DOM FROM NEW ROC CITY & SONNY *Photo used with permission. DO NOT copy/paste/or reuse.
First I want to thank HAMC New Roc City for granting me the prestigious honor of videotaping this truly historic event.
I also want to thank the legend himself-Mr. Sonny Barger-for allowing the videotaping to proceed and acting like this guy with a video camera growing out of his neck wasn’t standing a few feet away from him most of the afternoon. He was gracious, accommodating, and elegant with everyone throughout the entire event. I was flabbergasted by his acceptance of my presence and that of Kenny Lavoie, my friend-and still photographer.
SPECIAL NOTE: I received word from Sonny Barger who, as I write this article for my October 20th deadline, is in Germany and has been touring since the NY book signing. Sonny extends NYR magazine readers his sincere apologies for not having his answers in on time for my deadline. He will submit his answers upon returning to the U.S. and they will appear in my December NYR magazine article.
HY: Amy, thank you for making my experience at Sonny Barger’s New Roc City book signing one of the most memorable days of my life. What was it like preparing for the book signing?
AMY: The preparation spanned over 3 months, a flier design had to be created, photos selected, magazines print in advance, radio stations need to have reps return calls, locations need to be chosen for the guests,the run, and the signing . Then those places had to be secured, print designs (run shirts and patches) need to be approved by Dom’s New Roc HAMC charter, and everything also was of course run by Sonny. He does require reviewing anything attached to his name. Dominick, myself, Sonny and his wife Z actually discussed it over coffee at his house in Arizona. At that time, his first available date was Aug 28th..he is so overbooked !
HY: You had house guests for a while before, and after, the book signing. What was it like to host so many important people and still have to function on all cylinders in regards to your responsibilities surrounding Sonny’s book signing?
AMY: The many guests is usually something club members and wives are accustomed to. For instance, where ever we travel, we are always greeted at the airport by local members. Either hotel ,clubhouse or staying with other members is always arranged, there is a bike made available to you..and we all reciprocate to each other to make each destination an enjoyable one.
In this case, unfortunately, our beloved friend, Dom’s New Roc brother Billy passed away is Sturgis the 2nd week of August, so everyone flew in to NY for the funeral the 3rd week of Aug.. members came from all over so the company started Aug 18th !
The signing was the 28th..do the math..steady stream of company..but thanks to some great friends, and other members wives ( the famous Izzy was at the house, Natalie..Johnny Bart’s wife stayed over as well) so we teamed up and together made over 20 people happy. Sonny isn’t very demanding, just in demand.
Dom on the other hand had every security detail covered. He ensured there was always someone keeping an eye on the house, the bikes and our fierce chihuahuas who tried to bite everyone.
HY: When I arrived at New Roc City Harley Davidson, Sonny was already signing books and the line went along the inside wall of the building, out the building and along side the building and out to the parking lot. You were working non-stop right along Sonny’s side preparing books, getting names, and making sure everyone that wanted their picture taken with Sonny-and that was everyone-had their picture taken with him. What was going through your thought process throughout this time?
AMY: The book signings are usually hectic, but NY was insane. We had worked together before at 3 previous signings. Even Sturgis wasn’t as steady, we had time to breathe..eat..laugh..not this time! Don’t forget, it had been a decade since Sonny came to the East coast for a signing, way overdue …and the crowds proved it. I arrived approx. 30 minutes before the pack..we still had some last minute things to arrange, so I called Dom and asked if he could possibly delay the run start at least 10 minutes..once the pack arrived it was on!!
Everytime I looked up it was a line all the way outside, down the parking lot..I was told at times it was a 3 hour wait..actually the only time I saw outside was when we viewed your video of the day, had it not been for you, all of us on the inside would never have known the huge outcome of the extensive planning, so for that, we are all grateful to you Hermis!
The noise level let us know hour after hour we still had work ahead. We have a good system, it requires a team of 4, one person to handle the money, I print the persons name on a post it note in capitol letters so ensure no mistakes, and one person to take pictures for each guest as they each get a personal moment with Sonny.
HY: I don’t believe I am exaggerating when I say thousands turned out throughout the day and the pace was non-stop, how did you manage to keep your composure attending to each and every person you dealt with that came through the signing line?
AMY: The day actually flew by..we are used to being around crowds, and this was an extremely controlled one. I think many people perform best under stress. We are a team that work well together and under pressure.
We are used to fast paced environments, and being a native New Yorker I was born into it..NY’ers walk fast, talk fast, and think its tragic if we have to wait on a line or wait for the green to cross the street.
