Jesse James has been in the news quite a bit this week regarding his marriage to Sandra Bullock and his alleged infidelity. However, let's not let that cloud his accomplishments. Jesse James did something no one had done before him. He brought the custom motorcycle culture to the mainstream.
Jessse James can be described as many things: custom bike and car builder, producer, publisher, television host, and restaurateur. And yeah, he really is a descendant of the original outlaw. But he prefers to describe himself as "a glorified welder," is reluctant to talk about being a "celebrity" and doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.
Jesse started West Coast Choppers by doing what he loved: building motorcycles. From humble beginnings in his mom's garage, Jesse built his shop from the ground up with a lot of hard work, dedication, sheer determination and turned it into the phenomenon it is today. Every bike that rolls out of his shop in Long Beach has the distinct West Coast Choppers style customers are willing to wait years to throw down a pile of cash for. He only produces12-14 hand-built bikes a year, making a very long waiting list for one of his coveted custom machines. In doing so, his iconic iron cross logo is now recognized around the world.
In 2000, Jesse was the subject of The Discovery Channel's "Motorcycle Mania," which chronicled his everyday life as a custom motorcycle builder. Surprisingly, this behind-the-scenes look into his world became one of the highest rated shows in the network's history and "Motorcycle Mania II" and "III" soon followed. These immensely popular documentaries sparked a whole new genre of reality TV, and prompted the network to cast him in his own show, "Monster Garage." Week after week, eager fans watched Jesse convert ordinary vehicles into mind-blowing, purpose-built machines. From flying cars to lawn-mowing Mustangs, Jesse accomplished the impossible, all while producing, hosting, and establishing a loyal following that kept the international hit at the top of the ratings for six years!
Jesse then established "Payupsucker Productions," so that he could share some of the stories he wanted to tell. In his first released title, "History of the Chopper," he paid tribute to his bike-building heroes and, for the first time, shed light on some of the unsung heroes of Chopperdom: seldom-honored African American bike builders. Jesse then traveled to Iraq for a first-hand look inside the war and documented his experience in the feature "Iraq Confidential with Jesse James." This show highlighted the brave efforts of the mechanics who risk their lives everyday while doing their jobs. Both features aired on Discovery in 2006. Jesse is currently in production on his third feature titled, "Green Scream," an eco-friendly hydrogen car in which he will attempt to set the "clean" land speed record in 2008.
Another hat Jesse wears is that of publisher: in 2006, he took the reigns of GARAGE magazine and launched Payupsucker Publications to provide gearheads with a magazine that showcases the vitality of car culture in a high-quality, coffee-table, lifestyle magazine format. The magazine's approach is a gritty, insightful commentary on one of the most prolific aspects of pop culture. GARAGE magazine has fulfilled an unmet need in the marketplace, a title that focuses on the little-known personalities in the custom car/bike world.
After diving into the print world, Jesse focused on another one of his longtime dreams and opened a hip, family-friendly, old-school burger joint. In 2006, he bought a beleaguered little burger joint next to his shop in Long Beach, rebuilt it from the ground up and Cisco Burger was born [named after his beloved Pit Bull, Cisco]. Jesse's vision was to create an eco-friendly, healthy fast food experience, so every inch of Cisco Burger is environmentally friendly - even deliveries are made in a Prius (with WCC rims of course!)
When he's not letting sparks fly at his shop, Jesse pursues his passion: off-road desert racing. He and his team of builders have custom-designed and engineered a Trophy Truck in which he competes year-round alongside legendary racers. Even as a newcomer to the grueling Baja races, he has already proven himself as a formidable competitor.
So, of all these accomplishments, what is Jesse James most proud of? Two things '96 his children and the fact that his fan base is made up prominently of blue collar workers. Jesse has never lost sight of his roots, which is the reason why his West Coast Choppers brand has maintained such a loyal and passionate following. Jesse continues to stay true to his craft and creating unique works of rolling art. He contends that even if it was all gone tomorrow, he'd still be happy earning $25.00 an hour as a damn good welder!