9.25.2011

"Cisco". The president of the Oakland Hells Angels.

This is Cisco, the president of the Oakland Hells Angels. He is a living, breathing piece of American history. He's the successor of Sonny Barger, and one of the world's longest standing Hells Angels. He's one of the true kings of American outlaw culture. I've got a lot of respect for this cat and his crew.

I met Cisco four years ago. I know him, along with many of the cool and unusual connections I have, because of being friends and touring with Sioux City Pete. I feel lucky to have been a guest in Cisco's home enough times that he calls me friend, and has let me know I am welcome any time. The people that live at his house are some of the most hospitable you'll ever meet. Here's a prime example. Two years back my band and one of the bands we were touring with (the Crystelles!) stayed with our Angels crew for 3 days. They opened their home to everyone, fed our huge road-weary lot, kept us feelin' great and treated us like family, though they'd just met our travel companions. That trip I had a long one-on-one country music listening session with Cisco and got a schooling from him about some artists and tunes I wasn't familiar with. He played me song after song as the two of us chain smoked and talked in his garage. Pete, Amanda and I got to ride with him in his Cadillac to the Oakland Hells Angels club house in the middle of the night for an impromptu tour. Cisco even gave Pete a key to the house when we departed. Once you're in, they take good care of you and yours.

This time around I was on vacation with my boyfriend. Jakes, my friend Katalina and I spent an afternoon hanging with the women of the house and an Angel, all of whom I adore. When Cisco got home we spent hours in his shop while he entertained us with stories, answered any questions we had about his life and told tons of jokes, all of them raunchy. When he found out I was raised Catholic he really unleashed some side splitters. He also brought up the rather memorable first time I came to his house in 2007. While we were watching a movie, I drank too much of the vodka they had provided and got terribly sick and spent much of the night in his bathroom. It's funny now, but there were plenty of tears at the time. He has quite the memory. Since I've known him I've heard first hand tales of his wild life as and Angel, Altamont, his work in Hollywood and stories of Hunter S. Thompson, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Lemmy and Janis Joplin to name a few.

Cisco said to me that he feels he's never been quoted properly or portrayed correctly. I would never want to add to that, so this is where my story stops. I've decided to leave out names aside from Cisco's. I have not included most of my photos from that day, including the one I think to be the best but a bit too personal, they're for my private collection. I feel honored that he let my camera into his home and let me take a portrait of him, so I'm posting with discretion. Vanity tempts me to post the picture of me with him, but I think this is enough for now. If you search around the internet, you'll notice that there really aren't any other recent proper portraits of him. This is it. To me, this first shot is the most important photo I have ever taken, and I don't know if I'll ever top it.



This first image is a home darkroom print. 
(Replaced the negative scan on 12/4/11)





In the middle: Cisco long ago.


In the shop. LOVE IT! He's an Elvis fan too. 


Jakes, Kat & Cisco. In this photo, he's leaving a voicemail for Lars Frederiksen to tell him he has friends in town. :)


Other shots from the day:

Me and Jakes hangin' around the compound. Snapped by Katalina.


The ladiezzz of the house! <3


Katalina, a darlin' Angel mama and Jakes.


One of Pete's oldest friends and her hubby. This is how we met Cisco.



A color snap of a dear sweetie pie at the house. 



Canon Ae-1 Program camera. Ilford Delta 3200 film.


*Cisco's shirt "Support Oakland Red and White" refers to the Angels. Their patches are red lettering on a white background. Somethin' like this: