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700 Club CBN Shows

The 700 Club

"American Chopper" Star Talks Choppers, Family, and Faith

DYSFUNCTIONAL HOME
Growing up, Paul Jr.’s mom was loving and supportive. The most important thing she did for her children was instill Christian values in their dysfunctional home. “She planted seeds that would have a great impact on me years later,” shares Paul Jr. His dad, Paul Sr., was an alcoholic and a workaholic who worked hard for his family but also drank just as hard. When Paul Sr. finally sobered up, the environment around the house improved for a couple of years. The family did more things together, like taking vacations, and his father even attended church more frequently, but the marital strife remained.

When Paul Jr. was twelve, he went to a filming of Paul and Jan Crouch of the Trinity Broadcasting Network with his mom. Meadowlark Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters was one of their guests. He spoke about salvation and Paul Jr. went forward and accepted Jesus as his Savior.  However, that didn’t mean that his life suddenly got easier. When Paul Jr. became a teenager, the relationship with his dad became more strained. As Paul Jr. began to try and figure out life for himself, he began to smoke, use marijuana, and drink. He worked with Paul Sr. on weekends and during the school year in his steel business. “Working alongside my father that much was a bad thing for our combustible relationship,” shares Paul Jr. They spent long days at the shop and then they’d be together after work too. Paul Sr. always seemed to have some type of issue with Paul Jr. “He knew which buttons of mine to push,” shares Paul Jr. In his early twenties, Paul Jr. began to sprout his wings professionally and he felt that his dad responded by seeking to control him more.  In his early twenties, Paul Jr.’s parents separated.  The professional relationship with his dad also went downhill. For ten years, Paul, Jr. smoked pot so he didn’t have to deal with his emotions. When he started experiencing severe anxiety attacks, Paul Jr. decided to stop using marijuana in an attempt to defeat the anxiety. He also decided to get involved at church and study the Bible. It was during this time that Paul Jr. began to understand who God truly is and separate his perception of his heavenly Father from that of his earthly father.

FIRED AND SUED
In 2002, Discovery contacted Paul Sr. about doing a pilot for an East Coast bike building show. The pilot aired on September 29, 2002 with more than two million viewers. Discovery decided to turn American Chopper into a series. “The arguments, shouting matches, door slamming, and wall-punching were no different from my life growing up with my father, working for him in the steel business and then building bikes together. The only difference once American Chopper started was that there were cameras around recording our blowups for the world to see,” shares Paul. On September 28, 2008 Paul was fired from Orange County Choppers after a heated argument. Paul recalls, “At the time it seemed devastating, but it turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to me.  Working for my father had long been oppressive and it was time to leave,” shares Paul Jr. Paul continued to appear on the show until it ended in 2010, but he started his own company, Paul Jr. Designs (PJD) that specialized in custom bikes.

In July 2009, Paul Jr. was sued by Paul Sr. for his shares in Orange County Choppers. Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. settled the matter out of court in 2010.

A NEW CHAPTER
Paul met Rachael in 2007 and they began dating. He asked if she would like to start going to church together. She agreed and that set them on the path that led to many more good things. A couple of years later they met a man named Michael Guido who had an organization called PR Ministreis. He and his wife spent time getting to know Paul and Rachael. Although Michael and his wife did not agree with Paul and Rachael living together, they did not judge them. One weekend, Paul was invited to spend a weekend with Michael and Rick Marshall who directed crusades for Billy Graham. It was there Paul felt conviction about living with Rachael. Together they decided to honor God as a couple and Rachael moved out. Nine months later they married on August 20, 2010. The couple welcomed a son, Hudson, two years after they stopped filming the show.  

“In spite of all the negatives and difficulties, I love my father, because he is my father,” shares Paul. The relationship between the two has never had a good relationship. “I think we have tried more at certain times than others to get along well, but our relationship has always been one of adversity,” shares Paul. The conflicts on American Chopper were rooted in a one-sided sense of competition that developed before the show. When Paul’s creativity in designing bikes began to attract attention, the relationship became more strained. Instead of being proud, his father became jealous.

RETURN OF AMERICAN CHOPPER
After five years off the air, Discovery Channel is reviving the iconic motorcycle-construction reality series American Chopper. Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. are back on board as the show’s bike-building craftsmen. In the new show, the duo “set out reclaim their preeminent bike brands and – hopefully, rebuild some sort of relationship. Paul Sr. has revamped Orange County Choppers – turning it into a complex with a shop, café, bowling alley, restaurant and of course, the showroom – but all that didn’t come without a hefty price tag and he is feeling the burden of a high overhead and a lack of foot traffic. Meanwhile, Paul Jr. has also felt the sting of a rough economy – with his business built solely on high-dollar custom-builds and commissions. Paul Jr. stresses about the long-term stability of his own shop, Paul Jr. Designs, especially now that he has his own family.

The original American Chopper premiered as a special in 2002 and ran for 10 years, airing 223 episodes before being cancelled in 2010 and then was rebooted as the spinoff American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior for another two years. One of Discovery’s most popular programs, American Chopper averaged 3.4 million viewers at its peak and returns to Discovery in the spring of 2018.

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Guest Info

Credits

Author, The Build, (Waterbrook, 2017)

Reality TV star of American Chopper – being revived by Discovery Channel in 2018 after being off air for five years

Business owner, Paul Jr. Designs

Married to Rachael

Child: Hudson

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