, from back in 2007; crimes that he has always claimed never to have committed and that lead to a federal ordeal that has turned his life and that of his family into a nightmare.  That’s what I wanted; I wanted more, the story, the evolution, his concept of freedom and the fight for it from his own words.  I wanted to feel the adrenaline, my hands sweating and my heartbeat for something I had never done before.  I wanted to meet George Christie and I did, more than once, in Ventura, shortly after his court date, when he had finally felt free to talk.  
I did not yet know I would find much more than a long conversation, both as a writer and as a healing human being.  
Questions melted into answers and the journey took an unexpected turn, just like his documentary did.  This interview will hopefully be the written proof of it.
 
GEORGE CHRISTIE, PART 1
A.C. Let’s start from the very beginning, your childhood.  You are from Ventura, right?  What was your cultural background?
 
G. C. Yes, I was born here.  I’m an only child brought up in an old traditional Greek family; my culture and my lineage are all Greek.  I watched the Greek culture diminished by the generations passing on.  I watched it more or less deconstruct itself, which makes me sad sometimes.
 
A. C. What kind of kid were you?
 
G.C. I was very timid.  I wanted a brother or a sister that never came.  I was sensitive, really sensitive.  My parents were very protective, very loving, gentle, and as I got older the world kind of hit me in the face like a cream pie and I had a first taste of what an evil place it was.
 
A.C. I told him I would give him an explanation for why of this question.
When did you realize that you were different?  And by different I don’t mean in a negative way, just not ‘part of the crowd’ – because I realized that I was different very early and I was hit in the face pretty soon, so I started paying the consequences of it at a young age.
 
G.C. I think I realized I was different at an early age as well…
 
A.C. And by different I don’t mean bad…
 
G.C. No, absolutely, I would never consider myself bad, or evil or disobedient.  But I don’t think I really understood that I was different until I saw how cruel a young child could be.  See?  Now you are making me talk about things I don’t want to talk about, you are doing good!
I was overweight when I was a kid, and one of the things that really made me angry was that I was not accepted for my physical appearance; I became very determined and lost 100lbs when I hit high school.  All of a sudden I was accepted, I was a nice guy, I was the cool one and I was really angry about that.  I felt like they never saw who I really was.  I realized that they were all so shallow that my worth was measured against my perceived appearance.  
In my junior year of high school I really started acting up, and in addition to that I remember an event in particular; I was giving an IQ type of test, it was a four or five days of testing, when I got called into the principal office.  My mom and dad are sitting there with him, Mr. Johnson – I still remember his name.  They all start questioning me and by the time that meeting is over…I can still remember the anger; what they were questioning me about was where had I gotten the questions to the test and had I shared the questions with anybody else.  The truth was that I had just taken the test.  After a while I did convince them that I wasn’t lying, but what really did upset me was that they never apologized.
Graduating from high school for my family was like graduating from college for many other families; with that test I risked getting kicked out, that’s why I remember it.  My dad quit school to support us and it was really a big deal for him that I would graduate.  I left the room angry and that just kept building up to the resentment that I already had. I don’t know if I want to use the word aggression, because I wasn’t physical with people, but I found that I could push people’s buttons, and that’s what I started doing.  In a sense it was like a comedic war of attrition, if you will.  I started doing it with all of my teachers, some of my classmates, for I felt like I had to get even, somehow.
 
I could feel the discomfort in his words, and it was the right moment to share part of me, to get even, somehow.  Being that part of the conversation ‘on the record’, I am going to share it here as well; golden rule, never forget that.  
 
A.C. If it makes you feel better I remember the exact sweater I was wearing the day I walked into my classroom on the first day of high school.  I was overweight, too, and those kids started laughing at me.  They made fun of me for two years, until I started losing weight (eventually becoming bulimic.)  I remember names, too, one in particular that will never go away; a very tall and skinny guy.  I do remember anger, which I was able to let out only years later… but I know what you felt, believe me.
 
G.C. I know, you keep the anger inside…and I carried that anger in my later teenager years and early adult life.
 
