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Willie’s Tropical Tattoo 2012 Chopper Time Bike Show

By Catherine "Katmandu" Palmer

ORMOND BEACH, FLA., MARCH 15—It was a picture-perfect day as the Biker Chick Beach Club (BCBC) mounted up and headed for Daytona Bike Week 2012. The motorcycles were packed with locks and cables, while the little Ford support wagon was fully stocked for multiple hotel nights of blurred partying. Along with me was faithful friend and BCBC administrator Dawn “Sister Golden Hair” and Deb “Slippers” Lyon, a newbie to Daytona Bike Week and first-time solo bike rider. “Sista’ Boots” brought up the rear and we turned up the stereo in my car to lobe-blasting levels of the blues as we rolled out onto Interstate 95, excited to see the beaches and big city life of Daytona Beach’s 71st Bike Week. It’s finally March—chopper time at Willie’s!

My favorite stop during Bike Week has always been the Tropical Tattoo Bike Show. Officially named Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Chopper Time Old School Chopper Show, it was celebrating its 10-year spring anniversary and has become more than just another bike show—it has evolved into a copperhead’s institution. After more than two decades in the same location at 825 South Yonge Street, Ormond Beach, Willie’s has become one of the most respected and established bike shows in the greater Daytona Beach area. Willie and Nancy G. Davidson even showed up this year, along with other biker celebs, but the real stars of this show are the insanely incredible V-twins and British bohemian bikes that grace the front parking lot of this tattoo parlor.

Willie and an adoring fan

Willie and an adoring fan

Seven days a week, the artists at Tropical Tattoo have provided Daytona residents and tourists, the famous and infamous, a level of inking expertise and professional service that has formed the backbone of the now world famous Tropical Tattoo Bike Show. The artists are all longtime experts in all manner of styles, including custom drawings and even entire back artwork. Artists Pete, Clay, Joe, Nate, Mike, Zak and Mark all have portfolios available for browsing and are always happy to help develop your ideas by working one-on-one with the customer. This is the underlying reason that Willie Jones, owner and friend to all who ride, along with his wife Jeanie, offered to pull off their 21st consecutive show. (There are two shows a year held here, Bike Week and Biketoberfest.) Bringing the bikes together with the arts works for me, too.

Willie tells me this year’s Bike Week show was one of the best ever with the largest crowd to date and over 180 motorcycles vying for the handsome hand-built trophies in the out-of-the-ordinary categories (our favorite is “Willie’s Choice”). The weather participated by providing lots of sunshine and soaking us all in sweat, but the entire day was exceptional with the show getting off to a very early start. All was indeed golden except for the dumb asses who parked in the driveway of the Walgreens next door. That little stunt earned them tickets for their inability to seek parking elsewhere among the neighborhood’s old oaks. These entire two blocks of Ormond Beach, including both businesses and homeowners, are on the same page with Willie and his show. Even the Walgreen’s business quadruples during this Thursday-only event. But… you can’t block their driveway. So remember that next time or get ready to fork over some big bucks when you show up to pay your fine.

Another aspect that was disconcerting was the number of children present. This is an adult show with some ladies showing their endowments at a backyard party and it really is no place for kids. And one more bitch—leave the snakes and dogs at home. There is so little room to move around the choppers and even less this year in the back next to the bands, which were smokin’ hot and included the Dirty Chucks, Kings of Hell and Hair of the Beast.

Earlier rumors that the show would no longer be held were swept away by several businesses stepping up with sponsorship

Pristine Panhead in candy-apple red

Pristine Panhead in candy-apple red

endorsements. The Horse BackStreet Choppers, Brew Dude, Led Sled and Twisted Tea’s Bill Grotta were monumental in keeping this tradition and its success on track as planned. Roadside Marty, master of ceremonies and all-round biker community spokesman, kept the crowds wowed and he wooed as many female fans as humanly possible. What many people may not realize is that behind the scenes a local animal shelter benefits from all this machinery and mayhem. Additional monies received via customers, beverages, sponsors and bike show entrance fees go to help a local veterans’ home. Willie thanks Jay, Marcus, Tito and Sean along with the boys and girls at Trailer Trash Motorcycles for all they do.

Tropical Tattoo is a member of both the Florida Professional Tattoo Artist Guild and the Alliance of Professional Tattoo Artists. They are also members of the Ormond Beach and Holly Hill Chambers of Commerce. On top of all those credentials, Willie’s staff upholds professional standards in health and safety codes that exceed state law requirements. So if you want to get inked during Bike Week, come to the show, hang out, watch the results and plan your day accordingly. If you come to town early in the week you’ll get right in, or be like me and come the day afterwards—I went and had another hole put in my right ear.

You can also meet the man himself, sweet Willie, at the Iron Horse Saloon on Tuesday nights during those weeks when Daytona isn’t so slammed with bike traffic and spring breakers. That’s when he helps promote the saloon by working as a celebrity bartender, which was his former job at the Boot Hill many moons ago. He recommends you best order something simple like a Jack and Coke, which is his specialty.

My blood stirs as these chopper and custom motorcycle shows come up on the calendar. It’s one of the few times each year I get to see the many associates and friends I’ve made in the industry over the last decade. And while some didn’t make an appearance this year, many others were ready to pose and play with Dawn, Boots, Slippers and me. Being associated with these biker types reminds me why I keep coming around. Check it out for yourself in October. And if you want to be a sponsor, call Kari at 313.737.8888 and tell her you read it here. It is better to call sooner than later since the spots are hotter than the Twisted Tea hard bellies. Go to www.tropicaltattoo.com for details of the next kickass party. 4


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