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What was the cost of being involved with a motorcycle club? Hint, it was more than just money

By James “Hollywood” Macecari

Member of the ONA Press Association

Editorial Writer

What was the cost of being involved with a motorcycle club? Hint, it was more than just money

One of the lessons I’ve learned running Insane Throttle Biker News and Hosting Motorcycle Madhouse Morning Mayhem, people have no idea whatsoever the cost that will come with membership in a club. 

Many people see a motorcycle club as a route to, “Brotherhood!” It’s not, not even close! Now, before I go further I’m not going to say it’s bad being a part of a club, it’s just not what people think it is. If you’re a former member of a motorcycle club I’m guessing you will agree. If you’re a supporter of a motorcycle club I’m guessing you will be ranting and raving in the comment section about how much I suck. Either way, I’ll give my opinion on what I believe and you can take it whatever way you like. 

Does a motorcycle club have, “True Brotherhood?” 

This is the question for all the ages isn’t it? I’ve heard the argument on both sides of the aisles and most of the time the “No’s” have it. This must be culture shock to those who are supporters, hangarounds and prospects. Truth is, like one individual said who left a major 1% club on good terms,” it’s all a big mirage!” I asked him what he meant by that and he said, “it’s all a numbers game now, nothing about most of these clubs is about brotherhood. You’re going to find out when you leave, there are no so-called brothers anywhere to be seen.”

“It’s all a numbers game now, nothing about most of these clubs is about brotherhood. You’re going to find out when you leave, there are no so-called brothers anywhere to be seen.”

I let that sink in for a while, actually a few days, before I revisited the statement he made. When I considered all his arguments a light bulb went off, he was right! Brotherhood is just a mirage, meaning while you’re in the club it might exist, but when you leave it vanishes. Those who again were in clubs can probably attest to this. 

Why does the brotherhood end at the door? Isn’t brotherhood supposed to be forever?

I’ve always argued from the viewpoint ,those who you left behind are doing their thing, people lose touch and go on with their lives. Is this all it is? I’m not so sure any longer since brotherhood is supposed to last through hell and back. Not being a member of a club anymore shouldn’t affect the relationships you had. Unless of course you were kicked out bad, but that’s a whole different article though. 

I was tight with many people when I left, I’m happy that I’m still in contact with them till this day. It’s been almost 15 years now. Now granted, it’s mostly with people I was in a chapter with, but I still do talk with many others in chapters all over. I think my case could be one of the lucky ones, many are not like this. Most of the time when someone leaves they no longer have contact. 

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I’ve found most of the time when people are disenchanted with former brothers it’s because there was no brotherhood in the first place. Personal beefs and politics is something that will ruin a club, not to mention a bond of brotherhood between individuals. I’ve seen this kind of stuff a lot, especially when it comes to the politics of a club. 

I would have to ask the question, “what was your reasoning for leaving in the first place?” Was it financial, work or family? Or was it because of the politics inside the club? I believe the reason someone doesn’t stay in touch with someone is because they have some kind of grudge against them. By no means is this the case every time, but when it comes to a club it’s almost dead on. 

I didn’t like the son of a bitch when I was in the club, why should I care when I’m out?

You don’t have to care, but you’re not entitled to go around saying brotherhood didn’t exist. I would argue it was you who decided it didn’t exist. I’m giving some examples by the way for a club’s position. Something many people get confused about. I like giving both angles to an argument so the readership can make up their minds. It’s sad that most times they think I’m being hypocritical, “you just said this and now you’re saying that.” I can’t help people who are not used to getting both sides. I believe the media is the blame for that one with their always one sided propaganda bullshit.  

On the other hand there are legit reasons why people think brotherhood is a mirage. One being contact is lost, others being clubs go through so many people over time. For example, there are only a few people I can say are still around from the time I was in. Sure, they know about me because of what I do, but they wouldn’t if I didn’t do all the content creating. When there is turnover  it’s hard to keep track of the ex members. 

The brotherhood can cost you your family. 

This is one of the saddest parts of a club, especially if you put all your time and energy into it and neglect your family. When I was in I saw too many of these situations happen.