A.C. Who were your music influences in those years?  You were born in 194…
 
G.C. 1947.  Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen above all.  Leonard Cohen is real, his poetry, his depth, his struggle; there’s nothing like his music.  But I have a great story about Dylan.  I was a kid and I went to Al’s House of Music in Camarillo; I went in there and ordered a Bob Dylan’s album; he made me pay for it in advance because he didn’t want to get stuck with that junk, to use his words.  This was way before Bob Dylan was really popular and I said: “C’mon Al, this is really good music!”  And that’s when he told me his story, claiming that Dylan didn’t know how to write a song.  He said to me: “I know how to write a song, have you ever heard the song Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette?  I wrote it with Tex Williams!” – I can still see Al, leaning over the counter with his white shirt, suspenders and sleeves rolled up, smoking his cigar, or a cigarette, I might be wrong – and telling me that Bob Dylan wasn’t a songwriter, while he was.  Poor Al, he is probably long gone, but I think about that often.  What if Bob Dylan had that conversation with Al at Al’s House of Music and quit songwriting forever, working for his father instead, in his hardware store.  I had the pleasure of spending half an hour with Dylan after one of concerts, thanks to my dear friend Mickey Rourke.  We talked about politics, solitary confinement as I had just spent a year in solitary; it was 2002 or 2003.  Dylan is quietly intense; this is the best way to describe him.
 
A.C. We are going to talk about solitary confinement later, but now let’s stay with your early years.  So, now you are an angry teenager. 
 
G.C. Yes, and I am a surfer.
 
A.C. A surfer before becoming a biker; I am impressed I must say, I would have never guessed.  I can’t really picture you on a board riding the waves. 
He shows me a street, California St. very close to where I am drinking black coffee and George an ice-tea mixed with lemonade.  We are just a few blocks from the ocean, on E Thompson.
 
G.C. I started when I was 14; I used to walk to this very place where we are here today and I would get a corn burrito and a coke.  Then we would go back to the ocean until the end of the day when my parents would pick me up.  This was way before I even had a license.  I surfed until it got so popular that I didn’t enjoy it anymore; surfers were rebels back in the 1960s.  They still are in a sense but everything has changed now, it’s a big business. 
One day a local surfer showed up to the beach on his Harley, his name was Bob Carlson.  He was a little bit older so everyone kind of idolized him and he was also a really excellent surfer; he surfed like Mickey Dora, Phil Edwards…I had a lot of respect for him.  One day he told me: “George, if you think surf is cool you gotta ride one of these!”  And I am looking at his chopper…so I got the bug of getting a motorcycle.  
My dad was completely against it, because he had had one; he had been in a couple of racks and didn’t want that for his son.  But I found a motorcycle for sale; it was a 1957 Panhead.  1957 is a special year for motorcycle enthusiasts because they have a special frame, called straight-leg frame.  So I got the motorcycle for 200 dollars.  It was 1966.  That was the cost for the whole bike.  The interesting thing is that now you can’t even get a bike service for that price.  
I recently went to the Harley store and priced a motorcycle; the one that I liked I think was 32.000 dollars.  Unfortunately I had to sell my bike to survive my recent legal ordeal.  I had been out of touch with reality for such a long time because I had never bought a new bike.  32.000 dollars is almost a down payment on a house for a lot of people, or a whole year of salary; it’s almost perverse, I felt dirty when I walked out of those doors…
 
He doesn’t hide the wistful smile of a man who misses his motorcycle and the road; not the expensive Harley that costs 32.000 dollars, but the one that gets his hands filthy with lubricant and grease.
 
A.C. Did you know about the Hells Angels back then?
 
