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20 Behind The Scenes Facts Every American Chopper Fan Must Know

After five years away, the Teutel’s are coming back on the air later this year. Filming is already underway as Sr., Mikey, and Jr. make custom motorcycles for the biggest clients in the world.

We don’t know if the tempers have cooled or if they will once again get out of control when the cameras are on, but it should be very interesting to see how things play out on the new show. Part of the draw to the original show was all of the heated explosions between family members. If that is not part of the new show there might not be a lot of enticement to the general public to tune in, especially after you read the rest of this piece.

For those of you who don’t know, it turns out that the Teutel’s are not very good people. At the very least they aren’t people that you or your children should be looking up to. You are about to learn a bunch of stuff about them that you may not have known before, and when you are done reading this, I promise you’ll see them in a brand new light.

Did you know that the family stole an idea from a wheelchair bound man with polio? It certainly looks like they did. Did you also know that Paul Sr. was sued for running a Ponzi scheme? The lawsuits say that he actually did. Did you know that Paul Sr. has been sued multiple times because of his less than honest ways of doing business? Read on and learn all about what stand up guys they are!

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20 Junior Still Pulled In High Profile Work After Being Let Go

via Twitter

After American Chopper met its demise on the small screen, a lot of things changed. One thing that didn’t change, though, was that Paul Teutel Jr. kept pulling in a lot of very high profile jobs while working on his own. He didn’t have much of a choice but to branch out on his own after his dad fired him from the show, but he clearly made the best of it.

One of the big projects he worked on was a pair of bikes for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Out of the Shadows. He did the project without coming up with an art design ahead of time because that’s how he likes to do things. This makes the project that much more impressive. Junior said that Director Michael Bay wanted a design for just one bike, but decided to let the designer do things how he wanted to and it led to a second bike being added. "They never do anything without drawings, but they trusted me and my process. (Bay) liked it so much he asked for a second bike."

It just goes to show you that being canned by your dad isn’t the end of the world. Sure, it’s got to do some damage to the ego, but it looks like Junior came out just fine after all was said and done.

19 Murphy's Law At The New Shop

via Corvette Forum

When you get fired by your own dad things can be a little depressing. What can make them even more depressing is when you can’t work or continue doing what you love. Paul Teutel Jr. had a non-compete clause for an entire year that he had to honor after his dad gave him the boot.

He had plenty of time to plan out his new business venture and all appeared to be beautiful when things got underway. Nothing however, can prepare you to have someone die at your brand new office.

The roof was undergoing some repairs, so the building’s owner hired a local contractor to do the work. During the work, a local twenty-six year old man fell through the roof to his death. It’s important to note that he did not work for Teutel Jr. nor did he have anything to do with him at all. He was employed by the contractor that was hired by the building’s owner. Still, Teutel felt horrible about the accident. "This was a tragic accident and, although I've never met this man, my deepest condolences and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Starting a new business is hard work. It’s even harder when you have to deal with a death in the building a few months after opening your doors.

18 Always Hitting The Sauce

via eBay

Everyone knows that the life of a hard core biker comes with a lot of questionable decisions. This is not to say that everyone who rides a bike is a heavy duty partier because that is simply not true. However, there is a certain stereotype that comes with it, and there are plenty who do everything they can to live up to it. Paul Teutel Sr. is one of those who gave it his best shot.

He ran the streets and bars for a good long fifteen years and suffered from a very real alcohol and drug addiction for most of that time. In 1985, his wife talked him into going into rehab and getting cleaned up and it seems to have worked. There don’t seem to be any signs of this type of extreme behavior anymore.

Sr. talked about it in his book The Ride of a Lifetime when he said "Somehow, she talked me into going into rehab, something I thought I'd never do. But I wanted to have one last good drunk. So the day before I was set to go into rehab, I got totally plastered. I drank a half-gallon of wine, a pint of brandy, and I took six Valiums."

17 Paul Sr. Is Alive

via Pinterest

When things go bad for a public figure, they tend to go very bad. One thing leads to another, and then another, and before they know it, things can get completely out of hand. In many cases this can happen without the person even having anything to do with it. This was the case in 2016 when the rumor started that Paul Sr. had been killed in a motorcycle accident. First there was a report, then another, and then another, and it spiraled out of control until Orange County Choppers finally had to issue a statement confirming that Senior was alive and well.

