Paisano Publications is the grandaddy of biker publishing. They broke trail for the rest of the industry to follow before most ChopCult members were shittin' green. I've got a fat stack of old rags that I peruse for inspiration and entertainment all the time, so when the opportunity to visit Easyriders headquarters in Southern California presented itself last month, I jumped at the chance.
Thanks to Cary Brobeck for the invite, and to Dave, Kim and others for letting me invade their space and pester them with stupid questions. Cary was a co-founder and formerly at the helm of Hopper online magazine. Cary's panhead has been featured on ChopCult before, and the man's quietly been slipping EDR, Douche LaRouche and other similarly themed "underground" content onto Easyriders' pages for a while now.
With about a dozen other titles, Paisano does more than merely ER, all related to bikes, boobs, hot rods or tattoos. I've got tons of respect for what they've done over the years, even if quite frankly their current issues aren't exactly what I'm looking for in a chopper magazine. However, things are changing over on Dorothy Street as editors retire, titles get mashed together and young guns like Cary step up. And as much as things change, the more some things stay the same. Like any good altruist, Paisano Publishing's owner Joe Teresi sticks to his guns. As one of the founders of ABATE, Joe hasn't allowed a single helmet ad in Easyriders since the early '70s. Do the math. A full-page ad is at least a few grand, sometimes much more. With 450-plus issues printed over the years, that's a lot of potential ad revenue to leave on the table. Agree with the concept or not; one has to respect the man for putting his money where his mouth is.
Easyriders Editor Dave Nichols was gracious enough to answer a few questions and give us a little deeper insight into the belly of the Paisano beast.
The man with the plan, Dave Nichols
No shortage of archives
What year did Easyriders start and how many issues have been printed since?
The first issue was June 1971. Right now we are on issue 468.
Lots of history on these walls
How long have you been at the helm?
I started with Paisano in 1991 and have been the editor of Easyriders since 1998.
I've got wood
What other titles does Paisano publish?
Easyriders, V-Twin, In The Wind, Biker, Road Iron, RebelRodz, Tattoo, Tattoo Flash, Tattoo Savage. Plus we will be starting two new magazines later this year, one in the tattoo world and the other for young bikers.
This has to be the only boardroom in the world where David Mann originals decorate the walls
I hear there are some changes coming to Biker and In The Wind, what's the news there?
Biker is becoming part of Easyriders, bringing raunchier humor, old-school choppers and bobbers, and biker events from around the country to Easyriders.
As the editor of the largest and oldest custom motorcycle magazine in the world, what do you think about this new generation of riders running around on old bikes, doing the work themselves and not fitting the contemporary definition of today's "biker"?
I think it’s great! We need young bikers with passion and heart to take the reins. If we don’t have a few wolves to keep the rebellion going we’ll just be a nation of sheep.
Kim Peterson, editor of In the Wind. Yes, it is a hard life!
What's your take on smaller format magazines like Show Class, DicE, Greasy Kulture, Lowside, etc? How about internet rersources like ChopCult or the hundreds of blogs dedicated to hand-built choppers.
The biker lifestyle has always been about the riding community, only back in the '70s we didn’t have the Internet. Now you can meet brothers and sisters from all over the world and keep tabs on what they’re building and where they’re partyin’. It’s all good.
Looking at bikes and boobs all day works up a hearty thirst
Will there ever be a helmet ad in Easyriders?
Nope. Joe Teresi started ABATE back in the 1970’s and here at Easyriders we still believe in your right to decide if you want to wear a skid lid or not. In other words, we promote freedom of choice.
What does a full-page color ad cost if a company wanted to advertise, and what's the circulation these days? What's the highest it has ever been?
A full-page color ad in Easyirders is over three grand but we have black and white fractional ads that go for just $260 for mom-and-pop shops and the like. Easyrider has the highest pass along rate in the industry. I’m not supposed to talk circulation since we also have foreign editions in various languages and numbers fluctuate—let’s just say millions of eyes look at Easyrider every month.
I've heard rumors of a new magazine maybe oriented towards a more ChopCult-style audience. Care to elaborate a little on this?
That’s top-secret shit, man. I’ll just say we’re gonna blow your mind later this year.
Can you explain the "Pirate thing?"
Bikers and pirates are very similar. They both seek freedom; one on the sea and the other in the wind. I’ve always been a pirate at heart but now I go to Children’s Hospitals as Captain Jack Sparrow in search of a crew to take to Tortuga, savvy?
A lot of the content Dave Nichols is in charge of editing in Easyriders magazine is rated "Rrrrggggghhhh"
What's the most enjoyable part of your job?
Making bikers' dreams come true. Getting your bike in Easyriders is the ultimate dream for a lot of dudes. I can do that for people.
Everybody's gotta believe in something…
You mentioned that Easyriders is bringing back David Mann centerfolds, is this going to be in every issue from now on? Do you get to pick these?
Yes! There is a whole generation who have never seen David Mann’s art and we’re gonna fix that right now. Plus, there are a lot of older guys who need a fresh copy of his painting to hang in the shop or garage. We’ll have a classic David Mann painting in every issue of Easyriders from now on, picked by our publisher Joe Teresi and yours truly.
Anything that sucks about making a magazine with naked girls and choppers?
You’re kidding, right?
After speaking to Dave Nichols about Easyriders, we pestered Brobeck about what he's up to at Paisano Publishing. Here's what he had to say.
Brobeck, editor of the new magainze called…
What's it like being the youngest guy in the building?
It's great being 40 and the youngest guy here at ER. I can see that the guys and gals there like the fresh perspective that I bring to the table. Even though I am not doing anything that these guys didn't do themselves in 40 years ago. Trust me when I say that the Easyriders staff has seen and done it all. I could sit for hours and listen to all the road stories these guys can remember, some of them make the EDR seem like a Boy Scout Jamboree.
What's your mission at ER HQ?
When I first started here I kind of just wanted to help get ER back to its roots. I remember reading ER when I was a little ankle biter. Sneaking them into the bathroom and rubbin' my little wang over the biker chicks and dreaming of hauling one of those biker sluts on my own chopper some day. With just a few conversations with Dave Nichols I quickly realized that the magazine has evolved into what it is today and they simply could not just go back to featuring dirty bikers and panheads. ER has a following that likes what they see, and when it's all said and done it's about selling mags. However, the recent merge with BIKER magazine and the larger format mag has really come around. Fewer 60-thousand-dollar show bikes and more home-built stuff is going in, not to mention that David Mann centerfolds are back. My mission has now changed here at ER. Paisano Publications will soon have its own "Chopper" magazine. I have some really talented people helping me out with this project, it's going to be rad.
What have you done so far?
So far I have just been writing and shooting for ER. What more can a dude ask for: get paid to ride to Arizona, Kern River, fly to Japan, etc. Now I have the task of starting up a new mag from scratch, It's way more work than it sounds like.
What do you think is going to be different around here in ten years?
I think in the next ten years there will be huge changes. A lot of these guys will be ready to retire. I'm just hoping to be able to produce a killer mag for them so they'll keep me around. This is a tough biz to be in. I'm learning, but what better place to learn the biz than with Easyriders?
With shakedowns in both the printing/publishing industry and the custom motorcycle world in the last decade, magazines are not an easy business to be in. But, with guys like Dave in charge and new guns like Cary on the come-up, there may be some new glory days ahead of them.
What do you think about Easyriders, a new magazine, and Paisano Publishing in general?