Jesse James (television personality)
Jesse Gregory James
April 19, 1969
Long Beach, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Entrepreneur, television personality|
(m. 1991; div. 2002)
(m. 2002; div. 2004)
(m. 2005; div. 2010)
(m. 2013; div. 2022)
Jesse Gregory James (born April 19, 1969) is an American entrepreneur, automotive mechanic, and television personality. He is the founder of West Coast Choppers and former partner of Austin Speed Shop and current CEO of Jesse James Firearms Unlimited, both based in Austin, Texas. He was the focus of a show chronicling some of the custom motorcycle builds in his TV series Jesse James: Monster Garage, which ran a shortened single season in 2012 on the Discovery Channel before being canceled.
James was the host of the reality TV shows Jesse James Is a Dead Man on Spike TV and Monster Garage on the Discovery Channel, and the focus of the documentary Motorcycle Mania, also on Discovery. He also appeared in the 2004 skateboarding video game Tony Hawk's Underground 2.
James was the owner of the Cisco Burger restaurant, which opened on April 28, 2006, across the street from West Coast Choppers. It has officially closed. James also had partial ownership in Austin Speed Shop in Austin, Texas, which he left in 2013 to focus on the re-opening of West Coast Choppers in Austin.
Other business ventures include the Chopperdogs fan club and the Jesse's Girl clothing line. James published the now-defunct Garage magazine.
In November 2013, Jesse James Firearms Unlimited unveiled its first two firearms, a 1911 pistol and AR-15 rifle. His first rifle-caliber suppressor was a basic reworking of an original Maxim design that he claimed could impossibly bend the laws of physics by offering a 78 dB rating at the muzzle, lower than even what the De Lisle carbine achieved in testing; although James was careful to note that it only achieved that number with subsonic ammunition that does not produce a sonic boom.
As of 2020, James lives in Austin, Texas, operates Jesse James Fire Arms Unlimited, and manages the intellectual properties of West Coast Choppers.
In 2000, the Discovery Channel made the documentary Motorcycle Mania, which chronicled James' everyday life. Following the success of the documentary, the Discovery Channel approached James with an offer to host a new show called Monster Garage where James and a crew of mechanics modified vehicles under a short deadline. James later established Payupsucker Productions, under which he produced shows like History of the Chopper, Iraq Confidential with Jesse James and Green Scream, in which James plans to break the land speed record with an eco-friendly hydrogen car. Through James' show "History of the Chopper" there are also glimpses of his involvement with the Hells Angels.
He also had an appearance on Discovery Channel's Sons of Guns. He appeared on the second season of Celebrity Apprentice. Each celebrity played to raise money for a favorite charity; James selected to play for the Long Beach Education Foundation. Due to his poor performance in raising funds, James was eliminated by Donald Trump on the second-to-last show (ultimately placing third) which aired May 3, 2009. Trump repeatedly cited James' stoic refusal to contact then-wife Bullock to raise funds for the show's challenges, though other celebrities had no problem tapping high-rolling contacts for cash.
His show Jesse James Is a Dead Man premiered on Spike TV on May 31, 2009. The show features James doing death-defying stunts. The first episode set a rating record for Spike, drawing the largest audience ever for an unscripted series on the network, with 2 million viewers. The show is produced by Spike TV, BASE Productions and James' company, PayupSucker Productions. In conjunction with that appearance Marvel Comics created a special one-shot comic book where he evades death once again after considering retirement, and made it available in comic book stores for free distribution.
James appeared on an episode of Street Customs where he had his pickup truck customized by West Coast Customs. He appeared in an advert for T-Mobile's Google mobile phone with Whoopi Goldberg and Phil Jackson. Jesse James appeared on Sons of Guns on March 28, 2012. He asked the Red Jacket Firearms team to build a customized Browning Automatic Rifle for him, and even assisted in the build himself. Jesse appeared in special "Biker Build-Off" episodes of American Chopper in 2011 and 2012 for bike build-off competitions with Paul Teutul Jr. (representing Paul Jr. Designs) and Paul Teutul Sr. (representing Orange County Choppers), with Gas Monkey Garage (featured on the Discovery series Fast N' Loud) entering the competition in 2012.
Family and relationships
James' Discovery Channel website states that his great-great-grandfather was the notorious outlaw's cousin. However, Eric James, president of the James Preservation Trust, which tracks claims of being a relative of the outlaw, says it cannot find a record of him in the family tree, and has asked him to provide a family genealogy and DNA sample for the trust to review; he has not provided the requested information.
James has three children: a daughter and a son with his first wife, Karla James, to whom he was married from 1991 to 2002; and a daughter with his second wife, stripper/adult actress/producer Janine Lindemulder, to whom he was married from 2002 to 2004.
In October 2009, James' ex-wife Lindemulder, who had been in federal prison for six months for tax evasion, sought to regain custody of her then five-year-old daughter with James, Sunny, after James had been granted sole guardianship of her. James sought to retain full guardianship, citing fear of the environment in which his daughter would be placed if returned to Lindemulder. In December, James won custody, and Lindemulder was given weekly visitation rights during the daytime.
