Paul Teutul Sr., the popular motorcycle builder and reality television personality, has been in a committed relationship with business entrepreneur Joan M. Bulger-Kay since 2011. The couple not only shares a romantic bond but also a strong friendship, supporting each other in their respective fields. They have built a close relationship with each other’s children, and have appeared together in the automotive reality TV show “American Chopper.”

Get to know Paul Teutul Sr.

Paul Teutul Sr., a prominent figure in the motorcycle-building industry, gained fame through his reality series, “American Chopper.” With the success of his New York motorcycle shop, Orange County Choppers, he built a motorcycle empire that attracted high-profile enthusiasts from around the world. However, this success came at a cost, straining the relationships within his family, which led to his shop’s closure and the end of his popular TV show.

A Chaotic Upbringing

Paul Teutul Sr. grew up in a chaotic household characterized by violence and dysfunction. His parents employed corporal punishment, using a cat o’ nine tails to discipline children. The constant yelling created a tense environment, with Paul Sr. and his siblings fearful of making mistakes. Additionally, his mother’s alcoholism and his parents’ tumultuous relationship further exacerbated the unhealthy family dynamics.

The Teutul Family

Despite his tumultuous childhood, Paul Sr. believed in the importance of family and marriage. He married Paula Leonardo, his high school classmate, in 1972, and they started a family together. However, Paul Sr’s addiction to drugs and alcohol strained their marriage. Despite the challenges, Paula remained committed to their family for the sake of their children—Paul Jr., Daniel, Michael, and Cristin. The marriage didn’t last the way they both envisioned it to be, and they divorced, but both remained friendly toward each other.

Building the Motorcycle Empire

Paul Sr. initially honed his welding skills in a small welding shop, eventually establishing his own shop called Orange County Iron. With his sons joining the business, the company expanded and relocated to a larger facility, ultimately becoming Orange County Ironworks. Paul Sr. and Paul Jr’s shared passion for motorcycles led them to co-found Orange County Choppers in 1999. Their craftsmanship and dedication gained recognition, but it wasn’t until the launch of “American Chopper” that their fame skyrocketed.

“American Chopper” and the Fallout

The reality TV series “American Chopper” offered Paul Sr. and his family a platform to showcase their work and lives. However, the intense dynamics between Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. captured by the cameras revealed deep-seated conflicts. In one infamous episode, tensions escalated, resulting in Paul Sr. firing his son from the business they co-founded. Legal battles ensued as Paul Sr. filed a lawsuit against Paul Jr., who counter-sued. The lawsuits strained family relationships and further widened the rift between them.

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Attempts at Reconciliation

Paul Sr.’s son Mikey attempted to mediate between his father and Paul Jr., but his efforts proved unsuccessful – Mikey faced his own challenges, seeking treatment for alcohol addiction. Eventually the lawsuits concluded, and the family began to heal. They even worked together on a spin-off series called “American Chopper: Sr. vs Jr.” and later reunited for “American Chopper: The Last Ride,” mending some of the strained bonds.

Moved his OCC shop to Florida

Due to financial reasons that were rooted in the controversial legal battles between him and his son Paul Jr., Paul Sr. decided to close the New York shop and move to Florida. He also teamed up with Keith Overton, a local hospitality tycoon, and built a new restaurant called the Orange County Chopper Roadhouse and Museum, the motorcycle version of Hard Rock Café, and the first of what they hoped to become a chain of motorcycle-themed restaurants around the country. He hosted the annual St. Pete’s Bikerfest along with Bert King of Bert’s Barracuda Harley-Davidson. With a cult following that he built over the years due to the popularity of his former TV shows, he found success in the sunny state. The move proved to be a great decision, as Orange County Choppers became a top motorcycle manufacturer and a lifestyle brand, even without any TV show to boost its relevance.

Meet Joan M. Bulger Kay

The public never heard of her until she was introduced as Paul Teutul Sr.’s longtime partner in the early seasons of the reality TV series, “American Chopper.” Later on, during interviews, Paul would describe her as his wife, but officially they were never married or if they tied the knot, they didn’t share it publicly.