Hell, I came close to losing my family because my dumb ass put everything else in front of them. This is one of the biggest mistakes I can honestly say isn’t worth so-called, “brotherhood.” I take the stance now that brothers are not blood, family is and thus come in first with my priorities. For those who’ve been through this can attest to the damage done to their families because of their priorities. Why do you think a lot of clubs now say, “Family, work and then club?” It’s because they know people have different priorities other than a club. Sad part, clubs use it as recruitment tools and then when you’re in everything changes. Instead of it being family, work and then club. It becomes club, work and then family. Work comes behind the club because you’ve got to make money for those dues and road trips. 

You’re going to have to find out for yourself, no one will be able to tell you anything different

I’ve been doing this blog since 2012. In that time I’ve conversed with thousands of people. People who would ask the famous question, “club or no club.” My answer has stayed the same till this very day. “NO CLUB!” 

I get it, wearing colors is an awesome experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Here’s the “but!” Clubs are a second job in which you have to pay them for your time, travel and other expenses to keep a clubhouse. To top it off, you won’t have any brothers when you leave. You will experience what many others tried to tell you when it’s all over and done with. I’ve also had tons of people that wrote me back saying they should’ve listened to me before they went through the process. 

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My famous saying, what is it? Come on you know! “Join a riding club, motorcycle rights organization or something else where you have no commitment.” I’m not saying it to be a dick to motorcycle clubs. I’m telling you like so many others probably have, it’s not worth it in the end.

“ I’ve also had tons of people that wrote me back saying they should’ve listened to me before they went through the process.”

WOW! “Why are you bashing on clubs?” This will be the bitch in the comment section, you will see people puff out that chest like I could give a shit. With that said, I’m not bashing them. I hate seeing people make mistakes and regret them later, especially when they were not ready to join a club in the first place. 

Well Hollywood, are you in a club? Why won’t you tell anyone?

This is a question I’ve been asked since I started this publication. No, I’m not in a motorcycle club. I’m in a different type of set-up, one that isn’t any of your business. Do I support particular motorcycle clubs? Yes, I do, but I try my best to give all a fair shake. To ward off the next question, Why won’t you tell anyone about that one? What I can tell you is I never worry about having to lose a brother. It’s an organization I’ve known and been in my whole life. I’m around guys that  I’ve grown up with, over 40 years now. True brotherhood is found in different ways, it’s not a one size fit all type of deal. I’m an independent biker and have no affiliations with any motorcycle club. Plain and simple, at least I hope it is anyways because I get tired of answering that question. 

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I find it funny when people try to claim a motorcycle club is the only one where a biker can find brotherhood. Again, I just sit back and laugh at that ignorance. I rode with a club and enjoyed it, it took away from my family and the real brotherhood I had. This combined with medical issues I decided to leave. So did I finally answer that question for all of you? Probably not, I’ll still get the assholes who want to know more or keep asking. 

Let’s wrap this up

Like many that have left a motorcycle club and will tell you, it’s not all ice cream and cupcakes. Club life is hard on your family, health and sanity. Many people who have or are in clubs still age quick and lots of health problems follow. The traveling, Stress and partying takes its toll on a body, something I wished I listened to. 

The brotherhood you’re looking for might actually be somewhere else other than a club. Don’t be in a rush to join an MC. Take your time and hangaround a few years and build a bond with people you might one day call brother. You will actually thank me for saying that by the way. Just because you own a motorcycle doesn’t mean you need a patch. You’re on two-wheels, you’re cooler than most of the people out there that don’t have a bike. Ride with it and don’t worry about all the other stuff is what I always say. 

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19 comments

  1. You are right on many of the aspects.I am a 1%er and club life has really wore me down.Its cost me jobs strained my marriage and pretty much made me a Pariah to society.But if I had the chance to do it all over again I would.Its about the moments.The time on your bike riding with your Brothers representing your club with pride.Brothers do come and go and without that patch theres nothing common.Todays great Brother can end up being tomorrows shitbag.Add on law enforcement harassment motorcycle wrecks financial issues
    health issues family issues it can take a toll on you.Most members dont make five years.And thats in all heavy duty clubs.But here I am year after doing it.Loving it hating it but still doing it.No regrets.

