Hells Angels have a reputation – and for all the wrong reasons. The cops say they engage in illegal activity; the public see them as outlaws who rule the road. But what’s the truth about the world-famous motorcycle club and all of its intimidating members? Well, we do know a few secrets, including these 20 surprising rules that everyone has to obey – or else.
20. You can only ride a Harley
If you want to join the Hells Angels, you should start by investing in the right motorcycle. But you don’t just need to own a bike – yep, it’s on you to supply your own ride – as it also should come from one manufacturer in particular. You see, it’s custom for members to only ride Harley-Davidson models.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, though, depending on the Hells Angels charter you join. Some will let a non-Harley bike slide so long as you choose another American-made brand. Among the acceptable choices is Buell – which, funnily enough, is a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson.
19. It’s tough to start your own Hells Angels charter, but it’s possible
It takes time to set up a Hells Angels charter – and the club’s website is careful to point out this fact. The site says in no uncertain terms, “Motorcycle clubs consist of people who have ridden together for years, live in the same area, are known by the community, have runs and parties and are a brotherhood.” And you just can’t create that kind of closeness overnight.
So, a motorcycle community would generally only consider becoming an official arm of the Hells Angels after years of riding together by choice. Perhaps that’s why the club website doesn’t include instructions on how to join up. Once you’re established enough, you don’t have to ask how or follow any steps; you’re just in.
18. Don’t question their grammar
Any grammar guru will tell you that “Hells Angels” should really have an apostrophe before the first “s.” The club’s name implies that the motorcyclists belong to hell, after all, and so an apostrophe would make that connection clear by creating a possessive. But the organization acknowledges only one proper spelling of its name, and there’s nary a punctuation mark in sight.
The Hells Angels adhere to their own rules – and that appears to include grammatical ones, too. The official website even makes a point to shut down those who question this choice by remarking, “Yes, we know there is an apostrophe missing, but it is you who miss it. We don’t.” And if you want to keep on a member’s good side, we wouldn’t recommend you disagree.
17. There’s a dress code
Initiation and membership into the Hells Angels arms you with a coveted accessory: a vest emblazoned with the organization’s name and insignia on its back. That way, when you’re on the road, everyone knows with whom you’re riding. But that’s not the only must-wear item for the motorcycle gang’s inductees.
You see, Hells Angels charters each have their own dress codes. Some don’t allow riders to wear shorts, while others bar their members from sporting anything but the color black. In other places, however, motorcyclists may be permitted to don denim and camouflage prints. And, handily, these rules help neighboring charters recognize one another on the road.
16. Hells Angels ride in a specific order
If you’ve ever seen a Hells Angels charter cruising down the highway, you’ll know that a lot ride together. The members can often take over the whole road, in fact. And yet, even with so many bikes hurtling along, there’s order to the chaos you’re witnessing from the outside.
At the front of the pack, you’ll see the captain riding along with the president of the Hells Angels charter. They lead the way, while the rest of the crew falls in line based on their personal rankings and seniority levels. New members hang near the back, and prospective signees bring up the rear.
15. You can’t join another biker club
In reading this list, you’re probably getting the feeling that joining the Hells Angels isn’t a decision to take lightly. And you’d be right. The organization prides itself on the connections made between members and the strong brotherhood that results. As such, there’s no need to join any other bike-related organization.
Apparently, Hells Angels should even steer clear of any other social clubs or membership-only groups. The organization’s website explains, “Never combine your support to Hells Angels with other clubs, street gangs or others if you are unaware of the relationship between those others and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.” It’s best, then, to stick to who you know.
14. Angels don’t speak to the media
There’s a reason why the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is such a mysterious organization: its members make a point of keeping it that way. For starters, they don’t share their plans or scheduled activities with anyone. And if you somehow happen to catch Hells Angels riding, then you’ve found out along with the rest of the world that they had a cruise on the books.
The Hells Angels’ secrecy stems from a simple internal policy: don’t talk to the press. Riders use their silence as a way to protect their image and safeguard themselves and others. And as only those inside the organization need to know what charters are up to and when they’re gathering, it’s a bad idea to spill the beans.
13. The vests are considered sacred
The vest that a Hells Angels member receives once they’re officially inducted into the group is more than just an accessory. That piece of clothing is revereed among the motorcyclists who make it into the exclusive club, and all of them treat the garment with great care.
So, while you may have a similar outfit that you hold dear, that devotion probably pales in comparison. Allegedly, some Hells Angels members will even refuse to let medics cut them out of their vests in life-and-death situations. That’s how much of an honor it is to don the famous embroidered gear.
