For 57-year-old Harley-Davidson authority Edward Winterhalder, the biker lifestyle isn’t just a hobby; he’s been immersed in the culture since he was 19. In the last seven years, he has authored or contributed to nine books on the subject and helmed or appeared in a dozen TV projects devoted to Harleys and the die-hard fans who ride them.
“When I came home from the Army in November of ‘74, I got my first Harley,” Winterhalder said. “Since then, I have only been without one for no more than six months. I’ve been riding Harleys for almost 40 years now. It gets in your blood.”
Winterhalder’s first book, Out in Bad Standing, which chronicles his time with the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, started with an independently funded run of 300 books that Winterhalder took to a wildly successful book signing. After being pursued by Barnes and Noble, which convinced him to print more copies, Winterhalder began to catch on that he might not have to manage his construction company for much longer.
“Writing books and producing television is the last thing I ever thought I’d be doing in my life,” Winterhalder said.
Subsequent books include a story about the assimilation of the Canadian biker club Rock Machine into the Bandidos, the fictional Biker Story series (The Moon Upstairs, the fourth book in the series, will be out by Christmas) and Biker Chicz of North America, which is a collection of biographies about women bikers.
Winterhalder’s ArtPrize debut came last year in the same venue he’s in this year – Louis Benton Steakhouse.
“Last year, we had a small exhibit with a Harley and a Triumph, but this time we’re going to have a bunch of bikes, as well as some VIP biker events,” Winterhalder said.
This year’s main ArtPrize entry at Louis Benton, headed by Mark Mensch, is titled “Art in Motion and the Biker Lifestyle.” The exhibit will include different types of motorcycles, including Harleys, choppers and sports bikes.
Winterhalder’s exhibit, “Biker Culture 101: The Magnetic Attraction of Bad Boys,” promises a multisensory experience.
“The first thing [ArtPrize visitors] can expect is to walk into a complete world of motorcycles. There will be clothing, paintings, photography and a dozen motorcycles to look at. They can see all of my books, DVDs from the TV shows, and actually talk to me. If they have any questions about the lifestyle, they can ask me. At this point, there’s very little about the lifestyle I don’t know.”
Above all, however, Winterhalder’s goal is to introduce ArtPrize-goers to a Harley experience that’s true to how bikers really live and enjoy their passion.
“My goal is to correctly portray the lifestyle,” Winterhalder said. “If you Google bikers nowadays, you might get something like ‘Gangland.’ I’m trying hard to preserve the lifestyle accurately for generations to come, and right now, I’m the only guy in the world that’s doing it. At the end of the day, it’s nice to be able to provide my readers with a realistic snapshot of what we’re all about.”
Other Literary Events
InkTrails: Michigan's Famous and Forgotten Authors
Grand Rapids Public Library – Main Location
Sept. 12, 7 p.m.
grpl.org, (616) 988-5400
Learn interesting facts about well-known and lesser-known authors from Michigan Notable Book author Jack Dempsey and his brother Dave, and find out more about our state’s rich and impressive literary history.
Author Talk and Book Signing with Gordon Beld
Schuler Books & Music – 28th St. location
Sept. 22, noon
schulerbooks.com, (616) 942-2561
Bits and pieces of Gordon Beld’s best work for Grand Rapids Magazine come together to form Beld’s new book, Grand Times in Grand Rapids: Pieces of Furniture City History. Beld weaves together stories of Grand Rapidians such as Gerald Ford, Arthur Vandenberg and Harry “Human Fly” Gardiner, who scaled Grand Rapids’ tallest buildings.
Author Talk and Book Signing with D. E. Johnson
Barnes & Noble, Portage
September 29, 2 p.m.
bn.com, (269) 324-1433
Join D. E. Johnson, author of The Detroit Electric Scheme, for a night of intrigue and suspense. Will Anderson and Elizabeth Hume are investigating murders at Eloise Insane Asylum outside Detroit – murders committed with the Punjab lasso, the weapon of choice for the Phantom of the Opera. While Elizabeth follows leads to Kalamazoo and Will investigates from the inside, they race to find the killer and clear the name of Elizabeth’s cousin before Will becomes the next victim.