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  2. I agree with you 100%. I am in a smaller club than when I started all this 20 years ago. One club was in the big 10. Chapters nationwide. Expensive to bounce all over. But found that brotherhood there was a term. I can say, my current club has been around since the early 60s. Still runs more old school, but I still see some of the same shit. Some are there. Most are not.

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  3. Bitter much? You get thrown out of a club now you don’t like it, typical. Also, you needed someone to tell you what brotherhood was and you “let it sink in for a couple days”. I don’t need someone to explain to me what brotherhood is, I live it. Yes, I’m a 3PP for one of the biggest clubs in the world.

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  4. You’re spot on!!! For 27 years my dues were always paid and I made every funeral and national. Lost two homes. One to lawyers fees, the other to foreclosure but, my dues were paid. When the life I’d built, that was centered around the club, came crashing down, the friends (brothers) I had were nowhere to be found. I left that life and never looked back. No friends left from that era. Now I own a home again and ride a 2016 touring bike and getting ready to trade up to a new one. This time putting more distance between me and the past. BMW K 1600 GA!!!

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  5. I did my time in one of the global 1%er clubs. This feels about spot on. I still see a few of my Brothers weekly and a few more monthly. Most of what I found was people reaching out up to 2 years later wondering why I didn’t make the run this time and if I was coming to the next one. Total disconnect due to numbers game.

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  6. To add to what I stated earlier the toughest thing I think is when good Brothers die.More funerals and memorials than I can count.I used to have a drawer full of Im memory of so and so t shirts.Gave em away stopped buying them.I just try and remember the good times.All in all when it comes to club life.Normal people just dont do it.You have a pretty good idea what to expect coming in knowing you could die early go to prison or you might lose your family but something inside tugs you in.Its like a magnet to some.

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  7. God damn….your article sounds like I could have written it..a fellow outlier from The Dark Side Of The Moon.
    True on EVERY bullet point, Hollywood.
    Hell..maybe that single spur I wear on my boot is in memory of THAT lost forgotten MIRAGE of “Brotherhood”.
    Older now and a lot wiser for the wear n tear. My ONLY “brothers” now is a dollar in my pocket, my right fist and my left fist.
    Save the KoolAid for the younger cats coming up. They’ll need the nourishment while they wait for Mail Call in the cell blocks..

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  8. Supporter, hang around whatever. Get your ass shot or beat down by patches from a different club and see the response from your supported club. Nada none, you’re nothing but a dollar sign.

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  9. Pretty much summed it up. Different situations, with different clubs, at different times, with different people. It’s very rare to have the same situation repeated internally in a charter, in the same club, or throughout the three-piece MC’s. To some, it is entitlement and part of being something bigger than them . The brotherhood is gone… Don’t fool yourself. Bet your ass if you’re going 1%,, you’re going to lose everything at least twice. Membership has its rewards seniority and stature bless you with anonymity. Society, evolution of people, and politics have pretty much ruined all of it. It is full-fledged about money and power. Great experiences, great friends and family, unbelievably out of this world memories and some of the most devastating friendly fire and backstabbing I could have ever imagined. Join a bowling league lol

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  10. I was with the mongols 4 almost 12 yrs , the 1st 7 yrs were tolerable , the rest were BS , bringing probates in , patch whores in essence total weakness , I was thrown out bad bcuz of a piece of shit , I was caught by total suprise by a so called brother , I stood by this lame fuck when they wanted 2 throw him out , anyways I have great memories they can’t take away n as 4 being out bad big deal I get plenty of pussy n ride my Indian n Street glide anywhere I want , life is good , n yes it was all about $$$ . Bo

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  11. Bikeratlarge@gmail.com
    Younger riders should go out and get some of that. I am an Independent for several reasons. At 62 years old, been there, done that. If you are like I am now, I’m too unresponsible. Tell me to have my bike at daylight, have at least $1000.00 in my pocket, don’t tell me where we are going or when we will be back.
    Is this insane or exciting? I use to think it was fun and I had some good times untill my health went bad. As I get older I see it was insane.

