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Hi reddit, George Christie, Jr. here, former president of the Ventura Chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club during the 1970s, and here to answer your questions starting at 2:30PM EST. I spent three decades battling the law, rival gangs, and members of my own club. I’m currently on HISTORY’s Outlaw Chronicles which airs Tuesdays at 10/9c.
Ask me anything.
Proof it’s me: https://twitter.com/georgeFPC/status/642702884715409408
EDIT: Thanks everyone for some great questions, I gotta head out for now but this has been fun.
Looking back over the last almost half century of your life, what one incident would you most like to go back and change, and how would you have changed it?
I'd like to go back to 1977 at the Great Western Expo and somehow stop the conflict between the Hells Angels and the Mongols that is still raging to this day. I'd tell them to use dialogue instead of fists.
Do you regret being the president of an organization that trafficked drugs, women, and notorious for its violence?
Also. If you can change one thing about Hells Angels now, what would it be?
We never saw ourselves as gangs, we always perceived ourselves as clubs. I think there's been a breakdown in the whole honor of outlaw society.
I ride Harleys... I have Pans and Shovels...
I love old MC photos with dudes on these bikes.
Now when I see 1% clubs milling about, no one is on an old bike... You guys don't always need to evade the law. So what's up with all the new bikes?
You guys tired of adjusting pushrods and points? Keep the culture alive man...
There was a point in time that anyone in the outlaw bike culture had to have a custom bike. Bikes spoke their own languages. You could tell when someone was from San Diego or the Valley, and that is no more. Today, anyone can join these clubs, know nothing about bike and become a member. It might be time to get back to basics.
What's your take on the show Sons of Anarchy? How realistic a portrayal is it?
You have to remember that that show was a dramatic television presentation. The interesting thing about is that it really affected culture at large. We actually asked if jury members watched Sons of Anarchy at my jury selection, because of how widespread the show was across the country.
How have you made an honest living?
I had a concert promotion business, mail order t-shirt business, a tattoo shop, I had a bails bond company. Now I have a criminal consulting business, where I explain legal jargon on a more remedial level for clients.
I've heard you guys used to provide security for rockstars an shit occasionally; any good stories to share?
It's interesting you asked that because Mickey Rourke just texted me and it's his birthday.
One of my funniest stories is I picked up Jerry Garcia at LAX. I rented a car, went to pick him up, and people were all over the place waiting for him. He asked me to stop at a hardware store and pick up some black spray paint for the windows because he was afraid he was going to get mobbed.
It was quite a scene back in the day. I used to even get into philosophical discussions with Ken Kesey late at night.
Can you talk more about the honor you're referring to? How did it breakdown and when?
I think it's slowly been eroding since the 1960s. I see it becoming more judgmental and more confrontational. I think that's something that's been acceptable for free reading and free writing individuals.
But what do you guys actually think about the show? Is it entertaining to you guys?
I think Kurt Sutter stumbled upon something and captured the imagination of America. The show is entertainment, and it's a reflection of outlaw bike culture, but it's just a glimpse. It's not testimony. I think it had Shakespearean overtones and Kurt Sutter would be the first to admit that. I tip my hat to him.
Have you ever read Hunter S Thompson's book on the Hell's Angels? If so, what where your impressions.
I think that book was written from a satirist's point of view. He put himself into the story, and that's what make him such a great journalist. I think he represented a very particular type of writing that people just don't do anymore. I would encourage people to revisit his book now that they've had an insider look at the Hells Angels through Outlaw Chronicles.
Do you still have an Ol' Lady? Fictionalized accounts of MCs tend to show women from a more 'normal/mainstream' background ending up with club members. Is this the case at all? Also, are they considered property for the most part?
I have the utmost respect for women. My wife is by my side through everything, the mother of my children. And my oldest daughter is also my criminal lawyer and she's the best damn lawyer out there.
What's the most interesting thing you have witnessed since joining?
I think one of the most interesting things I've witness was the abuse of power by law enforcement not only to further careers, but interrupt activities of the various clubs. This was something I was directly affected by and saw over my 40 year tenure in the clubs.
Why did you decide to join the MC?
I had come out of the Marine Corps, bought a motorcycle around 1966 and I was exposed deeper and deeper into the outlaw world. I soon found myself living it on a daily basis. It wasn't an overnight transition.
Of all your years of riding, what was your favorite bike?
My 1942 ULH 80-inch flathead. It has a 1936 VL front end, high handlebars, all black, and a suicide shift. With the suicide shift, you had to take your left hand off the handlebars and raise your left leg off the kicker to shift gears.
What's the silliest thing you've ever done?
I think in the midsts of my power as a Hells Angel, I took my self rather seriously. I'm starting to take myself less seriously now, so maybe ask me that question in a couple years.
How do you feel about proessonals and people from the upper class buying a bike dressing up like outlaws on the weekends?
I had that conversation with Willie Davidson one time. Harley Davidson at one time never embraced outlaw culture, and in fact used to cringe when we walked into their shops, but then in the 80s changed their tune and started featuring it in their ads. Outlaws are part of American culture and people like to emulate that. There's nothing wrong with that. It's a big highway out there, there's room for everybody.
Hello sir and thanks for doing this AMA,
After the Vietnam War, did you notice an influx of veteran members and do you feel it was due to the country's treatment of them?
That was a very conflicted time in this country's history and I think there was a lot of people that came home that were confused or conflicted. I think a lot of veterans gravitated to the outlaw world. In fact, a club that was started was called the Vietnam Vets, it started small and spread across the US.
I was born and raised in Ventura and well aware of the HA presence in the downtown area even though it never seemed too obvious, however, right before I left for grad school I started noticing an increasing Vargos presence in Ventura county. Is this there/was there a turf shift?
What year was this?
Thanks for doing this. I've always been fascinated by Motorcycle Clubs.
What is your biggest regret from your time in the club?
On the flip side, what is your greatest memory?
Is there anything you'd do differently, if you had the chance to repeat it?
My greatest regret is not getting all the motorcycle clubs in the outlaw society to interact more and understand each other more.
My greatest memory was carrying the Olympic torch in the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles.
I wouldn't do anything differently. I've used each and every experience as a learning exercise.
The actual Hollister Riot was in 47 or 48 and no official Hells Angels were there. There were a bunch of other clubs there, some of which split later and became Hells Angels. To answer your other question, you have to understand there's a lot of people who aren't in bike culture that attend these events and an open line of communication is the best way to solve any problems.