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G.C. I did know about the Hells Angels, because the guy who took me to get the bike was a former Hells Angel; his name was Leon and he worked with me at the phone company where I was working at.  He kind of took me under his wing; but it was a very different world back then, it was a very esoteric world I would dare, you couldn’t buy custom parts.  You go to a Harley shop today and you can buy whatever you want; back then you couldn’t do that, you had to make them, and you could actually define where people were coming from by their motorcycle, for there were only few custom artists around, like Von Dutch and Dean Lanza (Lanza is the one who made Peter Fonda’s Bike in The Wild Angels).  But in this area, Ventura, there was a guy named Dick Woogie Woods; he is the one who started the motorcycle club called The Question Marks and they were the 1% biker club I soon started hanging around with, together with the Satan Slaves.  We are in the late 1960s. 
In 1965 I had started going out to a place called The Barn, in Somis, California.  The Barn was where Mr. Brooker – who owed Movieland Cars of the Stars – kept all of his vehicles.  What he had there was a movie rental business of cars, motorcycles, signs, telephone boots etc.  Dick Woods maintained all the things in that garage and in his off-hours he would build custom motorcycles, that’s how I got dragged there, to watch this man building motorcycles.  All the Question Mark riders would hang out there, exactly where I happened to be, and I was just a kid back then, a wannabe guy.  They were a real 1% club, outlaws; they were going to meetings and people started to join the club and what happened is that it evolved into what then became the Hells Angels, the dominant force here in the West Coast.  But they were a springboard for that culture, as many Question Marks became Hells Angels.  Unfortunately Dick Woods got stabbed and became partially paralyzed.  He ultimately moved away, up in the Sonora Mountains, in Arizona and became a recluse.  I would go visit him with another close friend of mine and since he couldn’t build motorcycles anymore he was making little automobiles. 
 
A.C. What happened to him?
 
G.C. It wasn’t an accident; it was an attack.  Another motorcycle club had stolen one of the Question Marks’ bikes.  We tried to retrieve it and we got the bike back, but Dick got there later than he should have, and he walked in the back thinking that we were still all in the front.  He was stabbed in the back in several parts of the spinal chord.  That’s when Von Dutch took over for Dick Woods at The Barn.  Hadn’t Dick been injured he would have the same notoriety of Dutch; he was an unbelievable craftsman, a modern day Da Vinci, trust me!  Sorry for talking so much and taking the long way around, I am getting off track, I know.
 
At this point I had understood I would be publishing his story in two chapters, and for the first time I had silently, yet bravely considered the idea of asking the rights to write his biography, with no limit of time, something that he was kind enough to grant me in a generous amount.  
 
A.C. Don’t worry, I could listen for hours.  So, is that why you chose to become an Hells Angel? Because of your anger building up? Because it is a choice, right?
 
G.C. Yes, a very conscious choice that I took.  Some people run away and join the circus; I ran away and joined the Hells Angels, and let me tell you, I helped cultivating the image.  I was there for forty years.  Some of my former associates are not happy with me because of my departure; I don’t want to use the word betrayal because it’s a very strong term, but I believe they feel like I have abandoned them.  I don’t think they understand that some people would like to re-write history, but when you start to re-write history you become part of the hypocrisy that you rebelled against initially.  One of the things that I have always liked about the motorcycle culture is that there’s always been lot of honesty and sometimes so much honesty that it became physical; people liked to hear what people had to say to each other.  I am not a violent person but I thought that it would be so much better not to wonder what somebody was thinking and to actually know what they were thinking instead; they are not afraid to tell you.  That’s what attracted me the most to that life.  I have been asked why I have joined the Hells Angels; I was angry about something, but now I can’t remember what I was angry about.  There are a lot of things that aggravated me in the past in which I find actually humor now…I am not angry anymore.  Does it make any sense to you?
 
I tell him that it gives me hope, the dissolution of anger.  We both laugh, as we understand each other; there is a reason why I have decided to talk to him, and not to another biker.  His eyes are rarely on anything else but the conversation, my eyes.  The only time when they turn the attention somewhere else is when one of the many motorcycles drives by, for the roar distracts him for a second.  “Damn motorcycles” – he says with a smile on his face, because George Christie does smile, and he does it with his eyes, not with his mouth.
 
G.C. But don’t get me wrong, I can rise to the occasion, if I have to; that’s just not a place where I want to go. 
 
