By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
And with that, Wishbone summoned a female stranger for an impromptu, very public meet and greet on Cape Buffalo's patio. The girl—beer in her hand and riding home on the back of a motorcycle on her mind—didn't blink at Wishbone's request to get a closer look at her haircut. She lifted up her denim skirt, pulled down her satin red panties and ...
"Motorcycles," Wishbone says after shooing the girl as quickly as he wooed her, "are a powerful aphrodisiac."
Since its inception in 1966 in San Antonio, the Bandidos club has commanded, demanded or—in some cases—simply extracted respect from the bike community.
One of the country's major outlaw clubs along with Hells Angels (Oakland), The Outlaws (Detroit), Mongols (Los Angeles) Sons of Silence (Colorado Springs) and The Pagans (Washington, D.C.), the Bandidos have more than 200 chapters in 16 countries including Australia, Russia and Thailand. Bandidos is the club not to be trifled with in Dallas. It has countless support clubs such as Desgraciados in Dallas, whose newly minted president—"Little Rob"—zips around the city on a bike powered by a Porsche engine. Its members always greet each other with a hug, sport a classic red-and-gold patch depicting a cartoonish Mexican bandit wearing a sombrero and brandishing a pistol and a machete, and almost dare other clubs to misstep.
So dreaded are Bandidos that clubs such as the Bastards don't refer to their home state on their bottom-rocker patch, as to not even hint at the possibility of claiming "TEXAS" as their territory.
"I'd die for the sombrero, you better fucking believe it," says Zach in a rare interview at Duke's, during which he wore a hooded sweatshirt, trademark leather jacket, fashionable black glasses, a healthy display of facial hair and a 1% ring on his finger. "There's nothing in this world I love more. My chapter comes before anything in my life. Before my family. Before my job. That's because this is my family. That's how we're different from every other club. We've earned this fucking patch."
Bandidos have a history of violence and are still classified by the FBI as an "outlaw motorcycle gang." In 2006 their international president, George Wegers, received a two-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to racketeering, and in recent years members have been arrested for drugs, kidnapping, illegal weapons and grand theft auto.
"Let's get this straight: We're not a gang, we're a club," Zach says. "We're not a criminal organization; we're an organization with a few criminals in it. I get profiled all the time just for wearing these colors and these patches. It's not fair, but that's the way it is. It don't mean shit. That's the price for being the big dogs."
Though there is a local Confederacy of Clubs that attempts to construct guidelines and regulate interaction between clubs, the most important rules are unwritten—things like territorial boundaries and accepted acknowledgments. Cross these lines, and the Bandidos aren't afraid to dish out consequences.
"You step on our dicks and you've got yourself a problem," Zach says. "We demand loyalty and respect and one way or another we'll get it. We're the most badass club in Texas and, if we have to, we'll remind others to make sure they don't forget."
Even Zach, however, admits the culture has softened.
"Maybe a little," he says. "Ten years ago if the wrong people were in our territory it was shoot on sight."
Though Bandidos is one of the most threatening groups in Dallas, it maintains it is merely the most committed. Chapter members hold real jobs—Zach works for a local railroad company—and treat prospects with respect ("We make them earn the patch, but we don't make them eat a pile of shit or anything like that," he says).
"To us this isn't a hobby or a way to see the pretty sights on the weekend," he says. "We ride hard. We play hard. Yeah, we hang out in bars."
But do the Bandidos always pay their tab?
"Most of the time," Zach says with a smirk. "Depends on whether we bump into our waitress on the way out."
It's official. I'm a bitch.
In biker parlance anyway, as on Sunday, November 21, I hop on the back—"bitch seat"—of a motorcycle for my virginal voyage from Duke's to Strokers. With fear in my eyes and no helmet on my head—in order to enhance that 360-degree experience—I jump on a Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster. With naive trust that my first ride won't be my last, I put my life in the hands of...a former Chicago Bears cheerleader.
She is blonde. She is curvier than the loop around White Rock Lake. She is a Carrollton in-home child care entrepreneur who has swapped last night's little black dress at the Margarita Ball for this afternoon's little brown chaps atop her modish bike. She is—as I hesitantly lock my hands around her waist—the empowered dominatrix to my desperate, helpless submissive.
"I've only had one bad wreck," says Sandy White, an independent rider who is 50 going on 25. "Got 20 stitches in my head and a cracked kneecap in 2003. Guy fell asleep on the Tollway. Totally rear-ended me."