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2006 LA Calendar Motorcycle Show

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Beautiful pinup girls and custom bikes are par for the course at the LA Calendar Motorcycle Show. Our cruiser correspondent, Billy Bartels, checks it all out and, as per orders, snaps lots of pictures.
Beautiful pinup girls and custom bikes are par for the course at the LA Calendar Motorcycle Show. Our cruiser correspondent, Billy Bartels, checks it all out and, as per orders, snaps lots of pictures.
The LA Calendar Motorcycle Show is one of LA's "big three" motorcycle events for the year, with winter's IMS show and fall's Love Ride forming the rest of the trifecta. With a claimed attendance in excess of 16,000, it was a sea of humanity. That said, despite zealous security, the crowd flowed well, and it never felt particularly crowded in the spacious Queen Mary Events Park.

The LACMS went down as it does every third weekend in July for the past 14 years to commemorate the release of the new trio of Fast Dates Calendars: Iron and Lace is pinup girls and custom bikes, Fast Dates is pinup girls and various roadrace machines, and Garage Girls is like the other two but does away with all of that metal and carbon fiber getting in the way of the hot chicks.

And, while you could have asked for lower temperatures, the old Queen played a perfect host to the festivities, with the channel between downtown Long Beach and the Queen flowing with deep blue water and hundreds of joyful boaters out trying to escape the city's heat.

It's been said that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Never has this ancient truism been more in evidence than here at the LA Calendar Show. At last year's event I noted that what was one of the most all-inclusive events back in the '90s had become somewhat one-dimensional with an overwhelming majority of American Choppers, Bobbers and Customs, with only the occasional token Euro or Japanese bike thrown in. This year the discrepancy was even more pronounced. The so-called Metric Midway had a total of two metric vendors in it, there were six bikes in the Metric custom show, and all the sportbikes were clustered around Jardine's dyno shootout as if afraid that they'd be hunted down and shot.

The LA Calendar Show had a couple of Metrics in attendence. This decked out V-Max won the Custom Metric Class.
The LA Calendar Show had a couple of Metrics in attendence. This decked out V-Max won the Custom Metric Class.
That said, if you're into custom American rides, it was a killer show. Filling the space formerly occupied by a few exotic bike shops were lots more small-time builders. In fact, a few of the big guys seem to have left from years past and were filled in with more shops I'd never heard of. In short it was a great opportunity to see some new and creative work not seen on TV.

Of course there are plenty of cable TV superstars (like Jesse Rooke and Russell Mitchell) strutting their stuff around the Calendar show, and for the most part, despite the demi-celebrity status, are quite genuinely nice guys - at least if you keep the really dumb questions to a minimum.

One good chance to ask all the questions you want of the builders is the builder seminars. In years past these were forums to instill profound information on the up and coming builder. Now they're mostly a chance to gawk at your favorite TV builder and ask inane questions like how Russell got the cast on his foot. Not that the boys weren't forthcoming in their information, it just seems the more factual information gets squeezed out by the star chasers. If nothing else it's entertaining. like the TV shows.

One of the big draws for all this builder talent was the $70k purse at the custom bike show. Best in Show was taken by a gentleman from Texas named Russ Hess of Cowboy Custom Bikes. For a complete list of winners, check here.

As the sun started down and the light got pretty  sights like this became all too common.
As the sun started down and the light got pretty, sights like this became common.
Of course, other than the legion of bike builders, there was also the usual assortment of aftermarket parts displays, apparel vendors, food stands and booth bunnies. Something that never seems to change at the Calendar Show is the high cheesecake factor. As is fitting for a coming-out party for a line of pin-up calendars, the babes are out in force. Never mind that most of them are on hand not for a good time but for a paycheck, if you are into that sort of scenery, you'll not be disappointed. Besides the usual booth bunnies, there was the burlesque troop Purrfect Angels shaking their stuff on stage (including some mostly-clothed lap dances), as well as several of the stars of the calendars themselves. There was also a bikini contest whose prize was modeling representation and a spot in the 2008 calendar. Candice Curtis won the pageant for the second year in a row. If that is not enough you, there were hotties on passing boats that thought they were in Europe, or possibly in international waters, if you know what I mean.

So, yeah, it's that kind of show: like a very large bikini bar that happens to be packed with exotic hand-built motorcycles. What it is losing in diversity of style, it's making up in new blood, and crowds appear to just keep on coming. If you happen to be in California for the MotoGP next year, come to this show while you're in the general neighborhood and check out LA's notorious poser scene firsthand.


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