Whatever Happened to... Orange County Choppers?

Real-Life dramas trouble TV’s teutuls

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Kwitco.com

In a reality-TV world where most "stars" barely get the promised 15 minutes of fame, those tattooed Neanderthals at Orange County Choppers—named for that "other" OC in Upstate New York—have defied expectations with their 10-year run of prime-time dysfunction. Their latest program, American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior, pits the famously furious pair of Pauls against one another in a never-ending contest to build the most crassly corporate-themed chopper, against a backdrop of real-world turmoil.

When he’s not busy building rolling billboards for TrimSPA and Sam’s Club, or unhinging office doors using only his size-12 boot, Paul Sr. has been flexing his muscles at the courthouse with a lawsuit to force a buyout of Jr.’s 20 percent share in OCC, plus another $1 million in damages related to "competitive activities" after the younger Teutul opened his own firm called Paul Jr. Designs. Speaking of legal actions, there are rumors of possible foreclosure on the company’s 3-year-old International headquarters in Newburgh, New York, after Paul Sr. reportedly withheld payments in an effort to force GE Capital to renegotiate the loan. And, speaking of muscle, reports early this year alleged Paul Sr.’s name and personal information appeared on records seized in conjunction with a Florida steroids investigation—maybe it was ’roid rage all along! How much of this hubbub is ginned up to satisfy viewers’ boundless appetite for tawdry titillation is unknown.

Paul Sr. wouldn’t comment specifically on any of the above during a recent interview, except to say the only reason American Chopper has been around so long is "because it’s the only true reality-TV show. What you see is what you get." Yeah, right. We’re just cynical enough to bet on a special, 2-hour reconciliation episode capping this 10th season. If not that, maybe a stint on Celebrity Rehab?

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