Danny Koker’s shop, Count’s Kustoms, is a little menacing, with its flame-detailed hot rods and skull-encrusted motorcycles. So when he emerges to ask where to conduct this interview, I gingerly reply, “How about your office?”
“You asked for it,” an employee says. What could be up there, I wonder, as Koker offers his arm to lead the way up an ominous metal staircase.
But after our ascent, the office motif turns out to be more rock ’n’ roll businessman than fatalist biker purveyor. The red walls are lined with Mötley Crüe plaques, velvet high-back chairs and a massive desk. Well, there is a coffin against the back wall (for naps, Koker says), but that’s the lone artifact dedicated to shock value, and once we start talking, the death vibe disappears behind Koker’s decidedly unbiker-like disposition.
Koker has been building custom motorcycles in this shop off Highland Drive since 1999, but his love affair with bikes began when his father bought him his first bike. A career in television production helped lure Koker to Las Vegas. After his family purchased Channel 33, Koker became a cult favorite as Count Cool Rider, the host of the late-night Saturday Fright at the Movies. But his passion for television never kept him from building motorcycles, and soon Koker’s rock ’n’ roll aesthetic drew attention from the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and Vince Neil.
It was his relationship with the latter that led to his newest investment: Feelgoods Rock Bar & Grill and Vince Neil Ink. He does not devote as much time to “wrenching on bikes” these days, but Koker insists it’s still his passion—even with a recording studio on deck.
What’s your favorite vehicle that you’ve restored?
That’s the million-dollar question. I personally own 55 cars and eight or nine bikes, and I can’t point my finger at the bikes and say which one is my favorite because I love them all for a different reason. I have one that I ride the most. I call her my coffin bike. Does that make her my favorite? I don’t know. It’s the same with the cars. They each have their own story and reason as to why they’re here.
What is the ultimate classic car?
The 1966 427 AC Cobra. Its age makes it a classic. What it can do makes it the ultimate. It was the fastest production car ever built at that time, and up until recently it still held many records against all of the modern super cars. It’s still one of the most incredible cars to be reckoned with, yet it’s a vintage classic car.
What is your favorite place to ride?
The Pacific Coast Highway is a phenomenal ride. Up that coast is gorgeous. If we’re talking a Vegas thing, like a day trip, it’s great to get up in the morning and grab some breakfast with your boys and maybe head up to Mountain Springs, stop there and then maybe down through Pahrump and down into Indian Springs and come back the long way. That’s a really nice ride.
Have you ever told someone no to making a bike?
Absolutely, I’ve turned down a few people. One guy was really adamant; he wanted me to build him a golf-themed chopper. I’m not too big on theme bikes anyways. I think they kind of look like cartoons, and that’s not really cool. He wanted a golf-themed bike to the point where he wanted the wheels to be golf balls that were half cut, and he wanted the grips to be golf club handles and he wanted the brake and shifter lever to be golf-ball heads. Golf is great, but that was so stupid it was unbelievable. I tried to convince this guy in a nice way that I really wasn’t interested. He was adamant, and he just kept coming back. I had to get really stern with him and tell him why I didn’t want to do it. It was just really bad, and I didn’t want to put my name on it.
Who’s your favorite celebrity that you’ve built a bike for?
Ozzy Osbourne. He’s one of the coolest people you’d ever want to meet. I sincerely mean that—he’s wonderful. And the bike that we did for him was a real showpiece. I’m really proud of that bike. That whole experience of working on that bike and working with him was just awesome.
Could you envision a scenario where you don’t ride anymore?
No, I can’t. My dad bought my first bike for me when I was 8. I can’t imagine not riding. To me that’s not an option. Maybe what I ride might change a little bit, but I’ll still be riding.
How would you want to die?
Going a million miles an hour with my hair on fire.