Only it’s not a joke, the jackass is real (his name is Emmett) and the bar is the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis South Dakota.
If you’re waiting for a punch line, there isn’t one unless you count the patrons & employees who are the real stars on the hit reality show Full Throttle Saloon.
If the world is laughing at them, instead of with them, no one seems to mind. And in the home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play, no one is uttering a discouraging word.
In fact they’re lining up to get into the bar during the rally and viewers are tuning into the show in spades.
Conceived and built by Tennessee native Michael Ballard, the Full Throttle Saloon was nothing more than empty grazing space for bison when construction started less than a decade ago.
Today the entertainment complex can take it’s rightful place among the top venues in Sturgis, right up there with long established Buffalo Chip Campground and One-Eyed Jacks saloon as must see destinations during the annual August motorcycle rally.
Coming from a background of construction, Ballard cashed out a successful business in Tennessee and went northwest, with the idea that if you build it, they will come.
And build it he has. Going so far to rescue the Bismark Bridge, a historic steel structure built in 1912 that spanned the Belle Fouche river on the old trail from Deadwood SD to Bismark SD. Ballard and his crew worked 36 hour days and waded through reams of governmental red tape and took insane risks to move it to the site.
Not to mention bringing in three semi-tractors and installing them as DJ booth (inside) and sound board (outside).
That dream and vision attracted Jesse James Dupree, front man for the rock group Jackyl.
Ballard says Dupree, who is a big supporter of the Full Throttle is also the executive producer of the television show and a partner in the franchise end of the business.
Together the pair are expanding the brand by opening up themed saloons in Cincinnati Ohio and Madison Wisconsin in 2011.
Attached to his hip (although not by marriage) is Angie Carlson. The lovely and talented Sturgis native was nicknamed “Mouth of the South” by her father but is called the“Worlds Most Perfect Ass” by the bikers who frequent her bar (Angieland) inside the Throttle.
The second season of Full Throttle Saloon premiered Wednesday November 17th on TruTV and we called the two to get an inside look at their life in the fishbowl of reality television and how a rock star turns to dentistry during the largest motorcycle rally in the world. (listen to the unedited version here)
Michael Ballard heads up the demented circus at The Full Throttle Saloon
USRN: What makes the Throttle so special?
Michael: The Full Throttle is just built around blue collar America. I mean we got 18 wheeler in the air, we got an 18 wheeler inside that’s a DJ booth, we’ve got old school buses with tops cut out that are bars…
Angie: (Interrupting) “We got chicks!”
Michael: (laughs) lots of women, lot of hot bartenders ..the Flaunt girls out there, we got Angie with Angieland… through the years of adding all kinds of crazy shit all the way down to the midget wrestling, and this year we had our freak show out there..and we had acrobatic pole dancers …you’ll see a lot of that in the new season coming up..
USRN: Sounds like PT Barnum thrown in here..
Angie: It’s a demented circus for sure..
Michael: I like to call it spring break for adults..laughs
USRN: In the season premier, seeing Jackly’s lead man out there pulling a tooth, I mean what’s all that about?
Angie: It’s insane! (laughs)
Michael (laughing) That’s just that good ole southern way you know..we try to save money every way we can…we’re just helping a brother out..
USRN: do you wake up each day wondering what’s coming in the bar during that month of rally week?
Michael: You never know what going to walk through the front doors of that bar at that rally…it’s from one extreme to another for sure.
USRN: I’ve got to ask about the donkey…is he getting his own show?
Michael: I don’t know… he’s working on it! (laughs) he might wind up being the star ass in this one…Angie’s got a little competition running around..(laughs) but no, he’s cool man…I bought him for Angie and everybody fell in love with him at the bar…and his name is Emmett.
USRN: Emmett the donkey…
Angie: The jackass! (laughs)
Brett Michaels performs at the Full Throttle Saloon
USRN: Speaking of that, Angie, tell me how you came up with Angie Land and do you get offended when someone comes out there and says “show me that perfect ass?”
Angie: uh..no I get offended if I don’t get asked! (laughs) Angieland just kinda happened upon me. ..you know there always getting the boob shots all over Sturgis and a gentlemen was kinda sick of getting the same pictures so he asked me to do something different so I turned around, I had a little thong bikini on and I sat on his shoulder and they took the picture and thought it was great but his buddy thought he had to do one up on his friend so he asked me if I’d sit on his head…and (after that) I had a line for a mile.
USRN: You guys are not married, but you work together, have a personal and professional relationship and then you throw in the television element, there’s gotta be some behind the scenes going on..so tell me a little about that..
Mike: Man we fight like cats and dogs, but the make-up sex is great! (laughs) You know it’s tough, especially during the week before rally and the week of rally when…you’re trying to control chaos already, you know and you kinda lose patience with each other and it seems that you always take it out on the closest people to you…you kinda put a smile on to everybody else and behind the scene you take it out on the people that’s closer to you so, we have our ups and downs for sure.Those two weeks are really a tough time for us, but we’ve been doing it together for so long now that we know we’re going to have those ups and downs, and we’re just gonna work our way through it and fight through it, and roll on after the event’s over.
Angie: Go home and practice making babies!
USRN: If there is wedding bells in the future is it going to be a big event for television or will you keep it quiet and just do something at the justice of the peace?
Angie: Well, you know I have to run everything through Jesse (Dupree) so I guess I’ll have to ask for his permission to keep it quiet, but you know how he is, the showman that he is, he’s not gonna want to keep it quiet.
USRN: I can see Jesse with his chainsaw running the show, taking the preacher out..
Angie; He’s actually an ordained priest so he’ll actually probably will be the one that marries us.
USRN: Is that ok with you Michael?
Mike I don’t know about all that…he always teases Angie all the time about she’s gotta go before the committee before she can get married..and he’s the head of the committee.
USRN: Tell me what it means to have a tv crew in the middle of trying to run a business?
Mike: You know, I think what makes our show so great is that we just ignore the cameras. I’m not an actor..(laughs) so we just ignore the cameras and do our normal thing that we normally go through…I mean when something happens we don’t know that it’s going to happen. …it’s not a staged show… we have no idea what’s taking place, and the cameras are just there capturing everything.
Angie: And we warned them beforehand, we told them how busy we are and how fast paced we have to go to make everything happen…we told them…whatever you capture is what you’re going to get..so be where you need to be..
USRN: How many cameras do they have on site typically?
Angie Carlson, “the worlds most perfect ass”
Mike: They had a 50 person production crew there this year. Between the sound guys, camera crew, producers and writers 24/7 …there was camera’s running all the time.
USRN: One thing we’re hearing is that viewers want an uncensored DVD version?
Angie: They just gotta come to the Throttle!