On April 18, 2016 the website Snopes.com reported that a website called Iron Demons reported the death of Paul Sr. but what they had done was doctored a real motorcycle death to fit their needs. A man had died in a bike crash in Louisiana and the website used the original article and changed the facts and names to suit their needs. It was a very distasteful thing to do and the public was obviously devastated by the tragic news.

Thankfully it was all just a hoax, and Senior is still with us and will be on the new show coming later this year.

16 Sr. Didn’t Attend Jr.’s Wedding

via Scribol

When a family tiff is taking center stage in any type of family setting, lots of things and people suffer from it. The Teutel family is no different in this scenario, but unlike most of us, their battles were very well documented and publicized. That can’t help matters at all.

When Junior left Orange County Choppers, he took with him a beautiful model by the name of Rachael Biester. She had done some work on the show and when they met they were an instant hit.

They were such a popular couple that they appeared on many other shows on the TLC network including Say Yes to the Dress and Cake Boss. The public just couldn’t get enough of them and they drew a crowd wherever they went. Even the wedding got more press coverage than the normal union does.

The wedding was an extravagant affair and there were plenty of high profile people in attendance. One very import figure was missing however; Junior’s dad, Paul Teutel Sr. Father and son were in the middle of a heated court battle after Jr. was fired and they were fighting it out over Jr’s stake in the company.

Paul Sr. decided not to go to his son’s wedding, even though he was invited. That’s a decision he’ll regret for the rest of his life. When you do something like that, there are no do-overs.

15 Father-Son Drama Was Real

via YouTube

A lot of the time when you watch reality television, you just can't tell what is real and what isn’t. It’s a major drawback to reality TV. It used to be that you knew what you were watching was authentic and not scripted. After all, that’s the whole point of reality television. Over the years though, lots of shows have been outed as being fake and scripted. American Chopper was not one of those shows.

Everything you saw on that show was 100% real and authentic. There was no playing it up for the cameras with these guys. This includes the arguments, near fist fights, temper tantrums and Paul Jr. being fired from the family business.

If you need any kind of verification that the show was real all you have to do is look at the many lawsuits filed, just within the family. There have been more lawsuits filed within this family than most individuals see in their entire life.

When Paul Jr. was fired on camera, it wasn’t one of the better moments for the family, but you can bet that the network loved every minute of it. Paul Sr. had grown tired of Junior showing up late and sleeping in the office. Paul Sr. ended the argument with "And don't f—in' bother coming in tomorrow because you're f—in' terminated." Now that’s great TV!

14 Junior Found God

via Discovery

If you ever saw an episode or two of American Chopper you would never think that Paul Jr. was a believer. His actions, swearing and the way of life that he portrayed on the show would never give anyone the vibe that he was a religious person. He says that he was even in those days, so I guess we have to take his word for it.

After he had been living in sin with Rachael for a while he started to have some doubts about what he was doing though. It seems he was a believer in the Word but Rachael was not. Eventually she decided to move out and they worked on their relationship without sex for nine months. Eventually she became a believer as well and Paul proposed and the rest is history.

Junior said that by honoring God, and each other, their relationship became stronger than ever. He added that the reasoning for how it happened is pretty simple, "There's a blessing in obedience."

If his belief is real, and it appears that it really is, he certainly hid it well on the previous show. We will see when the new show airs if he is any different when on camera.

13 They Were Sued For Copyright Infringement

via NBC 6

This is a potentially disturbing story to come out of the Teutel family. Christ Tavantzis, who was wheelchair bound with polio, sued Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. along with twenty-nine other Orange County Chopper employees for stealing his idea of a bike for the handicapped.

