Massive biker bar Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, S.D. this past August got throttled by a massive hailstorm, sticky-fingered bartenders and a lousy economy. Owner Mike Ballard bemoaned his economic problems and wondered if he’d be able to last another year.
But TV viewers on Atlanta-based TruTV may have saved him and his business.
An average of 1.3 million viewers caught the show’s six episodes, better than average for the network and a solid enough performance to merit a second season. TruTV has not announced a renewal but Atlanta rock star and a show executive producer Jesse James Dupree is optimistic.
“We knew we had something real America would connect with,” he said by phone from his office in Kennesaw, where he is developing other TV shows. “Luckily, it was validated.”
He admitted the show is amazing marketing for Full Throttle next year, virtually ensuring an increase in attendance at the annual bike rally and a greater chance for the saloon to make a profit. Dupree said he was recently at a bar in Marietta off Barrett Parkway nursing a scotch and water when a bunch of Kennesaw State students came up to him and said they plan to go to Sturgis next year. He said the would never have considered the rally as a destination if they had not seen the show.
Dupree, who spent years trying to sell the Full Throttle reality show concept to networks to no avail, is involved in several aspects of Full Throttle, including marketing and entertainment. His band Jackyl performs every year.
In fact, Jackyl is booking dates earlier and at bigger venues than in the past thanks to the exposure as well. In other words, there is no downside here for Dupree. Ballard and his girlfriend Angie (and her Flaunt Girls act) are joining him at appearances as well now that they too are reality show celebrities among the biker set.
“Mike is on fire right now,” said Dupree, who considers Mike one of his best friends. “He is loving the fact he’s got a big to-do list in front of him.”
Full Throttle is open only about 14 days a year so Ballard has major pressure to garner as much revenue as he can ina tiny time window. This past August, it rained five times. Normally, it rains only once. We got to see much of the drama and tension. And in the end, it made for good TV.
Here are TruTV’s five biggest shows this year, according to the network:
“Operation Repo” 2,046,000
“Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura” 1,503,000
“It Only Hurts When I Laugh” 1,368,000
“The Smoking Gun Presents” 1,322,000
“Full Throttle Saloon” 1,318,000