Hells Angels Forever

Get your rear in gear, and do something

Get your rear in gear, and do something

A Conversation with Curtis Sliwa of Guardian Angels

I came out of the era of the ‘60s and ‘70s. You had the Black Panthers, you had the Young Lords — they were like a paramilitary group. They were at odds with the status quo, with police. But then again, what we were trying to do was to provide public safety, so we were the opposite of gangs. In searching for a name, ultimately I thought that the group that seemed to have the most traction among inner-city young men and young women in the late ‘70s was the Hells Angels. They hated Black and Hispanic people, they were one-percenters. And yet young Black and Hispanic men idolised them. They were watching the B-grade movies, like Hells Angels Forever, in Times Square — you could get three flicks for five dollars — and they would emulate them. And I said, what’s the complete opposite of Hells Angels? Well, Guardian Angels. But still it didn’t matter: People thought we were a gang, thought we were vigilantes, thought we were Hells Angels, thought we were Charlie’s Angels. Everything other than what we were.