Early years and family

Joan Marie Bulger-Kay was born on 23 February 1964, in Pensacola, Florida, but she with her brothers Frank and John grew up in Rockland County, New York. There was little information about her personal life, but based on the posts that she made on her social media accounts, she is a devoted single mother to her two lovely daughters, Jesse and Samantha Kay. There was no mention of her previous husband.

Education and career

It was at Hunter College, a public university located in New York City, that Joan earned her college degree. She began her career in healthcare, holding management positions in hospital accounting and billing at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She supervised a top Jefferson Valley radiology billing company in NY, before venturing into a partnership with a doctor. Together, they owned and operated an Urgent Care Facility in Rockland County. Eventually, they sold the facility to Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC, which had several other “DOCS” facilities and a central billing headquarters in Valhalla.

Joan was hired by the new management to do some reorganization in their central billing office. After completing this task, Joan spent the next five years building another company, CPM, a billing and consulting company, into a successful venture with a huge number of employees and collections of over $30 million. The company was later sold, but the change in direction did not meet the expectations of existing clients.

Established her own company

Due to several requests from former satisfied clients and armed with many years of being in the management consulting industry, she opened her own company called Rev Flo Inc., located at 15 Drew Ave in Highland Falls, New York. She is the sole proprietor and shareholder of the company. It offers a diverse range of services to meet the needs of their clients. Her business had been involved in various organizations, including Lenox Hill Hospital, Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery School District, Westchester Medical Center, and Asociacion de Emprendedores de Argentina (ASEA). Joan has held various executive positions, and has played a pivotal role in corporate mergers and acquisitions. Her leadership and expertise have been instrumental in these endeavors.

Her animal welfare advocacy

Joan might be busy with her business transactions, but she still had plenty of time in rescuing homeless and abused animals. She was involved in volunteer work for animal welfare and had shown a deep passion for providing a haven for animals in need by helping them find their new homes, and served as the Chairman of the Board of the Hudson Valley chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (HVSPCA).  Joan loved to organize fundraising events so the non-profit animal welfare group could continue its goals especially since the HVSPCA was the only facility in Newburgh, New York that offered the NO KILL shelter provision. The shelter also doesn’t receive any funding from their national organization, or even from the local and federal government agencies, so Joan and her group worked double time to ensure that the facility continues to operate.

A health buff who loves to race and ride

The CEO and animal advocate takes care of her body by involvement in sports, including taking part in races such as the Spartan Race, a renowned series of obstacle races that offer a range of difficulties from three miles to marathon distances. These races take place not only in the US but have also expanded to 30 franchised countries worldwide, including Canada, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and several European nations. In June 2014, she posted that the race was getting harder every year, despite which it seemed that she never had problems finishing the race, since she was all smiles as she went through the last obstacle. Aside from sports, Joan was also into motorcycles, and would go riding whenever she had the free time to do so.

Paul Teutul Sr. and Joan Marie Bulger Kay 12-year relationship

Paul Teutul Sr. and Joan M Bulger-Kay have been in a relationship for over 12 years. Joan described their journey as a crazy ride, but has cherished each day spent with Paul. Prior to his relationship with Joan, Paul was married and divorced twice, firstly to Paula, the mother of his children, but it ended in divorce in 1995. The second was to Beth Dillion whom he married in 2007 but it didn’t last long as they separated after a few years and ended with a divorce, which was only granted to them in 2015.

Paul appeared on Joan’s Instagram

No one seemed to know the official story of how Paul Sr. and Joan met and started dating; it was only on Paul Sr.’s Wikipedia page where it was written that the two started to have a relationship in 2011. Based on Joan’s Instagram account, her first post was a photo of the motorcycle builder wearing a Santa Claus hat and sitting down in a sleigh, uploaded in November 2013 and captioned with, ‘Ho ho ho.’ Someone left a comment asking Joan if they were a couple, but she never answered, only commenting that he was a cute Santa.

Appeared in Paul’s reality TV series

While Joan could be considered a reality TV star, since she made appearances alongside her partner Paul Teutul Sr. in “American Chopper,” she wasn’t that forthcoming with any of their personal details. All the public knew was that they met because of their love for motorcycles and animals. The show featured them in 12 episodes, including memorable ones such as “Welcome Back,” “A New Chapter,” and “Getting the Bike Back Together.”

