‘Dog’ celebrates birthday in Waikiki
BY STEVEN MARK / firstname.lastname@example.org
In a big bow-wow of a birthday bash, bounty-hunter-turned-celebrity Duane “Dog” Chapman celebrated his 61st birthday with more than 150 of his closest friends.
Chapman, whose televised pursuit of fugitives and attempts at redeeming their souls have won him a loyal television following first on cable network A&E and now on the Country Music Television channel, was the surprise guest of honor at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Thursday evening. The event was organized by his wife and co-star, Beth Chapman, who tricked her husband into showing up.
“He hasn’t been so cooperative over the years for birthdays,” she said. “It took quite a bit to put together his 60th birthday party, so I basically threw it a year later.
“All of his children are here, friends from Colorado, people who haven’t seen him in 10 or 15 years are here,” she said. “Partners in crime who have cleaned up their acts from 30 years ago, they’ve all flown out here.”
To Duane Chapman, whose birthday was actually on Sunday, the Feb. 6 date, was just as significant to him.
“Thirty-five years ago today I walked out of prison in Texas,” he said, referring to an 18-month sentence served for gang-related activities. “I said, ‘This is not the life for me, I’m going to change my life and someday I want to be something.’”
During his time in prison, Chapman helped foil an escape by a fleeing inmate, fearing guards would kill his friend.
“He was running down the road from the prison, and I tackled him,” Chapman said. “The lieutenant ran up and threw down the handcuffs and said ‘Hook him up, bounty hunter,’” sending him towards his future profession, and ultimately, fame.
The evening, which was filmed for eventual broadcast, featured the many cultural themes of Chapman’s colorful past. Reflecting his Colorado roots, the Royal Hawaiian lawn was set up as a rodeo bar, decorated with “Wanted” signs for the Chapmans and a mechanical bull for party-goers to ride. Passersby gawked at seeing Chapman, easily recognizable with his trademark mullet haircut, sunglasses, and silver-tipped boots.
Entertainment ranged from Tahitian hula, Samoan fire-dancing and entertainment by up-and-coming country western singing star Chris Janson, a longtime fan. Dog Chapman bonded with Janson over his semi-autobiographical hit song, “Better I Don’t.”
“It’s all about being a runner and a gunner,” Janson said. “It’s in a humorous tone: ‘Better I don’t drink and chase chicks, Better I don’t ride my motorcycle with my shirt off outrunning the cops.”
Also in attendance were several fellow bail bondsmen, including Arnold Castaneda, who appeared in the Chapmans’ current show, “Dog And Beth: On the Hunt.” He said the Chapmans helped him capture a drug dealer who skipped out a $400,000 bail, as well as with his business.
“I got into this business to help people, but some people were taking advantage of me,” Castaneda said. “I didn’t even have a gun or a taser.”
Among the gifts to Duane Chapman were a commendation from the state, a beautiful Native American coat in recognition of Chapman’s ancestral heritage and designation as a Kentucky Colonel, a title bestowed on presidents, prime ministers and other major celebrities.