As for Dominick, a normal day is riding at 110 mph, 6 inches off of someone else’s tire, when I complain I am met with “Don’t worry, I’m a trained professional” I just shut my eyes sometimes! Life works itself out..I had Dom in sight a few feet away the entire time..that’s all I needed to see to know everything would run smooth..gives me a calmness I guess.
HY: Although I had clearance to videotape, I noticed I was being observed very closely at all times. I noticed a level of security I had never before witnessed first hand, and that was the security I could see. Would I be correct in my appraisal of the days security as extremely professional, focused and observant, yet courteous and accommodating?
AMY: Definitely, the security was something that didn’t just happen that day, it started the night before, straight through sunrise at the location. The guys are extremely organized and again, very used to crowds, many support clubs were present, so they are like an extra set of hands ( x 200) there were many people situated throughout the location, all throughout the line and Dom was the final checkpoint.
The courtesy was extended to every guest and patron, they were mostly present to meet Sonny but they were also, while inside, a patron of New Roc Harley Davidson. Our goal was to provide a comfortable yet fast paced environment.
You video taped and were a stones throw away at all times so you probably noticed what I did, not one crazy or unruly person made it up to the signing table, not one. That’s great security in my book, over 4000 people showed up without a single problem..outstanding in my opinion.
HY: Now that the dust has settled-so to speak-and you look back at Sonny’s New Roc City book signing, can you count the number of times a smile appears on your face-you have to know you were an integral part of what I observed to be a very successful event?
AMY: We all still smile about it. Being a part of something with not only friends, but something of that magnitude, that had such a fantastic turnout makes us all proud.
Sonny still says it’s his best signing to date. It brings a smile to all of us knowing we helped make it a great day for Sonny, you, and all that attended.
I know I will never be able to thank all that were so helpful putting this all together.
First and foremost, you Hermis for being so generous with your skill and time. That was a long day for you, many hours on your feet with that camera growing out of your neck. I want to apologize for almost having you thrown out for having a running video..I couldn’t see your face!!
Security is tight and a video is not something welcome without permission. I Didn’t know it was you!! Sorry, we do get a laugh about that..please remind your radio show listeners, and NYR magazine readers who missed the moment so they can understand..
And last, we would love to all call into tonight’s radio show but we are in a few hours all taking off for Germany; otherwise this would be live.
Sonny, his wife Z and I, all share the same birthday week ..and Dominick said his birthday is everyday–so we are off to Germany to celebrate!
HY: Thanks again AMY for helping to make a very special day in my life, a most memorable time-one that will have me shaking my head and sporting a huge smile every time I think about the day I was allowed to videotape New Roc City’s Sonny Barger “Lets Ride” book signing! Parting words for us Amy?
Amongst the many moments that stood out to me during such a hectic day..which began at 7:30 am at the house..group breakfast and coffee for 20..everyone suiting up to go to the sign in point ..an impressive turnout of over 400 riders took opportunity to ride along with Sonny!
Then, arriving at New Roc HD around 10AM to prepare; to the thunderous roar of the pack arriving shortly after and a book signing which spanned over 7 constant hours; what I found truly amazing was the admiration and support shown for Sonny–whose notoriety has spanned over several decades–was the diversity of the people who came from local to miles away to show their love, respect, and support for this living legend.
People rode from as far as Texas, Illinois, Florida, and many states beyond the Tri-State area. The local hotels had already filled nearly a month in advance. One supporter from Mass. collected money from friends for over 20 books who were unable to make the ride. There was for that day, no particular age or race, all attended with pure admiration.
The time Sonny gave to each individual was incredible, listening to quick memories and stories of how he had given inspiration through his life, actions, and many published books sharing his thoughts and life experiences with the world.
One subject Sonny is very dedicated to is to give every child and teen a small talk about the dangers of smoking. To each child, he would ask “do you know why I talk like this..it’s because I smoked, and you don’t want this to happen to you, right ? So you’re not going to smoke, right?” I listened to it over and over..each child speechless with total concentration.
He didn’t miss one opportunity to share his important message, which has vastly altered his life.
But to watch every person walk away with such a huge smile was incredible to watch and I’m so proud to have been a part of that day.
NOTE: WATCH FOR THE VIDEO OF THE BOOK SIGNING ON THIS WEBSITE’S “HERMIS AT LARGE” PAGE!
ALSO WATCH FOR HERMIS’ INTERVIEW WITH SONNY BARGER HERE, THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER!