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Tattooes, Harleys and Good Manners: The Local Parties with the Hells Angels

.Rachel Citron

Sunday afternoon the Third Street Crew of the New York City Hells Angels transformed Jamaica, Queens into a scene straight out of a post-apocalyptic motorcycle movie. Roaring in on low-slung chrome-plated Harleys, roughly 500 tattooed riders seemed right at home in the desolate industrial terrain that hosted the 13th annual St. Patrick’s Day Bash.

All the ingredients were in place for a great time: corned beef, cabbage, a comely brunette serving $4 drinks, a rock and roll band and not a police car in sight. But Angels run a tight ship and there were no orgiastic drunken brawls observed by The Local. In fact, when a female reporter dropped her fountain pen, three muscular bikers scrambled to retrieve it. Perfect gents for at least one moment in time.

By 2 p.m. U.S. military veterans and iron workers on hogs were still arriving in a steady stream to the Portuguese recreational club on Liberty Avenue near 148th Street, greeting fellow wheelers with brotherly hugs and man-talk. They paid $20 a piece for admission to the club, lining up for the hearty catered lunch and taking in music by Hugh Pool and Buddy Cage from New Riders of the Purple Sage.

It was hard to hear and maneuver amid the crush of hulking alpha males in leather and denim, but it was clear that union members with their own motorcycle clubs vastly outnumbered the Angels at the event. These included bikers belonging to Locals 46 and 580 of the New York Iron Workers (currently working on the new World Trade Center) and to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, New York City Council District. “We ride with our own clubs but we have respect for the Angels,” said the carpenters’ motorcycle club president Joe Urbano.

Of course, any public event with the cultural cache of the Hells Angels is going to have a merchandising component behind it. Angels clothing, including some items for women, was for sale along with copies of the club’s 2012 calendar (you’ll have to decide for yourself how it stacks up against the Fire Department’s calendar).

Kathie Gimino of Staten Island hawked black t-shirts and assorted “badass embroidery.”
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