Reports say that Tavantzis approached the Teutel’s in 2008 with his idea of three-wheeled bike for handicapped riders. He held a patent on the idea so he felt secure in talking with them about it. However, in 2010 American Chopper came out with a new bike, the same thing that Tavantzis shared with them, in a partnership deal with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

In the episode that aired, Paul Sr. claimed the idea for their own when he said, "Such a unique thing that I think that we did for our company and for the people who are going to appreciate it." A lawsuit was filed in 2014 but it was dismissed. However, that was only because the judge said it wasn’t worded properly. He left the door open for it to be resubmitted but there are no reports on what happened after that and Tavantzis died in 2016. Did the Teutel’s really steal the idea from a man with polio? If this is true, it’s an unforgivable offense.

12 The Teutel Family Was Second Choice

via Broadcasting and Cable

The creator of American Chopper, Craig Piligian, once gave an interview with Forbes and told the world that the Teutel family was his second choice for filming the show. Originally he wanted to use a bike shop in New Hampshire but changed his mind at the last minute because he felt they didn’t have “the right mindset.”

Just two days later they were at Orange County Choppers filming and it didn’t take Piligian long to realize that his decision was going to pay off big time. "What we started to see was that it was a relationship show more than it was a build show. The bike was a by-product of the relationship with the father and the son. It just came out of nowhere and was hugely successful. It was the first family docu-soap."

He added that the original thought was to make the show like a sitcom, similar to I love Lucy. "I decided we should make the loglines real simple: Junior goes missing. Mikey doesn't show up. That's what we built the show around. Simple loglines. It was the inspiration for the whole show."

It just reiterates the fact that television networks will risk ruining a family relationship in return for ratings. They have no problem purposely making people look foolish on their eternal hunt for more money.

11 Paul Jr. Once Threw A Chair In An Argument With Sr.

via Scribol

There have been a lot of stories as to why Paul Jr. was fired from Orange County Choppers. The issues within the family were obviously very well documented, but it was actually a culmination of things that led to Paul Sr. firing Paul Jr. from the family business.

A person can only take so much and apparently a flying chair is the breaking point for Paul Sr. It’s obvious that the show would never have been as popular as it was if there wasn’t the constant turmoil within the family.

Fifty percent of people who tuned in to the show were actually watching to see what bike was being worked on in that particular episode. The other fifty percent (and maybe more) tuned in for the arguments.

When Sr. was seriously laying into Jr. about his work ethic, Jr. lost it and threw a chair across the office. Sr. fired him and then destroyed a water cooler himself. On his way out the door Jr. threw tools all over the garage before making his exit. Paul Sr. was justified in his complaints and had documentation to back them up. Jr. went overboard and totally lost it, resulting in his termination from the shop.

10 Mikey Desperately Wanted Out Of The Business

via discovery.com

Anyone who has watched an episode of American Chopper knows that Paul Jr. wasn’t the only one to have issues with Paul Sr., but those battles were so infamous that people sometimes forget that it wasn’t always a battle between Jr. and Sr. in front of the cameras. Mikey had his fair share of explosive dealings with his dad too. If you take a look at some of the things he did on the side, it’s easy to see that he wanted out of the family business. It was just a matter of finding something that he could use to support himself with. Unfortunately for him, after many efforts, he just couldn’t find the thing that would allow him to leave the family business for good.

In late 2010 Mikey opened up Wolf Gang Gallery, which was an art gallery that featured his and other artists' work. After just two years in business he shut it down. He also launched a line of gourmet pasta sauces under the FarQueue brand. Mikey also tried his hand at making movies on YouTube. He made a flick about homelessness in NYC called Bummin’ Around. There were two episodes and over two years they gained a combined 5,200 views. You can officially call it a box office failure.

9 Sr. Sued Jr. For A Million Bucks

via New York Times

When Paul Sr. fired Paul Jr. it opened up a whole new can of worms. The TLC Network wasn’t very happy about that because their contract stated that certain people had to stay on the show and in front of the cameras. Obviously Paul Jr. was one of the people they wanted on screen so they made the two come to some kind of agreement.

They agreed to a contract that saw Jr. return as a contractor, but that contract gave Sr. an option to buy out Jr.’s stake in the family business. As soon as Sr. tried to use the option, things got uglier than they had ever been.

Paul Sr. did everything he could think of to try to strong-arm his son into giving up his stake in the business. He even went as far as filing a lawsuit against Paul Jr. for a million dollars in damages.