In March 2010, a media scandal arose when several women claimed to have had affairs with James during his marriage to Bullock. Bullock cancelled European promotional appearances for The Blind Side citing "unforeseen personal reasons." On March 18, 2010, James responded to the rumors of infidelity by issuing a public apology to Bullock. James declared that "There is only one person to blame for this whole situation, and that is me," and asked that his wife and children one day "find it in their hearts to forgive me" for their current "pain and embarrassment." James' publicist subsequently announced on March 30, 2010, that James had checked into a rehab facility "to deal with personal issues" and "save his marriage" to Bullock. However, on April 28, 2010, it was reported that Bullock had filed for divorce on April 23 in Austin, Texas. Bullock also stated that she had proceeded with plans to adopt a baby boy born in New Orleans. Bullock and James had begun an initial adoption process four years earlier. The child began living with them in January 2010, but they chose to keep the news private until after the Oscars in March 2010. However, given the couple's separation and then divorce, Bullock continued the adoption of the baby as a single parent. The divorce was finalized on June 28, 2010, with "conflict of personalities" cited as the reason.
In August 2010, tattoo artist Kat Von D confirmed reports that she and James were dating. James and Von D became engaged in January 2011. Von D announced that they had split in July 2011. However, in August 2011, James and Von D announced that their engagement was back on. In September 2011, Von D announced that she and James had broken up again. Von D later accused James of cheating on her with multiple women during their relationship.
In late 2012, James became engaged to professional drag racer Alexis DeJoria. They married on March 24, 2013, at the estate of the bride's father, entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria. In March 2020, James announced his separation from DeJoria after seven years of marriage, stating "our lives were just headed in different directions".
In 2007, James was fined $271,250 by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) after state officials determined that he had sold motorcycles in violation of California's clean-air laws. According to authorities, James' customized bikes were emitting 11 times the legal limits of hydrocarbons. Investigators also found that the motorcycles did not have state-certified emissions equipment on their fuel tanks. The bikes were sold between 1997 and 2006. James explained that he was unaware of rule changes that required small-volume manufacturers to comply with regulations. James said the CARB refused his offer to recall and modify the uncompliant choppers. Since 2005, West Coast Choppers has built emissions-compliant choppers. James said the fines were excessive and intended to make an example of him due to his company's fame and his celebrity marriage to actress Sandra Bullock, but CARB spokesmen stated their enforcement efforts were aimed at the entire custom industry, and further that they were aware of no offer by West Coast Choppers to recall the motorcycles in question.
In July 2008, James faced a $422,680 breach of contract lawsuit from Michael Jones, a customer who hired James to build him a custom car, who contended that after paying $270,000 over two years, the car was not completed, and that James informed him that it would cost between $600,000 and $700,000. That September, James faced another lawsuit from his former lawyer for $327,533 in unpaid fees.
In 2010, James was accused by Fortune Fashions Industries, LLC of working with Walmart and stealing one of Fortune Fashions Industries' executives to work on the clothing line after a failed collaboration between Jesse and Fortune Fashions. The company claimed over 6 million dollars in damage and lawyer Lawrence H. Nagler, representing the LLC, claimed "Jesse has stolen the benefit of Fortune Fashions' work and manpower to put this together." James' lawyer Joseph A. Yanny pointed out that James was a prolific entrepreneur, selling his West Coast Choppers brand apparel in his own shop and online, long before he met Fred Kayne (owner of Fortune Fashions). The trial concluded with the verdict in favor of James. When Fortune Fashion Industries asked the judge to quash the jury decision, the judge stated that they were "not entitled to any proceeds from an unrelated line of clothing that came into being a year after the failed venture."
After James entered a rehab facility while separated from Bullock, Us Weekly printed a photo that depicted James in a German SS officer's hat and giving a Nazi salute. James explained to ABC News' show Nightline that the photo, taken in 2004 before his marriage to Bullock, was meant as a joke, and that he was not a racist. James' lawyer claimed that the hat was a gift from a Jewish mentor and that James is not a neo-Nazi. Us subsequently printed additional photos that had been posted to Facebook by former West Coast Choppers employees showing James and Nazi imagery. A friend of James explained to the magazine that the "swastika deal" is "part of biker culture".
- Seate, Mike (2003). Jesse James: The Man and his Machines. St. Paul: MotorBooks International. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-7603-1614-6.
- "A look inside the life of Jesse James". Today. March 22, 2010. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
- "JJFU". Facebook. Archived from the original on 2022-02-26. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
- "NBC Announces the 16 All-Star Celebrities Ready to Take on Donald Trump in the Boardroom when The Celebrity Apprentice Premiers Sunday, March 1" (Press release). NBC. January 1, 2009.
- "Jesse James sets Spike TV ratings record". The Live Feed. June 2, 2009.
- "Jesse James Is A Dead Man" at MyFoxLA.com
- "Jesse James Is A Dead Man! | Marvel.com News". Marvel.com. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
- ""Street Customs" Jesse James Chevy Truck (TV Episode 2009)". IMDb. February 26, 2009.
