P.O. Box 143
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
Colors is a very
hard to find, short lived mag, and predated Easyriders summer
1971 debut. It was founded and edited by Phil Castle, a biker who ran a
fuel oil delivery company in New Jersey while trying to make the mag a
Colors was primarily
focused on the East Coast bike clubs and events, as that was its home
turf, so to speak. But, the money ran out before the mag caught on, and
by the end of 1971 it had folded, after only five or more issues. It
also suffered from poor distribution, as some newsstands,
hypocritically, wouldn’t carry it, and the first issue was banned in a
few states, as mentioned in one of Castle’s editorials below.
Colors was a
hands-on production, by those concerned, for the love of their
motorcycles and non-conformist lifestyles. It went against the odds, and
flew in the face of a hostile reception by some newsstands and
One of the original
contributors to Colors was John Herlihy aka Rogue, who
contributed photographs, and also wrote a few articles for the mag.
Rogue was a one time Airforce gunner and photographer, and was also the
International President of the Huns Motorcycle Club of Bridgeport,
Connecticut, four years out of the ten that he rode with them. He is on
the cover of the second issue (Fall 1970), on his bike “Crazy Horse”,
which was featured inside. Rogue went on to work for Paisano
Publications, after Colors folded, and helped them launch
Easyriders, which did catch on, and spawned many imitations. Rogue
is now a well known Photo-Journalist in the motorcycle field, and has
contributed photos to many mags, including Colors, Easyriders,
In The Wind, Biker, Choppers, etc.
On Colors, Rogue
“Colors was a good
magazine, especially considering the people involved were bikers,
not journalists making their living from publishing. The idea was to
have a voice, and ‘Tell it like it is.’ Let people know what was going
on, and in many cases, the other side of the story. The stories and
information released to the news media by law enforcement and the
government were often times misleading or untrue.
“It was also going to be a
tool to support our efforts in repealing the Mandatory Helmet Laws and
other injustices to motorcyclists. And in a way, it did do what it was
intended to, by being imitated by larger publishers. The format carried
over, and we were in an even better position to inform the bikers of
America what was going on.”
As the title Colors,
and the side bar “Motorcycle Club’s Bible” (later changed to “The
Non-Conforming Motorcyclist Bible”) make clear, it was oriented to, and
focused on, the outlaw clubs. And, was filled with an abundance of black
and white photos of various club colors, bikes, members, mamas,
hangouts, and it even had a some tech oriented articles. Its statement
of purpose, and format, given in the first issue (May 1970), reads as
This is your magazine.
That’s right, at last someone has come out with a magazine that is not
afraid to be called an outlaw magazine. We will not hide behind
technical articles or motorcycle manufacturer’s sales talk on those
foreign bikes. COLORS magazine will not have a 80% AMA background.
We do not care what
citizens won what AMA sanctioned race or event. Instead we will feature
stories, articles, pictures, and so forth of so called outlaws and
We will not exclude all
foreign bikes from our pages so long as they are directly or indirectly
connected to a club, as there are some pretty hot foreign bikes that
have been made into some beautiful custom jobs. Nor do we want to
feature only choppers as there are many outlaws who do not ride
We will print any news of
your club that you would approve of, as well as pictures, articles and
events having to do with clubs.
COLORS will also feature
interviews, technical material and some cheesecake for you red blooded
studs. COLORS will be glad to print any gripe you may have or any
pictures of your bikes, club or its members if you will send same to us.
This is a general idea of
the format of COLORS (your) magazine, its success depends on your help
editorial explains further:
Why do motorcyclists
ravage the countryside, beating, raping, destroying? NOT TRUE. The news
mediums pick a few isolated incidents of vandalism (and what-not), and
blow these into movies or headlines. Fights are often started by
non-riders testing the patience of the cyclist. As for rape; don’t tease
the lion in his den, you won’t get clawed (old Chinese saying!).
Cyclists do not commit more sexual crimes than other groups of society.
They do not rove the streets looking for virginal daughters to rape.
It’s not the bikies bag. As for destruction of property; people are
confusing cyclists with extremist bombers and rioters. All one needs is
to see a bike near the vicinity of the scene, and they scream,
Why does COLORS glorify the
outlaw? We aren’t. We’re simply tired of a false image pushed on outlaws
by ignorant citizens. Aren’t you?
Are these cyclists really
as tough as they seem? Ask them.
An excerpt from an
editorial by Phil Castle, from the second issue, explaining the problems
with getting the mag sold:
We included certain
things in our mag that might be considered off color in our efforts to
make it more entertaining, and if we went too far we apologize even
though our mag is aimed at a mature audience of bikers. Motorcycling is
no place for the faint hearted.
If we wanted to exploit the
outlaw we would depict him as they do in these cheap movies and so
called men’s adventure mags because this is what people like to read
about cyclists: violence, depravation
(sic), sex, and all that
. . . by coming out with
the format we presented in our initial issue, we encountered the
following problems that tend to disprove the exploitation accusation.
