Note: Bikernet.com asked for a piece on what I do during a typical custom bike show weekend. Here is an overview of the Long Beach. By Jeffrey Najar
My job is promoting companies in the Powersports Industry through promotions and publicity, as well as by producing custom bike shows.
In late 2014 I flew into LAX to produce the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show, which was installed down the center isle and on the red carpet of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. This was the 4th show in the 1tth show series.
I always look forward to coming out to the City of Angles because I stay at the Bikernet.com HQ in Wilmington, CA. I bring a bottle of single barrel Jack Daniels and sit down with Bandit and whoever-is-around at the end of the day to have a couple of shots, recap the day and fix the world’s problems.
This year I invited Edge Scheuer, the promoter for the Smoke Out Rally in Rockingham, NC, to come out to discuss a promotion with Indian Motorcycle®. At the same time, I wanted his participation in a 5-Ball Racing Leathers photo shoot. This shoot was carefully orchestrated by Lt. Ball, or Bandit as he is known around the Bikernet compound. He assigned me to direct the shoot.
It’s a kick that I get to work with people I enjoy. For example, I connected with Robert Pandya, the head PR Flack with Indian, and scored the “Spirit of Monroe”, a million dollar Indian streamliner, and “Elnora”, an Indian hot off the Cannonball cross-country adventure. These bikes were featured in our showcase in the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show, and were the first bikes seen as enthusiasts entered the International Motorcycle Show.
The custom bike show in Long Beach was a blast and jammed the entire three days. On Saturday, all the lots in Long Beach were packed with bikes and four-wheelers. The builders had fun and picked up on our mantra, “stand with your bikes and engage the audience,” making my job easier while getting their names out to custom bike enthusiasts.
Even if it’s running smooth, there is always some emergency to head off. One of our FreeStyle guys was blasting his sound system so loud that the OEMs around him complained! Show management asked him numerous times to turn it down, but I think his answer was to turn it up. On Sunday, management got me on the Bat Phone with the ultimatum,
“He turns it off or he rolls out.” After I returned from talking with him, upper management wanted to know what happened, and I said, “He gave me a hug and turned it off.”
It was just one of those weekends.
I’m glad he did, because a couple of hours later I awarded him a check for $1,000 for winning the FreeStyle class.
I enjoyed the honor of conducting the awards ceremony at the conclusion on Sunday, under clear skies and with anxious builders. We awarded $4,000 in cash and prizes. Bandit agreed to award the Bikernet Editor’s Choice Award. Because the bikes were so good this year he decided to add another award, the Bikernet Bagger Editor’s Choice Award to the mix.
Todd White took the Bikernet award for his KZ440 LTD hardtail Bobber, and Raul Machin’s Lifestyle Cycles-built 2012 Road Glide custom took the Bikernet Bagger award. Features for both are forthcoming behind Markus Cuff, the esteemed Bikernet.com official feature photographer.
In Long Beach, I was able to work on my photography skills. These new cameras are so sophisticated that I needed a 12-year-old with me to figure out the myriad of damn dials and commands. I fumbled for answers all weekend.
J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Results
J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Retro MOD Awards
- Dave McGovert – Purple Haze, 2010 Road Glide
- Sam Baldi – Lost Angel, 2013 Custom Build
J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Retro MOD Awards
- Casey Johnson, Headcase Kustom Art – Medusa, 1983 Ironhead Sportster
- Rich Nolan, Torch Ind. – Nickel Pan, Panhead
J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder MOD Custom Awards
- Samuel Jung San KAO – Ivory Comet, 1997 H-D Sportster
- Jim Carducci – SC3 Adventure, 2003 HD Sportster
For all the results, click here.
During the awards, our “Color Commentator” is Pat Jansen, the Progressive Insurance spokesperson. He comes up with wicked wisecracks and keeps the bros on edge. Speaking of edge, Edge enjoyed Pat’s off-handed banter so much he signed him up for Smoke Out 16’s announcing of the painted lady contest. Whatever he announces, we will be in stitches – or maybe it’s the white-lightening shots. He barked an announcement about a bike full of holes being reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi excuses. The crowd went crazy.
Progressive Insurance came up with a wild and nutty idea to promote their relationship with Pat, and it seems to have ended up torturing him to no end. They created thousands upon thousands of Pat bears… Small, cute and cuddly stuffed-bears with Pat embroidered on their left breast.
During dinner on Saturday night, I noticed that Pat was looking at his phone and sighing. I asked him what was going on, and he showed me a video of the Pat Bear pleasuring itself to some Latin music. He looked at me and said, “This happens all the time, it just never lets up.” It turned out a young lass from the show delighted in showing her affection.
A few minutes later his phone chimed and there was a text message with a picture of the bear smoking a cigarette. It’s the good life being a Z-listed celebrity.