12. Membership hinges on a vote
If you think you want to join the Hells Angels, then you should make absolutely sure before you start the process. A new prospect’s journey from enlistee to full-fledged member can take years, you see, and there are several hoops through which you have to jump before you officially make it into a charter.
And the culmination of all of those pre-membership rituals ends with a democratic vote among everyone in the charter. This step certainly speaks to the brotherhood mentality that the Hells Angels have; basically, if the group likes you, then you’re in. If the majority of the guys don’t want you to join, though, then you’re probably out without question.
11. Before you’re in, you’re a prospect – and subject to hazing
You’ve heard of fraternities hazing those seeking to join, and the Hells Angels are no different. For one, prospective initiates can get stuck with the chores that fully fledged members would rather avoid. This means, for instance, that the new guys may arrive early to a charter meeting, putting everything together before anyone else gets there.
That’s a pretty benign example of what Hells Angels hazing can be, though. Some say that the process can get violent, although this in turn triggers another rule. Apparently, prospects can’t lash out or fight back against the senior members who haze them. If they do, then their journey to membership ends then and there.
10. You can’t even link to the website without permission
Knowing what you do now, you probably don’t want to mess with the Hells Angels. But even if you’d never purposely rile a member, you may just do so inadvertedly. That’s because outsiders can’t link to the motorcycle club’s website except in a very specific scenario.
The Hells Angels’ site explains, “You may not establish and/or operate links to this website without the prior written consent of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.” And even if you have permission, it may not last forever, as members reserve the right to withdraw from the deal.
9. Say goodbye to any other hobbies
Once you join a Hells Angels charter, your brothers will expect you to put the organization first. And as membership comes with a slew of perks – you can vote at meetings, for example – you should take this honor seriously by making the club your first priority.
Needless to say, then, being part of the Hells Angels will become most members’ only hobby. Yep, they won’t have time to sign up for bowling leagues or take cooking classes. Even their wives and partners have to accept that the club comes before everything else.
8. No one in law enforcement can join
You may think that a cop would fit in well with the Hells Angels – especially one who patrols on a motorcycle. That’s not the case, though, as the group actually has a strict no-police rule when it comes to hopeful new members. And the same goes for prison guards. In fact, any ties to law enforcement will prevent you from enlisting in the club.
Mind you, the Hells Angels don’t exactly have the best relationship with police, as some charters allegedly engage in illegal activities. And even if they’re not breaking the law, club members go by their own rules and value their freedom to do so. Having a cop among their ranks would certainly put a dampener on that.
7. Interrupting a meeting could cost you
Picture a Hells Angels’ meeting, and you may imagine it to be as raucous as the riders’ engine-revving antics on the road. In actual fact, though, there are very specific guidelines dictating how members should behave at their regular gatherings. The organization follows Robert’s Rules of Order, which was originally written in 1876 to help businesses keep any assemblies civilized.
Robert’s Rules of Order outline the ways in which a firm – or in this case, the Hells Angels – can hold a democratic meeting. The group has to respect the written agenda, while members can only interrupt when it’s really needed. Anyone with a question has to raise it before proceedings begin, too. And, apparently, breaking a rule will put you $100 out of pocket.
6. Never rat out a fellow Angel
Supposedly, not all Hells Angels members lead lives on the straight and narrow. Yes, some allegedly partake in illegal dealings, which naturally puts them on the radar of the local authorities. But others in the charter know what to do if the police start poking around: basically, keep quiet.
Even if a member is involved in a crime, the group has a strict policy to stay mum. Talking to the cops or any other type of investigator could after all incriminate a brother – or, worse yet, the entire charter. So, on the whole, it’s best to ensure that your mouth stays shut.
5. Substance abuse is strictly prohibited
If you assume that Hells Angels’ criminal activity extends to drugs, though, guess again, as the organization has a no-tolerance policy for contact or engagement with illegal substances. The Toronto-based charter, for example, makes a particular point to prohibit needle use.
In the end, substance abuse would negatively affect the reputations of Hells Angels members, so they steer clear of it. And the organization also have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault. If a rider commits such an act or uses drugs, then, they’re out of the charter for good.
4. When the cops pull one member over, they all pull over
Of course, Hells Angels members are bound by the laws of the land – whether they like it or not. And when cops catch a motorcyclist riding or behaving illegally, they naturally won’t hesitate to pull them over. When that happens, though, the rest of the charter will act according to club rules.
