Rusty Coones has lived what could easily be a “Sons of Anarchy” plot line.
A tower of a man with tattooed arms jutting from his sides like turrets, Coones is a longstanding Hells Angel and bike builder who owns Illusion Motorsports in Westminster, Calif., — a custom shop that specializes in burly black bikes that would be right at home on the hit FX show that re-imagines “Hamlet” with a gun-running motorcycle club doling out eye-for-an-eye justice in a small California town.
With recent appearances on “Sons of Anarchy” and bikes he’s built for the show’s creator, Coones blurs the line between reality and fiction. In two episodes leading up to Tuesday’s grisly season finale, Coones played Quinn, president of a Sons of Anarchy Nomads charter, riding one of his own Illusion customs. Coones says he’ll be back on “Sons” next season in the role that has him playing himself, essentially. In real life, he was president of the Angels’ San Fernando Valley and Orange County chapters.
It’s well-known that “Sons of Anarchy” creator and executive producer Kurt Sutter regularly consults with the Hells Angels to ensure the show’s authenticity. Coones first met Sutter when show creator and lead actor Charlie Hunnam came to an open house at the Illusion shop in 2008, after which he was asked to build a custom bike that was featured in the DVD extras for the show’s third season and later auctioned for charity.
Sutter then commissioned an Illusion bike of his own: A Hellrazor that is, like all Illusion customs, black, with chromed parts that appear to have been shot through with bullets.
Sutter’s involvement with Coones didn’t stop there. Sutter featured three songs from Coones’ rock-metal band Attika 7 in the FX show and eventually cast the 6-foot, 5-inch bike builder to appear on screen.