CHOP­PER DUO BACK ON BIKE

Herald Sun - Hit - - COVER STORY - / COLIN VICK­ERY

Amer­i­can Chop­per’s Paul Teu­tul Sr and Paul Teu­tul Jr had one of the most no­to­ri­ous bust-ups in the his­tory of US tele­vi­sion.

In 2008 the frac­tious fa­ther­son re­la­tion­ship ex­ploded when an ar­gu­ment led to Paul Jr be­ing sacked from their mo­tor­cy­cle com­pany Orange County Chop­pers in New­burgh, New York. The hit re­al­ity show, which had aired since 2003, never re­cov­ered from the split and nei­ther did the Teu­tuls.

The pair have barely spo­ken in the decade since. Now they have agreed to re­unite for an

Amer­i­can Chop­per re­boot. “I had to be talked into it,” 69-year-old Teu­tul Sr says. “I was ap­proached quite a few times. The thing that scared me the most was what it (the orig­i­nal se­ries) did to the fam­ily and the re­la­tion­ship. It re­ally took me a while to come to terms with re­turn­ing, be­cause of that de­struc­tion.”

Dur­ing the past decade, Teu­tul Sr ex­panded Orange County Chop­pers to in­clude a shop, cafe, bowl­ing al­ley, restau­rant and show­room. That has led to eco­nomic strain.

Teu­tul Jr, 43 and mar­ried with a son, Hud­son, is also feel­ing the pinch at his own chop­per shop, Paul Jr De­signs.

The big ques­tion is whether re­vis­it­ing the show that broke them apart can now do the op­po­site and lead to a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Teu­tul Sr is hope­ful. “I think we were inch­ing our way up there, but this show made it a lit­tle bit quicker,” he says. “I do be­lieve we were the first real re­al­ity show. We were the pi­o­neers. If you watch a lot of them, it is fa­ther and son or mother and daugh­ter.

“It was def­i­nitely lifechang­ing. One day you’re an iron­worker and the next you’re do­ing a tele­vi­sion show. You can’t even fathom that in your mind. I didn’t even like to be in a pic­ture, never mind be­ing on tele­vi­sion. We were an overnight suc­cess and to adapt to that was pretty dif­fi­cult. All of a sud­den you have a cam­era crew fol­low­ing you all day and then you’re all over the world.”

As Amer­i­can Chop­per pro­gressed, the de­signs got wilder. The Lib­erty bike was plated with cop­per from the Statue of Lib­erty, there was the web-themed Ju­nior’s Dream bike, the Make-a-Wish bike with kids’ hand­prints, even an Aus­tralia-themed bike.

“We start with a con­cept but dur­ing the process as we’re fab­ri­cat­ing stuff, if it doesn’t look right we don’t do it,” Teu­tul Sr says. “Our au­di­ence is so big. I re­mem­ber kids that were five or six wait­ing in line for au­to­graphs and also a time when the first per­son in line was a lady close to 90. Some of those kids that were five or six years old are now 18, but they re­mem­ber the show.”

WATCH AMER­I­CAN CHOP­PER, Dis­cov­ery, Mon­day 7.30pm

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