When thinking of beatniks, one usually envisions turtleneck-wearing, sandal-clad, goatee-sporting, bongo-beating college kids of a long lost era. But don’t expect to see many poetry-spouting hipsters at the Beatnik Blowout event at the Ventura County Fairgrounds this Saturday. In fact, it’ll be the real beat cultural revival: the inked-out, greased-up gear heads who will gather en masse to celebrate their revved-up kulture.

The Blowout is really just the new name of the long-standing “Back to the Beach” custom car event that, due to legal issues, had to be retired altogether. The event’s big brother, the massive Primer Nationals, takes place on Labor Day weekend but under its new name: Ventura Nationals.

What’s got people buzzing about the event this year is its new association with the Beatniks.

The Beatniks is an old-school car club founded in 1992 by Jack Rudy, Steve Bonge and Brian Everett. The Beatniks is an exclusive group, with only 50 or so members, including celebrities such as Metallica lead singer James Hetfield.

Membership requirements are loose at best, but owning ’50s-style custom cars and having tattoos are certainly high up in the bylaws.

Co-founder Rudy, who will be in attendance, is a legend in the tattoo world and considered one of the masters and originators of the black and gray form of tattooing, where different shades of black are used with a single needle.
With many members of the Beatniks in attendance, the event’s usual fare — vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles — will also include a healthy dose of original art, tattoo parlors and live music, including The Dynotones, Lil Gizzelle and lounge legends The Martini Kings

For event organizer John Parker, the fact that the event is even happening is a testament to good friends and great timing.

“I was coming out of a train wreck of a divorce. Things didn’t work out well with the car shows’ ownership and name. I was going to have to stop them altogether. Beginning of the year, Jack Rudy, one of the founders of the Beatniks and an absolutely ferocious hot rod maniac, I mean a true gear-head, called and I told him it wasn’t going to happen. He said thanks and hung up. Five minutes later, he called and asked if we still had the fairgrounds on hold. He said the Beatniks had wanted to do a show for a long time. It was music to my ears.

“I think what they’ll be bringing to the table is an amazing amount of original artwork. Most of the Beatniks are tattoo artists themselves, so they add a whole dimension to what has always been an amazing custom car show.”

And if the sound of souped-up motors, rockabilly and buzzing tattoo guns is music to your ears, then the Beatnik Blowout will be a little slice of heaven. Just don’t tell anyone over at the Kerouac reading.   

The Beatnik Blowout takes place Saturday, April 24, at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura. Gates open at 10 a.m. For more information call 216-2421 or go to www.primernationals.com. There will also be an artist’s reception on Friday, April 23, 4 p.m. at Fast Frame, 3854 E. Main St., Ventura, 642-2180.