In essence, after one member pulls over, their brothers will do the same and sit on the side of the road in solidarity. They do this as a supportive symbol, for sure, but the practice may also serve to scare the cop who has forced the bike to the shoulder.
3. You can’t retire
It takes a lot to become a full-fledged member of the Hells Angels, but the length of membership warrants such an intensive interview process. You see, once you’re in, you’re in for life, as there’s no such thing as retirement from the motorcycle club. You can, of course, lose your place for going against the rules, but that’s basically it.
But a lifetime membership does have its benefits, as Hells Angels enlistees become more like family than members of a motorcycle gang. And they generally take that connection very seriously, being brothers to the very end – at which point they give any fallen biker a proper send-off.
2. Rule-breaking comes with serious consequences
By now, you’ve learned one thing: the Hells Angels don’t just make rules for the sake of it. And it should be pretty clear that members take the organization and its reputation very seriously. If someone gets into the group but fails to meet its standards, then, or decides to flaunt the guidelines, they’ll be in serious trouble.
Those who have investigated the Hells Angels have heard horror stories of how remaining members will burn off the tattoos of those who haven’t obeyed the motorcyclists’ code. But the worst consequence of all for any rider would be removal from the club – a major dishonor, especially as membership is otherwise a lifelong commitment.
1. Strictly no women allowed
Hearing the name “Hells Angels” may encourage you to make a mental leap to the TV show Charlie’s Angels and lead you to assume that women are allowed to ride alongside the men. But the group doesn’t actually permit women to join, and so you won’t ever see them riding when a charter goes for a spin.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t women close to the Hells Angels organization, though. Many of its male members naturally have wives and girlfriends in their lives – and they’re expected to play along, too. Yes, a dutiful Hells Angels partner will probably learn the ropes and try their best to avoid breaking any of the rules as well.
But it’s not just the biking group that has its members following some rather hardcore rules. It seems that joining the audience of The Ellen DeGeneres Show holds just as high expectations as the exclusive Hells Angels gang. From mandatory dancing to forbidden snacks, here’s a look at 20 bizarre rules that all audience members apparently have to follow when they visit The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s Warner Bros. set.
20. Leave your knitting needles at home
If you fancy making a sweater to beat the boredom of waiting in line for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, then you’re out of luck. You see, the daytime hit strictly prohibits people from taking any knitting needles into the studio. And that’s not the only no-no stated on the show’s official website.
In the FAQs section, prospective audience members are also warned that they are not allowed to bring any other type of sharp object with them – and this rules out knives and scissors, of course. To little surprise, weapons of any kind are strictly forbidden, as is the self-defense spray known as mace.
19. No shouting out things
The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s audience members are constantly whipped into a frenzy by the warm-up guy. Barely a minute goes by without them being asked to dance like no-one’s watching or whoop and holler like cheerleaders. However, it turns out that there is still a limit to that crowd participation.
Yes, while fans are asked to be as vocal as possible when DeGeneres and her celebrity guests enter the stage, there’ll be trouble if they try to make their voices heard while the show is in full flow. Screaming things from the crowd – no matter how complimentary – is another big no-no.
18. Metal detectors are used
“Think airport security: if you can’t take it into the airport, it is not allowed at WB.” That’s the advice given on the FAQs section of The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s official website. And anyone heading to the Warner Bros. studios for a taping should be aware that the airport security reference isn’t an exaggeration.
Indeed, in a report for Australian website news.com.au, an unnamed insider gave the lowdown of what it’s like to be an audience member on the hit daytime show. And one of the many areas that they discussed was the various security measures in place. In particular, the anonymous source revealed that anyone entering the studio must first walk through a metal detector.
17. Prepare to be cold
Given the array of dazzling bright lights, you may expect The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s studio to be more akin to an oven than a freezer. However, that couldn’t be further removed from the truth. In fact, audience members are far more likely to catch a chill than to work up a sweat.
Indeed, if you’re attending a taping, then it might be advisable to wear as many thermals as possible since the air conditioning remains high throughout. As the show’s warm-up man constantly encourages the crowd to bust some moves, though, the constant coolness may sometimes come as a relief.
16. No autographs
Autographs may be considered relatively old-fashioned in the age of the selfie. But if you happen to be something of a camera-shy fan and want proof that you have been in the presence of daytime TV royalty, then it’s tough luck. That’s right: DeGeneres doesn’t ever sign her name for audience members.