Their shared love for animals

During the time that Joan was the President of the Board of HVSPCA in New York, Paul Sr. served as the organization’s Vice President. There was a time in 2014 when a tragic fire occurred, which led to the death of some animals in New Windsor, and the shelter needed more money to help rescue homeless animals. Paul offered the huge OCC headquarters to be used as the venue for the fundraising event called The Animal Rock Event and Ride.  They hosted seven live bands that performed from 12 noon until 7 in the evening and even offered 10% of the profits from the OCC merchandise store and café on that day. Paul Sr. and Joan were not only supportive of each other’s business endeavors, but also actively helped with their advocacies.

Paul’s wonderful relationship with Joan’s daughters

The bond between the couple was evident through both their Instagram posts. Paul would affectionately refer to Joan as “Joannie” and proudly shared their adventures. He has a close relationship with Joan’s daughters, Sammy and Jessie, often referring to them as his own. In one of Joan’s posts, she uploaded a photo of Paul Sr. with Sammy, captioned with, ‘Not sure which one is the kid here???’ – the two were clearly enjoying each other’s company. Paul Sr. also uploaded the same photo of himself and Sammy on his Instagram page, and wrote, ‘As time goes by we get closer and closer and I realize more and more how important our relationship is to me.’ He fondly calls her “My Sammy Slammy.”

Not afraid to show their love

The couple enjoyed riding motorcycles together, with Paul praising Joan’s riding abilities and their colorful experiences on the road. He would often encourage her to put the work aside and to let them do some riding and go on lunch or dinner dates. They also loved to celebrate each other’s birthdays, as well as frequently being seen together at various events and outings. Joan posted a birthday tribute for her partner on her Instagram page on 1 May 2023 and this was just a part of what she wrote: ‘Happy Birthday to my better half, my best friend, the one who always makes me laugh. It has been one hell of a ride’. Their participation in charity events, such as the Make-A-Wish event in Florida, showcased their commitment to giving back to the community.

A mutual decision

Paul and Joan have formed a lasting partnership based on love, friendship and mutual support. Their relationship continues to thrive as they embark on new adventures together, and contribute to each other’s personal and professional growth. When the Orange County Choppers headquarters was closed down in New York and moved to Florida, it was a mutual decision. She currently holds the title of CEO of Orange County Choppers, in which her presence as a female leader has brought about significant results. Together, they collaborated with their crew on a new OCC+ Digital Build, which is now being aired on YouTube.

Joan was supportive of Paul’s battle with alcohol.

Many fans believed that one of the reasons that their relationship worked was that they have mutual respect and understanding of what they went through in life. For instance, Joan was supportive of Paul’s battle with alcohol; he had been sober for many years and it was just fitting that she celebrated his triumph over his addiction with a post on her social media page in January 2023. She said that it had been 38 years when Paul made one of the most difficult decisions in his life – he chose to leave the destructive life of alcohol addiction. She was proud that while many people had tried doing it, only a few dared to dig deeper into their souls, to gain the strength to overcome it just like Paul did, and that she loved him dearly.

In a podcast interview that Paul Sr. had just before they opened the new OCC headquarters in Florida, he mentioned that Joan was with him. He said that she was there to ensure that he wouldn’t make the mistake of saying the wrong things that would generate too many “bleeps” to cover them up. It was clear that they both supported each other in every possible way, and when they moved to Florida, it was intentional that they bought a farm property, even if it would take them an hour of motorcycle ride to reach the OCC shop. They made sure that they have a place where they can house plenty of their rescued animals, and which isn’t exclusive to house pets such as dogs and cats – their farm has horses and cows that they rescued from abusive owners.

In December 2022, Joan posted a poem about loving a rescuer written anonymously and it ended with the line, ‘To love a rescuer you must never ask her to choose, because she will, and it will not be you.’ It only meant that her priority was to rescue animals that are in need, and loving her meant that he should be strong enough and not be threatened by her focus and her convictions. Paul Sr. truly understood those words, as he also genuinely felt them too as he was just as involved as her in their animal welfare advocacy.

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