George got closer and closer to biker culture by working in a motorcycle shop and by learning the fine art of motor-building with real old-school guys. – They had me buy every bearing that would go into the motor – he tells me, going into every single detail and making sure I would get to the end of ‘Day 1’ of our encounter with a better knowledge of it. – A lot of these things I am telling you, only motorcycle enthusiasts would understand. – I am quite happy he is sharing this as well. – You need to know that in the 1970s you couldn’t buy a stroke motor, you had to make one. – He goes into way too many details for me to share with you here, but trust me, I have researched every single step and technical term, for my personal culture and to understand how today you can call S&S Cycle and ask for an 80-inch high-performance motor. – People were very secretive back then on how to do those things; you had to figure it out.  I have built an 84-inch from scratch and I had to figure out how to change the oiling, the pistons; I had to make sure the valves weren’t hitting the piston tops; nobody would tell me those things, you would discover them by accident.  These guys were not outlaws, they were straight motorcycle guys.  John Gale and Lee Stanley do like George but they start to see a transition in him because he wants to do things his way, and they start raising their eyebrows.  For example – he continues – there was no way old man Gale would put a non-original motor on a bike, and he would call me a cowboy when I was trying to get around with it.  George Christie is 20 years old, he is tasting the water, he is starting to experiment life, the life of an outlaw.
 
G.C. “Do you know what I think about these people?” – My dad said to me.
They like motorcycles like me. – George tells his dad.
“You better think real hard, buddy boy” – His father urges George, pointing his finger at him.
 
G.C. When my dad pointed his finger at me he would always hurt me.  He was a very gentle man, never struck me, but would hurt my feelings with that finger.
 
George remembers everything; today he still lives in the same house where both his parents and grandparents used to live, like a good old-school Greek.  George starts hanging out with the Question Marks and with the Satan Slaves.  It’s 1967 and Hunter Thompson’s Hell’s Angels: The Strange And Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs has been published. George reads the book of course.
 
A.C. What do you think about Thompson’s Hell’s Angels?  I love him as a writer, but the opinions on the truth are quite controversial, he got very intimate with the club, almost liked for a while, until the very end, the infamous beating…what’s your take on it?
 
G.C. He is a terrific writer, yes.  I was actually on a History Channel show with him and producer Mike Mason.  But listen, without mentioning their names; I think that Hunter Thompson was a really smart guy; he came around to write a story, he almost got too close to the people he was observing and he liked it; you are a writer, I am sure you can understand what I am talking about.  I think that ultimately he developed a dilemma; he didn’t know how to end his book.  If he had done what he had set out to do, the novel wouldn’t have been what he wanted it to be, so he incited an ass-kicking; I thought the whole thing was satire, a very cool one. 
But after reading the book I started meeting all those guys like Smacky Jack, the guy that was pulling people’s teeth out; they were icons. 
 
A.C. How did you meet those guys?  Was it easy back in those days?
 
G.C. It was easy when you showed up on a motorcycle and risked to get your ass kicked.  I want to tell you a story about Smacky Jack, David Mann and the Tecote Run. 
 
If you are not familiar with it, the painting is a famous artwork by David Mann with the Mexican city of Tecote on fire, and hundreds of motorcycles riding through it.
 
G.C. I am sitting next to Smacky Jack; I am sober but higher than a kite just because I am there listening to him telling stories.  You must always keep in mind that we are in those early years of the esoteric culture of motorcycle outlaws, everything is big and secretive and we are young.  George – Jack says – the Tecote poster is bullshit.  It looks like we burned down the whole town; we only burned one street down.  Wait, you know what?  That town was one street!  At that time for me nothing could top that.  A lot of people will get mad at me for revealing these things, for sharing with you.  But I don’t care, this is history and people need to know.
 
A.C. So you came into the Hells Angels with your eyes wide open about who they were.
 
G.C. Of course I did.  I had been warned by my own dad!
 
He mentions his archenemy and asks me if I know who is he talking about; I tell him I do, yet I don’t mention the name, the big one, for I believe we will touch the subject later in our talk, Round 2; I am not here for the gossip after all.  You can easily do your own research, certain topics are delicate and you must be careful with how you decide to approach them, if you do.  I ask him how he became the myth.  As I have explained in my introduction, George Christie evolved into a new breed of biker outlaw, because of his charm, because of his intelligence, his culture, his vision for a different future of the outlaw culture, possibly, something that not everybody agreed on.
 
A.C. Something is different about you George. 
 
