truTV's "Full Throttle Saloon" is open for business (John Nowak/truTV)The truTV series "Full Throttle Saloon" starts its third season this week, albeit without the fanfare of a "Jersey Shore" or a "Real Housewives of fill-in-the-blank." But that doesn't mean it is any less compelling. The show focuses on the popular bar at South Dakota's famed Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and features lots of drunken people, loud music, half-naked women, and a ton of money. Toss in some volatile relationships and you've got a solid reality show with rough-around-the-edges personalities that don't ham it up for the camera the way that The Situation or Lisa Vanderpump do.
"Full Throttle" is more scantily clad than the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. There's no blurring of thongs here, just a ton of customers and hot dancers who have no trouble wearing skimpy outfits (when they bother at all), most of them extremely attractive. And that's not even counting the ladies of Flaunt, the saloon's trashier version of the Pussycat Dolls (we mean that as a compliment).
The 'Family' Dynamics
Michael Ballard owns and operates the Full Throttle for 10 days every year, and while he thinks about selling every season, we can't imagine him without the place. His massive attraction draws in big crowds, and he seems to thrive on the pain that the business entails. His longtime love is Angie, who heads the aforementioned Flaunt troupe and runs a little corner called Angieland, which largely seems to involve her sitting on top of random guys' heads to show off her best asset. Ballard's entire family is always hanging around, and they really go for the gut when they bicker -- the more they squabble, the more enjoyable this show becomes.
The Ridiculous Performances
Last year, Jesse James Dupree (the lead singer of Jackyl, not to be confused with the cheating Jesse James) had himself shot out of a giant cannon across the front of the venue. It was fantastic, and this season it looks like he's going to outdo himself, possibly by leaping from an insane height. He uses more pyrotechnics than we've ever seen in one place and has an unhealthy obsession with chainsaws. But as he's the Full Throttle's event producer, charged with booking and wrangling some often-demanding acts, he and Ballard get into it pretty good as well, much to our entertainment.
The Unique Visitors to the Rally
This show would be nothing without the patrons who shell out money like it is nothing and get really drunk and behave inappropriately with the shot girls. Watching these bikers mingle, brawl, and get tattoos of the Full Throttle Saloon is an endless source of amazement. Pair them with the odd people who work there (our personal favorite is Fajita Mike) and you just never know what will happen.
The Cash Money
In this day and age where credit cards are king, it's incredible to see the stacks of money being thrown around at the Full Throttle. And watching Ballard deal with people who are stealing from him (thanks to some helpful security guards, who deserve hazard pay) is impressive. The way he counts each dollar in the hopes that his business will succeed (taking occasional breaks to stare at weather reports in the hopes that Mother Nature will cooperate) has a bizarre -- and realistic -- desperation about it, which we don't normally see on shows like "Pawn Stars" or "Hardcore Pawn."
There's an Edge to It
This show has a gritty vibe that counterculture shows like "LA Ink" tried and failed to capture. This show does it with ease just by showcasing the different walks of life who come to the bar. Honestly, we had no idea so many people were still obsessed with Jackyl. Or even knew who Jackyl was, for that matter. And where else are you going to see little people wrestling? TLC?
Season 3 of "Full Throttle Saloon" premieres Wednesday, 11/30 at 9pm on truTV.
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