Longform

Motorcycle club members and weekend warriors, seeking the freedom of the road, face dangerous curves on and off Dallas streets

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"To the one-percenters, club comes before anything else," Voodoo says. "If your mom's lying on her deathbed and your club calls a meeting, you're at the meeting."

If you want to ride sans affiliation with a club, you ride as an independent like "George T. Wishbone." Independents hang out with clubs; they just don't belong to them.

"In clubs, if a member screws up you have to back them up no matter what," says Wishbone on a cool November night at Cape Buffalo grill in North Dallas. "I don't go for that shit. Independents are a club by not being a club. Our patch is not having a patch."

Wishbone, who hosts parties at his house with guests from numerous clubs, is particularly proud of two patches on his vest, however. One shows a poker hand full of aces, missing only the clubs suit. The other one depicts "The White House" in Washington, D.C. Yes, that one.

"I do know people high up at the White House," he says. "But what exactly does it mean? It's in your best interest to not investigate further. I'm serious."

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.

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt