Jesse James, the public figure and customizer, turned 50 just this past April. He was and is still one of the faces associated with automotive reality shows and probably is in the top three of the most recognizable in the customization field even today. He isn’t as productive as some of the others, like the Teutul family of Orange County Choppers and Paul Junior Designs, but he definitely has left behind some awesome moments in the field of automotive reality TV and he definitely deserves his props.
And even though there have been a lot of positives in his life, we’d have to say that there were a lot of negatives, as well. His many relationships were aired on national and international TV and the world was made privy to all the details to his private life, including a relationship with cinematic legend Sandra Bullock.
But regardless of what happened or didn’t happen, Jesse James has done his part to contribute to the automotive industry and his influence can be felt throughout the industry even now, and for the foreseeable future, as well.
Join us as we take a look at some of the myths that have built up about the man through the years and some of the facts about his shows that perhaps he would prefer stayed forgotten.
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20 MYTH: HE'S MEAN
It's rather unfortunate, but when a person is in the public eye and they suffer through many controversial stories written about them in the press, the public seems to get a pretty good idea of what the public figure is like in real life. Or rather, they think they do. Yes, as we've mentioned, Jesse James sure has been written about to a large degree in tabloid newspapers and websites and yes, his good name has been dragged through the mud, so to speak. But as it turns out, the "mean" streak everyone keeps saying he has is apparently nothing but a bunch of conjecture and a stretch of the facts. Apparently, he's a decent dude, even though you've probably heard otherwise.
19 FACT: BARRETT-JACKSON FEATURED HIS VEHICLES
Barrett-Jackson is probably one of the most popular and prestigious automotive clubs and organizations and it exists to showcase the best in vehicular mayhem. They bring out the best vehicles you're likely to find and what do you know, they've even featured quite a few of Jesse's cars. That includes cars he's worked on himself from his hit show, Monster Garage. It's true, many of the cars he worked on throughout that show were showcased at the 2008 show, a show that even gearhead John Cena himself attended. Now, we don't know if he was a fan of the show, but we can attest that he had a great time at that year's event and even picked up a few undisclosed items for his collection.
18 MYTH: HE'S NOT A REAL MECHANIC
This one is probably the most preposterous of myths we heard while researching this article and for very good reason. If you have been a fan of this man and his many shows, then you'll know that he knows his way around an engine, and that goes for cars, trucks, and bikes. He has worked on some of the most amazing machines known to man and he has proven himself time and time again. Essentially, he knows what he's doing and this myth should be disregarded wholeheartedly—and that goes whether you like the man or not. You've gotta give him his props because the man can build, rebuild, and ride with the best of them, period.
17 FACT: HE HAS WRITTEN FOR GARAGE MAGAZINE
As far as adoring anything having to do with cars and motorbikes, we all have an affinity with the man, but he also knows what it's like to meet deadlines, researching and interviewing about the topic we love so much, as he 's turned in a few articles for the aforementioned magazine. And as I've read some of his work, I can surely attest, the man can definitely scribble—and pretty well at that. Will he win a Pulitzer? You never know, but I know that the respect I had for him definitely went up a notch when I uncovered this little tidbit of information. After all, he knows the pain of a late deadline and the rush of meeting one, which is just about equal to the rush of taking a Charger from 0 to 60, friends. Trust me on that one.
16 MYTH: HE HAS "GHOST MECHANICS" WORKING ON HIS PROJECTS
This one, too, is worth quite an enthusiastic chuckle. We know that there are quite a few rehearsed and scripted reality shows out there—and we'll definitely be getting into a few of them in just a tiny bit—and we understand how easy it is to spread such rumors about all reality TV shows. But there comes a point where the lies just have to stop or be silenced. Especially those ones that make absolutely no sense. This one takes the cake in that category and we can't help but scoff at the thought it conjures up. We already stated that the man is a mechanic and has a lot of experience working on vehicles, so we'd assume we can all agree that this one is rubbish.
15 FACT: HE IS AN AVID MOTORCYCLE RIDER
I think that, at the end of the day, this is like saying that the Cookie Monster likes cookies. I mean the word "duh" comes to mind, and it isn't just a whisper, but a scream heard loud and clear. Of course, Jesse James loves riding—especially the motorcycles he collects, builds, and works on. What would be the point if he didn't? (Although, interestingly enough, famed mechanic Vinnie DiMartino from American Chopper was famous for having stated that he preferred scooters to choppers, despite being an incredible chopper fabricator.) This, of course, is obviously not the case for our man, Jesse James.