G.C. Yes, and some Hells Angels didn’t appreciate it.  I try to keep it real.  As a leader you have periods of time when people rally around you, when you are the driving force; then you have others when they try to undermine you.  It’s a play that is being shown every day, just look at Washington, at politicians.  Some people would think that it’s ironic that I would make that comparison, but there’s a lot of politics in every culture; the power struggle, the moment of grace, the defeat, the decline and then the rise again; somehow I was able to keep that going for forty years.  
 
A.C. When did you envision it?
 
G.C. Every leader has to have a vision, but if you are a good leader the vision evolves while you are living it; life is fluid and the vision must be as well.  You can envision A, B, C, and D, but trust me, someone is going to throw a Z in the middle of that equation and you better be ready to deal with it.   And it’s also important to have an open mind; you want your people to rally behind you, for people to hold you up.  I don’t know how I did it, staying fluid has helped me to walk through that kind of world, for sure.
 
A.C. Did you have anyone you looked up to, who helped and inspired you to set this enormous difference between you and the rest of the Hells Angels?
 
G.C. My heroes were many and I think it helped me in moving forward.  I didn’t just idolized one person; I read about all these different individuals, Paramahansa Yogananda, Che Guevara, Ghandi, Churchill, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo…how many years have they chased him for?  But you are embarrassing me, you are putting me too high up, and I don’t want to fall; I don’t perceive myself as someone so different…
 
A.C. No, don’t flatter yourself.  I don’t compliment people with cheap words; I don’t care, it’s not my task here.  But this is history, I did my homework and I know about your work over the years.  You became the spokesman for the club because you managed to use your brain and your temperament, call it manners or fiber, but you know that you were different.
 
G.C. Yes, intentionally.
 
A.C. So, it is a fact.  I am not trying to adulate you or glorify your past.  It was just a gentle approach I was using to get deeper into your Hells Angels life, to understand how you became the president of the Ventura Chapter so early in your career, and how you evolved into being the man you are today.  Because there’s something about your way of thinking…something that you have managed to master, that you have been willing to commit yourself to.  You have sacrificed your life for it.  I need to know more, George before we move on to the next step.
 
george christie interview alice carbone

G.C. You are absolutely right.  It was a sacrifice.  I did sacrifice my whole life for it.  I’ll start with a story that can be a good example.  There’s a rival bike club in the East Coast we had serious issues with, over the years.  One of the things I thought was interesting was that throughout the many travels with my own bike club, nobody remembered why we were fighting them.  I would ask, and nobody seemed to know.  I made it a point to reach out to them and I actually showed up to where they were, by myself.  Their leader, Harry ‘Taco’ Bowman, who is now serving a life sentence for murdering, racketeering and an additional ten years because twenty years later he tried to have me assassinated, right here in Ventura, asked me what the hell was I doing there.  It was an insane thing to do.  ‘I came here to talk to you – I told him – I have been talking to my guys and nobody knows why we are fighting.  Do you guys know why are we fighting?’  There were probably thirty members of his club, and I walked in there alone.  He looked at me and asked me if I was fucking crazy.  I wanted an answer to that question and I told him that had I lived in Chicago, there was no doubt in my mind I would be part of his club and had he lived in California, he would be part of mine.  I gave him my phone number; I just wanted him to think about what I had just said.  I thought it was time to end that war, and I took off. 
Here’s a funny story with Harry; a few months later we are walking and he reaches into his pocket to pull out a cigarette.  His bracelet gets caught to his gun that falls on the ground.  There are people from both sides that day, for we are having a peace summit; everybody stops, tension is tremendously high.  I look at him: ‘Hey, I didn’t know we were bringing guns.’ ‘That is not for you George’.  He just says, picking it up with two fingers and putting it back into his pocket.  See? I tried, but unfortunately change is hard for a lot people.  It’s the hardest thing that I have gotten to understand in this life.  It’s like the old tree, if you don’t bend a little bit, ultimately you are going to break; your branches are going to break.  Later Harry was receiving too much pressure and peace never came.  Some enemies are useful to hide real agendas.  Anybody who is a leader, in any field, politics, science, the Marines, a bike club, and has the opportunity to nurture a long-lasting peace, to resolve a conflict and doesn’t do it, he is not much of a leader. 
 