Both the size of the audience and lack of time are cited as reasons why DeGeneres doesn’t put pen to paper. And these are also excuses for why the star doesn’t engage in any physical contact. Yes, while the show itself may have a touchy-feely vibe, hugs with DeGeneres are strictly forbidden.
15. Arrive in the biggest car you can
Thinking of heading down to the famous Warner Bros. studio in your own vehicle to watch a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show? Well, you may want to think again. Indeed, paying a visit to the nearest car rental place before your trip may ultimately prove to be extremely lucrative.
What’s more, audience members are advised beforehand to arrive at the studio in the largest cars that they can get their hands on. Why? Well, the bigger the vehicle, the more space there is available to cram in the freebies. And those who attended the Mother’s Day episode in 2017 were able to leave with a mountain of gifts – including high chairs, strollers and car seats as well as an Amazon Echo each.
14. Fans have to dress for the occasion
If your fashion sense can be described as gothic, then chances are you’ll be turned away from The Ellen DeGeneres Show set. That’s because – as you’d probably expect from a show that’s all about positive vibes – audience members are encouraged to wear their most colorful outfits. All-black – and even all-white – attire is therefore a big no-no.
The show’s producers also frown upon most denim pants, with only “dressy jeans” being allowed. In fact, the guidelines advise ticket holders to aim for “business casual or upscale/trendy attire.” Fitting the syndicated hit’s super-happy brief also means that beachwear, shorts and tees emblazoned with your favorite brands are similarly outlawed.
13. Coordinating outfits isn’t allowed
A ban on all-black and all-white attire isn’t the only major fashion rule that The Ellen DeGeneres Show implements. Groups co-ordinating outfits by color are also frowned upon for reasons unclear. This has led some to speculate that the host doesn’t want anybody in the audience to take attention away from herself and her various celebrity guests.
And the strict dress code doesn’t end there. Because although audience members are encouraged to buy Ellen-related clothes in the backstage hangout known as the “Riff Raff Room,” they can’t show them off on television. Yes, fans won’t actually be allowed to enter the set if they are sporting any official Ellen merchandise.
12. Even celebrities have to dance
The Ellen DeGeneres Show is renowned for encouraging its audience members to show off their best dance moves. Even in the 30-second pauses for the commercial breaks, fans are told to throw some shapes. And it turns out that even the celebrity guests aren’t safe from the constant demands.
In 2017, for example, Octavia Spencer appeared on the daytime hit to promote her acclaimed space race drama Hidden Figures. Then, after being interviewed by the host, she ventured into the audience to enjoy the rest of the show. And while there – and just like everyone else – Spencer was asked to dance along during one of the commercial breaks.
11. You must take care of your own accommodation
Some fans are lucky enough to live within walking distance of the Warner Bros. set. Others, however, have to travel thousands of miles to appear in the audience of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. And if you find yourself in the latter category, don’t expect any advice from the behind-the-scenes team when it comes to finding overnight accommodation.
One of the questions on the show’s online FAQs section is “Do you recommend a hotel in the area?” – the answer to which is quite simply “No.” Instead of being provided with a list of places to stay, audience members are instead advised to find their own hotels on the internet using the 91522 zip code.
10. Fans with special needs must give two weeks’ notice
The Ellen DeGeneres Show prides itself on being inclusive to fans from all walks of life. But those with certain requirements or needs who are attending a recording must give the show’s organizers plenty of warning in advance. In fact, such ticket holders are required to alert producers two weeks beforehand so any arrangements can be made.
This particular rule may seem a little excessive to some. But during this lengthy period of notice, producers can then ensure that any potential issues are ironed out in time for the taping of the show. Besides, all fans reportedly have to do is contact the email address that is listed with their ticket confirmation.
9. Anyone under 14 is out of luck
Of course, not every fan of the comedienne’s multiple Emmy-winning show can be accommodated. If you’re under the age of 14, in fact, the only way you can enjoy the show is by watching it at home. But if you happen to be in your early teens, you can actually attend a taping – as long as someone aged 18 or over accompanies you.
Young fans thinking of trying to sneak into a recording should think again, though. You see, anyone who doesn’t yet look old enough to drink reportedly needs to bring along an official legal document stating their age in order to get into the studio. This rule means, however, that many celebrity guests – such as 13-year-old yodeling sensation Mason Ramsey – wouldn’t technically be allowed to take a seat in the audience.
8. Fans have to line up outside
The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s producers seemingly like to create a sense of anticipation before letting in its audience. After all, fans hopeful of getting a front-row seat to the syndicated hit are first asked to wait outside the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles. This includes even those people who’ve already been promised tickets.