14 MYTH: HIS SHOWS WERE SCRIPTED
As we alluded to earlier, many have come to the conclusion that his shows were scripted and the outcomes were planned far in advance. Of course, we can't convince those that believe this that it's untrue, as many reality shows are just that: scripted fantasies that unfold one after the other in just 30 minutes. It was actually Hulk Hogan who once stated that the producers and directors of his reality show, MTV's Hogan Knows Best, would actually take the family through situations and tell them what activities they'd be doing from day to day. Other stories that are similar have attached a certain stigma to the reality show genre and it's very difficult to get away from that bad light once it's been put out there.
13 FACT: MOTORCYCLE MANIA
If there was ever a question regarding the man's love of motorcycles especially, then all that would be left to do was watch the documentary film, Motorcycle Mania. If there could still be a question, then watch the second installment. In these documentary films, the viewer is truly taken down the path of Jesse James' life and dedication to the steeds known as choppers and motorcycles. In the films, the viewer gets an in-depth look at his experience, knowledge, and boyish love for the mechanical joy of motorcycle fabrication. Another positive side is that the viewer gets to see a side of him that is rarely shown and here we see what kind of man Jesse is.
12 MYTH: HIS INFAMOUS STUNTS WERE STAGED
To say that Jesse James has been a part of many television productions would definitely be a grave understatement and to say that they were all amazing shows would, in turn, be an overstatement. Like many who have had their turn at a television career, not all his shows will win out at the battle for that number one spot. And that's to be understood, but the rumor that his stunts that he's performed on his shows were staged is just about as preposterous as saying that Kim Kardashian could have a good go at an acting career. The work Jesse James put into his shows—and all of them, no matter what the activity—should be regarded as just that: hard, honest work.
11 FACT: THE TRUE MAN BEHIND THE MYTHS
If anyone is particularly interested in finding out about the man, they needn't look further than his builds. The final product of all his hard work is pretty much the best way to get to know this man. He once was a bodyguard to such bands as Soundgarden before he turned his attention to becoming a gearhead through and through. And albeit, protecting the likes of the late, great, and enigmatic Chris Cornell of Soundgarden is definitely good work, we can more than understand his wanting to focus on cars and bikes. Once the love of an engine takes over you, it'll often win out over many other endeavors. So, if the documentaries and the TV shows don't tell you enough about this man, then take a gander at his creations and let them be the portal to who he really is.
10 MYTH: IS RELATED TO THE INFAMOUS OUTLAW
Well, the original Jesse James' life is the stuff of legend and big-budget Hollywood. In fact, the man's life was portrayed on the screen and in grandiose fashion. The film was great, by the way, and the tumultuous life of this man, which is a massive part of history, was definitely told well. Jesse James, the customizer we've been discussing, has actually gone on record to say that he is actually related to the historic legend, pictured here. Many believe his claims, but there is a fair share that doesn't, requesting proof to the statements made. So, we could go either way on this one but have nestled this tidbit under the mythological portion of this article. It seems a bit of a stretch, but you never know.
9 FACT: CELEBRITY APPRENTICE
Now we've definitely gone into depth about reality shows and how most (if not all) of them are scripted. We'd wager that Jesse's shows aren't, but we can find one he was featured on that was. He was featured in a season of Celebrity Apprentice. And as it turns out, that show was scripted—big time! Perhaps the first season was unscripted and was far more real than later seasons turned out to be, but the celebrity seasons were definitely scripted. I mean, it's right there in the name. The show and its episodes were, in fact, so fake and scripted that it was quite obvious. All we had to do was watch Jesse's face most times, and his boredom told a story all its own. Just look at him here in this above image: top left. "Man, I wish I was in my garage right about now."
8 MYTH: RULES WERE NEVER RESPECTED ON MONSTER GARAGE
The rules for the show were quite simple and were as follows. When finished, the monster in question would be considered "stock." The teams had $3,000 dollars (ultimately raised to $5,000) for each project. And the teams had a total of seven days to finish the project. There were other specifications and we won't go too deep into detail, but the rumblings of many stated that the teams did not respect these rules at all. We have to call "myth" on that one, as the show was recorded a lot tighter than shows are these days, and it's kind of hard to hide when a camera is always in your face. We'd say the rules were thoroughly respected.