Our first issue was banned
in New Jersey, Mass., parts of Pa., Conn., and Delaware to mention a few
The cycle shops refused to
sell our magazines, except for a few righteous shops who did not fear
the establishment. Advertising offers were refused even from shops whose
major sources of sales were outlaw and customizing people, not to
mention the cycle manufacturers. Last, but definitely not least, we were
turned down by many newsstands in the states where we did get
distribution. When we questioned the reasons for their objections we
were told because of its contents. I noticed the shelves of these very
same stands were full of books that would make the Marquis DeSade blush
and Hitler gloat.
The main coverage the
outlaw clubs had gotten until Colors, had been from the straight
press and the sensational men’s mags that regularly featured them in
fact and fiction. In the editorial above, Castle makes the astute
observation that the very same newsstands that refused to carry
Colors, did carry the usual men’s adventure mags, and girlie mags,
which were overflowing with torture, sadism and plenty of sex, and
ironically, sensationalized accounts of the outlaw bikers themselves.
Having said that, there
also seems to be some ambiguity and second thought at work with Castle.
On the one hand, he tries to distance the mag, and outlaw clubs, from
the sensationalized accounts of rape and pillage portrayed in the
mainstream media, but on the other hand, occasionally uses the term
“outlaw” to describe the clubs, as that is what they called themselves.
But, the very term “outlaw”, describes someone outside the law, someone
who breaks laws. The less controversial phrase “non-conformist” is used
by Castle also, as a way to help distance the clubs from the
In the first issue there is
an article called “Good Guys vs. Bad Guys” that is uncredited, and is
about the reports of gang rape leveled at the outlaw clubs in various
tabloids and newspapers, some of which give graphic descriptions of the
sex acts involved. It mentions several incidents from around the country
involving “outlaw gangs” and explains at the beginning, “We object to
the word ‘gangs’ as most of these outlaw clubs are as well organized and
recognized as some of these AMA clubs.” But then the writer goes on to
use the term “gang” throughout the article. That is until it concludes
with these thoughts, “So it seems that the law abiding motorcyclists are
declaring war on the girl stealing outlaw clubs. It’s like the days of
old when Knights fought over the fair Damsels only to find out that the
Damsels weren’t so fair.” And lastly, “Let’s face it, hard as it is to
believe, there is a certain sexual attraction about the outlaw types.
But then who could ever understand the female species anyway!”
The annual motorcycle races
at Laconia, NH and the general biker party that surrounds it each year
is well covered in Colors. Members of the staff would also go on
runs with various East Coast clubs and feature articles on them.
Colors was pivotal
in that the focus was on the outlaw clubs, as all the biker mags that
had come before, were more technical specs articles on customizing, etc.
It was the mag closest to outlaw segment of the biker population at the
A feature in the mag, at
first called “Potpourri”, then later changed to “Rogue’s Gallery”, from
which Rogue got his nickname, contained interesting photographic
portraits of the bikers, their women, their colors and their bikes. The
photos by themselves would make a great photographic essay of the
reality of the outlaw bikers, if collected together in book form.
Another of the many
interesting features contained in the mag was the “Entertainment
Review”, which was bikers themselves reporting on the biker movies and
the popular media’s portrayal of the outlaw clubs. In the first issue’s
reviews they covered episodes of the TV series’ Adam 12 and
Then Came Bronson, both of which featured bikers. In the Adam 12
episode they were portrayed in an idiotic way, and the Then Came
Bronson show is likened to Route 66 and mentioned because the
character James Bronson rides a Harley Sportster. But the two most
interesting, and revealing reviews are of, the then current movies,
Naked Angels and Easy Rider.
Of Naked Angels the
reviewer says, “That’s just what it is, a lot of naked angels, the
female kind that is. Aside from the bare breast & buttocks there is a
lot of action in the form of fights between gangs and among the main
group themselves.” And, “We believe this picture to be as realistic as
we’ve seen without the over playing of the sensationalism angle. We
Easy Rider is, not
surprisingly, given two thumbs up, as the review starts, “Easily the
best cycle picture we have seen in a long long time and why shouldn’t it
be. It is produced and written by outlaw type people, for the outlaw
type audience and the like.” And concludes, “We can’t praise this one
enough. If you haven’t seen it do so as soon as possible.”
Colors did have some
technical articles, usually one or two at the most per issue, but they
were not the main focus of the mag. Although the other cycle mags on the
stands did cover choppers and customized bikes, they shied away from
coverage of outlaw motorcycle clubs, with an occasional mention of them
when the owner of a featured bike belonged to a club. Colors also
had a “Club List” at the back of the mag, which was a list of the outlaw
clubs from around the country, and got longer with each issue. After the
movie Easy Rider the focus on the outlaws shifted from the clubs,
and focused more on an outlaw biker lifestyle, generally outside of the
clubs, but still connected to them in spirit.
itself as the “Motorcycle Club’s Bible”, helped some to consider it “the
grungiest of them all” because of the outlaw slant and its cheesecake
feature, “Mama of the Month” when compared to the other cycle mags on
the racks at the time like Big Bike, Street Chopper,
Colors was maverick,
different from the rest, and it paved the way for the more club-friendly
cycle mags to come, that took a lot from its format including biker
fiction, and outlaw lifestyle, a la Easyriders, In The Wind,
Iron Horse, Biker, Biker Lifestyle, Outlaw Biker,
et al. All of which also would use the cheesecake pics of scantily clad
or naked women with the cycles from then on.
Article by Tom Brinkman