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  12. Alright, let me put it this way. What I tell guys before they ever even come probate, is that they asked to come into this world(club life) so honestly, when guys quit, I feel like it’s more on them to stay in touch with the guys who hadn’t. It’s funny because you’ll always see 2 guys who quit the club hanging out together, and talking about how their “brothers turned their backs” when the reality of it is, THEY asked to join, they acted like they wanted it, and they choose to leave it. I’m still cool with plenty of guys that quit the club, but the ones I don’t talk to are the ones that don’t talk to me. That’s the simplest way I can put it, especially, good or bad, the whole reason they came around in the first place was to be what they said they wanted to be.

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  13. Patch Holder here, 3-piece traditional non-1% MC. First and foremost I respect your opinion and recognize you probably got years more experience in this than I do, but I just gotta say a few things here. One, I agree that the toll on family/home CAN be tough, if your old lady doesn’t support it. It may be your club, but its her life too, I would have never pursued this life without my girls buy in. Second, and maybe this is because I’m not in a 1% club, but your the experience you describe is nowhere near my experience. My Chapter maintains a clubhouse, attends runs and basically operates just fine at zero profit. I feel like a lot of clubs are being misrepresented here a little bit. On the subject of Brothers leaving the Club, First of all there are brothers and there are Brothers, and I’m sure you know what I mean by that. But regardless of who the Brother is, when he leaves voluntarily I think he is essentially abandoning our family, because it is a family. Just about any circumstances should be able to be overcome by working it out before a Brother leaves “out good” and if a Brother doesn’t exercise his due diligence and try to make it work before walking away its on him. I’m not the one that chose to walk away. Over and above that, even if it couldn’t be worked out, you’re just not a part of the same world anymore and eventually that is gonna take its toll. Thanks for a good read!

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  14. I’ve said it before. There was then and in between and now is now.
    I see no evidence of the life we led in existence today.
    What’s come to pass are posers, weaklings, snitches and lowlifes engaging in shit we wouldn’t have gone close to because we weren’t stupid, murdering their own, and carrying out their shit in public is monumentally, unbelievably ridiculously stupid.
    And again, support clubs? Those are people who never would have been able to get hangaround ability.
    Most of your Charters should be stripped. You have nothing when it comes to Rules, Trust, Respect, Loyalty, Integrity or anything else that matters.
    There are a couple of people I still talk with once in a while. I have serious trust issues with the people who don’t know me and why I get the respect I’m given. And I am not telling anyone why. Just let it go with, I more than earned it.
    Trust issues are actually something we all had and recommended. You had to prove your worthiness.
    Obviously, that’s out the window on every level virtually everywhere today.
    It’s been painful to watch the steady decline in the quality of people in the life.
    But, one thing everyone can count on in life is change. You just hope it’s for the better.
    Unfortunately, this life has been mostly destroyed.
    I place a lot of it on the last couple of generations of parents who abdicated responsibility as parents. Don’t keep score, everybody wins, coddle your kids, helicopter parents. Fuck you.
    You didn’t help your kid. You made them unable to fail, pick their own ass up, dust off & start over and learn something moron.
    They’re still sponging off you and probably living with you when they should be out in the world taking care of their own shit.
    We certainly did.
    Nobody paid my bills except me. And nobody owned me. I was never anyone’s fucking property. But then, I never aspired to be ordinary.
    Not since childhood and not now.
    Sonny, I would trust implicitly. There are very few, as I have said, from the old days still around.
    Oh yeah, another thing that none of these youngsters seem to be able to do is shut the fuck up. About anything! They have to tell you what they had for fucking breakfast even!
    And what’s up with these guys being in cars or trucks all the time? Last time I knew, it was a requirement to have a Harley in running condition. Don’t you have a bike?
    Overall, I just see an enormous bunch of fuckups that would have been kicked down the road by any of us.
    Fuck. It’s just plain disgusting.

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