A.C. When did you get your first patch?
 
G.C. 1976 and then I have founded the Ventura Chapter in 1978; but I became the president of the Los Angeles Charter six months after getting into the club, in 1977.
 
A.C. So you were not at the Altamont Concert for the Rolling Stones like many are claiming on the Internet these days, trying to identify you in a very popular photo?
 
G.C. No, I wasn’t part of the club in 1969, but the guy with the mask that they are trying to identify was actually a very good friend of mine, he helped starting the Ventura Chapter.
 
A.C. Isn’t it rare?  Such a rapid ascension to power?
 
G.C. Maybe, I don’t know.  I have been thinking about the past quite a lot recently, while writing my book; I wrote a fiction book when I was under house arrest, in 2011.  I thought a lot about what the motorcycle culture used to be in those early days when I started.  It was a very closed culture; for example, you couldn’t wear a vest if you were not part of a club or prospecting for a bike club, they would take it away from you, it was really a big deal, a full time job; it meant everything, today it’s a style.  Back in those days when outlaw motorcycle clubs would go into a Harley shop they would cringe, they didn’t want us in there.  Now they have embraced the look, the mystique; they cultivated the leather jacket cult and have a Harley club that you can join.  Basically you can buy one of their vests at the Harley shop, pay a fee every year and have a logo on your back.  The one thing they shied away from now they have embraced it, because they make a lot of money out of it.  
 
A.C. What’s your novel about?
 
G.C. It’s the story of a guy that gets into the Marines and when he leaves goes back into his motorcycle club and picks up where he has left off.  He is trying to promote peace within the motorcycle culture but every road he goes down, the government tries to get him to incite a war, for they are trying to end the motorcycle culture. 
 
A.C. It sounds very personal.  So, you become big in the Hells Angels.  You become so big that during the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games of 1984 you carry the Olympic Torch in Ventura representing the club.
 
G.C. Do you want to know why we did that?  We did it because the Feds said that we were going to disrupt the Olympics, that we were going to supply weapons to terrorists, especially the Ventura Hells Angels, in the location of Lake Casitas, where some of the water games were held.  The interesting thing is that they misjudged how integrated in the community we were.  We had come here in 1978 and really became part of Ventura; when the ATF came into town they started doing a character assassination to try to discredit us.  I had started getting calls from many businessmen visited by the ATF showing pictures of myself and my club members.  In order to fight those ludicrous statements we decided to embrace the Olympics and we got involved.  The irony is that their program of misinformation to the community drew us in, and made us the ‘All American Boys.’  We backfired on them.  I don’t know if you are aware of this, but several months after the games and all the good publicity that we got, I made a cavalier statement to the media; there was only one incident during the Los Angeles Olympic Games of 1984; it’s come and gone and people don’t think of it anymore.  The one arrest was of an L.A. County Sheriff who planned a bomb and then discovered it in effort to make himself a hero.  Not everyone liked my statement and our involvement.  Someone threw a hand grenade into the clubhouse not too long after that, and I have accused the law enforcements.  The spoon on the hand grenade came from an armory in Akron, Ohio, I believe – not 100%, but pretty sure.  The ATF unit that had said all those negative things about us was from Ohio.  Now, what’s interesting is that after the grenade comes into the clubhouse, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided us, two days later, proving that we had heavy weapons to protect ourselves from the attack.
 
Our conversation is interrupted by a middle aged man who recognizes George and who invites him to a local motorcycle event; he is very polite and almost afraid to bother us.  The man, dressed all in white probably doesn’t know that George resigned from the club in 2011, for he kindly offers a boot for the Hells Angels to sell their t-shirts and merchandise.  We both smile, dressed all in dark; we have a sip and continue the journey through history that you will be able to read on Saturday, September 7.  George and I will get deeper into why he left the Hells Angels, we will talk politics, freedom, prison, his forthcoming documentary and so much more that will make a lot of people talk. DON’T MISS IT. 
 
 
 
 

Photos are courtesy of James A. Golff.  A special thanks to James for co-operating with me throughout the entire long process, in what was for him and George a rough and stressful time.  Thank you for making this project possible.