7 FACT: WAS BERATED BY THE APPRENTICE HOST
His appearance on The Apprentice has gone down in history, and not necessarily for his performance on the show, but rather for his lack of interest in winning challenges at all costs. He was publicly admonished by the famed host of the show for not cashing in on the publicity his then-girlfriend, Sandra Bullock, could garner for the challenges. He was pretty adamant about not bothering Bullock during the production of the show, thus resulting in lackluster outcomes to the many challenges. He didn't do badly, though, as he placed third, which, let's face it, bronze ain't last, but still, his reluctance to include Bullock shined a light on his relationship, a light that may or may not have caused tension therein.
6 MYTH: "FAILURE RATE" ON MONSTER GARAGE WAS INFLATED
And according to some, many believed that it was far more interesting when there were more failures shown on the show than when they were able to come out on top in the end. It seems that the world had gone pessimistic, or rather, Monster Garage fans had. And there are, in fact, many who claim that this was done on purpose, claiming that the failure rate was raised in order to gain fans and viewers for the show. But we have to call "myth" on this one, folks, as we've uncovered some information to prove just the opposite. And we'll go more in depth in just a few entries, so go ahead and read on.
5 FACT: HE'S INVOLVED WITH AN INFAMOUS MOTORCYCLE CLUB
Well, many would argue that you don't become such an influential figure in the motorcycle world without having some ties in the serious motorcycle clubs that have been in existence for quite a number of decades, the types of clubs depicted in such great shows as Sons of Anarchy. Rumor has it, and said rumors have actually been backed up by fact, that Jesse James is actually a proud member—or rather has contacts with—such a club and when we say clubs, we definitely mean the biggest of them all. Writer Hunter S. Thompson wrote about this club in one of his acclaimed books and we'd bet that Jesse read that book from cover to cover.
4 MYTH: THE STAR LOST INTEREST IN MONSTER GARAGE
As promised, here's a bit of information as to why we're so sure that the producers of the show didn't raise the failure rate to gain viewers—because our sources tell us that the show actually went out on top. The show didn't need tricks and scripts to gain more of a following because it was one of the network's highest-rated shows, with many viewers tuning in. The only reason the show actually came to an abrupt ending was that James actually got tired of the routine. James is, and always has been, a man that gets tired of the same old, same old, needing challenges to overcome. Of course, people like to tell tall tales, and well, as a writer, I definitely understand that one, but facts are facts.
3 FACT: HE HAS PARLAYED HIS MECHANICAL SKILLS
Any smart businessperson will know to capitalize on all the attention that they receive via a lucrative television career. And we can definitely assume that James has had a very lucrative TV career—and that includes all the bad press he received, as well. But onward and forward, James has capitalized and branched out, getting into the restaurant industry, merchandising, and other types of mechanical and fabricating endeavors, even moving away from the automotive industry. But fret not, he's never too far away from a monster of an engine. Being diversified can only raise a public figure's status over a certain period of time, and it has definitely done this for Jesse.
2 MYTH: HE AND PAUL TEUTUL SR DON'T GET ALONG
This one's a pretty blatant myth and one that doesn't make that much sense. But it's very interesting how the blatantly ridiculous myths are the ones that get more steam; it's probably the absurdity that carries them as far as they can go. But these two men were, and can be considered, the top of the televised auto and vehicular fabricators in the world. Their shows did the best and were, in fact, some of the most authentic to be featured. Of course, many viewers wondered over the years how they would fare with one another, but all questions were answered when Jesse appeared on Teutul's show in a bike-off challenge, where the camaraderie between them was extremely apparent.
1 FACT: HE'S GOT A BOOK
Of course, if this article didn't help you distinguish fact from fiction, you can always read all about the man from his very own words. As we stated in this article, Jesse spent some time writing for magazines, and as it turns out, he did quite a bit of writing, elsewhere as well, telling about his very own life. And that included the ups and downs, all detailed in his very own book. The book actually got great reviews and is settled at a 4.5 out of 5 at Amazon, which is really good. So, if we've made you a tad curious to delve a little deeper into his life and all he thinks about his life in the press and, of course, in the garage, go ahead and order a copy today.
Sources: Wikipedia, IMDb, and Discovery.