Speaking of Z celebs, not only did we have Edge at our photo shoot, we also had the voice and face of 5-Ball Racing Leathers, Dumptruck. He has a Wolfman Jack voice and is the firm’s product endorser.
At the shoot we had a couple of A-listers too. Markus Cuff not only is certified by the Bikernet.com board of directors, but he is a regular contributor to “Hot Bike”, “American Iron”, “Tattoo Magazine”, “Easyriders”, the “HORSE”, and “Cycle Source”. Our knockout model, Imogen, is a tattoo model for Markus; she graces the covers of multiple magazines, domestic and abroad.
She rides her Sportster daily and models for Harley-Davidson. Her Frog shop on Melrose is hosting the wrap party for the Sons of Anarchy since her family of jewelers was commissioned to design the cast rings for the final season.
For the shoot, I connected with Heyjtle of Heyltje Rose Leather & Accessories to provide jewelry for the guys and Imogen. Heyjtle brought out some cool leather cuffs and pendants, and she assisted in setting the lifestyle vibe for the shoot. I thought the guys would give me push back on the jewelry, but they got into it. She designs jewelry for Roland Sands. Roland tossed a party on Saturday night, and we jammed to his shop in Westminster only to find out it rocked Melrose Blvd. in Hollywood.
I thought the shoot was going fairly well, but someone was hurting, because the smell of medical marijuana hit the scene about mid-afternoon.
Our shoot was broken into two campaigns, with the morning focused on the product features of the leather and the afternoon with Imogen. I would direct her to do something, and she would often laugh and say something like, “Are you kidding me? Are you serious?” Actually, I didn’t think I was suggesting anything out of the box.
She started to really get into it when I asked her if she would mind showing the gun pocket and handling a 6-shot snub nose 38. Her response was, “Fuck, yeah, let me have it.” So we had her spidering Dumptrck as he’s riding and she’s shooting. Then I had her sitting on the gas tank peeking over his shoulder and shooting. I got a lot of, “Are you serious?” comments during that portion of the shoot… I was going for a Sin City look, and I think we nailed it.
She broke up the tension too. In one shot she’s snaking her arm up and over Edge’s shoulder to grab the cell phone in his chest pocket (showing the utility of the IKE jacket with the different styles of pockets), and she whispers in his ear, “Who’s the bitch texting you?”.
Imogen is cool. After I found out about the family jewelry business, you’ll see the guys wearing more rings in the later photographs as I liberated the jewelry from her escorts. Her family runs The Great Frog in London, New York and Los Angeles.
The most dramatic shots came from Bandit. He looks “big daddy pimp” as he grabs up Imogen, positions her in a possessive way and puts his big paw of a hand resplendent with silver rings on her stomach. Definitely had the beauty and the beast feel to it.
There is a lot of fur running about at the HQ. There are two large black dogs, Cash and Tank, a cat, and a McCaw named Claude. Cash has a Jimmy Durante nose that he uses to great success in opening gates. He also points it like a missile and spears your balls. It’s great fun to see new arrivals at the compound.
The boys would often breeze in during the photo shoot. You’d hear “Cash, dammit, get out of here.” He’d leave and then 30 minutes later he’d be back, checking out the action. Claude can only say one word, which I can’t understand… must be in French. The activity of the shoot seemed to be a little too much for him as he spent a good 30 minutes screeching. He/she, we are not sure which, really needed the medicinal marijuana, if you ask me. But all in all, the critters fit into the cacophony of the event and added their stamp to the proceedings.
The riding pictures took the part of the day. Because it was getting dark at 4:30, we hustled to get out on the road. Even thugh the scoots were preped, we still had issues and got a few pics of leather and bikes.
On Wednesday morning at 3:30AM, Edge and I are running 80mph on the concrete arteries of LA and headed to LAX. During my previous 7 days in LA, I had presented four opportunities, completed two proposals, produced a bike show and a photo shoot, drank half a handle of Jack Daniels and ate some of the best damn Mexican food of my life.
At 4:15AM Edge leans over to an American Airline pilot on the transit bus we are sharing from Enterprise Car Rental to the airport terminal and sez, “I just closed the bar down and came right to the airport, you do the same?” The pilot first starts to talk about what he did, then switches in mid-sentence about alcohol and the 5 hour rule and then blah, blah, blah… It was so funny.
As I am writing this, the pilot gets on the intercom and says that we are dropping from 30,000 feet and we will arrive at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport in about 15 minutes. Once I land, I’m heading to bike shops to get them involved in our custom show. Before day’s end I’ve got to swing down to a special little French bakery on the wharf and pick up some éclairs that are the sweetest and lightest little pieces of love you have ever eaten. They are for my honey who often races through my dreams and lives too far away.