This whole new ordeal was caused by TLC and TLC alone. Yes, they had a contract in place for certain people to remain on the show. But they could have let Jr. go his own way and the show would still have been worth tuning into. There was still plenty of turmoil to be had without Jr. around.

8 Paul Jr. Recruited Several Of Sr.’s Disgruntled Ex-employees

via Twitter

When you start up your own business there is one major factor that will determine if you are successful or not. The best and longest lasting businesses around have the best employees. You’ll always want to surround yourself with experienced staff that can get the job done and make you look good.

When Paul Jr. was given the boot from (and eventually left) Orange County Choppers, he had a year to plan his new business. That was thanks to his one year non-compete clause. Once he opened his doors, he had put together a very experienced staff to give the business instant credibility. Robert, Nub” Collard, Vinnie DiMartino, Joe Puliafico and, of course, Paul’s brother Mikey, were all on the staff at the brand new Paul Jr. Designs.

Besides experience, there is something else that all of these staff members had in common: you guessed it, they all worked for Paul Sr. at one point. Disgruntled employees are always looking for a way to get back at a former employer, and taking up shop with their former boss’s son might be the knife in the back to get the job done effectively. Paul knew exactly what he was doing when he put his staff together and it accomplished more than just getting his doors open.

7 Cody Sued The Teutel’s

via lifeofarider.com

Even on reality television things are not always what they seem to be. When the show first started there was a “rookie” builder who was still learning the trade. His name was Cody Connelly. The company built a beautiful bike that they called “The Cody Project.” They sold the bike for a very nice profit at Bike Week in Daytona in 2003. On camera, for all of his hard work, the family gave Cody a different bike, one that he also helped design. The only problem is that off camera Cody never actually received the bike. So what do you think he did? That’s right, he sued the family.

The lawsuit said that Cody never got the bike as it appeared on camera and he went after an additional $250,000 in damages, claiming that the family used his likeness for promotional purposes, long after he left Orange County Choppers. The suit was settled in 2011 but there are no credible reports on what the settlement actually was. A 2018 report though, says that Cody has a net worth of around $200,000 so you can make your own decision on what happened with the lawsuit. He certainly didn’t have that much of a net worth when the show first started.

6 Dad Is Being Sued By Another Partner

via Discovery

Bad things just never seem to end for Paul Sr. He has a current lawsuit in the courts, as former partner Thomas Derbyshire is suing him for fraud. TMZ and a couple other sources say that Derbyshire agreed to fund a new television show called Orange County Choppers: American Made, up to three million bucks. The agreement had Derbyshire holding a 51% stake in the partnership and Paul Sr. tried to renegotiate it to 50-50 later on after the agreement was official.

When his bid to renegotiate failed, Teutel used a lot of the $1.8 million already invested to pay bills for his bike shop. Derbyshire also said that Teutel lied about how much the shop was making and what is was worth worth.

When you see that Teutel officially filed for bankruptcy in New York on February 28, 2018, you can tell that it certainly looks like Derbyshire has a good case. The Blast got a hold of the court documents and reported Paul owns $1,801,729 in assets, and owes 50 creditors just about $1.1 million. Paul Sr. told the court that he makes $15,070.93 per month, but spends $12,612. In those court documents Teutel admits that he owns Orange County Choppers, but added that the company's value is zero. Wow.

5 The Show Has Been Copied On Comedy Central

via Opinions

They say when someone copies you it’s the most sincere form of flattery. If that is indeed true, then everyone associated with Orange County Choppers should feel very good about themselves. That’s because Comedy Central spent the money to create a parody show of their own called American Body Shop. It was based on American Chopper and Sam Greene created the comedy series. It has everything you could want in a spin-off of Orange County Choppers, except for the real people.

While on paper the show seemed to be a success in the waiting, things didn’t really turn out that way. It turned out that people wanted to see the real thing and not a spoof of the Teutel family. Due to poor ratings, Comedy Central axed the show after one lone season.

Paul Sr. should have contacted the network and tried to work out some kind of deal with them to appear on the show. Apparently he needs the money and I’m sure it would have given a nice boost to the show’s ratings. After all, who better to have on the show than the man they are making fun himself right? If Sr. was offered twenty bucks to appear he probably would have.

