BOOT RIDE 2012: Riding with the Sons of Anarchy
Story by Ray Seidel and Ilenia Herrera Lutz. Photos by Ray Seidel.
Would you like to meet the stars of the hit FX show Sons of Anarchy? Would you like to ride with ‘em? Many fans got to do exactly that on Sunday, August 26, and at the same time support a great cause. The Boot Campaign has been helping returning troops by selling military boots to raise funds and give them a helping hand. The cast of Sons are no strangers to helping our troops, already having taken a USO tour overseas to show support. I first learned of the Boot Campaign last year while interviewing Theo Rossi and Kim Coates, while doing a story on Theo’s new custom bobber – both of these guys being the driving force in getting the Boot Ride going. On visiting the sets for our annual SOA story they had already lined up several actors to turn out for the event, but still hush-hush on just who would be participating. Just a couple of weeks later the Boot Ride took place at the HAPPY ENDING Bar and Restaurant in Hollywood, and to my astonishment, EVERYBODY from the show had shown up, including showrunner Kurt Sutter and his wife Katey Segal (Gemma), who even took time to sing a couple of songs.
This year, the event was even bigger, organized by the lovely Meghan of The Boot Campaign. For 2012, the ride started at the Route 66 Classic Grill in Canyon Country. I arrived around 11AM, and already the parking lot was nearly full with spectators waiting to get a good look at the cast as they rode in. And soon they arrived on their personal bikes – with one exception: Ron Perlman is NOT into bikes. “I like my Mercedes, I like my Bose.” And thus, Ron arrives in his sparkling new silver Mercedes convertible, top down. “I had the air conditioning on; I’m not taking any chances.”
NOTE: This event was SOLD OUT. After the cast arrived, because the numbers were limited, everyone had a good 90 minutes to rub elbows with the SOA cast. Want an autograph of your favorite actor? No problem. Want your picture taken with them (which seemed to be the most popular thing to do) – sure thing. Everyone in the cast was a good sport about being ambushed by a fan, but again, because the number of people was limited, it was all manageable and everyone got to have some time with the cast. Which, by the way, included the new members of the show such as Sean McNabb and Kurt Yeager. As you can see from the pictures, the fans were beaming with delight, and the actors were enjoying it as well. Food was available in the autograph area, or, as the cast did, one could eat at the Route 66 Classic Grill, which has a really cool “Road” theme to it.
After eating, it was “Kickstands Up” – and the cast mounted their rides for the trip to the Boot Rally at (again) the Happy Ending Bar and Restaurant in Hollywood (a favorite of Theo Rossi, who has known the owners for some time). Even if one could not get in on the Boot Ride ($150 each) there was still the Rally for a small charge, and still see the cast, if at a distance. Even MORE of the cast and crew were over here, including Kristen Renton (Ima), Winter Ave Zoli (Lyla), costume designer (and Best Costume Designer nominee) Kelli Jones, and makeup artist Tracy Anderson. And if you wanted a tattoo by the same girl who applies them to the SOA actors, Tracy and her helpers were there at a booth (as she was last year) to do just that for a donation to the Boot Campaign. And yeah, I got myself an SOA Reaper tat, same place Juice has his. Too cool! Meghan was able to get a few of the different characters tats for this occasion for herself.
In addition to the tattoo booth, one could, of course, buy the military boots. Meghan was wearing some, and I have to say, they actually complimented her outfit and looked really good – akin to mukluks, but a bit more fetching. For the guys (and some of the ladies?) there was also a booth for hand-made cigars, rolled right in front of you. I happened to have brought my own Cubans to share with the cast; otherwise I would have pounced on that like a duck on a Junebug.
At the Rally is where the press had THEIR chance to get pictures, video, and interviews. Unfortunately, the number of reporters (including international!) was at least three times the number as last year, making for cranky reporters who didn’t dig in for a spot well before the cast rolled out. First question to Theo Rossi:
Q: This rally is your baby, your event – you have a very strong commitment.
Theo: “I’m an ambassador for them.”
Q: You mentor some of the soldiers, you’re overseas. Tell us about your events with the troops.
Theo: “I go whenever I can, whenever I get a minute. I go to any base I can; Pendleton, Iraq, Kuwait, Ft. Hood, we’ll be in San Diego – I actually have a bunch of the SEALS staying at my house, a couple Army guys – they come out, they stay with me. You know, Kim, myself, Dayton, Mark, we went to Iraq and Kuwait a couple years ago on a USO tour, and it changed everything for me. Because the fact is, we’re all in this together – and these guys coming home – they’re the most skilled, beautiful, living Superheroes. And I’ll do anything I can because it’s my duty to help them have an easier time when they come back, because it ain’t easy when they’re on deployment. So, who am I NOT to do something? That’s kind of my thing.”
We also saw our good friend Emilio Rivera, and ask what we can expect from Alvarez this season.
“Alvarez is alive, and that’s all I can say” [With a wink and a nod]. And what’s coming up? “I’m directing my first movie in March. I’m also starring in ‘The Devil’s in the Details’ with Ray Liotta – it’s like a horror film kind of thing. And I’ve got my wife Yadi in a couple films, so we’re good.” And how did he end up directing? “You know what happened” It fell in my lap. They sent me the script, I read the script, and my character died on page 23. And I said I really liked the script, but the only way I would do it is if I directed it. And they said ‘we were hoping you’d say that.’”
A pet project for Charlie has been Vlad (the Impaler). Is that film dead, or what? “It’s not dead – there’s just no momentum. But it’ll get made.” That’s one I’d like to see.
The live performance this year was by Blackberry Smoke, who never ran out of steam throughout the day – and the pictures ought to convey what a party this event was. Beer, food, music, vendor booths, and hanging with the Sons of Anarchy on a warm August day, how can you beat that? And, helping our returning servicemen at the same time. I ought to mention the Happy Ending Restaurant had seating available every time I went in, and the calzone I ordered was large and tasty. So far as I know, and I’ve been hanging with these guys for 5 seasons now, this is your best chance to meet up with and ride with the Sons of Anarchy. It is all the better in that it gives something to our military guys who put so much on the line for us back home, and being a veteran myself, I know how much that means, and I can’t thank enough Theo, Kim, Meghan, and the cast and crew for giving their time and support.
“When they come back, we give back”
See you there next year.