- T-Mobile Gets Phil Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg To Help Sell New Google Phone (This source misspells his given name as "Jessie".)
- ""Sons of Guns" Jesse James Gun (TV Episode 2012)". IMDb. March 28, 2012.
- "Discovery Channel :: Jesse James: Bio". Dsc.discovery.com. September 10, 2008. Archived from the original on March 7, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2010.
- Eric James. "Jesse Gregory James, alias Jesse James". Ericjames.org. Retrieved March 24, 2010.
- "Jesse James Is A Dead Man – and a Fraud". Ericjames.org. January 30, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2010.
- "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter: Hoax: Politician's Horse Thieving and Train Robbing Ancestor". Blog.eogn.com. January 30, 2010. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved March 24, 2010.
- Chiu, Alexis (March 14, 2007). "COVER STORY:Sandra Bullock Adores Family Role". People. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "Sandra Bullock Marries Biker Boyfriend". People. July 19, 2005. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "Sandra Bullock Battles Porn Star Janine Lindemulder for Child Custody". CBS News. October 29, 2009.
- Canning, Andrea; Goldwert, Lindsay; Marikar, Sheila (November 6, 2009). "Jesse James: Leave Sandra Bullock Out of Custody Fight". ABC News. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
- Andrea Canning; Lindsay Goldwert; Sheila Marikar (December 9, 2009). "Jesse James, Sandra Bullock Win Custody Battle With Porn Star Janine Lindemulder". ABC News. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
- "Sandra Bullock Pulls Out of London Premiere". People. March 17, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "Without Sandra Bullock, Blind Side's Berlin Premiere Canceled". People. March 23, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "Jesse James Apologizes to Sandra Bullock and His Children". People. March 18, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- Leonard, Elizabeth (March 30, 2010). "Jesse James Checks into Treatment Facility". People. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "EXCLUSIVE: Sandra Bullock Has Filed for Divorce". People. April 28, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- Lee, Ken (April 28, 2010). "Sandra Bullock's Divorce Likely Won't Be Messy". People. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "World Exclusive: Meet Sandra Bullock's Baby Boy!". People. April 28, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "Sandra Bullock, Jesse James Divorce Finalized". TVGuide.com.
- "'LA Ink' Star Sets the Record Straight About Her Relationship with Steve-O", BuddyTV.com, August 16, 2007
- Grossberg, Josh (July 26, 2011). "Jesse James and Kat Von D: Anatomy of a Split". E! Online. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012.
- Leonard, Elizabeth; Herndon, Jessica (January 20, 2011). "Jesse James & Kat Von D Are Engaged". People. Archived from the original on May 5, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2019. Additional .
- Leonard, Elizabeth (July 26, 2011), "Jesse James and Kat Von D Split", People, archived from the original on July 29, 2011, retrieved October 22, 2019
- "Kat Von D Walks Out on GDLA Interview", MyFoxLA.com (KTTV website), July 27, 2011. WebCitation archive.
- Leonard, Elizabeth; Fleeman, Mike (August 18, 2011). "Kat Von D and Jesse James: Their Engagement Is Back On!". People. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- Coulton, Antoinette. "Jesse James and Kat Von D Split ... Again". People. Archived from the original on January 29, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "Kat Von D Says Jesse James Cheated on Her with 19 Women". ABC News. November 14, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
- Leonard, Elizabeth (March 24, 2013). "Jesse James Marries Drag Racer Alexis DeJoria". People. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- Corinthios, Aurelie (March 17, 2020). "Monster Garage's Jesse James Announces Split from Wife Alexis DeJoria After 7 'Amazing Years'". People. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
- Walters, Mike (January 28, 2022). "'Monster Garage' Star Jesse James Shares Emotional Tribute To GF Bonnie Rotten". The Blast. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
- "Jesse James Marries Former Porn Star Bonnie Rotten". Page Six. June 27, 2022. Retrieved September 2, 2022.
- "Jesse James Fined for Violating Air-Quality Laws". People. January 27, 2007. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "Jesse James fined; California Clean Air Crackdown", American Motorcyclist, Westerville, Ohio: American Motorcyclist Association, vol. 61, no. 4, p. 27, April 2007, ISSN 0277-9358
- Garrett, Jerry (February 11, 2007), "A Famous Customizer Runs Afoul of California's Clean-Air Cops", The New York Times, p. 12L
- "Dude, Jesse James Took Me For a Ride!". tmz.com. July 17, 2008.
- "Bang Bang -- Jesse James Sued". tmz.com. September 5, 2008.
- "Jesse James -- Final Victory in Clothing War". tmz.com. December 3, 2010.
- "Jesse James accused of bad deal". June 11, 2010.
- "Jesse James has more alarming Nazi pics". Today. NBC News. January 26, 2011. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
- "Jesse James Addresses Affairs, Nazi Rumors". CBS News. May 30, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
- Duke, Alan (April 2, 2010). "Lawyer: Jesse James is no neo-Nazi". CNN. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
- Beam, Christopher (January 27, 2011). "Highway to Heil". Slate. Retrieved November 24, 2020.