4 They Have Serious Financial Troubles

via Wikimedia Commons

When you are on television, everyone takes notice. If you have a business that is thriving because it’s on television, even more people will take notice. However, that doesn’t last forever. No TV show has hit the airwaves and not come to an end at some point. A smart businessman would expect this to happen and prepare for it. Paul Sr. is not on that list. When American Chopper went off the air the big, high paying corporate jobs stopped coming in. Consider it the old “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy.

For a long time Sr. wouldn’t admit to the troubles that the shop was facing. He eventually had no choice but to own up to things when he filed for bankruptcy in February of this year. It was only at that point that he started telling the truth in interviews about the actual state of the business. He has made comments like the shop is “in the bottom of the hole” and “in the pits.”

He has also said that the shop will do anything now just to make some money. Things that they never would have considered doing before are now more than welcomed at OCC. Jobs like "repairing quads, snowmobiles, and cars, as well as restoring garage finds."

3 There Was A Failed Restaurant Chain Attempt

via Welly Lai

Paul Sr. pitched an Orange County Choppers restaurant chain to several high end investors back around 2010-2011. They bought into it and did not know that Paul had made the pitch to many investors. It was then reported that Paul and his partner, Carlos Urbaneja, "sold the same project to three or four groups of investors, and at times issued shares in paper companies that had no value at all." Can you say Ponzi scheme?

Another lawsuit was filed against Paul Sr. and his partner, claiming that investors had been ripped off to the tune of $12-$15 million. The Miami Herald originally ran the story and they have a lot of solid facts to support it.

Only one establishment ever opened up and it’s still in business today, though barely. According to Google, the place has a rating of 2.7 out of 5 stars, but if you look at the reviews left by customers, you’ll see that they just aren’t very favorable.

Just one month ago (at the time of writing) Michael Sheehan left the following review: “Place is joke, needs new management clearly. Just seems like they are not concerned with making money or customer appreciation what's so ever. Food is basic and unappetizing, beer lines are dirty, everything just needs and update. Would never go back again.” Ouch!

2 Paul Sr. Was Involved In A Major Scandal

via Pic Jaws

There was another major steroids scandal in 2011 and this one didn’t involve just major league baseball players. This one had Paul Teutel Sr. right smack in the middle of it. When all was said and done, a dentist named James D’Amico pleaded guilty to providing steroids to several clients, including Paul Sr. The report that came out said that Sr. had received a very large amount over a four year period.

During that time he received 73 prescriptions for which he paid a total of $51,784.78. Each order had his birthdate, home and business addresses, social and security numbers, making it extremely hard for him to deny the charges. When reached by phone by a reporter and asked about it, he responded, "Honestly, really, I couldn't do this even if it was about chewing bubble gum. Everything has procedure. Call the shop."

It turned out that the number used by the reporter was also listed with the prescription information and the reporter was following up to see if the info was real. As soon as Tuetel Sr. identified himself and asked where the number was found, that was verification enough that everything was true. That could certainly explain some of the outbursts we saw on camera. Another telltale sign is that there was a noticeable difference in his physique after the allegations came out.

1 They Wanted You To Pay For A New TV Show

via YouTube

Before the family reached a new contract to put the show back on TV, Paul Sr. and Mikey made it public that they wanted to be back on television. Mikey, who has tried everything to get away from the family business, along with his father, put up a crowdfunding account on Patreon. They explain that by doing it themselves they could do whatever they wanted without restrictions from a network, along with taking requests from their viewing audience on what they wanted to see happen. One of the promises they made was that they would be “blowing stuff up on this new show.”

They were trying to raise $6,000, but the account was removed before they hit that amount. The reason given was the account was “not complying with Patreon Community Guidelines,” but nobody really knows what that means.

Some of the perks if you donated were that you could get access to them ahead of the general public at events (ten bucks a month), access to a twenty-four hour live stream in the shop (25 bucks a month), and for $250 a month you could get a live video chat once a month with Paul Sr. No doubt that he would have used that opportunity to try and get more money out of you.

Sources: www.looper.com, scribol.com, inquisitr.com, foxnews.com, timesunion.com

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