News Item: Actor Gary Busey in town to promote helmet use
(Category: Biker News)
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Friday 30 June 2006 - 13:39:28

Veteran actor Gary Busey flashed his famous toothy smile Thursday as he talked about personal rebirth, near-death experience and motorcycle helmets.

Busey, whose movie portrayals range from an affable Buddy Holly to an albino psycho in Lethal Weapon, has been performing a real-life role as an advocate for motorcycle-helmet laws stemming from his own brush with death in a 1988 crash.

"Sometimes lessons come with a hard edge, and that's what happened to me," said Busey as he lounged in an office, puffing a cigar, at the FilmWorks LSD movie studio in southeast Phoenix. "It's time to wake up and breathe, live a life that's safe; believe me, I know from personal experience."

Arizona is one of the states Busey targets for what he considers to be a lax helmet law.

Busey is in Phoenix this week to film a pair of commercials for Harley-Davidson motorcycles with FilmWorks, a movie-production company headed by partners Lee Shargel and Danae McKillop that recently moved to the Valley from Charlotte, N.C. With a new advertising slogan, "Live the Dream," the series of ads will feature Busey as the leading character.

FilmWorks partners Lee Shargel and Danae McKillop hope to make their company a leading force in independent film, believing that Phoenix can become a center for a major film festival through an independent lens.

"There are so many independent filmmakers in Arizona, and I want to give them the opportunity to exhibit their films," said Shargel, an author and former Hollywood script writer. "I want to have a great, big independent- filmmaking party, and Phoenix is the place to do it."

McKillop, an actress, acting coach and film producer, will have a role in the Harley commercials, along with 18-year-old Brittany Zanath, a winsome blonde who works at Hacienda Harley-Davidson in Scottsdale. Hacienda is heavily involved in the commercial and the new Harley promotion effort.

An avid Harley rider who turned 62 on Thursday, Busey is using the filming opportunity to promote his cause and urge motorcyclists to wear helmets whenever they climb on.

According to Arizona statute, only bikers younger than 18 are required to ride with helmets. Twenty-five other states have similar age-restriction laws for younger riders; four states have no helmet laws; and 21 states require that all riders wear helmets.

"That's not enough," said Busey, a Malibu, Calif., resident. "The helmet law should be mandatory in every state in the union."

His views are in opposition with many Harley riders, who view helmet laws as an imposition on personal freedom. In Arizona, attempts to pass mandatory helmet laws have been met with protests from hundreds of riders, many of whom have converged on the state Capitol on their motorcycles whenever such action has been pending.

With the growing popularity of motorcycling, particularly on Harleys and similar cruisers, helmet-law controversies across the country have become more heated. The recent crash of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisburger, who suffered severe face and head injuries while riding without a helmet, has sparked new discussion on the subject.

Before his crash on Dec. 4, 1988, Busey was known for his staunch opposition to helmet laws. He was traveling at a relatively slow speed on a street in Culver City, Calif., when he hit a patch of gravel and lost control of his motorcycle. He was thrown into a curb headfirst, luckily at the feet of a policeman who was scouting the area for a marathon race.

But his head injuries were nearly fatal, and Busey said that while on the operating table, he had a near-death experience that profoundly changed him.

"I died during surgery, and that's when I had a blessing," he said. "I was taken to the other side to the point of existence where the spiritual realm lives."

A year later, fully recovered, Busey announced that he had changed his views on helmets and helmet laws, stating during an interview on The Arsenio Hall Show, "Next time you're doing 45 mph, look at the curb, and think about slam-dancing with it once."

Busey has had several other close calls since then, including a cocaine overdose in 1995 that required a four-day hospital stay, and surgery in 1997 to remove a malignant tumor from his sinus cavity.

Today, he speaks in spiritual tones about his rebirth and his cause.

"The motorcycle accident turned out to be a motorcycle blessing," he said. "I've been in prayer and meditation since 1988 on the helmet laws and helping people with brain injuries."

Busey did not sustain mental or physical deficits from his injuries, but he has worked to support those who have suffered debilitating brain trauma, especially those that may have been prevented with helmets, including bicyclists, skiers and skateboarders.

To not wear a helmet, he said, "goes against the grain of your soul, your truth, your birthright, your potential and your destiny."

"It's ego, it's macho-ism, it's stupidity, it's having no concern for your family, no concern for yourself," he said. "It's a stupid way to live life, riding a vehicle that can kill you in a fraction of a second if you're not wearing a helmet."

This news item is from White Trash Networks
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