'American Chopper' dad Paul Teutul Sr. - today's reality shows 'a joke'


Balloon loon Richard Heene's path to landing a reality show was all wrong, according to Paul Teutul Sr., head of TLC's "American Chopper" family.
"That's greed," Teutul said of Heene's efforts to get his own show. "That's out of the realm. I didn't do anything to get the TV show, it came to me."
Heene last week allegedly launched an oversized balloon and said he thought his son was inside it. Police called it a hoax devised to sell a reality show.
"There's a lot of people out there that think the same way," Teutul said. "If you look at the reality shows out there today, it's a joke."
Teutul, head of the Orange County Choppers customizer, knows a bit about reality shows. "American Chopper," produced by Craig Piligian, launched six seasons ago and put the motorcycle-building family from upstate New York on the map. It propelled Teutul and his sons, Paul Jr. and Mikey, into celebrityland, and also gave family dramas a role as reality fodder.
On TV, the Teutuls were artisans, creating one-of-a-kind motorcycles while fighting, like most families.
"I honestly believe we're the only real reality show out there," Teutul said. "You can't stage the things that happen. There's no script."
Indeed, the sixth season gets underway Thursday at 9 p.m. with the family estranged, having split up at the end of last season.
Paul Jr. now has his own design business, while Mikey is trying to find his way. All three are interviewed on camera in an attempt to present their sides of the story. At one point in the first show, Mikey talks to Paul Sr. about reuniting the family.
"I'm still getting stepped on, and I need to make a separation," Teutul Sr., 60, told The News. "My health was starting to deteriorate."
Paul and Mikey appear on the show, but they now work for TLC, not OCC.
"I think the TV show plays into this tremendously," Teutul said. "Before the TV show, I had a steel business for 28 years. I worked all my life. Those guys never had a job but working for me."
Teutul said his sons got famous working for him on the TV show. He's quick to note they were all part of the show becoming a hit.
"If you're a self-centered person and all of a sudden this fame comes on - and a bundle of money - then everything changes, which it shouldn't," he said. "For me, it hasn't changed. I never had no role models. I never had nobody. Nobody gave me anything. These guys had a golden spoon in their a-."
Now, he said, he must balance being a dad, a TV star and a businessman.
That business recently brought the Teutuls close to another feuding family, in TLC's crossover episodes of "American Chopper" and "Jon & Kate Plus 8."
"I thought it was going to be a bad experience, but it was a good experience, believe it or not," he said. "I spent a lot of time with [Kate]. She was very nice, that was my experience. I expected her to be totally different."

"Jon & Kate Plus 8" will soon end.
As for "American Chopper," Teutul said he loves it, and loves making bikes for groups like the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which happens later in the season



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