Luckily, the City of Angels isn’t particularly renowned for its rainfall. Yet if there does happen to be a sudden shower, fans can likely take refuge in one of the several eateries nearby. It’s been reported, however, that audience members can sometimes end up waiting for hours before producers are ready to let them take their seats.
7. Fans need to be there super early
Getting into The Ellen DeGeneres Show certainly appears to be a lengthy ordeal. If you don’t have guaranteed tickets, after all, you just have to cross your fingers and hope you’re one of the lucky few to get their hands on standby ones. But to be in with any chance of this happening, it seems that you have to be outside the studio super early.
In fact, the show’s official website states that the studio opens up at 9:00 a.m. – but that “it is not within [the producers’] control as to how early people arrive.” So it’s likely that fans without tickets get to the Warner Bros. lot hours earlier to improve their chances of making it inside. And with the taping only typically starting at 12.30 p.m., that makes for one mightily long day.
6. Snacks are forbidden
Audience members aren’t allowed to bring any snacks or beverages with them into the studio. So despite the fact that the taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show can be a long process, ticket holders must keep their hunger in check until it’s all over. Fortunately, though, food is permitted in the lines outside – and there are a number of restaurants close to the Warner Bros. lot.
Yet there can apparently be severe consequences if anyone is found to have sneaked a bag of potato chips or a can of soda into the studio. It’s even possible that they could be escorted off the set. So if you ever hear the sound of rumbling stomachs the next time you tune into the daytime talk show, you now know why.
5. Fans might be separated from their friends and family
Some The Ellen DeGeneres Show fans are lucky enough to bag tickets for both themselves and up to two of their nearest and dearest. Such groups may even be allowed to enter the studio together. However, there’s no guarantee that the entire group will actually be able to enjoy the daytime phenomenon beside one another.
On the contrary, audience members may find themselves sitting beside complete strangers, due to the show’s strict seating arrangements. Everyone is allocated a numbered ticket when they first arrive into the “holding area,” you see. And this number dictates the order in which each fan is allowed to take their seat on set. So if one party member’s number happens to be much higher or lower than that of the person they’ve come with, chances are they’ll be seated in different rows.
4. Information about the show is kept top secret
Audiences may know what they’re generally going to get when they arrive on The Ellen DeGeneres Show set: an opening monologue; a couple of celebrity interviews; a musical performance; and the odd practical joke or touching human interest story. But the host seemingly still likes to retain at least some elements of surprise.
In fact, the first time that audiences find out which famous faces will be joining Ellen on the sofa is when the stars walk out onto the stage. That’s because the comedienne and her producers refuse to leak any information about the guests in advance. The official reason for this is that the “details change on a daily basis.” The fortunate side effect is that the gasps of amazement that greet each A-list superstar are entirely genuine.
3. The audience must be prepared to dance
If you consider yourself to be shy and retiring, then perhaps The Ellen DeGeneres Show set isn’t the best place for you. After all, the show practically demands that its audience members bust a move. At times, in fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve wandered onto the set of So You Think You Can Dance.
In fact, ticket holders appear to spend just as much time on their feet as they do in their seats during the taping of the show. And many have later admitted that being in the audience for Ellen can be exhausting work. So if the idea of dancing on national television fills you with dread, it’s perhaps wise to stick to watching the show at home.
2. Each row has to devise their own dance
In 2017 a writer for News.com.au traveled to Los Angeles to report on a day in the life of an audience member for Ellen. And perhaps unsurprisingly, dancing made up a big chunk of their time. In fact, much to her horror, the reporter revealed that fans are even encouraged to become choreographers during the show’s taping.
According to the article, each row of fans were actually asked by the warm-up act to devise their very own dance move and perform it in unison. Yet the writer recalled how her particular row wasn’t exactly keen on this idea. And instead of wowing the rest of the audience with their routine, they wasted their allotted time just staring uncomfortably at one another.
1. Front-row fans must know today’s pop hits
Being Ellen DeGeneres’ number-one fan is reportedly not enough to bag you a prime spot in the audience. That’s because you apparently also need to be up to date with the current U.S. Hot 100. Yes, it seems that those in the coveted “Dance Row” must certainly know their Lil Nas X from their Lizzo.
For when the host dances through the row to take to the stage, these particular audience members must pull double duty. Not only do they have to bust their best moves, but they also have to sing along to the hit that’s playing at the time. Who needs Lip Sync Battle?